John Cobb's ill-fated quest for speed on water

Regular price$38.00
Author Steve Holter
ISBN: 9781910505618

  • In stock, ready to ship
  • Inventory on the way
The tale of Crusader, the jet-powered boat of 1952, appears to be a simple one about the ambition of John Cobb and Reid Railton, two unassuming but deeply gifted men, to break the water speed record on Loch Ness only for their efforts to end in tragedy. In fact the story behind that fateful outcome — Cobb’s death on his first high-speed run — is a complex web of clever design and inspirational endeavour mixed with personality clashes and errors of judgement. After many years of research, including access to a wealth of original documentation, Steve Holter unravels the entire saga of the ill-fated Crusader and presents a compelling detective story.

• John Cobb: the modest businessman with such a thirst for speed that he wanted to become the fastest man on water as well as on wheels after setting his land speed record of 394.196mph in 1947.

• Reid Railton: inspired designer and long-time friend behind Cobb’s greatest speed accomplishments, notably with the Napier-Railton (holder of the lap record at Brooklands) and the Railton Mobil Special (land speed record car).

• In-depth study of Railton’s innovative ‘three-point’ hull design for Crusader, with two rear sponsons and a single ‘planing shoe’ at the front — plus a De Havilland Ghost jet engine delivering 5,000lb of thrust.

• Evolution of the design in parallel with testing of scale models, including a miniature jet-powered version evaluated near Portsmouth Harbour.

• Assessment and description of boat-builder Vosper’s wooden construction, under Peter Du Cane’s direction.

• An exhaustive account of proceedings at Loch Ness, where Cobb finally attempted a high-speed run on 29 September 1952 and achieved 206.89mph, faster than anyone had previously gone on water.

• Analysis of the structural failure that destroyed Crusader and killed Cobb.

Format: 234x156mm
Page extent: 352
Illustration: 200 photographs and documents

We deliver to addresses throughout the world.

UK Mainland delivery costs (under 2kg) by Royal Mail £4.00.

Books will normally be shipped within two working days of order. Estimated delivery times post shipment. UK: Up to 5 working days. Europe, Northern Ireland and Highlands and Islands: Up to 8 days. USA: Up to 12 days 

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR EU CUSTOMERS: Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) means that customers are responsible for paying the destination country's customs charges, duties. Regrettably parcels will sometimes be held by customs until any outstanding payments are made. Any payments not received may result in courier returning or in some cases destroying your books.

Unwanted products can be returned with the original packaging within 14 days of delivery. Returns will be at your own cost. 

If you receive a faulty or damaged item please contact for return and replacement information.

Full delivery and returns information

“Steve Holter has exceeded all standards of excellence in his exhaustively researched new book”

“The storytelling is much like Cobb, quiet and understated, with no hint of sensationalism, creating a gripping, but poignant, detective story.” David Tremayne, GrandPrix+

“A masterpiece, well-illustrated, painstakingly researched and carefully constructed... my book of the year.”

“Despite some parties at the time calling for a public enquiry into the crash, none was undertaken... in effect, this is the public enquiry into the disaster on Loch Ness.” The Automobile

“This book details the saga in true detective-story style... As a long-overdue crash investigation, it takes some beating.” Magneto

“Remember that which we learn from Shakespeare: tragic characters have fatal flaws which lead them inexorably to their deaths; it is all here. Highly recommended.”
VSCC Bulletin

You may also like