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Schneider Trophy

Schneider Trophy Pictures


Races for the Schneider Trophy, exclusively for seaplanes, were held twelve times between 1913 and 1931. The original intention was to encourage technical innovation in civil aviation, but the race eventually focused on the pursuit of pure speed through aerodynamic streamlining and brute power. The race was run over a triangular course of some 280 km (later extended to 350 km) and advanced airplane speed from under 50 mph to over 400 mph.

The race was first held in 1913 at Monaco for the trophy, an Art Nouveau classic designed by E Garbard, put up by the French sportsman Jacques Schneider. Subsequently the race was hosted, like the Americas Cup and the Eurovision Song Contest, by the holders. The Great War led to the suspension of the competition from 1915 to 1918. It resumed in 1919 and was held annually until 1927 when it became a bi-annual event - the development of competitive new seaplanes had become too time-consuming for an annual race - the French, Italian and German contestants failed to prepare their aircraft in time for the 1931 race so the only participants were British!

During its life the trophy was won by the United Kingdom (five times), France (once), Italy (three times) and the United States (twice). The UK won the race three time in succession (in 1927, 1929 and 1931) and so the Royal Aero Club retained the trophy. The Schneider Trophy is now in London's Science Museum.

Unlike some other airplane picture subjects, good quality Schneider Trophy air race pictures are remarkably rare. Some of our Schneider Trophy images and illustrations come from the programme for the 1929 race and feature probably the competition's most famous competitor - the1927 trophy winner Supermarine S5, the precursor of the S6 and of R J Mitchell's Spitfire, iconic fighter of the Second World War.