Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Donald M. Campbell

Donald Malcolm Campbell (March 23, 1921 - January 4, 1967) was a breaker of speed records.

Campbell was born in Horley, Surrey, as the son of Sir Malcolm Campbell. Following his father's career he strove to set speed records on land and water.

Campbell began speed record attempts using his father's old boat Bluebird K4, but after a 250 km/hr crash destroyed the K4 in 1951 he developed a new boat. The Bluebird II K7 was a jet-propelled hydroplane type with a Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl jet engine producing 4000 lb. of thrust. Campbell set seven world water-speed records between 1955 and 1964. The first was at Lake Ullswater on July 23, 1955, where he set a record of 325 km/hr. The series of increases peaked in December 31, 1964, at Dumbleyung Lake in Australia when he reached 444.6 km/hr.

On land, following a heavy crash at Bonneville with the Bluebird CN7 car in 1960, on July 17, 1964, at Lake Eyre Salt Flats, Australia he set a record of 649 km/hr for jet propelled four-wheeled vehicles (Class A). He became the first person to set both water and land records in the same year. But his land record was short-lived, because rule changes meant that Craig Breedlove's Spirit of America soon set new records.

Three years later on January 4, 1967, the re-engined Bluebird K7 flipped and disintegrated at around 450 km/hr on Coniston Water in England killing Campbell. His body (along with the wreckage of his craft) was not recovered until May 28, 2001. The cause of the crash has been variously attributed to Campbell not waiting to refuel, and hence the boat being lighter; the waves caused by his wash and, most likely, a cut-out of the jet engine. The speed at which he crashed is still one of the highest speeds recorded on water.

Between them, Donald and his father had set eleven speed records on water and ten on land.

See also :

External link