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The History of Hydrofoils

"Gliding over all, through all... as a ship on the waters advancing" -- Walt Whitman (speaking of a human soul)

We are concluding our "Fascinating Hydrofoils" series (don't miss highly popular Soviet "Raketa" Hydrofoils) with this overview of hydrofoil development - with some truly interesting historic vessels that you might not have seen before.

"Hayate" is a streamlined Japanese hydrofoil concept, currently located at Kobe Maritime Museum (and another Japanese beautiful "gliding" vessel showcased nearby: magneto-hydro-dynamic "Yamato"):

Most stylish hydroplane boat ever? Also, the world's first regular hydrofoil passenger service

Baron von Schertel was the designer of many concept Nazi hydrofoil boats (read further in this article). After the war, he moved to Switzerland and in 1952 came up with Supramar PT-10, which was also called Golden Arrow, Freccia D'Oro:

"Meteor III was brought to Queenstown from England by pioneering tourism operator Frank Howarth in 1966. The 10m boat carries 17 passengers, has a top speed of 70kmh, cruises at 55kmh and is renowned for its smooth ride on the water.

"In the Beginning...

A hydrofoil is a very distinctive type of watercraft that has been around in one form or another for over a century. The first hydrofoil boat was designed and built in 1906 by Enrico Forlanini. It had a classic Ladder type construction with multiple struts coming down with multiple wings between each of them. The 60 hp engine operated two counter-rotating air props and the craft reached a breathtaking top speed of 42.5 mph during tests.

"The idea is that when the boat gets up speed the front of the skis will be raised, causing the boat to come to the surface. When wind gets under the wing it is supposed to furnish enough lift to permit the boat to skip over the waves."

The Lantern (HC-4), built in 1953 by the Hydrofoil Corporation in USA, was quite unusual in its shape and hydrofoil configuration (it also featured the earliest hydrofoils to use electronic controls):

"Designated the TR-5b, the futuristic Tragfluügelboot concept called for the addition of twin turbojets to be added to a VS- type hydrofoil to create a high-speed, heavily-armed hydrofoil fast attack craft. The turbojets (two Jumo 004s or He S 011s) were to be mated to the hydrofoil to allow a drastic increase of speed during the final attack phase and disengagement of enemy vessels."

The 1950s concept of a fast hydrofoil "Wendell Schnellschiff" was built based on reduced-scale TR-5b idea; the vessel is preserved in the Deutsches Schiffahrtmuseum in Bremerhaven, Germany:

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