Here at the Hovercraft Museum, we have lots of things to do and see. The Hovercraft Museum is a working museum and is constantly restoring, preserving and maintaining the craft in our care. Our engineering hangar is open to visitors to see the craft being worked on and many of our craft such as The Princess Anne, BH7, SRN5, and SRN6s can be boarded and experienced first hand! Here are some of the highlights:
SR.N4 – “The Princess Anne”
The SR.N4 (Saunders-Roe Nautical 4), or Mountbatten class hovercraft, is the largest commercial hovercraft ever built and served for over 30 years as a fast cross-channel ferry between Dover, UK and Calais, France. After the mk3 upgrades to the craft, it was able to carry over 60 cars, and 400+ passengers. To this day the SR.N4 craft holds the record for the fastest car-carrying commercial channel crossing at an impressive time of 22 minutes.
The BH7, or Wellington class hovercraft, was designed for military applications. It first flew in 1969 and was used in many trials with the Royal Navy. During the 13 years of tests, it was evaluated for many different roles including, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures. Most notably, one winter, our BH7 successfully completed a round trip to The Arctic Circle leaving from Lee-on-the-Solent when it served with the Royal Navy.
The James Bond film “Die Another Day” featured three hovercraft, two Osprey 5s and a Slingsby SAH 2200. One of each craft used in the film can be found on display here at the museum, alongside a multimedia presentation about the filming of the hovercraft chase.
In the TV program, “Scrapheap Challenge” contestants compete in teams to build a working machine head-to-head in a race or task. The rules state that the machine can only be worked on for one day. In series ten, episode three, the “Bright Sparks” and “Grunts” competed to build a working hovercraft to compete in a race. The two hovercraft built in this episode can be found at the Hovercraft Museum.
The SR.N5 (Saunders-Roe Nautical 5), or Warden class hovercraft, was the first production-built hovercraft in the world. Of the fourteen built, seven were built under licence by Bell Aerosystems as the Bell SK-5. Four of the N5s served with the “Interservice Hovercraft Trials Unit” at RNAS Lee-on-Solent (HMS Daedalus), seeing action in multiple theatres including Belgium, Libya, Thailand, and Malaysia. Two craft were eventually converted to SR.N6s. Our example went through a complete restoration and has even won an engineering award for the brilliant effort of all the volunteers involved.
SR.N6 “Super 6”
The SR.N6 (Saunders-Roe Nautical 6), or Winchester Class hovercraft, was a stretched version of the SR.N5. It was the first production hovercraft to be used in commercial service. It is powered by one Rolls-Royce Gnome engine used for both lift and propulsion. At The Hovercraft Museum, you are able to see three different examples of the SR.N6 craft including the original prototype (009) operated by Hovertravel in the Solent, a military landing craft variant and a stretched “Twin Prop” (Super 6) variant that is the oldest operational hovercraft in the world.
The LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion) vehicle, technically speaking a Griffon 2000TDX(M), is a craft that served as a landing craft for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for ship-to-shore operations. One of the four craft that served with the Marines, “C22”, is here with us at the museum.
The Hover Hawk was the first light production hovercraft in the world. We have two great examples: the original prototype, and a mk2. Plus a fourth is undergoing extensive restoration in our engineering hangar.
Salvage Squad Skima 12
The Salvage Squad TV program, in which machinery, vehicles, and other similar artefacts are restored against a tight deadline. In series three episode 7, first aired in 2004, the program worked to restore a Skima 12 hovercraft, which can be seen at the museum. This craft is currently undergoing her 15 year overhaul in our workshops where you can see her being worked on.
Look into the exciting world of hovercraft racing by sampling some of our ex-racing-craft. Some of our volunteers are actively involved in racing, so it’s worth asking if you are interested in getting involved in this adrenaline pumping sport!