Fact File about the Invention of the Hovercraft: Invention: Hovercraft *** Date of Invention: 1955 *** Name of Inventor: Christopher Cockerell *** Lifespan of Inventor: 1910 - 1999 *** Nationality of Inventor: English *** Historical Period: Cold War *** Category: Transportation *** Country of Origin: England *** Facts about the Inventor, Christopher Cockerell, and the invention of the Hovercraft ***
Fact 1: Who invented the Hovercraft? The Hovercraft was invented by Christopher Cockerell in 1955 during the Cold War era of inventions.
Fact 2: Who invented the Hovercraft? Prior to the invention of the Hovercraft in 1955, there was
a great deal of interest in air cushioned vehicles. In the 1870's the British
engineer Sir John Thornycroft produced his theory that an air cushion system
would reduce the drag of water on boats and ships.
Fact 3: Who invented the Hovercraft? Various experiments were conducted
by inventors of air-lubricated boats including Dagobert Muller von Thomamhul for
the Austrian navy in 1906.
Fact 4: Who invented the Hovercraft? Other inventors such as Joseph
Clark, Charles Theryc, James Porter, Charles Worthington, V.F. Casey, Douglas
Kent Warner all contributed to the foundation for the various forms of ACV (air
cushion supported) vehicles.
Fact 5: Who invented the Hovercraft? The problem of how to retain the
cushion of air beneath the vessel prevented further development of air cushion
supported vehicles until Christopher Cockerell invented the Hovercraft in 1955.
Fact 6: Who invented the Hovercraft? The inventor of the Hovercraft, Christopher Cockerell, was born
at Cherry Hinton near Cambridge, England on 4 June 1910 and died on 1 June 1999.
Fact 7: Who invented the Hovercraft? The early years of Christopher Cockerell were spent in Cambridge, England where he was raised by his family.
His father was Sir Sydney Carlyle Cockerell an English museum curator, collector
and director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, the art and antiquities museum of the
University of Cambridge. His mother was designer Florence Kate Kingsford
Fact 8: Who invented the Hovercraft? Christopher Cockerell was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge
where he read mechanical engineering
Fact 9: Who invented the Hovercraft? Following his education his first
job was with a firm of Mechanical, hydraulic and electrical engineers called W.
H. Allen & Sons of Bedford.
Fact 10: Who invented the Hovercraft? In 1934 Christopher Cockerell
returned to Cambridge University to study radio and electronics and then gained
a research position at the Marconi Company.
Fact 11: Who invented the Hovercraft? In 1935 Christopher Cockerell
married an art student, called Margaret Elinor Belsham and the couple had two
Fact 12: Who invented the Hovercraft? During WW2 (1939 - 1945) Christopher Cockerell
worked with noted scientists including Robert Watson-Watt who invented Radar in
Fact 13: Who invented the Hovercraft? The invention of the Hovercraft
began when the Cockerells bought a small Norfolk boat hire company, Ripplecraft
Company Limited, that hired out boats on the Norfolk Broads, a network of
navigable waterways consisting of lakes and rivers created as a result of
flooded medieval peat excavations.
Fact 14: Who invented the Hovercraft? The Ripplecraft company was not
very successful and Christopher Cockerell began to look for ways to make his
boats faster and better suited to the Norfolk Broads. Many of the boats were
specifically designed to address the particular limitations found on the Broads,
particularly the low bridges and the shallow waters.
Fact 15: Who invented the Hovercraft? As Christopher Cockerell conducted
his research he became interested in Sir John Thornycroft's theory that an air
cushion system would reduce the drag of water on boats. The Thornycroft company
had continued to work on boats long after the death of Sir John Thornycroft and
produced a small vessel had been partially raised out of the water by a small
Fact 16: Who invented the Hovercraft? Christopher Cockerell reasoned that
if the entire boat was lifted from the water, the vessel would effectively have
no drag and would achieve a much higher maximum speed than other boats.
Fact 17: Who invented the Hovercraft? Christopher Cockerell's theory was
that instead of using the plenum chamber, an air transfer system that
Thornycroft had devised that he could create a completely different system.
Cockerell's idea was that air could be pumped more efficiently around the
perimeter and underneath the boat, flowing towards the center thus creating a
more effective air cushion.
Fact 18: Who invented the Hovercraft? The concept of using a peripheral
jet would allow the air pressure to build enough to equal the weight of the
craft and, as the air would be trapped, the pressure would elevate the craft
completely off the surface on which it traveled.
Fact 19: Who invented the Hovercraft? Christopher Cockerell developed his
ideas over a number of years, tested his theories and in 1955 built a working
model of the hovercraft. The idea of using peripheral jets, aided in the
balancing of the hovercraft while it was hovering, and therefore increased the
stability of the hovercraft.
Fact 20: Who invented the Hovercraft? Christopher Cockerell had
constructed a vehicle that could travel on a cushion of air.
Fact 21: Who invented the Hovercraft? On December 12, 1955, Christopher
Cockerell was issued the Hovercraft's British Patent number 854211 for
Improvements in or relating to vehicles for travelling over land and/or water.
Fact 22: Who invented the Hovercraft? Christopher Cockerell showed his
prototype of the hovercraft to British military officials and his invention was
classified as secret and progress was stalled until 1957 when the National
Research Development Corporation (NRDC) began providing funds for a full-scale
Fact 23: Who invented the Hovercraft? On July 25, 1959, Cockerell's
invention, the SR.N1 Hovercraft crossed the English channel from Calais, France
to Dover, England and later went into commercial service ferrying passengers
from the UK to France.
Fact 24: Who invented the Hovercraft? Christopher Cockerell was given
scant financial reward for his invention but he was appointed CBE in 1966 and
knighted in 1969.
Fact 25: Who invented the Hovercraft? Sir Christopher Cockerell died on 1 June 1999.
He was a prolific inventor but will always be remembered for his invention of