Lombardo To Try For World Speed Mark [1949]

Bandleader Guy Lombardo is "very optimistic" he will break the late Sir Malcolm Campbell's world speedboat mark of 141.74 m.p.h. soon by "15 or 20 miles per hour" behind the wheel of the new $60,000 speedboat [Aluminum First] being built for automobile industrialist Henry J. Kaiser.

The bandleader said he is currently "shopping around" for a suitable waterways for the record attempt, with indications being that it will be made either at Red Bank, New Jersey, or Miami Beach, Fla., towards the end of April [1949].

Recently Lombardo flew to Atlantic City to inspect the huge craft, nearing completion at the Ventnor Boat Corporation. The boat was designed by Arno Apel and is being built under the supervision of chief engineer Norm Lauterbach. After carefully looking the boat over, and after conversations with Apel and Lauterbach, Lombardo came away tremendously impressed with the engineering innovations and speed potentialities of the boat.

"It looks like it's a cinch to do 160 miles per hour or better," the bandleader declared.

The boat, an Apel-patented three-point hydroplane, will be 32 feet long, 11 feet 8 inches wide, and will weigh 8,500 pounds complete with an 1,100 pound fuel load.

It will be powered by a 3,000 horsepower Twin-V Allison engine driving twin-screw counter rotating propellers set on shafts 24 inches apart. It is a compound engine, containing two separate crank shafts mounted on a common crank case. The propellers will rotate at 9,000 r.p.m.

"Apel and Lauterbach told me they threw out all traditional notions of design in building this boat," said Lombardo, who added, "They seem to have learned plenty as a result of the heavy casualties in last year's speedboat races."

Among tough engineering problems overcome was the "spreading out" of the double propeller shafts from 12 inches on the engine to 24 inches at the propeller location. This was accomplished by offsetting the gearboxes approximately three degrees by the use of universal joints. In addition, the propeller shafts run at a one and one-half degree angle in relation to the center line of the hull.

The big advantage of a single engine with a double shaft is that it will allow the use of 3,000 horsepower in a boat this size, since only one set of controls will be needed. The engine will consume aviation gas at the rate of 600 gallons per hour at top speed.

The feature of most interest, however, is the counter rotating props, which will allow the boat to turn equally well to the left or right. Lombardo has already promised Kaiser that in addition to trying for the speed records in the boat, he will also pilot the craft in the Harmsworth Trophy Race in Detroit during the summer.

"All the tried-and-proven speedboats" he noted. "were designed to turn only to the left, as every other race except the Harmsworth is run counter-clockwise. This boat, however, was designed for the express purpose of making the Harmsworth turns easily, and should', therefore have a distinct advantage over other boats in the race."

(Reprinted from Motor Boating, April 1949)