EDF Jet Boat (Bluebird K7) Build

by JamesWhomsley | June 25, 2017 | (5 Ratings) Posted in Projects

Watch the video first:

You are right in thinking 'this is not a plane!' and are right to ask 'why is this on Flite Test?'. Well, apart from this 'craft' using aircraft parts and looking very much like a jet fighter without wings, maybe it doesn't belong here. However, the spirit of Flite Test is to push our limits and explore new parts of this RC hobby. I think that experimenting with an EDF jet engine in a boat may well tell us more about aircraft themselves, and even how aerodynamics compares with hydrodynamics. 

This EDF 'hydroplane' is based on Bluebird K7, a craft piloted by Donald Campell.

I read every book I could get my hands on about Donald Campbell and his Bluebirds when I was about that age. It was a fascinating story, one of daring adventure and risk involving man and machine being pushed to the very edge. This story is about a man who broke world speed records in the 1950s and 1960s with truly remarkable machines that many regard to be ahead of their time. One of the most famous of these was Bluebird K7, a hydroplane designed to do 250mph on water.

Campbell and K7 set seven (!) world water speed records. There may have been an eighth, but tragically Campbell was killed when the craft somersaulted on Lake Coniston, in Cumbria, on 4th January 1967. Reportedly, K7 had reached a max speed of 310mph on its first run up the lake that day.

Being into RC and making things, I always wanted to build some kind of model of Bluebird K7 and have it rip up and down a lake. Once, I did have a go at putting together a rocket powered thing, which certainly looked great, but never got to test it (which is probably a good thing). Now that I've started in earnest with Project Air, I've realised something - I can now build a Bluebird, the one I wanted to all those years ago. In addition to this, we're going to run Bluebird in the same place that Campbell did, Lake Coniston.

The hull of K7 is being made from heavily foam board, balsa wood, plastics and card. It's not very technical, but it will work with a good coating of waterproof treatments.

There will be challenges ahead to get it to work just right, balance out and all that, and I know hardly anything about boats which doesn't help, but you know - we'll see how it goes. I will learn. To stay up to date with this project, make sure you're subscribed to the Project Air youtube channel as there will be videos about it there.

Thank you for reading!


Air-headed Aviator on June 27, 2017
I see you tested the motor with that HobbyKing R618XL. This may be off topic of your hydroplane (which without mention is AWESOME) but how do those receivers fair with you? when you range check em do they seem reliable? and would you trust them on your larger fast moving platforms?
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JamesWhomsley on June 27, 2017
Hey man, thanks for your comment. The receivers have seemed reliable to me in my use of them for the past couple of years. Had one catastrophic loss of signal but that turned out to be an overheated ESC's fault. I would trust them. Have you been having problems with them yourself?

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Air-headed Aviator on June 27, 2017
Not with the R618. The Orange R615 has shown issues of coverage and I'm concerned to put it one more space intensive planes. I'm looking to upgrade my receiver game with more reliable options, but it would be nice if I can keep it cheap too.
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scottie on June 27, 2017
Hey James,nice project.
You might want to consider having a means of retrieval from the water once you start testing,I had a issue with that during my Hovercraft days !!
Good luck.
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JamesWhomsley on June 27, 2017
Hey Scottie, yep been thinking about this. My team and I are going to be hiring rowing boats for the running of the craft on Coniston. :)
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Ran D. St. Clair on June 29, 2017
I've always wondered why the designers of these fast boats don't design them as airplanes first. That way if they come out of the water they will not flip or tumble but "glide" briefly until they touch down on the water again. It's mostly just a matter of getting the CG right.
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Kris McMillen on July 6, 2017
It's amazing the way results often involve tragedies. Watching you pick up on this and scale it for us is a truly wonderful thing, looking forward to your progress and testing techniques, thanks James

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JamesWhomsley on July 9, 2017
Thank you for your kind words. Looking forward to completing the project and sharing it with you :)
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