Airborne lifeboat at the Museum of the Broads. Notice
the unusual Saildrive engine it used on a stand in front,
and also the Norfolk punt on display beneath. Click on
the photo for a larger image
This airborne lifeboat is one of the Museum of the Broads’ great treasures. Note the Saildrive engine on a stand just in front of the boat – I gather many of these were volunteered by yachtsmen for use in the the airborne lifeboats, which couldn’t use anything else.
These boats were designed to save the lives of bomber aircraft crew – if a crew ditched in the sea and could be found, a bomber aircraft would drop one of these in the hope that the men below would be able to climb into the boat and sail or motor it home. In practice they saved many lives and made something of a hero out of the the inventor.
After the war, along with many other bits of war surplus equipment they were often bought for small sums and and converted into something more conventional – in this case they often became fully rigged sailing boats, and were frequently used for racing. You can’t keep a good Uffa Fox hull down, can you?
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Poster showing lifeboat equipment. Click on the photo
for a larger image