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In 1939, John Cobb set a land speed of 369.7 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. His return, an attempt to beat 400 miles per hour, was in 1947; his first run was faster than 400 mph, making him the first to be timed at 400 mph+, but the record was set at 394.2 mph (the average of two runs).

Cobb’s car was designed by a young British engineer named Reid Railton, who also had worked with Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird Evolution. It was powered by a pair of Napier Lion W-12 aircraft engines of 26.9 liters displacement (1641 cid) producing 1,250 hp each; the car had a three speed gearbox and four wheel drive.

The Lion’s three banks of 4 cylinders was referred to as a “Broad Arrow;” each Lion drove one pair of wheels independently of the other. The Lion had first appeared just after World War I, and saw its most public use as the powerplant of the British entrants in the Schneider Trohy racing series for seaplanes. I’ve included a picture of the British Gloster VI Schneider Trophy momoplane which took part in the 1927 races in England.

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