Hubert Scott-Paine

Hubert Scott-Paine

Hubert Scott-Paine (11 March 189114 April 1954) was a British aircraft and boat designer, record-breaking power boat racer, entrepreneur, inventor, and sponsor of the winning entry in the 1922 Schneider Trophy.

Early life

Hubert Paine was born in Shoreham, England, on 11 March 1891, to Henry Paine and Rosannah (nee Scott), who ran an ironmongery and shipchandlery. His father died when Hubert was only one, and he and his sister and two brothers were raised by their mother. He attended Shoreham Grammar School but preferred to be messing about with motors and visiting the Shoreham aerodrome to schoolwork.


When Hubert was about 18 he met Noel Pemberton-Billing, an entrepreneur and inventor, and worked for him as his assistant in the buying and selling of yachts. This entailed travel all over Europe and the Mediterranean, whilst living on one of Pemberton-Billing's yachts at Southampton, and gaining much engineering experience. Hubert and Pemberton-Billing were also interested in aviation and in 1913 they created Pemberton-Billing Ltd (with 'Supermarine' as the telegraphic address) with plans to build flying boats, Hubert being appointed manager of the factory at Woolston, Hampshire.

In 1914 the first aircraft, the PB1, was built in record time and exhibited at Olympia, being viewed by King George V and Winston Churchill. However the plane never flew, although orders were received from Germany. The war intervened and a land-based plane, the PB9, was designed and built within a week - although this flew there were no buyers.

In 1916 Pemberton-Billing sold the company to Hubert Scott-Paine who registered it under the name Supermarine Aviation Company Limited. The company then concentrated on designing and building flying boats for the British Admiralty. One of the engineers taken on in 1917 was Reginald Mitchell who later designed the Spitfire. Supermarine ended the war as a large and successful company.

Scott-Paine married Brenda Hockey in 1917, having 4 children. By this time Hubert had changed his name by hyphenating his parent's surnames to create Scott-Paine.

Channel Air Service

Following the Armistice Scott-Paine bought back from the Admiralty 16 of his Supermarine AD Flying Boats and converted them for passenger service. In February 1919 he started the first cross-channel flying boat service, between Woolston and the Channel Islands and Le Havre, registering his company as British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd.

chneider Trophy

When the Royal Aero Club announced in August 1919 that the next contest for the Jacques Schneider Trophy would be held in September Scott-Paine immediately upgraded a Supermarine 'Baby' single-engined flying boat, renaming it 'Sea Lion', but during the race the hull was damaged and the Italian entrant won.

Supermarine won the Schneider Trophy in 1922 with its 'Sea Lion II', thereby preventing Italy keeping the trophy permanently for winning it 3 times in succession, and allowing Britain to win it outright years later.

Imperial Airways

Scott-Paine sold Supermarine for £192,000 on 16 November 1923. On 31 March 1924 Imperial Airways was formed by the merger of Scott-Paine's British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd and three other airlines, and he was a director of Imperial Airways until 1939.

Power boats

With a substantial 'war-chest' Scott-paine plunged into his other interest - power boat racing. Garfield 'Gar' Wood challenged for the Harmsworth Trophy in 1924 and won it for America. Getting it back for Britain dominated Scott-Paine's life for the next 10 years and during this time he designed, built and raced a number of challengers.

British Power Boat Company

On 30 September 1927 Scott-Paine bought the Hythe Shipyard with the intention of transforming it into one of the most modern mass production boat building yards in the country. He renamed it the British Power Boat Company, and, together with his chief designer Fred Cooper, a steady stream of ever more sophisticated racing boats were produced which won numerous awards around Europe. "Miss England" was built for Henry Segrave who raced it successfully against Gar Wood in America in 1928, and Segrave was knighted by the King on his return. "Miss England" is on display at the Science Museum (London).

From 1930 the British Power Boat Company supplied seaplane tenders to the Air Ministry, commencing with RAF200, a 37-footer. The trials of this and other boats was carried out by T E Shaw on behalf of the RAF, and he and Scott-Paine worked together over the next few years.

Scott-Paine negotiated exclusive rights to a marinised version of the Meadows tank engine, branded ‘Power-Meadows’, which was ideal for high speed motor launches and placed him at a great advantage over his rivals.

On 3 August 1931 the British Power Boat factory burnt to the ground, but was rapidly rebuilt as the most modern and efficient boatyard in Britain. Amazingly, although all the partially-built seaplane tenders were destroyed in the fire, replacements were built and delivered within the original contract time.

Armoured target boats were also built for the RAF, proving very successful and cost-effective, together with tenders for Imperial Airways flying boats.

Miss Britain III

During 1932 and 1933 Scott-Paine designed and built "Miss Britain III" as a challenger for the Harmsworth Trophy, still held by Gar Wood. The difference could not be more stark – 24’ 6” with a single engine of 1,300 horsepower against Gar Wood’s "Miss America X"’s 38 feet with 4 engines totalling 7,800 horsepower. In a close race held on 4 September 1933 the ‘Red Fox of Hythe’ was narrowly defeated by the ‘Grey Fox of Algonac’.

"Miss Britain III" was taken to Venice in 1934 where Scott-Paine won both the Volpi Cup and the Prince of Piedmont Cup, setting a world record for a single-engined boat of 110.1 miles per hour.

After receiving the International Gold Medal from the International Motor Yachting Union in Antwerp the same year, he then retired from motor boat racing to concentrate on torpedo boats.

"Miss Britain III" is now on display at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

Motor Torpedo Boats

In 1933 Scott-Paine developed his ideas for a fast hard chine torpedo boat but had difficulty in gaining the Admiralty’s acceptance. Next year they accepted admiral’s barges and relations further thawed until in 1935 numbers of high speed launches were purchased, including some taken by the War Office.

Scott-Paine started work on a new 60-foot hard chine motor torpedo boat as a private venture, such was his confidence in the concept. Admiralty orders came in September 1935 for 2 boats, MTB1 and MTB2, and a further four boats in October made more urgent by Italy’s invasion of Abyssinia and the need to counter their torpedo boats in the mediterranean. The first 2 boats of the 1st Flotilla were commissioned on 30 June 1936 in the presence of King Edward VIII. On 27 April 1937 MTBs of the 1st Flotilla carried King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, and Princess Elizabeth down the Thames to the opening of the National Maritime Museum. A total of 26 60-foot boats were delivered, six as MA/SB anti-submarine boats.

Scott-Paine and George Selman started work on a new private venture PV70, a 70-foot hard chine MTB capable of open sea work and carrying out operations on the European coast. It would have 3 marinised Rolls-Royce Merlin engines of 1,000 horsepower each. PV70 was launched in November 1938 but no orders were placed by the Admiralty. After impressive demonstrations orders were received from friendly governments, but difficulties remained over the supply of suitable British engines.

The Canadian Power Boat Company was set up by Scott-Paine in 1940 producing 39 boats, mainly MTBs starting with copies of his PV70.

PT Boats

With war fast approaching agreement was reached with the American Electric Launch Company (Elco) to purchase a British Power Boat 70-footer (later named PT9), as a basis for production under licence in America. In August 1939 PT9 was hoisted aboard the SS "President Roosevelt" and taken to New York and thence by barge to Elco’s works at New London, Connecticut. On 3 October Scott-Paine met President Roosevelt and senior Elco representatives at the White House to authorize the creation of a new naval arm, the PT Boat Squadrons.

By January 1940 PT Boat production started at a new Elco factory at Bayonne, New Jersey.

After the passing of Lend-Lease in 1941 comparative trials, nicknamed the Plywood Derbys, were held between rival American boatbuilders, Elco winning both. Elco went on to produce 754 70, 77, and 80-foot PT Boats, including Jack Kennedy’s PT109, & the boat that rescued General Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor.

Some PT Boats were supplied to Britain as part of Lend Lease.

Later years

In December 1944 Scott-Paine received a cheque for $200,000 from the United States Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal in recognition of his services.

The end of the war brought cancellation of remaining contracts at both the Canadian and British Power boat Companies.

Scott-Paine was divorced in 1946 and married Margaret Dinkeldein, his secretary, in New York early in the same year. His health had not been good for years and in April, two months later, he suffered a stroke.

In 1948 he was made an American citizen at a special bedside sitting of the Superior Court. His final years were spent at Greenwich, Connecticut and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with two brief visits to England. In 1951 he presented "Miss Britain III" to the National Maritime Museum, but during a visit in 1953 his health deteriorated and he returned to America, dying on 14 April 1954, aged 63.


* Adrian Rance, "Fast Boats and Flying Boats", (Ensign Publications, Southampton, England 1989) ISBN 1-85455-026-8

External links

* [ Electric Launch Corp records]

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