Donald Campbell

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Donald Malcolm Campbell, CBE (23 March 1921 – 4 January 1967) was a British speed record breaker who broke eight world speed records in the 1950s and 1960s. He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year (1964).


Family and personal life

Donald Campbell was born in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, the son of Malcolm, later Sir Malcolm Campbell, holder of 13 world speed records in the 1920s and 30s in the famous Bluebird cars and boats, and his second wife, Dorothy Evelyn née Whittall.[2]

Campbell attended Uppingham School. At the outbreak of World War II he volunteered for the Royal Air Force, but was unable to serve because of a childhood illness. He joined Briggs Motor Bodies Ltd in West Thurrock, where he became a maintenance engineer. Following his father's death in 1948 and aided by Malcolm's chief engineer, Leo Villa, the younger Campbell strove to set speed records on land and water.

He married three times: to Daphne Harvey in 1945, producing daughter Georgina (Gina) Campbell in 1946; to Dorothy McKegg in 1952; and to Tonia Bern in 1958, which lasted until his death in 1967.[3] He apparently also had some interest in the paranormal, which he nurtured as a member of the Ghost Club.[4]

Water speed records

Campbell began his speed record attempts using his father's old boat Bluebird K4, but after a structural failure at 170 mph (270 km/h) on Coniston Water, Lancashire in 1951 he developed a new boat. Designed by Ken and Lew Norris, the Bluebird K7 was an all-metal jet-propelled 3-point hydroplane with a Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl jet engine producing 3500 lbf (16 kN) of thrust.

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