Crusader: John Cobb’s ill-fated quest for speed on water by Steve Holter

Crusader: John Cobb’s ill-fated quest for speed on water by Steve Holter

18.08.2021: Forewords by Ken Warby and Sally Railton Joslin US price: $40.00 ISBN: 9781910505618 Format: 9.2in x 6.1in Hardback Page extent: 352 Illustration: 200 photographs and documents

Forewords by Ken Warby and
Sally Railton Joslin

US price: $40.00
ISBN: 9781910505618
Format: 9.2in x 6.1in
Page extent: 352
Illustration: 200 photographs and documents

"Crusader: John Cobb's ill-fated quest for speed on water" is now available in the U.S.

This book investigates the tragedy of Crusader, the jet-powered boat in which John Cobb lost his life in 1952 while attempting to become the fastest man on water.

The tale of Crusader appears to be a simple one about the ambition of John Cobb and Reid Railton, two unassuming but deeply gifted men, to break the water speed record on Loch Ness only for their efforts to end in tragedy. In fact, the story behind that fateful outcome — Cobb’s death on his first high-speed run — is a complex web of clever design and inspirational endeavor mixed with personality clashes and errors of judgment.

After many years of research, including access to a wealth of original documentation, Steve Holter unravels the entire saga of the ill-fated Crusader and presents a compelling detective story.

"Crusader" is a gripping account of a Speed King's tragic destiny, and includes vigorous analysis of the causes of Crusader’s crash at over 200 mph. Extensive use of period documentation transports the reader back in time.

Key Content:

•    John Cobb: the modest businessman with such a thirst for speed that he wanted to become the fastest man on water as well as on wheels after setting his land speed record of 396.196 mph in 1947.

•    Reid Railton: inspired designer and long-time friend behind Cobb’s greatest speed accomplishments, notably with the Napier-Railton (holder of the lap record at Brooklands) and the Railton Mobil Special (land speed record car).

•    In-depth study of Railton’s innovative ‘three-point’ hull design for Crusader, with two rear sponsons and a single ‘planing shoe’ at the front — plus a De Havilland Ghost jet engine delivering 5,000 lbs. of thrust.

•    Evolution of the design in parallel with testing of scale models, including a miniature jet-powered version evaluated near England's Portsmouth Harbour.

•    Assessment and description of boat-builder Vosper’s wooden construction, under Peter Du Cane’s direction.

•    An exhaustive account of proceedings at Loch Ness, where Cobb finally attempted a high-speed run on 29 September 1952 and achieved 206.89 mph, faster than anyone had previously gone on water.

•    Analysis of the structural failure that destroyed Crusader and killed Cobb.

•    Much of the story is told in the words of the key protagonists, drawing in particular on correspondence and written accounts from the key people involved, most notably John Cobb, Reid Railton and Peter Du Cane.

Abput the Author:

Steve Holter’s life-long association with all things automotive, both as a hobby and a profession, and as a driver and an engineer, made it inevitable that his interests would gravitate towards record-breaking. Mixing his professional experience — including television research and crash investigation — with knowledge gained while working with his friend and mentor, Bluebird designer Ken Norris, as well as numerous interviews with many others involved in record-breaking, he is in a unique position to unravel the true story of Crusader. He has written one previous book, Leap into Legend: Donald Campbell and the Complete Story of the World Speed Records, published in 2002. He lives in France.

Evro Publishing books are distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group USA. Books can be ordered from Quarto by email:; phone number: 800-328-0590; or website: Please use the relevant ISBN number when ordering.

"Crusader" is also available in the U.S. from specialist and online booksellers.

Judy Stropus - also photo


18.08.2021 / MaP

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