The aircraft contained an individual cabin for its owner (complete with toilet, bath and bed) plus seating for 5 additional guests. It featured a galley with full-cooking facilities beneath the wing, deep-pile carpets and settees, plus the luxury of electric lighting throughout. The aircrew meanwhile, were accommodated outside in an open cockpit within the upper nose of the aircraft.
Guinness decided not to proceed with his order, opting for the SARO Cloud instead. After a period of storage, an American eccentric aviation and motorboat enthusiast (Mrs June James) purchased the Air Yacht in October 1932.
Mrs James came as a 'bit of a shock' for Supermarine, who were more used to dealing with pragmatic, long-winded negotiations with national governments. She could not understand that having seen the aircraft and decided to purchase it that she could not simply take it with her there and then. It took Chief Test Pilot Henri Biard some time to explain that the aircraft was being serviced at the time and that not only that the tide was out. She would have none of it and could not understand why the 12-ton aircraft could not be simply lifted out of the workshops by the Supermarine engineers and placed in the water ready for take-off!
Christened 'Windward III, the aircraft eventually left Woolston later that month, bound for a direct flight tp Egypt.
This was the first ‘cruise’ for the aircraft and it was not an resounding success. After landing at Cherbourg in worsening weather and after spending three hours on a very rough mooring, Mrs James and her passengers were taken to a suitable hotel ashore.
Eventually and upon reaching Naples in January 1933, the aircraft suffered an accident during take-off near Capri, resulting in a broken wing. Whilst thankfully there were no serious casualties, the aircraft was salvaged and finally beached. It never flew again and was sold for scrap a year later.
|Powerplant||Three 525 hp Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIA engines|
|Span||92 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||23,348 lb|
|Capacity||Four crew and six passengers|
|Maximum Speed||117.5 mph|
|1||Sole example G-AASE|
|None||Destroyed in accident|