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In keeping with this week’s James Bond theme, I recently watched “Diamonds are Forever”. My husband had yet another opportunity to wonder about my sanity this week as I jumped up in the middle of the movie and pointed at the screen. “Just LOOK at that giant hovercraft!” I cried. “I’ll bet that thing weighs more than me!” He rolled his eyes. “Yup, I’m sure it’s as blog worthy as it is sea worthy,” he said. “Now will you sit down so we can watch the rest of the movie?”
I did a little research and I discovered that the giant hovercraft does indeed weigh quite a lot. The one featured in the film is an SR.N4 (Mark I) and is one of the largest commercial hovercraft ever built. This one was the Princess Margaret (of British Rail’s Seaspeed) and it initially operated between Dover and Boulogne.
Built by the British Hovercraft Corporation, the Princess Margaret was designed to ferry people and automobiles from Britain to Continental Europe. She operated from 1968 until 2000 (when the abolition of Duty Free made the service unprofitable). You still visit the Princess Margaret at the Hovercraft Museum.
At the time of the shooting, the hovercraft was a Mark I. It was later converted to a Mark III. Any way you slice it, the Princess Margaret was a big girl. Here’s the specs:
Length: 39.68 meters (130 feet)
Beam: 23.77 meters (77 feet)
Height: 11.48 meters (on landing pad) 37 feet
Power Source: 4 x 3,400 shp Rolls-Royce Proteus Gas turbines
Load: 250 passengers and 30 cars
Weight: 165 tons
Conclusion: The Princess Margaret Mark I Hovercraft weighs more than me.