See The Hornet issues 171 – 181 and 193.
Writer:- Chris Fitzsimons. Artist:-Henricus Farrugia.
Main cast:- Doug Marshall, driver and Toby Jarvis, Mechanic; Seagull 1, hovercraft.
Time period:- 1960's.
This unusual adventure strips theme is of two salesmen travelling around the world trying to sell hovercraft to potential buyers. (That is, those countries which were once part of the British Empire, Australia, India, Africa, Boreno (but who are now members of the Commonwealth), an unknown South American country, Antarctic and America). Which on the face of it doesn't make for a very interesting series. Luckily, though Doug Marshall, pilot and Toby Jarvis mechanic, are involved in an high risk adventure each week. Several of the stories start with the buyers being very sceptical about how a hovercraft can be of any assistance to them. Marshall and Jarvis though usually persuade them otherwise and secure a sale most weeks.
Seagull 1 is the brainchild of inventor Sanderson who says of his craft, "It's a unique design with more manoeuvrability than any that has been built before. We need a man with quick reflexes and who's used to manoeuvring at high speeds. He must be able to think quickly and use his initiative." Marshall who is a test pilot for the Reynolds Aircraft Company is at loggerheads with his boss Reynolds, after the test plane he was flying the R801, mysteriously crashes into the sea. Reynolds believes that his plane crashed because of careless flying on Marshall's part. The pilot refutes this claim vigorously with a blinkered Reynolds, who won't listen to his reasoning. As a result, Marshall is temporarily grounded.
The pilot starts looking for a new job and is intrigued as to why a boatyard should require a test pilot. Initially, he isn't interested in being the driver of the hovercraft. But later after another R801 crashes into the sea, the Seagull 1 (with Marshall at the controls), is used to save the pilot from being drowned. This changes Marshall's mind and he becomes the driver of the Seagull 1. Toby Jarvis is the hovercraft's chief mechanic and accompanies the pilot on their a round the world sales trip.
Seagull 1 is a small craft with room for a crew of two and a small hold area behind the cockpit. This area sometimes has the qualities of Dr. Who's TARDIS, in that it is larger on the inside, than it appears from the outside! Which is very handy for those episodes where large boxes or numbers of people need to be accommodated. This is an unusual adventure series and highly entertaining. Sadly, there was only the one series, but after the dramatic events in the final episode (see the story below), this probably explains why.
A brief history of the Hovercraft
The above picture is of the SK-5 Hovercraft. (Picture from www.inventors.about.com)
The hovercraft was invented by Sir Christopher Cockerill in 1956, who also developed the first practical hovercraft designs, which lead to the commercially produced SRN1. The hovercraft can move over the water’s (and ground) surfaces by floating on a layer of air, thus reducing the friction between the water and the vehicle.
Christopher Cockerill (1910 – 1988) worked for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company between 1935 and 1951. During the Second World War, he was part of a team that developed radar.
The following adventures of the Hover Rovers are from issues 171, 172, 173, 174, 175 and 193. We follow the team's attempts to sell the hovercraft to prospective buyers in the Australian outback, India, Borneo, Antarctic and Britain.