SPEEDBOATS FOR VICTORY
7 SEPTEMBER 1944
This paper shows how from Gar Wood's sporting Inter-
est in motor "boat racing sprung a major weapon of this war.
SPEEDBOATS FOR VICTORY
In the present war - World War II - the FT "boats are
playing a large part. In the Pacific, in the Battle of Bataan,
the PT boat has inspired many stories. If we look back to their
origin, there appears in the foreground the name of Garfield A.
Wood, "better known to the snorting world as Gar Wood.
WOOD'S START IN BOAT RACING
According to J.L.Barrett, Gar Wood has "done more to
popularise motor-boating than any other man." His career started
when he bought an outmoded Gold Cup winner, the Miss Detroit . He
remodled this boat and installed a Curtis "12" motor - . The maxi-
mum speed of the boat would depend on the horsepower per pound
of engine. Since airplane motors were built for maximum horse-
power per pound of engine, Wood decided that those were the mo-
tors that he wanted for his racing boats.
THE MISS AMERICAS
After the first World War Wood was able to buy the
Liberty "12" motor. In 1920 he went to England with his Miss
A merica I , the first of his "boats to be powered hy a Liberty
motor. When he came back to the United States he brought with
him the Harmsworth Trophy, which has remained here since then.
He continued using the Liberty motor in his next four Hiss
1. Barrett, J. Lee, Speed Boat King s, 1939
Miss America VI was powered by new air-cooled marine
motors, but never did run in a trophy race, for in a trial run
a few days before the race, it blew up. The motors were fished
up and installed in riss America VII Just in time for the race,
which she entered and won.
In 1931 Wood entered two boats against the British
challenger. They were Miss America VIII and Miss America IX .
The first heat of the race was won by the British. In the second
heat the British boat capsiaed on the turn. Miss , A meri ca. K ,
being piloted by Gar Wood was disqualified for beating the gyn.
It crossed the starting line seven, insx,ecia wi nve, t>ecwuu.u oe-
forw Tine guu. Tnib left ills a America VIiI 1,0 unlan die course
ana ena-uxed us x.u noxa. x,He uvpny,
MOTHER OF THE PT BOAT
As a reBuit u± tms race tne Britisn bacame more de-
termined to win and again challenged In 1932. Wood needed more
horsepower in his boat this time. By installing four 750 Packard
engineB in one boat he still did not have the power he desired.
After supercharging the engines, Increasing their compression
ratio, and by other means used to increase power, he manged to
squeeze 1900 horsepower out of each of the four engines.
In the Harasworth Trophy races the limit on the length
of the boat is 40 feet. Wood had the problem of installing a
total of 760O horsepower in a hull of 38 feet. A special gear
box had to be developed to harness all this power. Not a cubic
inch of hull could be wasted. Kiss America X lived up to her ex-
pectations. The Trophy was again kept by Wood. A new world
record of 124,915 miles per hour was set. This boat was the mother
of the PT.
Wood tried talking the Navy, into "building a number of
these "boats "before the present war, hut was unsuccessful* However,
even with this late start, the PT boat has proved very effective.
Barrett, J. Lee: "Speed Boat Kings", Arnold-Powers, Inc. 1939
King, Admiral Ernest J. : "U.S.- Office of Naval Operations','
I larch 1, 1943
Stafford, Dale : "Sport Sired the PT Boats'; Esquire Vol. XXII,