Fastest Vehicles In The World: Of Land, Water, Air, And Space

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Speed will always fascinate humankind, and we will constantly strive to go faster between A and B, that's a given. But it's not only cars and motorcycles that are built for speed, but various other means of transport are constantly pushing the limits of engineering and technology to lay claim to that all important achievement - being the fastest on the planet.

In a tribute to the marvel of speed, we've brought together some of the fastest production and experimental vehicles on land, air, and water in this special cross-category story, so you can join us in appreciating the magnitude of these amazing feats of engineering.

1. The fastest motorcycle in the world: MV Agusta F4 R 312

MV Agusta, the famous Italian sports bike manufacturer, lays claim to the first of the fastest production land vehicles in our list, with its ultra-exclusive (and feared) F4 R 312 being capable of a mental 312 km/h top speed - hinted at by its nomenclature, certified at the 2006 Bonneville Speed Week. The gorgeous machine features an 1-litre engine producing 183 hp - more than an Audi A4 35 TDI!

Photo credit: Wiki Commons/Klaus Nahr

2. The fastest car in the world: Hennessey Venom GT

The Hennessey Venom GT is the world's fastest production car, although not without controversy. That's because it clocked 435.31 km/h (270.49 mph) over one test run, but Guinness Book record laws stipulate that top speed should be calculated as an average of two runs in opposite directions, thus the Bugatti's such-achieved speed of 431.072 km/h (267.856 mph) holds as the official record. But everyone knows...

3. The fastest manned tracked vehicle in the world: FV101 Scorpion

This vehicle can blow away all its competition - literally. That's because part of its armament is a 3000-round coaxial machine gun, which should be plenty to stop anything in its er, tracks. The FV101 is the world's fastest production tank, which clocked a record speed of 82.23 km/h (51 mph) in 2002. There are many other tracked vehicles that should be capable of higher speeds, but since performance figures are anything but forthcoming, we stand by the Scorpion King.

Photo credit: Wiki Commons/Hibernian

4. The fastest train in the world: Japan’s Lo Series maglev

The newest entrant to the elite World's Fastest lists, the Japanese Lo Series train is the fastest form of rail transport the world has ever seen, as of April, 2015. The shoe-horn-resembling maglev (short for Magnetic Levitation) reached 603 km/h (373 mph) during a recent test run. It hovers 10 cm above the tracks, and is supported, guided, and propelled by powerful electrically-charged magnets.

Photo credit: Saruno Hirobano

5. The fastest hovercraft in the world: Bob’s Windt’s UH19P

Bob Windt, an aeronautical engineer who previously worked at McDonell Douglas, currently holds the record for the fastest speed attained by his self-designed UH19P hovercraft. Windt's creation touched 137.4 km/h (85.87 mph) at the World Hovercraft Championship in Portugal in 1995, making it the fastest hovercraft in the world. Guy Martin (the well-known motorcycle racer) attempted to break this record in 2014, but a bad crash resulted in him calling the attempt off.

Picture credit: Facebook/Universal Hovercraft

6. The fastest speedboat in the world: Spirit of Australia

The Spirit of Australia was clocked at an incredible 511.11 km/h in 1978, and the record still stands today. But that's not the only reason why it's a truly amazing achievement - the world's fastest speedboat was designed, built, and driven by the same person, Ken Warby. There have been several unsuccessful attempts (including some fatal ones) at breaking the record since.

7. The fastest ship in the world: Francisco

From land to water now, and the fastest way to get between two docks is via the Francisco, the world's fastest ship. Loud vessels make a lot of noise, and the sound from the twin - wait for it - 59,000 hp gas turbine engines (derived from a Boeing 747) should keep traffic on the water very polite indeed. The Francisco is capable of attaining speeds of up to 108 km/h, an epic feat of maritime engineering.

8. The fastest plane in the world: North American X-15

We're not going to dilly-dally with the figures of this one, because this aircraft actually achieved a velocity of Mach 6.70 (approximately 7,200 km/h) on 3rd October, 1967, in the hands of pilot William J. "Pete" Knight. The unusual wedge-shaped tail of the X-15 realised extremely high levels of drag at low speeds, so the plane had to be dropped at heights of around 14,000 metres, before it ignited its own engines. And to top it off, its incredible performance meant it was steered by thrusters!

Photo credit: Wiki Commons/NASA

9. The fastest helicopter in the world: Eurocopter X³

Helicopters can get to otherwise inaccessible places, but the Eurocopter X³ can get to them at the rate of 255 knots (472 km/h)! The X³ features aerodynamic fairing on the rotor head and two tractor propellers instead of a tail rotor, mounted on short-span wings. In 2013, it broke through the 300-mile-an-hour barrier, achieving 303 mph (488 km/h), albeit in a shallow dive. The X³ is based on the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin.

10. The fastest spacecraft in the world: Apollo 10

The sky was never the limit for the next record, since it was set even further, in the vastness of space. The Apollo 10 trumps everything else on land, sea, and air with its fastest speed being the quickest ever set by a manned vehicle of any sort, a hard-to-comprehend 39,897 km/h (24,791 mph). The record was set way back in May, 1969, with the three-person aircraft achieving this velocity during its return flight from the moon.

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Story first published: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 16:57 [IST]
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