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Tsunami was designed for one thing and one thing only, to break records. Having the smallest sleekest airframe ever built around a Rolls Royce Merlin engine, Tsunami can reach speeds well over 500 mph.“What if you took a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and built the smallest, lightest and sleekest airframe around it you could possibly dream up…?” – Jack Cox Sport Aviation December 1986
The idea behind Tsunami was to build such a small, light and streamline airframe that an essentially stock Rolls-Royce Merlin engine could be used to reach the desired performance levels – rather than a highly modified, high stressed and short lived engine used in the typical P-51 Mustang racer. Tsunami was to be used to race in the Unlimited class at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, NV and to break the 3 km world speed record for propeller driven aircraft of 528.33 mph set in 1989 by Lyle Shelton in his highly modified Grumman F8F Bearcat Rare Bear and the seaplane record of 440.681 mph set in 1934 by Italian Francesco Agello in a Macchi-Castoldi MC-72. An experienced pilot would race the airplane but owner John Sandberg would try for the absolute speed records. Although highly experienced, John only held a Private pilot’s license and wanted the world’s speed record to be held by a “non-professional” pilot.