Built by Vospers Ltd of Portsmouth for Brooklands racing hero, John Rhodes Cobb, Crusader was laid down in spring 1949 with Cobb underwriting the project entirely himself to the extent of £15,000 before her launch. Having achieved the land speed record in 1948 with a speed of 394mph., the Crusader was an attempt to beat the water speed record of 185.87mph then held by Stanley Sayers. The three-pointer Crusader was an adaptation of the small sea-plane hull with a pair of skis mounted on outriggers pioneered by Reid Raillton. Constructed in aluminium and birch plywood and measuring 31 feet in length, the Crusader was an exceptionally light, dynamic vehicle. Powered by a De Havilland Ghost jet engine identical to that fitted to the 'Comet' airliner, it produced 5000lb static thrust.
Cobb and his team chose Loch Ness as the location for the record attempt and set the date for 29th September 1952. Three speed trials ensued on 5th, 16th and 23rd September, with the boat handling well on every occasion and reaching over 180mph with only some technical alterations made to her bronze rudder. Cobb, however, ignored advice to strengthen the front planing-shoe that showed signs of weakness at speeds approaching 200mph. At noon on the record date, the team found an interval of calm. The boat accelerated well, reaching 206.89mph, yet on decelerating in preparation for the second run, Crusader hit a boat-wake, bounced twice and disintegrated. Although Cobb was recovered immediately, he had already died, apparently of shock. He had became the fastest man on water but was denied the record as he did not complete the mandatory second run over the measured mile.