Victorian Submarines: The Turtle

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October 16, 2012 by Steampunkish Graphic Novels

The Turtle: First of its kind.

The invention of the first submarine is American named David Bushnell, who created it to sabotage British frigates in the New York harbor in 1776.

The unfortunate shortcoming of the sabotage attempts (2 in total) was that David, manning the submarine personally, wasn’t strong enough to operate it well or screw the hole in the boats in order to plant the charge.

Despite the fact that it did as expected (especially for the first prototype of its kind), the Turtle was not continued as a project of the US military or any private funding.

How it worked.

1. Made of wood.
The Turtle was manufactured out of wood, the way all boats of this time period were. The hull had room for a single operator.

2. Submersion.
The diving and rising of the submarine were handled by adding and subtracting water from the hull itself via a pumping mechanism.

3. Locomotion.
The operator used primative propellers that were turned with a hand winch.

Here’s a picture…

Purposes of War.

Just as the Turtle was designed to compromise a ship, many other submarine models to come in the Victorian era were created for the same purpose. The advent of modern warfare was created as a result of technologies developed during the Civil war, so it is not surprising that submarine designs at this time.

Next look: Civil war submarines.


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