Submarine`s Early History

When tracing back the roots of the modern submarine, one is usually faced with a number of different places to start with. Legend has it that king Alexander The Great descended into the ocean in 332 B.C. near the city of Tyer, in a primitive diving bell.

Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) is said to have created a primitive submersible boat of wooden frame design covered in goatskins with oars providing propulsion.

A British contribution to early submarine concepts came from William Bourne (1535-1583) it included a double hull construction, ballast and trim system.

The first concept for military submarine, that was actually built and demonstrated, came from a Dutch physicist, Cornelius Van Derbbel (1572-1633). It was a primitive submersible. He also proposed a design specifically created to destroy other ships.

Also worth mentioning De Son’s Rotterdam Boat from 1653 and Edmund Halley’s Diving Bell from 1690.

The 1776 Turtle designed by David Bushnell was the first workable military submarine. It was an egg-shaped submersible propelled by a hand-cranked screw. On September 6, the Turtle attacked HMS Eagle of the British squadron blockading

Boston. Though all parties escaped unhurt, it was a promising start to the modern military submarine.

A more substantive advance was the Nautilus designed by the American Robert Fulton (1765-1815). The Nautilus was a distinct improvement over the Turtle in that it cruised under the intended victim, towing the explosive bomb or torpedo, as it was the called, until the bomb was connected to the target and detonated with a contact fuse. The design was an exceptional success, destroying a number of target vessels in test runs.

Engineer-General Karl Andreevich Schilder is credited with having constructed the first submarine in Russia with an iron hull. Built at the Alexandrovsky Works plant in St. Petersburg and completed in May 1834. The boat had an egg-shaped form, two towers with access hatches and was equipped with an optical viewing tube, one of the first periscope devices for submersibles. An armament of mines and two triple-tube mountings for launching rocket projectiles was to be provided.

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