HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY. The submarine sank the ship for the first time during the American Civil War. The powder charge mounted on a pole at the front of the CSS Hunley submarine was framed at the side of the ship. But the price was high – even the submarine sank to the bottom.
On February 17, 1864, the submarine sank the ship for the first time during a constant conflict. The warship USS Housatonic was hit on the side of a long crossbar mounted on the front of the CSS Hunley submarine.
The dust charge exploded and the ship sank. But the success was high: Hunley went to the bottom along with the ship. Modern research from Duke University has shown that it was the shock wave of the explosion that killed all crew members on board.
Bar torpedoes are not the only example of less successful equipment in the first submarine in history. The submarine that came before Hunley was the American “turtle,” The Turtle, an egg-shaped submarine that required a tremendous amount of energy to be propelled at all, and which also drifted at the slightest current.
The turtle, completed in 1775, is known as the first submarine used in the conflict.
– The plan with the turtle was to get so close that you could drill a mine on an enemy vessel. But that was in the same lever when the hull began to be fitted with a copper plate to prevent overgrowth, and then you couldn’t get through the plates anymore. So it was also a failure, says Andreas Linderoth, research coordinator at the Maritime Museum.
These are two early examples of why submarine equipment was mainly intended for torpedoes and focused entirely on covert warfare at sea depths.
– What is left for the first time in the development of submarines are mines and nets, but not active ship mining or the use of bar torpedoes. Mats Nordin, chief marine systems engineer at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, FOI, was only because he was life-threatening and had little success in warfare.
The Americans and British were the first to build their own submarines, but Sweden did not lag behind. The first submarine of the Swedish Navy HMS Hajen was launched on July 16, 1904. It was not in use during the First World War, except for training, when we can say that the use of submarines had a major breakthrough.
HMS Hajen was equipped with a torpedo tube with three 45-centimeter torpedoes. But for vessels of other submarine countries, both deck cannons and torpedoes were common.
– The general opinion may be that torpedoes are the most common equipment on submarines. But until World War II, umbrella cannons were the most important weapon. Also because the torpedoes were very hard to hit from the start, a few were needed to get the hit for sure, says Andreas Linderoth of the Marine Museum.
The first 40 years of the submarine’s development were therefore mainly a struggle in the surface position. But during World War II, a technology came that forced them below the surface: radar.
The last types of submarines developed by Germany from 1943 onwards were about as much in underwater mode as possible.
Own factory during World War II
For the Swedish part, the first period of the submarine’s development was learning to learn to make its own versions of two early-developed torpedoes: the German Schwartzkopff and the British Whitehead.
– During World War II, we set up our own factory, the Central Torpedo Workshop in Motala, and started building our own torpedoes. But it all stems from these German and British torpedo concepts in the second half of the 19th century. These two had air propulsion, then became steam or electric, says Mats Nordin of FOI.
They improved the accuracy of how far it is possible to shoot without deviating from the direction, introduced gyroscopes to stabilize water travel, which increased the shooting distance from 500 to 4000 meters.
Powerful progress that can be seen as modest in the shadow of today’s nuclear submarines with attack capability with another type of equipment reaching up to 12,000 kilometers: nuclear missiles.
But the first unsuccessful attempts at warfare below the water surface focused on the power of hidden vessels at sea and what on the use of weapons posed an immediate threat to the lives of their own crew.
– All post-World War I development has gone as far as possible from the targets that need to be shot in order to survive. Reducing the risk, which of course led to everything related to warfare, says Mats Nordin.
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