At the beginning of the 19th century, the Russian military engineer Karl Schilder proposed to the Maritime Department a project of a submarine capable
of striking missiles from under water. The very idea of submarines at that time was not new. For example, the Fulton submarine was known. But
missile armament on submarines ... The naval officials found this idea so innovative that they approved the project, but the inventor himself was
responsible for the costs of building the "hidden ship". Expenses amounted to 13,448 rubles. True, the government subsequently reimbursed Schilder
for these expenses.
The Schilder submarine had an all-metal structure, length - 6 m, width - 1.5 m and height - 1.8 m.Its displacement was 16.4 tons, and the crew was 10
people, recruited from the Life Guards of the Sapper Battalion and the Marine Guards crew. The boat could dive to a depth of 12 meters and remain
submerged for up to half an hour. She even had a periscope - primitive by modern standards, but which was the pinnacle of technical thought for that
time, an air intake and a piston pump designed by Major General Sablukov, for pumping air in a submerged position, without surfacing.
The armament of the submarine consisted of one pole mine on a bowsprit extended far forward, with an electric fuse, and 6 four-inch (102 mm) Kongreve
powder rockets in horizontal rails, the elevation angle of which was 12 degrees. The design of the guides was developed by Second Lieutenant Pyotr
Kovalevsky, who also commanded the training salvo.
After installing the missiles in the guides (sealed pipes), they were tightly closed with rubber plugs, and the boat became capable of diving.
Guidance was carried out by the entire hull of the boat, adjusted using a periscope, and the salvo was carried out using an electric launch system,
from a galvanic battery. By the way, this system also became the world's first electric missile launch system.
Schilder's boat, in fact, did not have an engine. Then the first steam installations already existed, but they were so cumbersome that there was no
need to think about installing them in such a tiny boat. Therefore, the propellers were rowing blades located on the sides, which were rotated by
living people - the lower ranks of the Guards Navy crew. The speed in the submerged position was scanty - only 670 m / h. On the other hand, a compact
mast with a sail, which was easily retracted inside when an underwater attack was necessary, served for the course in the surface position.
An additional weapon was a pole mine on an easily removable clutch, also with an electric detonation system. Such systems were then implemented in
surface combat boats. According to Schilder's plan, the boat was supposed to get under the water under the bottom of the enemy ship, drive a sharp
tip into it, under which a mine was attached, and quietly move back - at a distance of the length of the electric wire. After that, the contacts of
the galvanic battery were closed on the boat - and bang! ..
On September 10, 1834, on the Neva, near St. Petersburg, but in a sparsely populated place, in the presence of Emperor Nicholas the First, Schilder's
submarine launched the world's first missile salvo from under the water - for training purposes, which served as anchored wooden scows. The targets
were hit by the first launch.
Then the pole mine was successfully tested.
The British ambassador, who was deliberately aware of the results of the experiment, is said to have fallen into prostration for a while. The power of
Britain then was based on the power of the "Grand Fleet", which would have absolutely nothing to oppose to the "wunderwaffe" of these crazy
On July 6, 1838, a second underwater salvo was fired at Kronstadt.
Unfortunately, Schilder's boat did not go into mass production. For its time, it was extremely difficult to manufacture, expensive, and most
importantly - almost unable to move under water on its own. The "muscle" mover was not suitable for this at all, and there were no other suitable
ones at that time. By order of the emperor, the project was classified, and the classification was removed only after 40 years. But, perhaps, it still
played an important role in the country's defense capability. There is a version that during the Crimean War the British fleet did not approach
Kronstadt, including for the reason that the British were completely unaware of how many "hidden ships" there were then in the Russian fleet, but
were sufficiently aware of the firepower of even one such ship.