Starting today as promised (or is that threatened) I will do brief snippets of history on the submarine.
Feel free to challenge any entries or to add your own and discuss amongst you. I shall concentrate on the history. Don't ask me about some of the
references...I am quoting. When I get the chance I will go back and look for them myself. I hope it encourages similar research and discussion.
Since ancient times man has sought to build undersea devices to explore and mine the sea floor, and to gain the advantage over surface vessels in war.
Herodutus, Aristotle and Pliny the Elder all mentioned attempts to do so. A 13th Century French manuscript, La Vraie Histoire d' Alexandre
described a ficticious adventure of Alexander the Great, in which he travelled under the sea in a glass barrel.
Amongst his papers, Leonardo da Vinci counted a design for underwater exploration. There is a series playing here where mdern day engineers
technicians and experts try and get his designs to work. A challenge considering the Catholic Church destroyed most of his papers on the death of his
loyal apprentice decades after his own. They have proved his glider, and artificial heart pump model worked, and the Royal Engineers are building his
armoured land turret for an upcoming episode. It would be interesting to see someone tackle his underwater craft design.
The first serious discussion of submarines, or underwatercraft began in the 16th Century.
In 1578, English Mathmatician and naval writer, William Bourne, described an underwater boat ( the "18th Devise") but did not actually build it. It
was enclosed could be submerged and rowed under water. Consisting of a wooden frame enclosed in waterproofed leather,it submerged by reducing its
internal volume by using hand turned vises.
Cornelis Drebbel, a Dutch born inventor demonstrated what may have been the first workable navigable submersible. Between 1620-1624 he conducted
repeated trials during which he successfully manouvered his craft at depths between 12 to 15 feet ( 4 - 5m) beneath the Thames River, England. King
James I was said to have been taken on a run.
Drebbels craft resembled Bournes proposal. Its outer hull was greased leather stretched over a wooden frame. Oars extended through the side, with
tight fitting leather flaps, for surface and underwater propulsion. He went on to build two larger craft based on the same design.
In the 18th Century numerous submarine craft designs had been created. By 1727 no fewer than 27 had been patented in England alone. One designers
proposal was described in the Gentlemans Magazine
of 1747. Its ballasting technique was innovative. It had goat skin bags attached along the
the outside hull with each skin attached to a hole in the bottom of his craft. He would fill these with water to sink the boat, and use a twisting rod
to force the water out of the bags to surface. The basics of the modern submarine ballast system.
More in a few days. I hope.