I have always been an American history buff. I was aware that the first use of the Submarine during war was during the American Civil War. Since learning this fact, I had become, in a sense, amazed with submarines – thus, I have become rather interested in them. I found this paper as a good chance to learn more, a lot more, about early submarines and the evolution of them.
With the ability to sink both large and small warships with the same percent chance, the value of the submarine is great because it was much cheaper to build than larger warships in the late 19th and early 20th century. The submarine has a way of concealing itself that is denied to the torpedo boat by submergence. However, the submarine is much slower, and when it does take advantage of it’s means of concealment, it becomes even slower and really hinders it’s ability to sink other ships.
Ever since the American Civil War, naval engineers have been striving to solve the problem of submarine navigation, but until 1884 with very little success. In September of 1884, of the Swedish coast, the Prince of Wales, with the King and Queen of Denmark and the Czarina witnessed a successful trial of the new submarine, which had been built in Stockholm based on the plans of Mr. Nordenfelt, the inventor of the machine guns that which were commonly used in warfare in 1885.
The Nordenfelt submarine was built of steel and was cigar shaped with a glass conning tower in the center, from which the skipper could keep a look out. There are three engines, one to work the screw in the stern, which propels the submarine, and two to work the propellers on either side, which, when in motion, allow the submarine to submerge and maintain a certain depth beneath the surface. When it wishes to submerge, enough sea water is taken in as to reduce the buoyancy enough so that just the tower is above the surface. The side propellers would then be set in motion, allowing the submarine to sink to a required depth. The great thing about this boat is that, should there be a failure of the engine, the boat, from its own buoyancy, would rise to the surface.
Experiments were conducted in 1910 with he British submarine “D1″, the largest in the British Navy. These experiments were successfully carried out. What were these experiments. Well, the “D1″ was able to maintain communication while submerged. The “D1″ replied from below the surface. The tests were conducted at a level deep enough so that the periscope would be kept just above the water line and the rest of the boat was submerged. The periscope was half way up the mast.
To compare the American technology to that of the European world, in 1913, the largest submarine built for the United States Navy was just short of 500 tons displacement submerged. The submarine proposed for the Russian’s Czar’s Navy was to be nearly 10 times as great, 5,400 tons of displacement submerged.
The tendencies in the construction of early submarines was mainly toward an increase in their displacement. In 1913, the idea to equip submarines with defensive and protective weapons, in addition to torpedoes, came about. These guns could be used in defense against enemy submarines or even against enemy planes, to give you an example of their necessity. In order to reduce as much as possible the water resistance in traveling below the surface, tapering-carriage guns of non-rusting nickel steel were chosen in the case of small caliber weapons. On the other hand, medium caliber guns needed to be stowed away while submerged. However, since this is a defensive weapon, it is clear that the gun needed few manipulations and be able to be quickly prepared for use. For early guns, twenty seconds were required to get the gun into fighting order and to attach the breech sight and shoulder rest, and the same time was required to remove these parts and stow the gun away below the deck for submergence.
“The submarine, when within torpedo range, is superior to the battleship, since the battleship is vulnerable to the torpedo-the weapon of the submarine.” However, even when in torpedo range, the submarine does not have victory assured. Early submarines were cheaper than larger warships. They were a very effective weapon against those larger ships, as long as they could get close enough. The largest drawback of the early submarine was their speed. Even on the surface, they were slower than other surface boats. Their ability to submerge was, and still is unique. However, upon submergence, their speed was hindered even more! So, the submarine is truly an engineering feet. As a naval ship, though, it has its ups and downs. But don’t all ships?!
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