In 1776, during the American Revolution, inventor David Bushnell decided to take his skills to the next level and build a submarine. And not just any submarine, mind you – this one was specifically designed to attack British ships!
Now, you might be thinking, “But wait, how could a guy in the 18th century possibly build a functional submarine?” Well, let me tell you, Bushnell was no ordinary inventor. He was a genius, a visionary, and a bit of a madman.
Turtle (also called American Turtle) was the world’s first submersible vessel with a documented record of use in combat. It was built in 1775 by American David Bushnell as a means of attaching explosive charges to ships in a harbor, for use against Royal Navy vessels occupying American harbors during the American Revolutionary War. More on Wikipedia.
The submarine he built was called the Turtle, and it was shaped like, you guessed it, a turtle. It was about six feet long and three feet wide, and it had a hatch on top that could be opened and closed by the operator.
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But the real magic of the Turtle was in its propulsion system. Instead of a traditional propeller, Bushnell used a hand-cranked screw that could be turned by the operator to move the submarine through the water. This was cutting-edge technology for its time, and it allowed the Turtle to sneak up on enemy ships without making a sound.
Of course, there were some kinks that needed to be worked out. For example, the Turtle had a tendency to leak, which could lead to some uncomfortable moments for the operator. And since the submarine was powered by a single operator cranking away, it could only go so fast before the operator got tired.
But those were minor details. The Turtle was a marvel of engineering, and Bushnell was convinced that it would turn the tide of the war. He even trained a group of men to operate the submarine, and they carried out several unsuccessful attacks on British ships.
Unfortunately for Bushnell, the Turtle was ultimately a failure. It wasn’t fast enough or maneuverable enough to evade the British navy, and it never sank a single ship. But you’ve got to give the guy credit for trying, right?
And who knows, maybe if Bushnell had access to modern technology, he could have built a submarine that was truly worthy of the name Turtle. Imagine a submarine with a retractable head, or one that could fire explosive charges like the Bushnell’s turtle submarine. The possibilities are endless!
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