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The history of the submarines
The history of submarines is one of ingenuity, adventure and dramatic developments. It would be impossible to cover every single aspect in detail here. Instead, the following outlines the major historical events and developments relating to submarines that are commonly known.
Already in ancient times there were first attempts to realize the idea of bringing people under water using devices. Although no actual submarines existed at this time, the basic idea may have already been rooted in this period.
In the 14th century, Italian inventor Guido da Vigevano made one of the earliest drawings of a submarine. Guido da Vigevano was not only an important doctor, but also a pioneer in the development of military equipment.
Over the course of this century, other inventors explored the idea of a submarine, although the shapes of these submarines varied greatly.
Cornelis Jacobszoon Drebbel of the Netherlands was the first inventor to move from idea to actual construction of a submarine. In the 17th century he built a submarine and reportedly even made a successful voyage on the Thames.
During this time, more and more progress was made in the development of submarines around the world, gradually bringing the functionality closer to today's submarines.
In 1772, the first submarine called “Steinhuder Hecht” was launched in Germany, more precisely in the Steinhuder Meer. This submersible was intended to be used for underwater operations in the event of a siege.
The American David Bushnell created a submarine called "Turtle" in 1776, which embodied the basic idea of a functional submarine.
Another American, Robert Fulton, built the "Nautilus" in 1800, a submarine that was relatively close in functionality to today's submarines. It had air supply from a compressed air system, windage and depth control and a hand-operated crank drive.
In the period that followed, various submarine models were developed around the world that attempted to overcome current challenges. The history of submarines is marked by ideas, adventures and tragic loss of life that occurred during the tests and initial operations of these submarines.
In Russia, Karl Andreevich Schilder built the first submarine made of all-metal construction, but further development was stopped after about ten years.
A few years later, in December 1850, the so-called "Brandtaucher" submarine, designed by artillery sergeant Wilhelm Bauer, was launched in Germany. However, due to financial constraints, essential components were neglected and the submarine sank on its first attempt at diving.
In 1863, the French Navy was able to commission the first submarine called the "Plongeur", which was powered by a piston engine and compressed air propulsion. It was the first submarine that no longer relied on muscle power. About a year later there was another mechanically powered submarine, the “Ictíneo II” in Spain.
During the American Civil War in 1864, the CSS H.L. Hunley became the first submarine to sink an enemy ship in combat.
In 1865, German-American engineer Julius Kröhl developed and built the world's first functional submarine, the "Sub Marine Explorer." This submarine was able to surface independently thanks to ballast tanks and its shape was reminiscent of modern submarines.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the military use of submarines came to the fore as technical advances made it possible to propel submarines mechanically. Various nations announced competitions and awarded contracts to develop promising submarine projects. This significantly accelerated the further development of submarines.
During the First World War, military submarines were used on a larger scale. These submarines were powered by gasoline, diesel, steam or petroleum engines for surface use and electric motors for underwater use. The submarine U 9 was one of the most successful military submarines of that time and sank the most enemy ships in the First World War. Because of these achievements, it was allowed to wear the Iron Cross on the tower.
It becomes clear at this point that the development of submarines was increasingly geared towards military purposes.
During the Second World War, German submarines were notorious, particularly for their so-called "pack tactics." This tactic was made possible by advances in radio technology. In 1942, after Germany declared war on the USA, German Type IX submarines were sent to America. Later even Type VII submarines followed, which had a shorter range. This was possible due to the secure supply of the submarines. Initially, the German submarine attacks were extremely successful and surprised the USA. However, the tide turned in 1943 when the Allies captured and successfully decrypted the German ENIGMA cipher machine. This led to a drastic reduction in the German submarines' chances of success.
Since the end of World War II, submarines have been continually developed for military purposes. Today they even serve as nuclear attack platforms that can attack almost undetected in the event of a nuclear conflict. This makes it difficult for adversaries to take appropriate countermeasures. At the same time, the development of scientific research submarines made significant progress after World War II. Today there are deep-sea submarines that conduct research in the depths of the sea and provide us with important knowledge about the ocean and its inhabitants, as well as about our history, for example sunken ships. In addition, the propulsion development of these submarines has made enormous progress in the last few decades. From nuclear propulsion to research into alternative forms of propulsion such as hydrogen propulsion, these developments have significantly expanded the capabilities and versatility of submarines.
On April 29, 1976, the submarine U-434 was launched and was one of the largest hunting and espionage submarines at the time. Further exciting information about U-434 can be found at the following link: U-Boat 434.