This is a series of articles that has grown out of the daily listings of what happened "On This Day". Many of the events, particularly those related to science, seemed to us to need some more information than is possible in the daily listing format. Still others had amusing or informative anecdotes associated with them that we felt were worth sharing with our Visitors. The series is designed for browsing and dipping into and we have therefore set up a comprehensive system of links to make this as easy and as enjoyable as possible.
This series of articles will present occasional anecdotal, amusing and factual notes behind the people and events in history digests. People are indexed according to their family or surnames whereas kings, popes, emperors etc. are listed according to their regnal names- e.g. Charles Boycott would be found under B, Pope Gregory under G and Queen Mary Tudor under M. Other items are indexed by the most significant word in the title, for example Artificial Ice will be found under I but Sad Iron will be found under S.
Within the series there are two sets of links. At the top of each page there will be a table of links to the other indexing letters to allow browsing by individual pages. That also appears on this page. At the bottom of each page you will also find a set of links which will allow you to scroll backward (Previous) and forward (next) through the pages. The pages are looped so the "Previous" link from A will be to Z and the "Next" link from Z will be to A. There will also be a central link back to the introduction page whose main content is an alphabetic list of the complete set of entries. From here, you will be able to browse the titles of the individual entries and jump directly to those that interest you.
This was a midget submarine which measured just fifty feet long and five feet nine inches broad. The idea behind these small, cramped, four man submarines was quite simple, to construct a small craft capable of operating in confined waters and deliver a large explosive charge to either an enemy vessel or construction.
They were too small to carry torpedoes. Instead, they were fitted with an external large ( 2 to 3 ton) explosive charge on either side of the hull. These charges were held to the submarine by a single bolt. When the charge was to be dropped the bolt was undone by unwinding a large handle inside the hull. A timer was preset to allow the submarine time to withdraw to a safe distance before the charge went off. Unfortunately, the vessels bobbed to the surface as soon as the charges were dropped, considerably increasing the risks to the crew.
The craft had a very limited range and was taken to a point close to the target on the deck of another vessel or towed there by another submarine. On the surface, they were steered by the captain who had to stand on deck (held in place by a system of straps) steering with a pole mechanism attached to the top of the rudder, this they had to do at night in all weathers. The craft were also fitted with a water lock to allow a diver to leave the submarine and attach limpet mines to enemy targets. The missions undertaken by these craft were often extremely hazardous and the casualty rates were very high.
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