9 thoughts on “The Hunley”

  1. It has always been my understanding that the spar was to be used to place the “torpedo” against the hull of the target ship, held there by a barb on the torpedo. The Hunley would then back away over 100 feet while trailing a rope that was attached to the torpedos mechanical detonator and by which it could be activated with a with a quick tug on the rope.

    Ms Lance is assuming that the torpedo was detonated while still attached to the end of the spar and the Hunley only ~16 feet away. For that to have happened the torpedo would have to have accidentally detonated before Hunley backed off or the Captain of the Hunley decided, foolishly, to detonate it before backing off.

  2. when it was discovered exactly how the Hunley delivered its attack

    This line baffled me because I remember reading about their method when I was a kid.

    1. That’s what I thought too, but then I did some research today and found that it has been determined by physical evidence that the torpedo was in fact detonated while still attached to the spar rather than detached and detonated after the Hunley had moved away some distance.

  3. That’s some pressure wave and some hull strength to flex the hull enough so that a pressure wave impulse inside the hull was created that was strong enough to kill them, without the hull breaking.

    1. If the detonation occurred below the water line totally believable to me. Water really, really, doesn’t like to be compressed.

      1. It’s the hull strength that is boggling to me – not the ability of water to create the pressure wave.

        That the hull is strong enough to flex enough to create a killer pressure wave in air inside the hull, but NOT break the hull.

  4. Without going back and double checking, I think I read in that article that the Hunley’s hull was a salvaged steam boiler, a big one. By the time of the Civil War there was a good deal of experience in knowing how to engineer those things to avoid catastrophic ruptures. IIRC that was a favorite way of river boats going bye-bye prior to the war.

    OTOH the Hunley would have been narrow side to the wave front. Which would have been dispersive assuming a spherical shock wave. I wonder if it was really water over-pressure or a pressure wave induced from the spar? Like the clapper on a bell? There appears some debate on what the spar was made of wood or metal. But photos from here would tend to indicate metal, likely iron.


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