A Boy-Powered Submarine (Jan, 1932)

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A Boy-Powered Submarine

By DEE ENGEL

Many of the towns lying along the Platte River are close to sand pits — depressions made when sand is dredged. These fill up with clear water and the sandy sloping bottoms make these various pools ideal for swimming and other water sports. Don Webb lives in Kearney, Nebraska, and of course there is an abundance of these miniature lakes close by; so Don built a sub which is manned by a couple of boys. And to say that they have a lot of fun with it is putting it mildly.

The sub is 10 feet long, has a rudder, submerging fins, a periscope and air vent. The stunt is this; by means of cross bars and it becomes buoyant. Then the fun begins. With a nice supply of air, the boys can paddle about, entirely hidden from outside view. And when they want to submerge, the pilot pushes a wire connected to the rubber-lined cap on the air-pipe; which lets some of the air escape until the weight of the craft and their bodies makes the specific gravity nearly that of the water. Now, by pushing the fin lever (also within reach inside) the sub noses down under water, when the fins are set with the front edges at about a 30-degree angle. The periscope permits them to navigate quite nicely and is also helpful even when under water.

8 comments
  1. Anne says: December 13, 20109:57 am

    This seems pretty darn dangerous, considering the Hunley, a submarine constructed along similar principles, kept sinking during the Civil War. http://en.wikipedia.org…

  2. Toronto says: December 13, 201011:36 am

    Ah, the Nebraska Navy!

  3. Kosher Ham says: December 13, 201011:50 am

    Actually I think that there was a sub called the “turtle” that predated the hunley.

  4. Kosher Ham says: December 13, 201011:51 am

    P.S., submarines are supposed to sink!

  5. Anne says: December 13, 201012:11 pm

    Submarines are supposed to ‘sink’, but they’re also supposed to be able to surface, too. Otherwise, nobody would ever use one. :-P

  6. Solospirit says: December 13, 20101:33 pm

    The OCR’d text is missing one paragraph that is at the top right :) read that and this will seem a lot safer than th Hunley.

  7. Richard says: December 13, 20101:56 pm

    While this does seem rather dangerous by today’s standards, and I can’t imagine a big publication’s lawyers allowing this to be published today, it seems downright tame compared to the cycle glider on the cover illustration of the issue.

  8. Charlene says: December 14, 20104:11 pm

    He had better watch out for pirates…or are they only found further north?

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