“Come with Me on My Jeepmarine” (Sep, 1944)
The headline kind of reminds me of this old ad.
“Come with Me on My Jeepmarine”
Submarine holidays are made possible by a peacetime adaptation of the British “torpedo built for two”
By WALTER NUNN O’BONDIE
EVERYBODY seems to be thinking of flying for fun after the war. Many Americans apparently hope to swap their flivvers for helicopters and spend their spare time dangling from the sky, munching hot dogs bought at a convenient blimp filling station. But not for me! My wife and I are going to spend our week ends touring the bottom of the sea on our jeepmarine. We plan to explore caves and grottoes on the ocean floor. We’ll park our tandem underwater motorbike on the barnacled deck of some ancient wreck, and search for doubloons and pieces of eight. When time permits, we’ll ship our jeepmarine to tropic seas and go riding through coral groves, dismounting occasionally to look for pearls. At least, we’ll be sure to return with a handsome bath sponge of our own plucking.
Such fancies are a diversion from the grim, dirty job of waging war. But my dream has substance; it is far more realizable than the hope of the demobilized pilot to go flitting through the clouds with his ladylove. The initial cost and upkeep of my “submarine built for two” will be much less than that of a flying machine. It will be less dangerous to operate, and I won’t be bothered so much by rules and regulations.
Little serious thought has been given to the peacetime possibilities, for sport and industrial use, of the “human-torpedo” craft designed to attack enemy ships and harbor installations. But I know of two men now assigned to one of these new naval weapons â€”one is a hairdresser in civil life and the other a dry cleanerâ€”who hope to buy a decommissioned jeepmarine from the government after the war and use it to explore the Spanish Main for galleon gold.
The submarine motorbike has a cylindrical chassis 21 feet long. Two persons sit astride it behind conventional-looking motorcycle windscreens. They wear diving suits that weigh less than 50 pounds, and their hands are left bare. Each person can dress himself for undersea cycling in less than five minutes. Oxygen flasks carried on their backs permit them to remain submerged for 10 hours. They may dismount at will and, by regulating the air-escape valve, make their suits so buoyant that they can float like fish at any level. Deflating their suits permits them to walk, with their lead-soled boots keeping them vertical.
The jeepmarine is powered by storage batteries. It can cruise on the surface or dive to any bearable depth, then level off and proceed in any direction. Contra-rotating propellers nullify torque; one propeller is mounted on a hollow shaft revolving around the solid shaft of the other, both driven through a simple gear box. The craft is steered by means of vertical rudders, the same as any small boat; it dives and ascends by use of port and starboard hydroplanes or fins. Movement in all four directionsâ€” up, down, left, or rightâ€”is controlled with a single steering apparatus similar to the stick of an airplane. The present submerged speed is only a little faster than a brisk walk, and the cruising range is about 10 miles. The range could be increased by adding more storage batteries in place of the explosives that the “human torpedo” is built to carry.
Candidates for wartime jeepmarining assignments must pass rigid physical and psychological examinations. But when the hazards of war are removed, any able-bodied person should be capable of operating one of these submarine motorbikes. You will not even be disturbed by your wife’s comments from the rear seat; there is no means of oral communication between persons in separate diving suits.