I followed the stories about the Russian K-129 (Wiki) for many decades and have had an interest in submarines for much longer. Recently learning about sonobuoys and torpedos has rekindled that interest. This page was made as I started to read Going Deep: John Philip Holland and the invention of the attack submarine (2017) by Lawrence Goldstone as a way to keep track of the patents.
HunleyThe Hunley (Wiki, Hunley.org) is called the first successful (depending on how they defined that word) submarine because it sank the USS Housatonic (Wiki). A paper dated 23 Aug 2017 from Duke University Confederate Submarine Crew Killed By Their Own Weapon shows that soft tissue damage to the lungs and brains of the crew was the problem. Note that the "torpedo" they used was a "spar torpedo" not an "automobile" type and was on a 16 foot spar. Since it contained about 135 pounds of gun powder. The PLOS article is:
Air blast injuries killed the crew of the submarine H.L. Hunley, 2017-08-23.
Note that the plan was to attach the spar torpedo to the USS Housatonic and then back off maybe 150 feet before exploding it, but something went wrong and the torpedo exploded while still on the spar, much too close to the sub for the occupants to survive. A big part of the design of U.S. military munitions is "Safe and Arm" (MIL-STD-1316) to prevent the type of accident that befell the Hunley. A normal S&A function is to insure that the weapon has traveled a safe distance from the launching platform before it's armed. A common approach is a small propeller that needs to make a predetermined number of turns and/or a minimum amount of time needs to elapse after launch.
From prior reading the crush depth for a W.W.II submarine is about the same as it's length, on the order of a few hundred feet. It took a lot of improvement in metallurgy and sub design to get to the deep diving subs of today.
John Holland (Wiki) is the father of today's submarine, and in the patents section below are key problems he solved. In Reference 1 there are many dozen early designs for underwater vehicles, but they all suffer major problems. Patent 815350 (below) shows some sailors so gives a rough idea of the size of the first Holland Sub. The Electric Boat Co. (Wiki) was formed to build Holland Subs.
At what time was the air compressor for charging the Whitehead torpedoes on board the sub and if it was not then how long between charging the torpedoes until the air leaked out cutting the range in half?
Royal Navy - Holland 1 -
John Holland was cheated out of his patents and removed from the Electric Boat Co. To be replaced by the technician Frank Cable who used electrical heating to dry out electrical cables in a sub that sank.
The early patents are all about control and stability underwater. The major concept missing from earlier attempts. Sort of like the key thing the Wright Brothers (Wiki) brought to airplanes was a control system so it could be steered. Prior aeroplanes were focused exclusivity on flying rather than crashing.
The S-boats (Wiki) made between W.W.I and W.W.II had an operating depth of 200 feet and an overall length of 240 feet. That's to say they had very limited diving capability.
The very first scale model used a clockwork as a power source. The first sub built for the navy was designed to have a combined gasoline engine and a DC motor, but the U.S. Navy changed that to a steam boiler, like used on surface ships, but that turned out to make the inside so hot that no humans could be involved.
The first working Holland sub could use either the engine or motor to power the propeller. This was true for the S-boats where each of the 4 engines could be connected to either a generator or propellers. The later classes of boats were true diesel-electric (Wiki) and the engines never were connected to the propellers.
The S-boats had a range of about 5,000 miles, much shorter than the "Fleet Boats" made for W.W.II that can cross oceans.
Electro-Dynamic Co. (Wiki) made electric motors for electric Launch Co. (Wiki ELCO) which were later used in submarines. W.W. Griscom (Wiki) died in 1897. In 1899 Isaac Rice (Wiki) took over (cheated) John Holland of his patents, took over his company and renamed it Electric Boat Co. (Wiki). He also controlled ELCO and Electric Storage Battery Co. (Wiki) (later called Exide Co. In 1952 Electric Boat Co. became part of General Dynamics (Wiki).
356834 Electric motor, William W. Griscom, Feb 1, 1887, 310/40R; 310/216.094; 310/60R; 310/64 - more efficient than prior art motors
397424 Connection of electrical circuits, WIlliam W. Griscom, Henry N. Weiner, Electro Dynamic Co., Feb 5, 1889, 307/9.1; 200/51.1; 307/66; 439/291 -
In the very late 1890s the gasoline engine was replaced by a diesel engine (Wiki) made in Germany which was much safer.
542846 Method and Apparatus for Converting Heat into Work, Rudolf Diesel, July 16, 1895, 123/27R; 123/1R; 123/25C; 123/25Q; 123/294; 123/58.4; 123/65VB; 60/39.76 -
The very early submarines never dived, i.e. they ran "Awash" so that a man's head could be above the surface. But as soon as they could dive they were essentially running blind. The idea was that the periscope could be used to see what was going on but people on ships would have a difficult time seeing the small periscope.
Toward the end of W.W.II the S-band (10 cm) APS-20 RADAR was replaced with the X-band (3 cm) APS- 31 RADAR (9.375 GHz, 200 mile range) which was much better at seeing periscopes.
The periscope at left uses an special prism to get the image right side up, but suffers in that the distance between (a) and (b) is fixed.
The lenses comprise a right angle telescope.
The periscope at right makes use of collimated light between (c1) and (c2) so the distance between these two lenses can be changed without any effect on the image. This allows the periscope to telescope.
By Christian Schirm - Own work, after/nach Lexikon der Optik, Spektrum Verlag, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=522876
While there were various periscopes (Wiki) long before their use in submarines, one of the first for a sub was by Simon Lake for his "lake submarine".
Victorian Telescope Makers: The Lives & Letters of Thomas & Howard Grubb by I.G. Glass, 1997 (book on order 15 Aug 2017)
751569 Altiscope or the Like, L.Y. Spear, Electric Boat Co., Feb 9, 1904, 359/402; 114/340 - can move + or - 30 deg from center line of sub (60 deg total).
751569 Altiscope or the Like, L.Y. Spear, Electric Boat Co., Filed: Mar 14, 1903, Pub: Feb 9, 1904, 359/402; 114/340 - can move + or - 30 deg from center line of sub (60 deg total).
832219 Means for preventing condensation in optical tubes, Lawrence Y Spear, Electric Boat Co, Filed: May 26, 1904, Pub: Oct 2, 1906, 114/340; 359/512 - vacuum pump and dry air
832219 Means for preventing condensation in optical tubes, Lawrence Y Spear, Electric Boat Co, Filed: May 26, 1904, Pub: Oct 2, 1906, 114/340; 359/512 - vacuum pump and dry air
941021 Optical instrument, Frederick L G Kollmorgen (Company History), Keuffel & Esser Co, Nov 23, 1909, 359/835 - Telescope that uses Porro prisms (Wiki)
954707 Device for conning submarine boats, Lawrence Y Spear, Electric Boat Co, Priority: May 26, 1904, Pub: Apr 12, 1910, 359/405; 114/340 -
849570 Hydroscope, Giuseppe Pino, Apr 9, 1907, 359/402; 114/66; 359/895 - uses mirrors not lens, to look underwater from above the surface.
1006230 Periscope, Frederick L G Kollmorgen, Keuffel & Esser Co, Oct 17, 1911, 359/401, 89/36.14, 359/402, 114/340 - top of image stays at top even as periscope is rotated. (see: M12 Panoramic Telescope)
1099126 Housing for the conning-towers, periscopes, and ventilating-shafts of submarines, Jun 2, 1914, 114/334, 114/340 - if water can press on periscope tube it gets jammed, so needs protection from moving water
1134388 Optical instrument, Frederick L G Kollmorgen, Keuffel & Esser Co, Apr 6, 1915, 356/21, 356/7, 359/405 - uses "infinity optics" allowing the telescoping of the tube while maintaining the image at any extension.
1203151 Periscope azimuth-indicator, Elmer A Sperry, Sperry Gyroscope Co Ltd, Oct 31, 1916, 356/142, 359/405 -
1222156 Cleaning periscope-glasses, Joseph A Steinmetz, Apr 10, 1917, 359/509, 52/171.1, 114/340 -
1270876 Periscope and optical system therefor, George N Saegmuller, Gustav A H Kellner, Bausch & Lomb, Jul 2, 1918 359/405 - hemisphere coverage
1290744 Periscope, Aladar Hollander, Electric Boat Co, Jan 7, 1919, 114/340, 359/403 - can be used either in coning tower or just below
1290745 Periscope, Aladar Hollander, Electric Boat Co, Jan 7, 1919, 114/340, 359/403 - "
1309639 Periscope, L. G. Kollmorgen, (not assigned), Jul 15, 1919, 359/403 - ability to change objectives for different powers
1361358 Periscope, Bedell Charles H, Electric Boat Co, Dec 7, 1920, 356/143, 359/405 - bearing appears in the field of view.
1514621 Stuffing box, Kollmorgen Frederick L G, Kollmorgen Optical Corp, Nov 11, 1924, 114/340 -
1986731 Combination periscope and stadimeter, Frederick L G Kollmorgen, Jan 1, 1935, 356/7, 356/22, 359/403 - for range finding (see: method of stadia, stadimeter)
2503748 Hydraulic periscope elevating system, Kollmorgen Ernst O, Kollmorgen Optical Corp, Apr 11, 1950, 359/406, 92/111, 91/167.00R, 254/93.00R, 91/531 -
2522280 Periscope mount, Kollmorgen Ernst O, Kollmorgen Optical Corp, Sep 12, 1950, 359/406 - main tube is hinged
2780941 Multiple revolution limit stop device, Kollmorgen Ernst O, Kollmorgen Optical Corp, Feb 12, 1957, 74/10.2, 74/548, 74/553, 338/334 - needed if no slip rings.
2858732 Mechanism for eliminating parallax from telescopic sights and the like, Ernst O Kollmorgen, Henry G Theuer, Kollmorgen Optical Corp, Nov 4, 1958, 359/428, 42/122 - "Telescope, Rifle, 4XD, MC-1", "FSN 1240 647 1106 US" - do not see this as patentable since it was used on surveying equipment for maybe 10 years
2861203 Torquer, Luneau John R, Unruh Christian H H, Inland Motor Corp, Nov 18, 1958, 310/40.00R, 310/235, 310/43, 310/214, 310/154.13 - while developed for Gyroscopes, later used to to help rotate periscopes. (Kollmorgen)
2884831 Instantaneous reader for moving dials, Lionel Rawlings John, Nicholas Ciaffardini Aldo, Kollmorgen Optical Corp, May 5, 1959, 356/154, 250/463.1, 33/348, 353/40 - a flash of light on a phosphor screen is used to capture the position of a rapidly rotating index.
There are two types of Sonar, one is passive listening and the other is active "pinging" where the time for the echo to return gives the range.
There are two frequency ranges: normal human hearing (20 - 20,000 Hz) and Ultrasonic (Wiki)
Countermeasures (367/1)2710458 Underwater acoustic decoy, Reed Donald G, Secretary of the Navy, Filed: Jun 14, 1945, (10 Year Delay) Pub: Jun 14, 1955, 434/6, 114/20.1, 367/1, 434/25 - training sonar operators
2887671 Echo elongator, Burton Frankel, Cupp Frederick B, Clevite Corp, May 19, 1959, 367/1, 434/6 -Training Simulator - Referenced by 15 patents - magnetic wheel
2938483 Acoustic decoy, Russell I Mason, Secretary of the Navy, Filed: Nov 29, 1945 (15 Year Delay) Pub: May 31, 1960, 114/20.1, 369/69, 367/1 - phonograph record
2975396 Artificial sonar target, Richard A Mueller, Secretary of the Navy, Filed: (11 Year Delay) Pub: Mar 14, 1961, 367/1, 434/6, 114/20.1 - false target torpedo shaped, maybe smaller both return echo and running sound.
3180295 Submarine simulator, Christopher Niederer Otto, Apr 27, 1965, 114/20.1, 367/2, 434/6, 367/1 - torpedo which is a submarine decoy
3209314 Sound beacon, Vaughn G Mckenney, William A Myers, Secretary of the Navy, Filed: Aug 9, 1944, (21 Year Delay ) Pub: Sep 28, 1965, 367/1, 367/137, 102/390 -
4183008 Noise making device, Ralph P. Crist, Secretary Of The Navy, Priority: May 12, 1958 ( ) Pub: Jan 8, 1980, 367/142, 116/27 - random noise 10 Hz to 100 kHz output, floating, sub launched, much smaller than torpedo, magnesium-silver chloride water activated battery
4194246 Chemical canister, Ralph P. Crist, Secretary Of The Navy, Filed: May 12, 1958 ( ) Pub: Mar 18, 1980, 367/1, 441/22, 441/12 - gas generator for flotation and power
4202047 Acoustic jammer and torpedo decoy, Vivian L. Chrisler, deceased, William H. Gilbert, George L. Boyer, ecretary Of The Navy, Filed: Feb 27, 1953 (27 Year Delay) Pub: May 6, 1980, 367/1, 181/142, 116/27 - motor driven floating buoy with time delayed start - decoy surface ship for sub or torpedo.
Fessenden oscillator (Wiki)
This was an Canadian response to the sinking of the Titanic (Wiki) and amounts to a SONAR system. Note the "Submarine" in Submarine Signal Company has to do with underwater bells, not so much as underwater vehicles. These were used at light houses and buoys according to Submrine Signals (Ref 12).
1167366 Dynamo-electric machinery, Reginald A Fessenden, Submarine Signal Co, Jan 4, 1916, 310/15, 310/169, 123/46.00E, 290/1.00R, 367/175, 204/193, 116/137.00A - generate and receive underwater sound.
Fig 1 is a version that uses an electromagnet, an AC winding and a copper tube acting as a single turn coil.
Fig 2 is another version using a permanent magnet.
Fig 3 is a version where the shorted copper tube is powered by a gas engine.
Fig 4 is a wiring diagram for sending or receiving either a tone or voice.
Note that the patent does not mention the idea of receiving a reflected tone burst, but this was done detecting ice burgs out to two miles.
1207388 Method and apparatus for submarine signaling, Reginald A Fessenden, Submarine Signal Co, Dec 5, 1916, 367/134 -
Plan Position Indicator (PPI)
In the book Pig Boats (Ref 5) they mention that special equipment was fitted to submarines to detect naval mines in the Bay of Japan toward the end of W.W.II. This was developed by the Univ. of California, Division of War Research (Wiki) and was called the QLA. SONAR (Ref 8) pg 263 says: "The QLA echo-ranging equipment is an f-m scanning sonar. It provides a plan-position indication (PPI) of underwater objects within sound range. It can be installed on submarines or surface vessels. In contrast to the searchlight-type sonar, the f-m sonar provides continuous area search coupled with the ability to detect very small objects." The reference has some details of how it works.
In Principles of Underwater Sound (Ref-9) 11.4 Scanning Sonar - FM the QLA principle of operation is covered
In An Ocean in Common (Ref 10) the subs outfitted with the QLA were: Spadefish 20 Oct 1944, Tinosa (SS-283) Nov, Bowfin (SS-287) Dec, Stickleback (SS-415) June. A total of 20 sets were deployed before then end of W.W.II.
Robert M. Page
2629866 Position indicating apparatus (PPI), Page Robert M, not assigned, Filed: Sep 19, 1942, Pub: Feb 24, 1953, 342/144, 342/176 - maybe for use with RADAR or radio?
Robert Morris Page (Wiki; Patents) - Over The Horizon RADAR (Wiki) - Monopulse RADAR (Wiki) 2929056 - IFF (Wiki; patent No.:2541092, 3311912, 3296615)
Harvey C Hayes
Many patents related to SONAR development between world wars.
1632331 Submarine sound receiver, Harvey C Hayes, Jun 14, 1927, 181/198, 367/149, 116/27 -
Adapting inertia microphone for use underwater. Normal audio range.
1742704 Apparatus for receiving and determining the direction of submarine sounds, Harvey C Hayes, Jan 7, 1930 - 367/174 - improved microphone
1729595 Distance-measuring device, Harvey C Hayes, Sep 24, 1929, 367/99 - sonic depth measuring - spinning wheel & Light
2041710 Sound detecting apparatus, Harvey C Hayes, May 26, 1936, 73/570, 381/191, 331/40, 332/137, 331/65, 367/181 - differential capacitance mike
2374637 Supersonic apparatus, Harvey C Hayes, Filed: Sep 10, 1931, Pub: Apr 24, 1945, 367/158, 381/173, 116/137.00A, 29/25.35, 310/340, 340/384.6, 367/166, 116/DIG.180 - piezo-electric hydrophone/ultrasonic projector
2459162 Acoustical sound locating device, Harvey C Hayes, Filed: Nov 16, 1940, Pub: Jan 18, 1949, 181/125, 367/104, 367/151, 367/103 -
motor driven 360 deg scan
2474842 Indicator, Harvey C Hayes, Filed: Dec 31, 1940, Pub: Jul 5, 1949, 368/89, 368/227, 367/107 -
In Going Deep, Chapter 1 there is the recounting of the W.W. I battle of September 22, 1914 (Wiki) involving the British Battle Cruisers (Wiki) HMS Aboukir (Wiki), HMS Hogue (Wiki) and HMS Cressy (Wiki) and the German U-9 (Wiki) armed with 18" Whitehead design torpedos that use the Brotherhood 3 cylinder radial engine. (NavWeaps)
239046 Screw Propeller, John P. Holland, Mar 22, 1881, 416/90R; 416/90A -
337000 Hydrocarbon-engine, P. Holland, Mar 2, 1886, 123/275; 123/286; 123/292; 123/41R; 123/41.34; 123/41.76; 123/58.2; 123/61V; 123/69V; 74/567 - based on double acting steam engine valving and designed for street cars.
472670 Submergible torpedo-boat, John P. Holland, Apr 12, 1892, 114/333; 114/1; 114/334 - steam powered with tall smoke stack (4) and snorkel (15), conning tower (16), fore and aft torpedo or gun tubes (6).
491051 Submarine gun, John P. Holland, Jan 31, 1893, 89/5; 114/320; 89/1.51; 89/31 - shoots a dart trailing a line which is connected to an explosive. For attacking wooden ships 492960 Steering apparatus for submarine vessels, John P. Holland, Mar 7, 1893, 114/152; 114/163; 114/311; 114/332 - cables over pulleys - similar to early aircraft
522177 Submarine Torpedo Boat, P. Holland, Jun 26, 1894, 114/327; 114/179; 114/210; 114/238; 114/335; 114/340; 405/192; 89/5 -
There are a number of details.
537113 Submergible boat, John P. Holland, Apr 9, 1895, 114/317; 114/238; 405/185 - Fuel pump (e1) and water pump (e2) maintain boat weight. Torpedoes stored in cylinders that are filled with water pushing piston the removed torpedo, maintaining boat weight.
1897 Holland V "Plunger" (Wiki) - 85' long, 12' diameter, two torpedo tubes - experimental sub
1897 Holland VI (USS Holland SS-1) (Wiki) -experimental sub
681222 Submarine vessel, John P Holland, Electric Boat Co, Aug 27, 1901, 114/333 -
HMS Holland 1 1901 (Wiki) - 63' 10" long, 11' 9" beam, Petrol engine + Electric motor, one each 18" torpedo tube & 3 Whitehead (Wiki) torpedoes
Royal Navy Submarine Museum - HMS Holland I -
684698 Storage battery, Robert Mca Lloyd, Electric Boat Co, Oct 15, 1901, 206/524.3; 190/40; 217/131; 429/176 - rugged
693272 Automatic diving mechanism for submarine boats, John P Holland, Feb 11, 1902, 114/332; 114/25; 114/285 - while aimed at subs & torpedoes, this mechanism may have suffered from the same torpedo depth control issues ("The Secret")
683400 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Electric Boat Co, Sep 24, 1901, 114/317; 114/238; 114/319 - Weight compensation for torpedo firing 684429 Visual indicator for submarine boats, John P Holland, Electric Boat Co, Oct 15, 1901, 73/178R; 33/391; 73/299 - inclination & depth
694154 Submarine boat or vessel, John P Holland, Feb 25, 1902, 114/333 - allow for difference in water density between fresh and salt water and pay attention to the relative locations of the centers of buoyancy and gravity.
696971 Firing-valve for subsurface expulsion-tubes, John P Holland, Apr 8, 1902, 114/238 - "submarine torpedo tube"
696972 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Apr 8, 1902, 114/337; 114/185 - venting fuel tank to outside, while taking in air from the inside
681221 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Electric Boat Co, Aug 27, 1901, 114/333; 114/25 - automatic maximum depth mechanism
694153 Means for automatically ballasting submarine boats, John P Holland, Feb 25, 1902, 114/333; 114/25 - fresh v. salt water
694643 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Mar 4, 1902, 114/339 - Exterior compass mounting - at attempt to escape the problem of an all metal boat (I expect it did not work. The Gyrocompass was invented expressly so that metallic boats and submarines could have a compass.
702728 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Electric Boat Co, Jun 17, 1902, 114/333 - setting centers of gravity, buoyancy & volume for surface or submerged running 702729 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Electric Boat Co, Jun 17, 1902, 114/333; 114/338 - buoyancy considerations for running on surface and submerged 706561 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Aug 12, 1902, 114/333 - quick fill and dump ballast tank
708553 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Sep 9, 1902, 114/334; 114/339 - adds deck or promenade for the crew 713198 Torpedo-boat, Francis W Brady, Electric Boat Co, Nov 11, 1902, 114/238 - torpedo tube for sub
738879 Automatic diving mechanism for submarine boats, Francis W Brady, Electric Boat Co, Sep 15, 1903, 114/332; 114/25 - see 693272 above
739735 Compensating device for submarine or submergible boats, Lawrence Y Spear, Electric Boat Co, Sep 22, 1903, 114/238 - torpedo weight 764556 Clinometer, Frank T Cable, Electric Boat Co, Jul 12, 1904, 33/381; D10/69 - two tubes with different radius (different sensitivity)
815350 Submarine boat, John P Holland, Mar 20, 1906, 114/333 - minimize liquid slosh problems by placing tanks near center of buoyancy
832219 Means for preventing condensation in optical tubes, Lawrence Y Spear, Electric Boat Co, Oct 2, 1906, 114/340; 359/512 - for periscopes
There are many more patents by Electric Boat Co. for both submarines and PT boats
Torpedoes, naval mines, hedgehogs
1. Submarine Navigation Past and Present, 1903 - has many drawings of early attempts at submarine design. The word "navigation" means something like a survey, not finding your position.
2. Going Deep: John Philip Holland and the invention of the attack submarine (2017) by Lawrence Goldstone
3. The Submarine in War and Peace, Simon Lake, 1918
4. The Defender: The Story of General Dynamics by Roger Franklin, 1986 - Note that GD started out with Electric Boat and after W.W.II added other companies.
5. Pig Boats, Theodore Roscoe, 1982 - formerly titled United States Submarine Operations in World War II. Written by the U.S. Navy non fiction.
6. The Naval Institute Guide to the Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, Norman Polmar, 2005
7. Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines, Norman Polmar & K.J. Moore, 2004
8. NAVAL SONAR, NAVPERS 1088, on-line @ Maritime.org-
9. Principles of Underwater Sound, NDRC, declassified 1954 - I'd say it's the bible of sonar.
10. An Ocean in Common: American Naval Officers, Scientists and the Ocean Environment, Gary E. Weir, 2001 -
11. The Submarine: A History by Tom Parris, 2004, 2005
12. Submarine Signals, Submarine Signal Co., 1906 - lists underwater bells at lighthouses and buoys as well as ships fitted with the receiving equipment to get bearings.
13. The Fessenden oscillator: History, electroacoustic model, and performance estimate - abstract
14. Slide Rules and Submarines: AMerican Scientists and Subsurface Warfare in World War II, Montgomery C. Meigs, 1990, 2002, ISBN: 0-89875-905-6
15. A History of U.S. Navy Periscope Detection Radar: Sensor Design and Development, Shannon, Moser, Rite-Solutions, N00178-04-D-4115, 31 Dec 2014.
16. The Submarine: A History, Thomas Parrish, 2004, ISBN: 0-670-03313-8
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