Experimental submarine Brandtaucher. This model built in a scale of 1:16 by Udo Makowski is part of our display on the history of subaquatic warfare on deck 5.
This submarine prototype from 1851 had the rather poetical name “Brandtaucher”, which translates to „Fire Diver“ in English. It was the invention of the South German engineer and naval officer Wilhelm Bauer (1822-1875). He had the idea of building a subaquatic warship in 1849, while deployed in Denmark during the First Schleswig War. Later, while stationed in Jutland, he studied the underwater movements of the seals to further develop his design. Actually, the submarine also wore the nickname „Iron Seal“. He returned to Bavaria in 1849 and presented his invention to a military commission, but they dismissed the project. He then went to Northern Germany and joined the Army of Schleswig-Holstein, that showed interest in the project and asked him to develop it further and build a model. He did that in the city of Kiel. The reactions were positive, but the state would not pay for the realization. Bauer then decided to look for private funding. He managed to put some money together and the engineer August Howaldt started the construction in his factory, the Maschinenfabrik und Eisengießerei Schweffel & Howaldt, in Kiel. The lack of sufficient funds forced Bauer and Howaldt to build a cheaper version of the original idea. Among other changes, the hull had to be made thinner. This actually condemned the project to fail. The “Brandtaucher” had a crew of 3 and was driven by a manually powered propeller. It carried a 50 kg heavy bomb that could be fixed to enemy vessels and detonated from a distance.
On February the 1st 1851, Bauer and two other men tested the Brandtaucher off of Kiel. The submarine sunk. The hull was too thin and could not stand the pressure, letting water in the vessel. Bauer and his two companions managed to exit the “Brandtaucher” and survived the experience. The wreck of the “Brandtaucher” was salvaged in 1882 and is on display at the Museum of Military History of the Bundeswehr in Dresden (MHM Dresden. A functional model built by Bauer himself in 1852 is displayed at the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
This model built in a scale of 1:16 by Udo Makowski is part of our display on the history of subaquatic warfare on deck 5.