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Holland1 Submarine 1902 – 1913 (work-in-progress)

Please read these notes.
This is the first stage of my project to model and animate the British Holland 1 submarine. It is a work-in-progress animation, and will be updated after further research.

In 1900 the British shipbuilder, Vickers, purchased a licence from the Electric Boat Company of the United States to build 5 Holland design submarines for the Royal Navy. These became Holland numbers 1 to 5. They were very similar to the US Adder class submarines. They were 64 ft in length, nearly 12 ft in diameter and displaced 110 tons. Propulsion was provided by a 160 HP petrol (gasoline) engine giving 8 knots when surfaced, and a 70 HP electric motor giving 7 knots when dived. Each submarine had a single tube to launch an 18 inch torpedo, with up to 2 reloads. The Holland submarines were used to assess the capabilities of submarines for attacking and also to work out anti-submarine tactics.

The Hollands were very limited in their capabilities and soon were superseded by larger Vickers designs.

Holland 5 was lost at sea in 1912. Holland 4 was used as a gunnery target while the other three were sold for scrap in 1913.

In November 1913, the obsolete submarine Holland 1 was being towed to a scrapyard when it foundered off the Eddystone lighthouse in the English Channel. She was salvaged in 1982 and underwent several years of treatment to counteract corrosion. She is now housed at the Royal Naval Submarine Museum at Gosport, England.

A 4-cylinder 160 HP gasoline (petrol) engine similar to that installed in the U.S. Adder submarines, but build by the Wolsley company in the UK, and an electric (shunt-wound) electric motor, which I understand was bought from the Electric Boat Company.

The petrol engine was started using the electric motor. There are three clutches to be engaged for the engine to drive the propeller. The one nearest the engine is a friction clutch – this can be engaged or disengaged while the engine is running. However the other two are dog clutches that can only safely be engaged when the shaft is stopped.

So the sequence is.
1. engage friction clutch
2. rotate the engine crank shaft (by hand) until the other two dog clutches can be engaged
3. start up the electric motor, which then cranks the engine
4. I have a concern now – there is a risk that sea water could leak past the (soot encrusted) exhaust valves when dived or the engine is stopped on the surface. Water in the cylinder is incompressible, so the either the cranking would stall or, worse, the compression stroke could crack a cylinder head. So there should be some relief valve that could be opened, or a mechanism to lift all the exhaust valves, regardless of the valve cam position before cranking begins, to blow out any water.
5. Once the electric motor has the engine spinning nicely, turn on the fuel and then turn on the ignition – and hopefully the engine will fire.
6. Current to the electric motor can then be switched off.

My thanks to the Library of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Drawings – John Lambert

‘The Evolution of the Submarine Boat Mine and Torpedo’, Commander Murray F Sueter RN, 1907

Torpedo Manual Vol III, 1909

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