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A model of the Brandtaucher.

Brandtaucher was a submersible designed by the Germanmarker inventor and engineer Wilhelm Bauer and built by Schweffel & Howaldt in Kiel for Schleswig-Holsteinmarker's Flotilla (part of the Reichsflotte) in 1850.

In January 1850 Bauer, a cavalryman during the German-Danish War, designed Brandtaucher as a way to end the Danishmarker naval blockade of Germanymarker. Bauer's early sketch attracted the attention of the Minister of Marine, who allowed him to construct a 70 x 18 x 29 cm model. The model was demonstrated in Kielmarker harbour in front of naval dignitaries. Its satisfactory performance led to the construction of a full-scale model, which was funded by contributions from army personnel and local civilians. Due to the inadequate funding, the scale of the boat had to be downgraded, resulting in a reduced diving depth from 30 m to 9.5 m. Brandtaucher was 8.07 m long, 2.02 m at maximum beam and had a draught of 2.63 m. It was propelled by a crew of three turning large tread wheels connected to a propeller. The boat could reach a speed of 3 knots, but could not be maintained for long periods of time.

On 1 February 1851 Brandtaucher sank after a diving accident during acceptance trials in Kiel Harbour. The submarine experienced equipment failure, and sank to the bottom of a 60-foot hole at the bottom of Kiel Harbour. Bauer escaped by letting in water, thus increasing the air pressure, which allowed Bauer and his two companions to open the hatch. They floated to the surface in large bubbles of air escaping the submarine. This was the first submarine escape to be witnessed and reported.

In 1887, the wreck was discovered and was raised on 5 July 1887. Brandtaucher was first placed on display at the Naval Academy in Kiel and then in 1906 it was moved to Museum für Meereskunde in Berlinmarker. From 1963 to 1965 it was restored in DDR at Rostockmarker, and placed on display at the Nationale Volksarmee Museum in Potsdammarker. The boat can now been viewed at Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehrmarker (German Army museum of military history), in Dresdenmarker.


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