Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Manta Ray!

This is coolbert:

Very interesting article in the Chicago Tribune yesterday.

The “Great Submarine Race”. A biannual race [International Submarine Race] sponsored by the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center to see who can build the fastest or most innovative midget submarine.

In addition to the engineering schools of various colleges and universities, there are several hundred civilian amateurs throughout the U.S. that build and race their own submarines.

Tiny submersibles, for an individual or a crew of two. Powered by pedal power, NOT internally waterproofed [the occupants wear SCUBA gear].

Most of these home-built designs resemble the teardrop shape of submersibles first seen in the U.S.S. Albacore. The body shape of a tuna fish that was found to be the ideal for undersea movement.

A local builder from Wheaton, IL., Mr. Bruce Plazyk, won second place in the competition for most innovative design. Built a plywood submarine that emulates the swimming motion OF A MANTA RAY!!

Looks like a small airplane, complete with flapping rubber wings forward of the cockpit, a tail and rudder as you would find on a conventional aircraft. Again, uses pedal power for propulsion.

Judges at the competition first were of the opinion that the “manta ray” would not work. But it did, much to the amazement of everyone.

"It was an extremely unusual type of submarine. When we saw it, we didn't even think it would work." . . . "But that thing was absolutely beautiful in the water." - - Retired Rear Admiral Timothy Beard III. [A judge at the competition.]

Here is a YouTube video of the Bogus Batoid in action:


[Plazyk has a son [Martin] currently attending Georgia Tech. The son assists the father with design and construction.]

Previously had built a submarine that propelled itself forward with a flapping tail, as would a fish.

"Four years ago, he and his son built 'Faux Fish', a white and red submarine that used a flexible tail to 'swim' though the water, and took home a first place award for innovation".

[this particular local builder of submersibles seems to be adept at constructing submarines that emulate and mimic the motions of animals. This is a whole field of study unto itself. Called biomimetics.]

"His machine is one of the most interesting applications of that type of propulsion I've ever seen" . . . "He's a talented boat builder, and one with a real knack for bringing biomimetic propulsion to life."

[said here by Professor William Megill, a lecturer at University of Bath [England]].

Do these types of midget submarines HAVE a military application? I am not sure if U.S. Navy SEALS employ “swim vehicles” of this type. As was seen in the James Bond movie, “Thunderball”. I know that Suvorov describes the Soviet Naval Spetsnaz as having available for military operations an assortment of miniature and midget submarines.




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