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David Bushnell's Turtle Submarine

The first American submarine is as old as the United States itself. David Bushnell, a Yale graduate, designed and built the submarine in 1776 and named it Turtle.  Turtle was the first American submarine.   Her purpose was to break the British naval blockade of New York harbor during the American Revolution.

The one-man vessel submerged by admitting water into the hull and surfaced by pumping it out with a hand pump. Turtle was powered by a hand-driven propeller.  The operator would submerge under the target.  Using a screw projecting from the top, he would attach a clock-detonated explosive charge.

On the night of September 7, 1776, Turtle conducted an attack on the British ship HMS Eagle. However, the boring device failed to penetrate the target vessel's hull. It is likely that the wooden hull was too hard to penetrate or the boring device hit a bolt or iron brace. When Turtle was shifted to another position beneath the hull, it lost contact with the target vessel and ultimately was forced to abandon the torpedo.  Although the torpedo was never attached to the target, the clockwork timer detonated it about an hour after it was released. The result was a powerful explosion that forced the British to move their ships further out in the harbor.

Turtle gave Revolutionary Americans high hopes for a secret weapon - a weapon that could destroy the British warships anchored in New York Harbor.


This American Turtle model is 32 tall" x 24" wide x 19" wide  If you want another one made for you, please do not hesitate to contact us at   Lead time is about 4 months.      

18" tall x 12" wide $2,900     S & H is $150  Sold