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Flach submarine: first South American submarine
Chile was one of the first countries worldwide that tried to develop submarines. In 1866, Karl Flach, a German immigrant, tried his submarine in Valparaiso bay several times. In one of those tests, the adventure ended in tragedy.
Bombing of Valparaiso en 1866 by the Spanish navy, during the War against Spain, which started the research in advanced weapons, including submarines.
A video about the Flach's submarine
And a TV report
Karl Flach and son. Both died in one of the immersions. There are still several descendents of Karl Flanch in Chile.
Translated by google:
As part of the war that claimed Chile and Peru against Spain between 1865 and 1866, Chile became involved in defending the interests but the South American Peruvian like Bolivia, Ecuador before the Spanish attack on the Guano Islands and motivated by a spirit americanistala threat Spain was a threat to Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile. American interests were at stake could not lose his beloved independence from the Spanish crown. Chile paid the greatest cost of this war against Spain, when conducting Hispanic fleet to bombard and destroy in retaliation the port of Valparaiso, which occurred on March 30, 1866, later to keep it locked for several days.
Following this fact, writes the historian Francisco Antonio Encina in his History of Chile, "a swarm of inventors of torpedoes, fire ships, mines, electric" ships cigarettes "(submarines), almost all semilocos, besieged at all hours to Chilean government, offering his inventions that inevitably destroy the Spanish fleet. "
One of them was proposed by German engineer resident in Valparaiso, Karl Flach, who was ultimately approved by the government of President José Joaquín Pérez Mascayano to build it. It was one of the first attempts at submarine history and the first ever built except Peru, which also built a sudmarino remember that in 1864 the engineer Frederick Blume was already designing a submarine Toro (Peruvian) in Latin America.
Was an engineer Karl Flach, breech-loading guns had made that were a novelty for the time and, finally, Germany was a military power that he had his own submarine, so he gave him credibility. The project quickly caught and he commissioned the construction of the ship.
Flach and his son Karl.
The invention of Karl Flach was simple. Totally made of iron, the submarine had a length of 12.5 m, a beam of 2.5 meters and weighing nearly 100 t. Achieved a speed of 2-3 knots, driven human-powered, with a system of cranks and pedals that moved its two propellers, and sank with an ingenious system of weights towed back and forth from the ship. Its armament consisted of a breech-loading cannon located in the bow and another smaller gun installed in the turret. It also had a new system for renewal of air, so that their autonomy could go underwater at 8 hours. He had a hatch, but had no periscope, so that, every so often, the vessel had come to the surface to see if he was in the right direction.
The "Flach", was built in Limache, moved by rail to Valparaiso and tested in April 1866 in Buenos Aires Bay, sinking a pair of 7.5 m people coming back an hour later, no fuss.
In 1866, Valparaiso was a port with a growing business, where he had settled to live the economic and intellectual elite of the country.
The heads of its inhabitants were all set in Europe and in Chile and the imagination of locals exploded ever since a few days ago knew that their noses were made the first evidence of underwater navigation, something that had not even read novels fiction. "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne, published four years later, in 1870.
However, the newspapers were wary this experiment. "There is curiosity and some mockery in the press that such equipment is a waste of time and money," said El Mercurio de Valparaiso a few days before the final test.
Before May 3, 1866, Karl Flach had already made several immersion tests satisfactorily and this was the first she was going to venture a bit further from the coast. But, according to official records of the time, the German did not advise of this essay to the Navy. The Commander Galvarino Riveros reported in a letter to the commanding general that the day before the tragedy was found in the street with Flach and told him he had no date for a new trial pending the improvement of a cold.
That day, the engineer was elated, prisoner of his own enthusiasm. Not only did her son 16 years the submarine, but tried to accompany him one of his three daughters, which was prevented by his wife. He was determined to see how far I could get and, as a part of Maritime Management Flach did not heed the advice of the naval officer in charge and not let you attach a buoy to the ship to monitor the direction he had.
The crew consisted of Flach and his son, Chileans and Thumb Adolfo Francisco Rodriguez, five Germans and two other Frenchmen, totaling 11 people. The tests began with a couple of dives, from 9.00 am, coming back without incident. On the third occasion, as was known about its long autonomy under the water, nobody worried too much after disappearing from view, until late afternoon. No one knew where exactly, and the next day, assuming the certain tragedy, we tried to locate it through a diver who found the "Flach" at 50 m deep and buried in the mud on end.
The news took a couple of paragraphs in El Mercurio de Valparaíso May 3, 1866: "At three in the afternoon is not out yet seen the boat underwater. As to the nine was when he started surfing. Several sometimes came to the surface and down again. The last submergence was near the anchorage of the vapors. One of the pilots who was in a boat got bored of waiting and came to earth. Ten men go on board the submarine boat. "
The expectation that caused the event was capitalized. Caught in a submarine in the bottom of the bay of Valparaiso, eight, ten or eleven men, with hours changing versions. Hundreds of onlookers filled the harbor to see what was happening. All I knew was that the ship would test six or eight hours, which in extreme cases could support up to fourteen hours of immersion and that the crew had food. To make matters worse, the machine was submerged without tying a buoy to his cap, so there was no sign of where they might be. A witness said he could make out some distance air bubbles emerging from the sea.
The next day, under the title "Disgrace regrettable", the press recounted in detail the tragedy:
"It's lost all hope have perished those unfortunate victim of his courage and his lack of foresight (...) The boat builder is a father of seven children, the eldest of whom was about fourteen, and accompanied in his risky venture. is a widow in absolute helplessness. This is heartbreaking. "
Along with adding that the crew were also two Chileans, two Frenchmen and others (were) Germans ", the note makes a long critique of the recklessness with which action was taken because it was" more full of navigation hazards and less experienced than air travel. "
Last edited by pinguin; 09-12-2010 at 05:38 AM.