20120406

We all live in the CB-20 submarine

Well, okay, most of us don't. I'm actually pretty sure nobody ever lived in a CB submarine, especially considering only 26 of them were made and they are so small you can hardly fit four regular-sized humanoids in there without turning a submarine into a tuna can. However, I got a chance to spend a few minutes inside one today, and it was friggin awesome.

So what the hell is a CB, anyway? 'Caproni tipo B' was a group of midget submarines built for the Italian Navy during the World War II. They were 15 meters long, 3 meters wide, had a speed of 7,5 knots while on surface, and about 6 knots while submerged (powered by a diesel engine with 1 - 80 hp, or an electric motor with 1 - 50 hp). Now, 7 knots is about 13 km/h. Imagine spending 5 hours (maximal time they could stay submerged) in a coffin, 55 meters below the surface, moving 13 km/h, armed only with two torpedoes or two mines (not both, mind you!). You had an option to arm it with an additional machine gun, but only while surfaced. And there were only 3 other guys with you (this class of submarine had a crew of 4 in ready-for-battle mode, and 2 in the time of peace). Not a very pleasant ride, I would guess.

Where did I see it? Technical Museum in Zagreb, Croatia, opened the hatch of the CB-20, previously known as P-901, for a few days. If I got it correctly, this is the only one from the CB class that is still in one piece. It has been restored to its original state and is now the heaviest exhibit in the Technical Museum. This particular submarine was intended to serve as a scout vessel, to be used inside the Adriatic sea. Later, after 1945, it was used as a training vessel for the Yugoslav Navy. And today it a source of fun for bunch of nerdy kids and their parents. And me. ^^

Also here are some pictures.
It's really big isn't it?

Some people, to show the size of the interior.
Engine room, diesel (left) and electric motor (metal box on the right).

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