Aircraft Carrier (Made of ICE)

Discussion in 'History' started by BillyNoMates, Jan 29, 2008.

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  1. Probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

    By 1943 the Allies' production of everything was in full swing. We were pumping out tanks, artillery pieces, ships, and planes at an incredible rate. Almost everything was made from materials that were in critical shortage, especially steel. One thing we really needed was aircraft carriers but, unfortunately, all our shipyards and steel workers were busy making ships. Even if we could have spared the workers and construction facilities, the steel would have been in short supply... Enter Churchill's Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier.
    By using floating airfields Churchill explained that "If we could create a floating airfield, we could refuel our fighter aircraft within striking distance of the landing points, and thus multiply our air power on the spot at the decisive moment." When he discussed the idea with Lord Louis Mountbatten, they had the idea of making their floating airfields by cutting the top off of icebergs, thus providing a deck and landing area. The Germans could strafe, bomb and torpedo an iceberg all day with no chance of sinking it. Best of all, ice was "free."
    Naming their Ice Carrier "Habakkuk", from the Old Testament prophet who said "Look over the Nations and see, and be utterly amazed! For a work is being done in your days that you would not have believed, were it told."
    Geoffrey Pyke, one of Mountbatten's scientific staff, wasted no time developing a tough, slow-melting mixture of ice and wood pulp he called "Pykrete." The new mixture was self-insulating, lasting many times as long as normal ice, and extremely tough. If you have to have an ice ship, this was the right stuff.
    Design commenced while workers built a smaller prototype of the Ice Carrier at Patricia Lake in Jasper, Canada . The 60-foot long, 3--feet wide, 1100-ton prototype Habakkuk took 15 men two months to construct. To maintain secrecy, the prototype was roofed over and disguised to look like a boathouse.
    The lessons learned during the construction of the prototype revealed the full size Habakkuk (designed to be 2000-feet long, 190-feet high, and weighing 1.8 million tons) would need over 280,000 Pykrete blocks and take over 8000 men eight months to complete. Suddenly, "free" ice wasn't so free anymore...

    Building HMS HABBAKUK


    Source:- Stuff/StrangeStuff.htm
  2. Bizarre really, but it might actually have worked. I looked at this in my post-grad work at Oxford (how the time flies when you leave the mob). My favourite dit concerning Habbakuk though was when Churchill decided to demonstrate the remakable properties of pykrete. The Briths and US Chiefs of Staff filed into a shed in the grounds of country house somewhere in the home counties. MPs on the door and all very secret squirrel.

    On the table in the middle of the otherwise empty shed was a lump of pykrete. When the door was closed Churchill borrowed a service revolver from his aide and shot the block of ice. The bullet unsurprisingly ricocheted off at an odd angle and went through the cap peak of Eisenhower/Mountbatten (one of them anyway).

    Incidentally, you can dive on what's left of the prototype on the lake.
  3. That is bloody brilliant. I thought it was going to be an absolute disaster with planes falling through the flight deck.
  4. I have seen this before - I think Discovery Channel or something similar within the last 18 months because we saw it here in Singapore and discussed it the next day in the office.

    Sorry, useless contribution I know - gives nothing to the thread apart from the fact that I saw it on TV!

    I'll get my coat now.

  5. If only we had gone along with it....Can almost hear the cries from the crabs as they were told "Services no longer required!" If only.....
  6. Be no bloody use with harriers!
  7. For anyone with access to the National Archive, file references ADM 116/4818-4839, 4882 and 5101 are all about it. There are also files in ADM 1 - happy hunting !!

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