The Colossus that never was: The amazing story of a giant WWII aircraft carrier made of ice



Expert Online

The Second World War has stimulated many technological advances. But one project stands out for its scale.

Every war gives impetus to the development of science and technology. The Second World War, of course, was the pinnacle in the history of military technology. Besides hundreds of thousands of the most various innovations, which gave a powerful impetus to the development of military industry was developed during World War II capture the imagination of a lot of projects that for various reasons have not been brought to its logical conclusion.

One of them was the project “USS” Habakkuk. ‘” The carrier has not been launched, but the fact that it is seriously over worked two years dozens of engineers and scientists say that this incredible and in some cases even a fantastic project had a chance to be realized.

The surprise in the first place is the material from which planned to make “Habakkuk.” In contrast to all other warships from its supposed to do paykerita frozen mixture of water and sawdust. The choice is not entirely conventional material has a simple explanation – the United Kingdom as well as all other belligerent countries during the war years experienced a strong disadvantage of metal.

Ледяной остров доктора Герке. 1932 год 06.jpg
Ice Island of Dr. Gerke. 1932
From the ordinary courts of his class aircraft carrier “Habakkuk” different and more dimensions. Its length should be 600 m, width – 90, height – 60, that is, 20-storey building. This leviathan displacement of 1.8 million. Tons, according to the designers, had to carry up to 200 Spitfire fighters or bombers hundred Mosquito.
Проект "Аввакум"" - непотопляемый авианосец 03.jpg
The “Habakkuk” “- unsinkable aircraft carrier
Проект "Аквариум" - непотопляемый авианосец 02.jpg
The “Aquarium” – unsinkable aircraft carrier

Maximum speed “Habakkuk” was to be 7 knots (13 km / h). It had to provide 26 engine nacelles mounted in the sides of the vessel. Fuel was 5 th. Tons and allowed him to pass without refueling about 7 thousand. Miles (13 thous. Km). To match the size needed to be a giant aircraft carrier and the team: 404 officers and 3216 sailors.

The project also includes the presence of absolutely all repair shops and other infrastructure, ie, It should serve as a stand-alone floating air base, a kind of military floating island.

USS “Habakkuk” was the brainchild of British inventor Geoffrey Pike, who, incidentally, had been treated in a psychiatric hospital … and there and worked on drawings and calculations. It is not surprising, because a normal person this idea come to mind could not. Pike ended Cambridge, among others, fall after reading an article in National Geographic about icebergs. A particularly strong impression on him made it a place in the article, which describes the destruction of icebergs difficulties in using explosives.

Проект "Аввакум"- непотопляемый авианосец 04.jpg
The “Habakkuk” – unsinkable aircraft carrier
Проект "Аввакум"- непотопляемый авианосец 05.jpg
The “Habakkuk” – unsinkable aircraft carrier
Draft ice carrier interested in the British Admiralty, not least because of the relatively low cost. Due to the cheapness of the materials on the ship preliminary estimates have been worth no more than 10 million. Pounds.

Pykrete got its name from the inventor, not very modest Jeffrey Pike. Sawdust in an amount of 14% were added to the mixture so that the ice has melted.

Проект авианосца "Аввакум" 09.jpg
The project carrier “Habakkuk”
Unusual material was lighter and stronger than usual due to the ice and sawdust melted much more slowly. In addition to thermal insulation in housing to protect the ice from melting envisaged powerful refrigeration coils.
Строительство авианосца "Аввакум". Новый слой пикрита и система охлаждения 07.jpg Фото:
Building an aircraft carrier “Habakkuk”. The new layer picrites and cooling system Photo:

After a series of experiments and tests pykrete began to produce in Canada. First, water is mixed with wood pulp on a smooth horizontal surface. Then, by rotating it was converted into a thin layer with a thickness of approx. 1 cm. The mixture was then frozen by cold air which was blown through it. For the construction of a warship needed a total of 1.7 mln. Tons paykerita.

Строительство авианосца "Аввакум". Укладка первого слоя блоков. Дополнительная теплоизоляция была сделана из хвойных иголок 08.jpg Фото:
Building an aircraft carrier “Habakkuk”. Laying of the first layer of blocks. Additional insulation was made of pine needles Photo:

The idea is very like the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. By the way, he offered to call the carrier on behalf of the Old Testament prophet “Avvakumom.”

USS “Habakkuk” meant for patrol in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. He was to accompany the convoys. However, at the Quebec Conference in August 1943 the ice was decided to use an aircraft carrier in the Pacific to fight the Japanese.

Therefore, the construction of an aircraft carrier of the ice moved from the east to the west coast of Canada. Prototype “Habakkuk” was built in the winter of 1943, Patricia Lake, Alberta. It was a small model of a length 18, width of 9 and 6 meters high. The wooden frame is first constructed on the ice, and then filled it with ice blocks. Refrigerators that chased the cold air on metal pipes, were in the main building. Model weighed approx. 1,000 tons and was built in two months a team numbering 15 people. The cooling system worked well and allowed to maintain a low temperature of the ice until late summer.

Despite the fact that the construction of the prototype was considered a success, and seemed to have the project has a future, intervened in the case economics and finance.

After the Quebec conference the US military began to look on the Pacific Coast suitable place to build aircraft carrier “Habakkuk,” but it turned out that very few sites. Alaska is too far away, and the main territory of the US was too warm for the construction of an ice block. December 16 A special commission, look for the construction site, reported on the difficulties superiors. After reading the very high cost of labor and a host of other problems, the Chiefs of Staff US and the UK have decided to abandon the project “Habakkuk”.

Prototype “Habakkuk” in Lake Patricia thawed for three years, arguing that the idea despite the fantastic was not so impossible.