The H.L. Hunley Weapon System: Using 3D modeling to replicate the first submarine attack


Recent developments in the investigation of the American Civil War submarine H.L. Hunley have revealed new clues about the nature of the spar-mounted torpedo delivery system used to sink the USS Housatonic on the night of February 17, 1864. The deconcretion of the end of the bow spar has revealed the remnants of the attached torpedo, confirming that the torpedo was detonated while still attached to the spar. This paper will present current research on the Hunley’s spar torpedo, how it was employed in the attack, and the possible effects the close detonation may have had on the submarine and its eight-man crew. A key component of our research into the attack involved 3D modeling of the H.L. Hunley submarine, the USS Housatonic, and their positional relationship at the moment of the torpedo detonation. The 3D reproduction has led to a collaborative study with the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWCCD) to simulate the effects of the explosion of the Hunley’s torpedo. The preliminary results from this study will be presented, and the implications of this data on our understanding of the attack and possible contribution to the sinking of the H.L. Hunley submarine will be discussed.

Cite this Record

The H.L. Hunley Weapon System: Using 3D modeling to replicate the first submarine attack. Michael Scafuri, Maria Jacobsen, Benjamin Rennison. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437261)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

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PaperId(s): SYM-70,11