Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Aye Candy: H. L. Hunley

Posted in Technology by Andy Hall on February 9, 2013



HunleyBowUpdate: Apologies for the double-posting on this. After the first versions of these images went online over the weekend, Michael contacted me and pointed out that there was a more updated version of his plans of the boat than the one I’d used. These images, then, are corrected to reflect his most recent edition of the drawings. Most of the changes are small, but the boat has lost that beautiful-but-functionally-inexplicable curve in the profile of her stem (right, in an earlier model); that was apparently caused by exposure to the current and environment after the boat’s loss in 1864.



Digital model of the Confederate submersible H. L. Hunley, as she may have appeared in mid-February 1864, about the time of her successful attack on U.S.S. Housatonic off Charleston, South Carolina. The spar torpedo is based on recent findings announced in January 2013 by archaeologists at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, which is conserving the boat and its contents. Model based on plans by Michael Crisafulli. Full-sized images available on Flickr. All rights reserved.

More after the jump:





8 Responses

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  1. Andy Hall said, on February 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    My 500th post here, as well.

  2. Mac Whatley said, on February 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    You’re a real artist with whatever cad program you use!

  3. Jeff Bell said, on February 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    What an incredible glimpse into our Country’s Naval past – all the details that have been rendered into this model make it a complete and genuine depiction. What questions remain unanswered about the H.L. Hunley?

    • Andy Hall said, on February 13, 2013 at 9:45 am

      There are a number of questions still unresolved. The biggest of these is why the boat sank. The finding that the torpedo detonated *very* close to the boat’s hull gets us closer to that, and we may learn over the next couple of years, as the concretions on the hull are gradually removed, that the concussion opened numerous joints between the plates. Even so, I think it’s likely that any final determination as to the cause of the sinking will end up being a conclusion based on the preponderance of the physical evidence, as opposed to to obvious, self-evidence injury to the boat.

      Related to that is the question of how long Hunley remained afloat after the attack. Eyewitness accounts are all over the place, with some authors believing the boat survived 40 minutes or more. I’m not at all sure of that, but it may never really be resolved. Then there’s the question fo the blue light reported by one of the survivors of Housatonic, sometime after his own ship was sunk. That has long been assumed by some to have been a signal from Hunley, but I personally am skeptical of that, too.

      Anyway, there are a number of important questions — important to the Hunley story, at least — that remain unanswered.

      • Reed said, on February 13, 2013 at 11:34 pm

        “Anyway, there are a number of important questions — important to the Hunley story, at least — that remain unanswered.”

        No kidding. And not to contradict you, Andy, but for me the *biggest* question of all has to be: Who would volunteer to get in that craft, put out to sea and navigate—sightless— with a big bomb-on-a-stick protruding from the bow?

        I mean, really, I appreciate the bravery and commitment of those who fought, but did the crew actually look at that sub and say “Hey, that’s the ticket! We’ll sink a ship be back in time for supper”…?


        (And thanks to you and Mr. Crisafulli for the fine research and rendering. Very cool and very interesting.)

  4. Myles Encinas said, on April 26, 2020 at 4:44 am

    So the bow was not curved, but actually straight like in the original drawings? Basically that curve was sandblasted into the hull over time? That’s unfortunate, always liked the look of the curved bow.

    • Andy Hall said, on April 26, 2020 at 5:25 pm

      Yes, apparently so. The conservators concluded that that beautiful, graceful curve in the stem was the result of years and years of erosion in the water.

    • Andy Hall said, on April 26, 2020 at 5:26 pm

      I’m a little disappointed, too.

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