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The Masthead
First To Fly
but all were hopelessly unab le to catch her. Not l ong after, even the stuffed -shi r t admi ral s (they ’ d
had no use for sma ll fas t c raf t prev i ousl y) caved i n and ordered severa l
Turb in i a
- t ype pat rol and
torpedo boats . From who? From Si r Charles , of course !
Heavy Power/Cos t l y Power
A c ri tical fac t about
Turb i n i a:
She weighed 44 tons , but her eng i ne we ighed 22 tons ! Yes, ful ly half
her we ight was power p l ant! By comparison, Diesel s deli vering the same 2,100 hp today would
weigh i n at someth i ng a bit over 3 tons—a 660 percent dec rease i n weight! Raci ng gasoli ne eng i nes
wou ld we igh sti ll less .
Steam had yet another drawback : I t was a g lut ton for fuel—more weight and bi g fue l bil ls to boot.
An 1890 steam-launch owner comp l ai ned :
“One who has never been of f for a day ’s pleasure i n a sma ll steam l aunch cannot
imagi ne the amount of misery one of those c raf t i s capab le of . The t ri p i s usua ll y
ex tended beyond the capac ity of the supp ly of fuel , wi th the result that the boat
arri ves home mi nus seat s, l ocker, and fl oor boards .”
Th is poor fe ll ow mus t have been havi ng a part icularly bad day . As anyone who’ s ever enj oyed watch -
i ng Humphrey Bogart ki ck at hi s ol d
Af r ican Queen
’ s s team eng i ne knows : Reci procati ng s team has
much to offer. St il l, steam i s heavy , messy , inef fic ient , and fue l hungry ; our d isgrunt led sk ipper had
a po i nt .
The Right Combo’
By now, the t rend is becomi ng clear . Lighter , more -effi cient i nternal combus ti on eng i nes coupled
wi th rel at i ve ly smal l c raft (not Ramus’s big shi ps ) would enab le h igh speed on the water. All that
was requi red was to ref i ne the two .
Mos t l ike ly , the mag ic comb i nati on was fi rs t ach i eved by a French bui lder named Campet ; the year
was 1905. The boat was st ill round - bilge but consi derab ly wider and fl atter af t than the ult ra-
s lender hull s , and she had enough power to dri ver her. A 1908 refi nement of thi s approach, the
was buil t by Otto Lürssen . ( Lür ssen wou ld go on to bui ld German yacht s and
patrol boats through two wars , and the company ’ s s til l act i ve today . )
was 26 feet by 5
feet beam—proporti onate ly
wi der than the previ ous u lt ra -slender boats . Power was a s i ngle
20-hp Daiml er gas eng i ne . She d id 16.5 knots or an S/L rat i o of 3.2. Th i s—wi th
wi der f l at
bottom aft—
was true
p l ani ng .
Like Cam-
pet ’s c raft ,
and most
others at
that t ime ,
Donnerwet -
b ilged . It
hadn’t oc-
cur red to
many that
hard chi nes
actual ly
help speed.
Af ter al l ,
those sharp
would seem
to i nc rease
Sept. 2014 Page 7
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