Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Is that U Boat?

Here is Alan on board the German U-Boat U505 which is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

This submarine was first launched on the 25th of May 1941. It totalled up twelve patrols sinking eight ships in total.. On the 4th of June 1944 task group, called 22.3 hunter killer, captured the U-Boat. 

After the Submarine was stripped of it secrets at the Portsmouth Navy Shipyard in Kittery USA, it was destined for target practice. But word got out that the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago was looking for something big and note worthy so it was donated to the Museum in 1954.  

It is an incredible exhibit which is housed INSIDE the museum.  For those lucky enough to get tickets to go on-board - there are tours each day.  Not only it is an interesting exhibit it also serves as a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the battles of the Atlantic.

Alan was super lucky the day we visited.  All the tours were sold out but he hung around at the end of the day with his fingers crossed!  Just as well he took the chance as one person didn't turn up for the last tour of the day!

It was amazing to spend time on the vessel. And yes it is a 76.8m long beast which weighs in at around 700 tons. But inside it is tiny.  It felt even smaller after hearing the stories of what they had to do to save room.  There are only two toilets.  Before setting off on a patrol one of the toilets was packed with food - basically the crew members had to each their way to the toilet!  The crew of 59 men had to share just 35 beds.  Fresh water was in short supply.  Waster was only used for drinking, cooking and cooling the batteries.  Note washing was not on that list!  Each crew member only had one set of uniform.  Apparently crew members would hide spare underwear in their pockets!  Feeling more lucky that Alan was only on there for a thirty minute tour!

Unterseeboot 505 shortly after being captured in 1944 by a task force headed by USS Guadalcanal off the coast of Africa.

When this vessel was captured the USA discovered the Germans were using all sorts of amazing new technologies that they didn't know about!  Glow in the dark paint was one of the new inventions.  Quite often they turned off all the lights in the submarine to conserve power.  This new paint helped them to see and move important objects (like missiles) when the lights were off!  They also found an Enigma coder machine.  The Enigma machines are fascinating and deserve their very own blog post.  

Submarines like U-505 had compartments that would flood making it sink. To understands the science behind this check out the post Magic is Science but without the Explanation

Hope you enjoyed a little about our trip to the museum of science and industry at Chicago and Alan sharing a bit about his favourite thing there.  If you have any videos or pictures of any museum exhibits you've seen - please share with us on our facebook pagetwitter or email them to us at contact@scienceinavan.co.nz.


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