Brits Planned Ships Made of Ice During WWII

And New Zealand tested underwater 'Tsunami Bombs'

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 30, 2012 4:40 PM CST

(Newser) – Winston Churchill was so afraid of Nazi submarines targeting supply ships during WWII that he flirted with building aircraft carriers out of sheer ice, New Scientist reports. Knowing Britain could starve without US supplies, he approved a test project aimed at delivering 2,000-foot-long ice ships with 40-foot hulls that German torpedoes could never sink. Canadian scientists helped out by building a model-sized version and reported good results—but the chief scientist was mortified when Britain ordered 11 full-scale vessels. He knew that huge carriers needed hulls made of stronger stuff.

Herman Mark, a refugee chemist from Austria, suggested building the ships from a new material called pykrete that froze wood pulp mixed with water. He even impressed Churchill by tossing a pykrete sample into the British leader's tub while he bathed, proving how slowly it melted. But Britain eventually scuttled the idea in favor of less zany developments, like air bases in Iceland and longer-range bombers. Newly unearthed archives show that New Zealand also tested unusual technology during WWII: underwater bombs designed to trigger tsunamis in the Pacific. But Kiwis shelved the "Tsunami Bomb" in 1945 despite success in small-scale testing, reports Australia's News Network.

A polar bear atop a chunk of ice.
A polar bear atop a chunk of ice.   (Shutterstock)
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