Hunley's Engineering

Hunley's Scale

Ben Franklin Class SSBN model Copyright 2001 AVHI. Used with permission. Visit their site here. Los Angeles Class SSN model from


Hunley diagrams

Torpedo: A sealed canister with 90lb of black powder with a lanyard detonated fuse; attached to an iron barb. Designed to be rammed into a blockade ship well below the water line; and detonated by lanyard after the sub has backed away. Apparently the sub was designed to tow a torpedo and drag it into its target; but this method wasn't very effective.

Iron Spar: During the excavation of the sub, it was discovered that the spar was made out of iron and mounted to the bottom of the bow- not the top (which conflicts with Chapman's original painting).

Dive Planes: Just like a modern sub, these are used in addition to ballast tanks to determine the sub's depth.

Snorkels: Pipes that could be raised several feet to the surface to allow breathing. However, most sources say these never worked.

Deadlights: Small glass port holes spaced along the top of the hull to allow light in. Discovered during the excavation. Also, it has recently been proposed that Hunley's interior may have been painted white to make it as bright as possible. This is indicated in Chapman's painting- the inside of the open hatch appears to be white.

Keel Weights: Iron ballast to keep the sub upright and low in the water. Sources say that these were bolted up into the crew compartment and could be unbolted in and emergency, to give the sub more buoyancy and possibly get it off the bottom.

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