outline here some of my preferences and conclusions for design of the Nautilus. My focus is the exterior, though the layout
of course has to influence some design decisions. Figure 1 is a side
elevation; the numbers correspond to the design tour below.
I propose a traditional spindle, with raised platform,
pilothouse and light-house, a four-blade propeller with a free-turning
rudder forward of it, a lower fin, and some short stabilizers at the
tapered end. Some these features are based on period designs such as
the Hunley, and the conclusions of others in the catalog whose designs
reflect rewarding thought as well.
big determinations will be discussed in due course: the manner of operation
of the pilothouse or wheelhouse, and of the illuminating lantern. I've followed the implications of the original illustrations,
with some interpretations or "clarifications" of my own intended
to best reflect "what Aronnax saw" even if the descriptions that
have come to us are incomplete. I provide a vertically retractable
wheelhouse at the front of the raised platform, and a triangular-profile
lantern aft that retracts like a 1970s car headlight.
commence the tour of this Nautilus design:
- The hull: I opt
for a spindle shape, with the 70mx8m dimensions
outlined by Nemo. The hull is capped by a flat platform, has a
ramming spur or prong at the bow just above the centerline, and a keel
slightly descended at the bottom. The plates are mostly smooth,
but overlap about 2cm where the hull meets the top platform, and the
siding of the platform (its top is smooth and flat).
keel, whose weight and dimensions are given by Nemo, would be about
15-16 meters along the bottom of the boat. I have the keel extend about a quarter meter
from the bottom of the hull. It seems to
run slightly forward of the center of the spindle, as I assume (though I
am no maritime engineer) the mass of the keel (and the ram) need to
counterbalance the mass of the engine room aft.
movable diving planes are attached along the centerline on each
side of the hull, measuring about 3mx2m and positioned just slightly
forward of amidships. In front of these movable planes are two
small canards or winglets, to protect the planes from fouling and shock
Salon window: I place the Salon forward of the pilothouse, and follow
most of the designs on the Nautilus page. The window is an oblong
with rounded corners. Above the window is another floodlight
(unnoticed by Aronnax, who assumed the light came from the lighthouse).
diving hatch door is positioned approximately below the lighthouse, as a
beacon to returning explorers. Probably the opposite side of
the diving chamber is a larger door to haul in the richest the
propeller has four blades and a sturdy point on the hub, which extends
about a meter past the propeller, as we are told the Nautilus reversed
at speed to break out of the ice from this end. I ultimately did
not provide a ring or other enclosing protection around the screw,
though there is merit to the debate and the example of the Goff Nautilus
and the Hunley. I concluded however that any protective structure
would have to be so massive (as in some designs) as to completely
obscure the propeller, but that is not what Aronnax saw. Slighter
protection would merely become smashed and tangled in the Nautilus'
attack. Possibly the best studied example of the type of attacks the Nautilus
made - steel ramming a wooden ship - is ironically the ramming of PT-109
by the IJN Amagiri in 1943, in waters the Nautilus passed by en
route to Vanikoro. Kennedy's wooden PT-109 was sliced in two by
the Amagiri and sank in two sections (forward floating for several
days). The Amagiri however was damaged even in this unequal
contest: its starboard rudder was bent and affected the running of the
ship. This example, plus the three attacks recounted in 20kL (grazing
the Lincoln, the mysterious attack during Aegri Somnia, and the
Hecatomb attack), show the Nautilus too suffered damage at
least a third of the time. It was a hazardous means of attack. In
any case, I have mostly left the propeller free, and assume the
Nautilus carries a few spare blades!
rudder, following Gagneux, is a freely turning, center-post rudder
forward of the propeller.
stabilizer: this fin is provided as a result of several
conclusions. It provides some anti-fouling protection to the rudder and
propeller. Also by being as deep as the keel of the Nautilus,
it can serve as a resting-fin for the numerous occasions the Nautilus
is described as resting on the ocean floor. Various measuring
devices could be attached to this as well as other designs have
stabilizer: while not so high as to noticeably break the surface, the vertical stabilizer steadies
the Nautilus and provides some protection to the propeller. As
other designs have found, this is a useful addition and Nemo might
have added it after the first sea trials himself!
ram is one of themes important obscure features of the boat.
Usually described as a spur, never as a spear, but once as a
lightning-rod in the storms of the Atlantic, I ultimately added a prong
of about 3m, with reinforces flanges in a capital "Y" shape.
After considering a variety of knife-edge and chisel-tip
designs, such as used by the Confederate ironclad ram Virginia, I
concluded that the ram had to be a sturdy, somewhat vertically elongated
prong to punch open a ship's hull (or wretched cachalot or orca
body). We know it left a triangular impression in the Scotia,
hence the triangular pattern flanges. A long spear such as that of
the Plongeur would be too delicate. The ram could not be too
elaborate or extended to attach to the hull, given the separate
construction of various components.
platform is some 28 meters long, of parallel sides and pointed front and
back at a 108-degree angle, the angle of a regular pentagon. The sides
are angled at about 36-degree. The platform is about 3m wide (4m at
its base meeting the hull). The platform has retractable
poles for a rope balustrade along the sides. While the top
surface of the platform is flat, the iron plates along the edging of the
platform overlap slightly, as do the first ring of plates meeting the
platform on the hull.
sealed longboat, sitting upright in its hull recess, rises
about half meter above the platform; aft of the boat is the main
hatch. There could be another hatch aft of the lighthouse.
pilothouse: Because of the practical demands for a functioning base of
navigation, the explicit need for the housing to retract into the hull
and still function, and the unclear descriptions and depictions of this
compartment, the wheelhouse presents altogether some of the most
vexed questions about the design of the Nautilus. Indeed
it may be that when a satisfactory explanation and depiction of the
wheelhouse is reached, the rest of the design flows into place around
it. My conclusions are intended to present the most practical
range of solutions. I opted for a regular pentagon, of
vertical sides, two meters high with the top meter normally rising above
the platform, with the two forward angled sides raked back 36
the top meter of height. The cabin has portholes in all five
sides, but whenever the light is engaged, the rear window is
automatically closed (indeed the first action of engaging the light
would be to trigger the rear window closure so as not to blind the
occupants). I see this cover as a spring-loaded mechanism
sliding from bottom to top to cover the rear porthole. It is true
Aronnax, inside the pilothouse, saw four portholes. But
someone standing in front of one wall with a closed-off window behind,
and seeing four other walls around with portholes, may write
that they were in a four-sided chamber. The pilothouse is reached
from the back through a narrow hatch up a few steps. When
retracted the hatch is narrower still. When clearing the decks for
action, the pilothouse is pushed down to be flush with the platform.
The three back flat sides slide smoothly into the platform. The front of the wheelhouse becomes the front of the
platform, with the two forward windows forming the 36-degree raked angle