Bushnell’s turtle (Turtle Submarine)

The Turtle was not only the first real submarine in the world, it was also the first submarine to be deployed militarily.

In 1776, the Turtle was built by David Bushnell (hence the name "Bushnell's Turtle"), which aimed to go unseen to enemy ships and place an explosive charge there, based on the ongoing American Revolutionary War against England and the missing Navy of the United States American forces to be able to take action against the English Royal Navy at all.


Bushnells Schildkröte

Bushnell's turtle


The submarine had a length of around 2.50 meters, a height of 2 meters and a width of 1 meter. In appearance, it resembled a turtle shell which also led to their naming. The material of the outer shell was made of wood, the boat was powered by 2 screws which were operated by hand cranks. To make the boat waterproof, the outer shell was sealed with pitch. The crew consisted of only 1 person.

The first test drive took place in the Connecticut River by the brother of the developer Ezra Bushnell. After this was successful, it was decided to use the boat military against the English Navy.

The first and only mission took place on September 7, 1776 before Liberty Island. There anchored the British warship Eagle. The mission was carried out by Sergeant Ezra Lee, who approached the ship and tried to attach 2 time bomb filled with gunpowder to the ship by drilling holes in its hull. However, since the Eagle possessed an iron-hulled hull, Lee broke off the mission after the second attempt. Further missions were not carried out with the Turtle.


Reproduction of Bushnell's turtle

Reproduction of Bushnell's turtle






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