Saturday, March 28, 2009

Churchill's Ice Carrier

One of the best kept secrets of the Second World War was an ambitious plan by the British government to build a massive aircraft carrier to battle the Axis-- made of ice.

The project, code-named Project Habakkuk, was conceived during the dark days of the War. Geoffrey Pyke, a British spy, conceived that since there were shortages in vital metals, aircraft carriers could be made of ice, using less energy and resources. Since ice melted too quickly, the idea would have been ditched except for the invention of Pykrete, which is an ice/wood pulp combination.

With Pykrete being able to withstand higher temperatures, the planning proceeded. The carriers would need a refrigeration unit and a complicated duct system on board. Still, it was considered feasible. Canada attempted to build a model, costing 700,000 Pounds and using 300,000 tons of wood pulp.

Later models placed the Habakkuk at over 2,000 feet long, with a 40 foot hull and a rudder over 100 feet tall. The crew would have had over 3,600 members. The massive carriers were not completed by the end of the war due to money issues, leaving one of the most fascinating and ambitious projects in world history uncompleted.

The History Channel has chronicled this, as well.

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