England's Secret Weapon: The Two Million Ton Megacarrier Made of Ice | Summary and Q&A

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February 16, 2018
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England's Secret Weapon: The Two Million Ton Megacarrier Made of Ice

TL;DR

Allied scientists considered building a massive aircraft carrier out of ice during World War II to counter German attacks, but the project was abandoned due to technical challenges and changes in military strategy.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did the idea of building a ship out of ice come about during World War II?

The idea was proposed by scientist Geoffrey Pyke, who was exploring alternative materials for shipbuilding due to the shortage of steel and aluminum during the war.

Q: What were the advantages of using ice as a construction material for the ship?

Ice was readily available, easy to repair, buoyant, and could be made into shapes like metal. Adding cellulose to the ice mixture created a material called Pykrete, which was stronger and more durable than regular ice.

Q: Why was the Habakkuk project eventually abandoned?

The project faced challenges such as warping in the structure due to melting and refreezing, the need for insulation and refrigeration systems, and the large amount of wood pulp and cork required. Additionally, advancements in aircraft range and military strategy made the need for a floating island less necessary.

Q: How resilient was the prototype of the ice ship?

The smaller scale version of the ship took three hot summers to completely melt, demonstrating its durability and potential as a viable construction material.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • During World War II, Britain sought to build a ship that could withstand German attacks and turned to alternative materials due to the shortage of steel and aluminum.

  • Scientist Geoffrey Pyke proposed building a 2,000 foot long, 300 foot wide, and two million ton carrier made of ice, named the Habakkuk.

  • The project faced challenges regarding the strength and structural integrity of ice as well as technical issues with insulation and refrigeration.

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