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September 19, 2012

Project Habakkuk

Project Habakkuk was a proposed fleet of iceberg aircraft carriers meant to provide air cover against U-boats for convoys dashing across the Atlantic gap. The "berg ships" were to be 2000 feet long with 40 foot thick hulls constructed from Pykrete, a machinable blend of frozen water and wood pulp.

According to some accounts, at the Quebec Conference of 1943 Lord Mountbatten brought a block of Pykrete along to demonstrate its potential to the bevy of admirals and generals who had come along with Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mountbatten entered the project meeting with two blocks and placed them on the ground. One was a normal ice block and the other was Pykrete. He then drew his service pistol and shot at the first block. It shattered and splintered. Next, he fired at the Pykrete to give an idea of the resistance of that kind of ice to projectiles. The bullet ricocheted off the block, grazing the trouser leg of Admiral Ernest King and ended up in the wall.

CBC's Ideas podcast tells the story, including a cameo by Winston Churchill in his bath tub.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 19, 2012 07:07 AM