The so-called “caterpillar drive” worked with no moving parts, allowing a nuclear missile-armed Soviet submarine to approach the U.S. coast undetected. As the submarine captain (played by Connery) said, “Once the world trembled at the sound of our rockets … now they will tremble again—at the sound of our silence."
MHD propulsion is not fictional: real-life prototypes include the EMS-1, a 3.0-m submarine that achieved speeds of 0.4 m/s during tests in California in 1966,2 and the ST-500, a 3.6-m boat that reached 0.6 m/s in Japan in 1979.3 The world’s first and so far only full-sized MHD-propelled craft, Yamato-1, carried 10 people at speeds of up to 15 km/h during successful sea trials in Kobe, Japan, in 1992.
In Clancy’s novel, Red October’s propulsion system was not magnetohydrodynamic but based on a more conventional (but also unusually quiet) “pump-jet” system employed in the massive Typhoon-class Soviet submarines of the 1980s. Nevertheless, there was intense real-world suspicion during this period that the Soviets were developing MHD-driven attack submarines. As late as 1990, military analysts were convinced that strange “pods” mounted on the tails of new Soviet Victor III-class submarines were MHD thrusters [“Evidence grows the ‘pod’ is a superconductive drive,” Navy News and Undersea Technol. 7 (11), 1–2 (March 19, 1990)]. Attempts to photograph these pods caused a collision with a U.S. Navy ship, the U.S.S. Drum, in 1981 [W. C. Reed, Red November: Inside the Secret U.S.-Soviet Submarine War (William Morrow, 2010)].
The Hunt for Red October II: A magnetohydrodynamic boat demonstration for introductory physics
THE PHYSICS TEACHER, Vol. 55, PP. 460-466, November 2017
Last edited by MolaKule; 11/01/1701:42 PM.
Scars remind us of where we have been, but do not have to dictate where we are going.
Oh man, the memories. I actually did a report in the 8th grade (nerd alert!) on this magnetohydrodynamic propulsion system. However, since I referenced it's inclusion in Tom Clancy's book, my teacher marked the report down drastically because it was "fiction" and the report wasn't supposed to be. I even included other science-y journals as references, but it wasn't enough to convince her otherwise.
----------------- 1990 Nissan 300zx - Castrol Edge Euro 0W-40 2004 Nissan Quest - Pennzoil Platinum Euro 0W-40 2003 Ford Excursion 7.3 PSD - Mobil 1 TDT 5w-40
A part that I really liked, working out a problem in real time when you're in the middle of it.
I recently had the opportunity to track the USS Dallas during a mutual training evolution, I was the mission commander of the P-8 tracking the Dallas. It was impossible to resist the urge to say "Way to go Dallas" I also may have instructed my acoustic operator to give me "one ping and one ping only" on one of our active buoys. I always thought it would be fun to hunt that boat, glad I had the chance to before she is decommissioned.
Luke P-3C and P-8A Maritime Weapons and Tactics Instructor, Instructor Tactical Coordinator and Mission Commander