Rijeka – Story of About aTorpedo

Rijeka – Story of About aTorpedo
The Museum of the City of Rijeka has recently set up an exhibition on the first 100 years of Rijeka torpedoes –a superb and complex accomplishment of Rijeka`s inventors, technicians, and industrialists. The exhibition, which will be opened until mid-September this year, is the first step towards the museum collection – the ‘Museum of Industrial Heritage, Economy and Transport.

The story of the torpedo begins in the 1860s when Rijeka was rapidly evolving industrially and became a modern European city.

The inventor of the torpedo was Giovanni Luppis, born in Rijeka and from a family of wealthy ship-owners. Before his retirement as the captain of the Austrian frigate he was thinking about a new weapon called the "savior of the coast". It was an elongated vessel filled with explosives with inconspicuous glass sails that could be operated from the shore.

Luppis presented the project to the Technical Committee of the Austrian Navy in 1861. The reaction was not positive, but Luppis did not give up and returned to Rijeka, where he contacted the industrialist Giovanni Ciotte, who later became the mayor of Rijeka, in the era of its greatest rise. Three years later Ciotte connects Luppis with the Director of Rijeka`s Technical Institute, Robert Whitehead, with whom he negotiates cooperation in perfecting Luppis` model. But at one point Whitehead departs from Luppis` approach and decides that the vessel should be immersed under water to reduce its visibility and impact on the course it takes.

In December 1866 he unveiled his prototype. For the trial launch in 1868, he installed his invention (the launcher) on the gunboat Gemsa. Completed in the shipyard of the brothers Schiavon in Rijeka, Gemsa became the first torpedo boat in the world.

In 1875 Whitehead opened a torpedo factory with an annual production of 800 models.
Torpedos from Rijeka were ordered by the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Argentina, Russia and other countries. The factory established plants abroad, and in time allowed licensed manufacturing around the world. Production of the torpedo in Rijeka lasted until 1966. Along the former factory halls, there is still a construction of a launcher from the 1930s. According to available sources, there were 20 323 torpedoes, 1053 launching tubes and 1368 high-pressure compressors produced in Rijeka from 1866 to August 1943. The production of torpedoes in the Rijeka factory stopped in 1966.

The Tourist Board of t Primorsko-Goranska County

The Tourist Board of Rijeka

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