One of the ‘must reads’of the week is the Doors section of the Sunday Times. Last week it pointed the way to Cabinet Magazine and an article about Pykrete. This was one of those nutty professor type inventions, basically ice and wood pulp mixed to that was easily shaped and used to make massive ships. Geoffrey Pyke’s idea was to use it to build a massive aircraft carrier, allowing bigger and more heavily armoured aeroplanes to be taken nearer the enemy.
Incredibly slow and virtually impossible to steer with any degree of accuracy, it had the great advantage that its incredibly thick hull was impervious to torpedoes and other weapons. And if a bit did get chipped off, well the raw material to repair it was all around them.
The really amazing thing is that the idea was realised with the building of the H.M.S Habbakuk although it didn’t see much service. The Russians wanted as an offshore prison in Siberia, but it was taken by the Americans to provide a home for Eskimos displaced by the Japanese occupation of Attu and Kiska. It eventually ended up at Bikini Atoll, but even an atom bomb couldn’t totally destroy it. The bit above water was vapourised and the underneath popped up like a cork. Not a lot of people know that!