Project Habakkuk or Habbakuk

February 18, 2010 at 8:53 pm (Canada, Failure, Military, Nautical, Technology, The United Kingdom, The United States, Water, World War Two) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A joint effort between British, American, and Canadian forces during the final years of World War Two, Project Habakkuk endeavored to create a floating aircraft carrier made of frozen water and wood pulp, inspired by the idea of a military base built atop a floating glacier. The project failed miserably but produced some fascinating anecdotes, including one incident in which a bullet shot at a block of Pykrete (the name given to the frozen water and pulp concoction) in order to demonstrate the material’s strength ricocheted around a room containing, among other notables, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. As tempted as I am to write my own take on this intriguing and at times humorous subject, I must admit that the Wikipedia entry on Project Habakkuk is more comprehensive and well cited than any I could produce.

Here is a direct link to the Wikipedia entry.

The strange story of Project Habakkuk excites me because it combines grandiose and radically novel ideas, the impassioned efforts of highly capable individuals, the titillating drama of the wartime urgency for the advancing of naval and military technology, the involvement of conscientious objectors, as well as setbacks and failures that are amusingly pitiful. Enjoy.

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3 Comments

  1. James Daly said,

    Habakkuk really would have been quite something. As they say necessity if the mother of invention, and there were all kinds of inventors beavering away during wartime – in fact Bomber Harris got quite fed up with the amount of scientists who were coming up with schemes. I think the trick is obviously sorting through the ideas to work out what is feasible.

  2. irrationalgeographic said,

    It is precisely the failure of Project Habbakuk that makes it interesting to me. If it had been successful and a fleet of wood-pulp aircraft carriers had helped decimate the German military, we all would have ready about it in high school. But because it as such a hare-brained scheme, it was swallowed up by history.

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