Intro

Torpedo of Rijeka – First in the World

When a group of enthusiasts, “torpedoists”, met at the City Museum of Rijeka in 2007 in favourable circumstances, first torpedoes and their instruments, parts and tools started arriving.

This exhibition our first actual step towards a museum collection and the future museum of the industrial and technical heritage in Rijeka, which was mentioned a few times in the recent years, but only now it has been taken into serious consideration.

Our approach to torpedo research is based on fascination with technical achievements and particular progress in Rijeka at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Because of torpedo, Rijeka became known throughout the world.

Many technical innovations were introduced in the torpedo factory and many new instruments were invented and tested for the first time. No less fascinating is the fact that that early acoustic and aerodynamics research was conducted in this factory and that the breaking of the sound barrier was proven here.

The help for this exhibition came from many assistants of different profiles and interests and cooperative museums and other institutions.
We are very grateful to everyone who diligently and with great enthusiasm volunteered to make this exhibition happen.

Ervin Dubrović

Photograph of the first torpedo from 1866. The torpedo from the first series delivered to the Austrian Navy had a caliber (diameter) of 35.5 cm, was 3.56 m long, had an explosive charge of 18 kg, a range of 200 m, and achieved speed of 6 knots. The naval commission, which evaluated Whitehead’s invention, initially considered it suitable only for the demolition of immovable structures – bridges and anchored ships.
Personalities

Pioneers Of Industrialization In Rijeka

"Torpedoists" And Researchers

Early age
Advanced age

Types of torpedoes and total production

All important characteristics of torpedo were improved during the 100 years of its production.

Between the late 1860s and 1960s, the factory in Rijeka produced more than thirty models, which differed in calibre, length, quantity of explosive, speed and range. Various navies around the world were delivered around twenty thousand torpedoes.

Torpeda

Chronology

1854.

RISE OF RIJEKA AND THE FIRST BIG FOUNDRY

The foundry was founded in the lively industrial climate at the beginning of the 1850s, but it did not work well until 1858, when an English engineer Robert Whitehead came from Trieste and started producing big ship engines for the Austrian Navy.

1860.

ANTECEDENT OF TORPEDO – "COAST GUARD"

Frigate captain, Giovanni Biagio Luppis (Ivan Vukić or Vukičević) came up with the idea of the “coast guard“, an explosive boat for the defence of the coast, which he unsuccessfully offered to the Ministry of War in Vienna.

1864.

STABILIMENTO TECNICO FIUMANO

Captain Luppis joined with the engineer Robert Whitehead, the director of Stabilimento tecnico fiumano in an attempt to develop the new weapon. The man who connected them was the retired lieutenant colonel and the future mayor Giovanni Ciotta, who participated in the project as the manager.

1866.

FIRST TORPEDO

In 1865 Whitehead already gave up Luppis’s concept and started from scratch – instead of exploding boat, he developed an explosive “fish” which looked like tuna and moved under the surface. Torpedo was first called the “mine-ship” (Minenschiff) and it was presented to the Austrian Navy committee on 20 December 1866.

1868.

SUCCESS – PARIS WORLD’S FAIR

At the Paris World’s Fair, Whitehead presented an engine he built for the Erzherzog Ferdinand Max ship, which fought at the Battle of Vis. He was also awarded in Paris in 1899 and 1900.

1869.

WHITEHEAD’S SECRET

Among Whitehead’s greatest inventions was the depth regulator which keeps the torpedo at a constant depth. It was developed in the 1870s and did not change much by the mid-20th century. Whitehead called it “my secret” and did not even want to patent it for fear of uncovering.

1870.

HUNDREDS OF TORPEDOES

In September and October of 1870 more than a hundred torpedoes were launched. Their average speed was 7 kn and their reach 500 m. At the beginning, the Ministry of War technical committee thought them adequate only for destroying unmoving targets.

1871.

TWO PROPELLERS

The Navy workshops in Woolwich started producing torpedoes with two propellers. They used Whitehead’s concession, and they had a deal to share new innovations. In Rijeka, two counter-rotating propellers enabled better maintenance of the course.

1875.

TORPEDOFABRIK WHITEHEAD & COMP.

Robert Whitehead bought, together with his son-in-law, Stabilimento tecnico Fiumano and he renamed it Torpedofabrik Whitehead & Comp.

Instead of his own two-cylinder steam engines, Whitehead started using Brotherhood’s three-cylinder radial engine, which he improved in his factory. It raised the speed of the torpedo significantly.

1878.

MANY COUNTRIES BUY TORPEDOES IN RIJEKA

Representatives of governments and navies of many countries came to Rijeka. At one dinner at Whitehead’s, there were representatives of 18 countries who spoke in 8 languages, and some of their countries were at war at the time.

At that time, cast iron was gradually phased out and steel was increasingly introduced.

1881.

ORDERS CONTINUE

Whitehead sold torpedoes to many countries: 254 to England, 250 to Russia, 218 to France, 203 to Germany, 100 to Austria-Hungary, 83 to Denmark and 70 to Italy. Other buyers were Argentina, Belgium, Greece, Portugal and others.

Factory sells another 78 torpedoes to other countries that have smaller orders.

1889.

BIGGER AND MORE POWERFUL TORPEDOES

Whitehead increased the calibre of the torpedo from 356 and 381 mm to 450 mm and soon to 533 mm.

This also increased the air reservoir, which enabled greater speed and reach. Because of the high pressure, air reservoirs were built of steel.

1892.

BRANCHES AND CONCESSIONS

The USA bought Whitehead’s concession rights on torpedoes fuelled by cold compressed air.

A branch office in Weymouth was established, along with the one in Newport, USA. Others, like Schwarzkopf, the biggest competitor in Rijeka, produced the same torpedoes, with or without the concession.

1894.

OBRY’S GYROSCOPE

Ludovico Obry from Trieste developed and patented his own gyroscope for directing the torpedo. Obry at first worked at Stabilimento tecnico Triestino and then, from 1883 to 1885 in Whitehead’s factory in Rijeka. His invention was developed further by the end of the century – a mechanic called Czerny improved it and adjusted it for incorporation into torpedo.

1905.

NEW BRITISH OWNERS

The factory in Rijeka became a joint stock company Torpedo Fabrik Whitehead und Co Aktiengeselschaft. At the court in Rijeka, it was registered in English, Italian and Hungarian. Georg Hoyos’s son Edgar became the managing director.

1909.

INCREASE OF SPEED AND RANGE

The production of 533 calibre torpedo – which was already being produced in Woolwich – began in Rijeka.

When they added burning paraffin, at the range of 4000 m the speed of the torpedo rose to 26 kn.

A completely new engine was produced, with two slanted cylinders, and the star-shaped engine was abandoned.

1923.

NEW AGE – NEW OWNERS

Orlando family from Livorno took over the Torpedofabrik and turned it into Silurificio Whitehead. The Ciano family, a powerful family which gave two ministers and two admirals, also from Livorno, had an important role as well. Admiral Arturo Ciano was important in Rijeka’s factory management.

1934.

AERIAL TORPEDO

First launching station in the world with a catapult for aerial torpedo was built, and test flights were also made above the bay of Rijeka. Torpedo is fired in low flight, 50 to 100 m above ground, at the speed of 200 km/h.

1945.

FACTORY IN RUINS

Demolished factory got a new name, Jadran, but at the end of 1947 it was renamed after Yugoslav politician Aleksandar Ranković. In 1953 it became the Engine Factory Torpedo. The post-war production of torpedoes lasted for 20 years, but it was kept secret – all we know is that approximately 350 torpedoes were made. The range of the TZR 533 mm torpedo was 12 km and its speed was 40 kn.

1965./1966.

A VIEW OF THE FACTORY FROM THE AIR

A hundred years after the first experiments, the factory stopped producing torpedoes.

It continued making engines, from the small Aran to the large ship engines. It also produced tractor and lorry engines until the 1990s.

EXHIBITION

Exhibition, Graphic Design And Communication

The basic idea of the exhibition Torpedo of Rijeka – first in the world is contained in the medium of sea/water, in which our object of interest moved.

The exhibition is divided into three parts:

  • First part (ground floor) shows torpedo and its most important parts.
  • Second part (stairs) shows the chronology of the development of this invention.
  • Third part (first floor) presents a cultural explanation of torpedo as an important scientific, and not only military, discovery.

The interior is wrapped in transparent materials which suggest the atmosphere of the sea and deep sea beds, entwined with the photographs, torpedoes and other exhibits in video presentations specially prepared for this exhibition. The complete atmosphere of the “factory under the sea” is supplemented by the specially prepared sounds and delicate lightning.

Everything is arranged in space with the minimum use of museum equipment, in order to emphasize the atmosphere of the floating sea bottom.

Klaudio Cetina

VIDEO & PHOTOS

Photos of the exhibition setup

QR code

The idea of the high technical achievements of Rijeka in history is transmitted to present by the use of the QR code in accordance with the contemporary way of communication via new media – applied in the museum context.

Its use is symbolic as well: just as the torpedo of Rijeka was the first in the world, we believe that we are the first in the cultural milieu in Croatia to use the QR code.

The QR code is printed on all the publications connected with the exhibition and other means of communication and it enables the access to the City Museum of Rijeka web pages via smartphone.

It is possible to store various alphanumeric or binary data in the QR code, which are then easy to decode with a smartphone application.

Impressum

TORPEDO OF RIJEKA – FIRST IN THE WORLD
26 November 2010 – 7 September 2011

Authors of catalogue and exhibition
Dinko Zorović
Goran Pernjek
Ervin Dubrović

Design of catalogue and exhibition
Klaudio Cetina

Suradnica u pripremi
Jasna Milinković

Proof-reading and language advising (Croatian)
Gordana Ožbolt

Photographs
Željko Stojanović

Curator of Technical collection
Mladen Grgurić

Assistants in technical realization of the exhibition and video presentations
Bojan Kukuljan
Mirna Kutleša

Assistant in graphic design
Željana Dubrović

Technical arrangement
Safet Baštrakaj- Ri Bauen, Anto Kovačević, Nikola Milinković, Albert Perčić, Textum Dekor, Rijeka

Preparation of exhibits
Marija Lazanja Dušević

Design of models
Goran Pernjek, Safet Baštrakaj, Josip Gabrić, Luciano Keber, Alen Višnić – Arka bravarija, Viškovo, Željko Žic,

Translation into English
Jelena Dunato

Public relations
Sabrina Žigo

Print
Zambelli, Rijeka, November 2010

Ivan Babić, Jadranko Batinić, Marijan Čelić, Saša Dmitrović, Dalibor Fak, Josip Gabrić, Nikša Grgurev, Goran Hope, Thomas Ilming, Ivan Jambor, Marinko Kardum, Helmut Lackner, Stjepan Lozo, Marinko Marjanović, Marino Micich, Bernardin Modrić – Istra film, Robert Mohović, Ivo Mileusnić, Tomislav Pečarić, Benito Petrucci, Davor Purić, Mirko Rupert, Josip Seršić, Željko Skomeršić, Miljenko Smokvina, Mate Šekelja, Zdenko Vidov, Hrvoje Vlahov

State Archives in Rijeka; Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna; Croatian Maritime Museum Split; National and University Library, Zagreb; Faculty of Maritime Studies in Rijeka; Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral Rijeka; History Museum of Istria, Pula; Society of Studi Fiumani – Archive of the Historical Museum of Fiume, Rome; University Library of Rijeka; Technical Museum, Vienna; Military Museum of the Ministry of Defense, Zagreb; WASS- Whitehead Alenia Subacquei Systems, Livorno.

City of Rijeka
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia
Primorsko Goranska county
INA oil industry d.d., Zagreb

Croatian Navy
Special Police of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Croatia