America's U-Boats: Terror Trophies of World War I

America's U-Boats: Terror Trophies of World War I

America's U-Boats: Terror Trophies of World War I

America's U-Boats: Terror Trophies of World War I


The submarine was one of the most revolutionary weapons of World War I, inciting both terror and fascination for militaries and civilians alike. During the war, after U-boats sank the Lusitania and began daring attacks on shipping vessels off the East Coast, the American press dubbed these weapons "Hun Devil Boats," "Sea Thugs," and "Baby Killers." But at the conflict's conclusion, the U.S. Navy acquired six U-boats to study and to serve as war souvenirs. Until their destruction under armistice terms in 1921, these six U-boats served as U.S. Navy ships, manned by American crews. The ships visited eighty American cities to promote the sale of victory bonds and to recruit sailors, allowing hundreds of thousands of Americans to see up close the weapon that had so captured the public's imagination.

In America's U-Boats Chris Dubbs examines the legacy of submarine warfare in the American imagination. Combining nautical adventure, military history, and underwater archaeology, Dubbs shares the previously untold story of German submarines and their impact on American culture and reveals their legacy and Americans' attitudes toward this new wonder weapon.


In 1900 an attraction named The Submarine Boat opened at New York’s Coney Island amusement park. the exterior resembled a battleship, bristling with turrets, protruding guns, lifeboats, and a deck. Inside, visitors could embark on a simulated submarine ride under the Atlantic Ocean and view through its portholes sharks, giant squid, and other wonders of the deep. the ride capitalized on the public’s fascination with this new technology and the exciting possibility that submarines might soon make undersea travel a reality.

The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis pushed the theme still further with the pavilion “Under and Over the Sea” that paired underwater travel with the novelty of flight. Fifty cents bought visitors a submarine ride under the Atlantic and the Seine River to Paris. Mechanical and electrical effects mimicked a submarine voyage, while views of fish, coral reefs, sea creatures, and shipwrecks completed the effect. After an elevator ride up a model of the Eiffel Tower (built for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris), travelers returned to St. Louis aboard a simulated airship.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the concept of underwater travel still blurred the lines between science fiction and cutting-edge technology. the mere mention of the word “submarine” conjured up fanciful images of Jules . . .

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