During World War 2 the German Navy developed several different types of midget submarine. The Biber (or Beaver) is a one-man submarine that carried two torpedoes attached to each side of the hull. It is powered by a petrol engine on the surface and an electric motor when underwater.
Bibers were used for attacking shipping off the coasts of Belgium and Holland. Bibers were also sent to Norway as part of a daring but unsuccessful attack on the Russian battleship Arkhangelsk. Despite hundreds of operations the Bibers only succeeded in sinking a single ship. Losses were heavy. Between January and April 1945, 109 Bibers were sent on operations and only 32 survived.
The Biber Dives Again!
In 2003 as part of the Channel Four programme "Salvage Squad" the Biber was restored and tested in the one of the docks of Portsmouth Naval Dockyard.
Near sixty years after the craft had last been in the water, Biber 105 powered by her original electric motor dived into the cloudy waters of the dock. The test pilot was surprised just how well the submarine performed.
For the Museum the project was an opportunity to make good earlier restorations that had been of a poor standard and to find out more about the technical capabilities of the submarine by actually putting it back in the water.
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