Scuba Use During World War II Although closedcircuit equipment was re

stricted to shallow-water use and carried with it the potential danger of oxygen toxicity, its design had reached a suitably high level of efficiency by World War II. During the war, combat swimmer breathing units were widely used by navies on both sides of the conflict. The swimmers used various modes of underwater attack. Many notable successes were achieved including the sinking of several battleships, cruisers, and merchant ships.

1-3.5.1 Diver-Guided Torpedoes. Italian divers, using closed-circuit gear, rode chariot torpedoes fitted with seats and manual controls in repeated attacks against British ships. In 1936, the Italian Navy tested a chariot torpedo system in which the divers used a descendant of the Fleuss scuba. This was the Davis Lung (Figure 1-10). It was originally designed as a submarine escape device and was later manufactured in Italy under a license from the English patent holders.

British divers, carried to the scene of action in midget submarines, aided in placing explosive charges under the keel of the German battleship Tirpitz. The British began their chariot program in 1942 using the Figure1.10. Original Davis Davis Lung and exposure suits. Swimmers Submerged Escape Apparatus. using the MK 1 chariot dress quickly discov

Ww2 Diving Suit

ered that the steel oxygen bottles adversely affected the compass of the chariot torpedo. Aluminum oxygen cylinders were not readily available in England, but German aircraft used aluminum oxygen cylinders that were almost the same size as the steel cylinders aboard the chariot torpedo. Enough aluminum cylinders were salvaged from downed enemy bombers to supply the British forces.

Changes introduced in the MK 2 and MK 3 diving dress involved improvements in valving, faceplate design, and arrangement of components. After the war, the MK 3 became the standard Royal Navy shallow water diving dress. The MK 4 dress was used near the end of the war. Unlike the MK 3, the MK 4 could be supplied with oxygen from a self-contained bottle or from a larger cylinder carried in the chariot. This gave the swimmer greater endurance, yet preserved freedom of movement independent of the chariot torpedo.

In the final stages of the war, the Japanese employed an underwater equivalent of their kamikaze aerial attack—the kaiten diver-guided torpedo.

1-3.5.2 U.S. Combat Swimming. There were two groups of U.S. combat swimmers during World War II: Naval beach reconnaissance swimmers and U.S. operational swimmers. Naval beach reconnaissance units did not normally use any breathing devices, although several models existed.

U.S. operational swimmers, however, under the Office of Strategic Services, developed and applied advanced methods for true self-contained diver-submersible operations. They employed the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU), a rebreather invented by Dr. C.J. Lambertsen (see Figure 1-11). The LARU was a closed-circuit oxygen UBA used in special warfare operations where a complete absence of exhaust bubbles was required. Following World War II, the Emerson-Lambertsen Oxygen Rebreather replaced the LARU (Figure 1-12). The Emerson Unit was used extensively by Navy special warfare divers until 1982, when it was replaced by the Draeger Lung Automatic Regenerator (LAR) V. The LAR V is the standard unit now used by U.S. Navy combat swimmers (see Figure 1-13).

Today Navy combat swimmers are organized into two separate groups, each with specialized training and missions. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team handles, defuses, and disposes of munitions and other explosives. The Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) special warfare teams make up the second group of Navy

Figure 1-11. Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU)
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