Kvarner newsletter / no 36

The City of Rijeka Museum
Rijeka's torpedo – the first in the world

The exhibition entitled "Rijeka's torpedo – the first in the world", which runs in Rijeka's City Museum until the beginning of September, presents for the first time ever this industrial and technical heritage, and its long journey from the first torpedoes to the modern devices.

The exhibition entitled "Rijeka's torpedo", presenting the overall development of this high technology from the very beginnings to some recent achievements in torpedo production, will remain on display in the Rijeka Museum until the beginning of September. This is the first presentation and interpretation of this part of Rijeka's industrial and technical heritage in a museum, which could one day be the main display of the future permanent exhibition within the Torpedo Museum – Museum of Industrial Heritage.

Rijeka's torpedoThe famous history of torpedoes in Rijeka started on the 21st of December 1866 with the launching of a torpedo in front of the first torpedo factory in the world – the Stabilimento tecnico Fiumano in the Kantrida area. One century later, more precisely in 1965, the production of the last torpedo in Rijeka marked the end of this part of Rijeka's industrial history. The century of torpedo production in Rijeka hides many secrets, reaching from the first torpedo models to aerial torpedoes, as well as various motors, gyroscopes, depth measuring devices and other instruments that used to be implemented in torpedoes.

The exhibition has been designed to give a comprehensive and logical overview of the achievements by torpedo manufacturers, and to tell the story of the origins of this weapon. The idea about the simple "coast guardian" was first conceived in 1860 by the naval officer of the Austrian Navy from Rijeka, Giovanni Biagio Luppis. However, the production of the new weapon that would protect the coast from naval attacks started only after the English engineer Robert Whitehead dealt with this concept. According to the Luppis' idea, a torpedo was a boat filled with explosive controlled from the mainland by reins. Only after Whitehead's intervention in 1866, Luppis' vessel became a tuna-like iron fish and the first self-moving torpedo in the world. The production in the Rijeka's factory continued for the next hundred years, during which the torpedo was transformed from a slow, clumsy fish into high-tech machine equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and devices.

The exhibition also reveals many other interesting facts in an innovative way. The complete showroom is wrapped in transparent membranes with parts of torpedoes "floating" inside them. The ambience is additionally enriched with background music and specially designed projections on transparent membranes that can be viewed from the pillows scattered on the floor.