In addition to explorers such as Marco Polo and scientists such as Nikola Tesla , Croats have also contributed to the somewhat grim science of warfare. In 1866, Ivan Lupis, a retired naval officer who lived in Rijeka, developed a long-range underwater missile he named “the coastal savior.” His ideas impressed Robert Whitehead, a British engineer who owned a shipyard in Rijeka.
Together, they made the first prototype. The initial tests were remarkable, and the Austro-Hungarian military ordered the mass production of these weapons. Rijeka became known as a high-tech engineering harbor, producing 2000 underwater missiles a year.
The new weapon changed the shape of naval warfare. Today, a century and a half later, it is still in active service to armies worldwide. They are known under a different name – torpedos.
To commemorate this bizarre, yet important part of engineering history, the City Museum of Rijeka exhibits several torpedos in their front yard. These massive weapons will soon have their own place within the museum. The Whitehead Factory, which produced them, has closed its doors but authorities are considering rebuilding it as a historical site.
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