“Ramming a Submarine,” says the caption for this image on the cover of the issue. It illustrates the British HMS Badger ramming the German U-19. Image: Scientific American, December 19, 1914

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: December 19, 1914

Scientific American in 1914 sometimes used large, single-theme images for the issue cover. Some of these images have no information with them at all. This cover has only a short caption: “Ramming a Submarine,” but no story inside. The image apparently illustrates HMS Badger ramming the German submarine U-19 on October 24th, 1914. It was the first successful attack on a German U-boat in the war, and reports elsewhere indicated the submarine “sank like a stone.” The U-19, however, although heavily damaged, made it back to port, where it was repaired and served for the rest of the war. The submarine survived the collision because the Badger was not much heavier than the U-19: on impact, the bows of the surface ship were crumpled back to the first bulkhead. Later in the war, all the ships in that class of small destroyer had their bows reinforced.

Our full archive of the war, called Scientific American Chronicles: World War I, has many articles from 1914–1918 on the technology of submarines and on naval warfare. It is available for purchase at www.ScientificAmerican.com/wwi