Giovanni Luppis (Ivan Lupis)

Ivan Lupis

Torpedo – lat. Torpedo mramorata (torpedo fish)

Inventor of the torpedo, Ivan Lupis was born in Rijeka, on 28th of January in 1813. He attended high school and then nautical school there in his hometown. Further education Lupis got at Naval Military Academy in Venice.

Ivan Lupis started his military career as a cadet in service at Austrian Navy. He was dedicated to his work and a conscientious naval officer. He was promoted to a Captain of a frigate. He took part in the war of Venice against Sardinia.

Torpedo as an idea

Main idea for the construction of a torpedo was to defend city from attack by sea.

First torpedo was designed and constructed between the 1860. and 1864. It was a small crew-less boat with the explosive charge. It was operated by using the sails. It was operated from the shore using two ropes connected with the rudder. Collision with an enemy ship would cause an explosion.

Lupis named the torpedo Salvacosta – savior of the coast. He presented his first invention with the subsequent and improved one to Ministry of War. His ideas were rejected every time.

Improving the torpedo idea

Lupis in 1864. made an association with an engineer Robert Whitehead, Stabilimento tecnico fiumano (Rijeka’s technical company). Giussepe Cota, future Rijeka’s mayor connected Lupis and Whitehead who became their manager.

They improved the first model and presented it to Ministry of War in 1866. The invention was accepted. It was an underwater torpedo with compressed air motors with automatic depth control and the default route.

Until the appearance of torpedo, there was a rule in naval battles and that is – large ships fought the large ships, and small ships fought the small ones. Torpedo equated the power. In thirties of the last century, Lupis and Whitehead began the production of aircraft torpedo. Since then, torpedo can also be launched from the air. Due to successful project, Whitehead moved to Rijeka and established the first torpedo factory in the world.

Inventor of the torpedo, Ivan Lupis, retired in 1874. and he passed away a year later. He left behind one of the most influential inventions in the history of seafaring and naval battles.