Torpedo Goes to Vienna: Croatian Industrial Heritage Presented in Austria

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One of the most distinguished Croatian inventions was presented in Vienna

The exhibition titled ‘Torpedo – First in the World’ and dedicated to Croatian industrial heritage was recently opened at the Alte Schieberkammer in Vienna, reports Moja Hrvatska on November 29, 2017. The project stands as the end result of a successful collaboration between the Rijeka City Museum and the Croatia Academic Society in Vienna (HAZ), an organisation that hosted the exhibition in question.

Director of HAZ Anamarija Manestar remarked that the original concept for construction of world’s first torpedo was devised by Giovanni Biagio Luppis, a man born in Rijeka as Ivan Vlaho Vukić, who later went on to become an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Navy.

Luppis first came up with the idea after having witnessed multiple naval battles between Austria-Hungary and Italy in 1860. Trying to think of a practical and efficient method of defense in case of an attack from the Italian fleet, he decided to build a torpedo. In 1867, he started collaborating with the English industrial magnate Robert Whitehead, coming up with the first usable torpedo that was soon being sold all around the world. Naturally, the Austro-Hungarian Navy was the first buyer.


Argentitian sailors with a Whitehead torpedo in Rijeka, 1888

“It was one of the magnificent Croatian innovations that have changed the world, especially where naval warfare is considered”, said Manestar. She remarked that the invention of the torpedo transformed Rijeka into a distinguished industrial centre, and went on to state that in a similar way, the exhibition in Vienna launched Rijeka to the wider European cultural scene – in the exact moment when the city is preparing for 2020 as the Europan Capital of Culture.

The exhibition was presented to the audience by Ervin Dubrović, the director of the Rijeka City Museum, and museum curator Deborah Pustišek-Antić.

Dubrović explained that the artefacts on display represent the preserved products of the former Torpedo factory, such as steam engines, a prototype of gyroscopic engines, and a torpedo propeller. He also remarked the exhibition has already been displayed on the Korzo in Rijeka, and that it’s about to be moved to Rostock once it closes in Vienna.

Viennese Croats in attendance were delighted by the exhibition, just as their Austrian friends who came to see the collection on the opening night. The audience was also greeted by Helmut Malnig, Austrian engineer specialising in torpedoes, and Croatian ambassador to Austria Dr. Vesna Cvjetković.

Part of the torpedo fund remains on display in the warehouse in Žabica in Rijeka, courtesy of the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatia Littoral and the Rijeka City Museum.


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