Even in the days of the Egyptian pharaohs, quite significant rafts were built, supported afloat from the skin of animals. But with the advent of more advanced wooden vessels, the idea of using inflatable elements was successfully forgotten. And not surprisingly, there were no suitable materials.
Inflatable boats, as a class of ships, could appear only after the discovery in 1839 by Charles Goodnir of the method of vulcanization of rubber. In the same 1839, the Englishman Hancock designed an inflatable boat for ten rowers, which was designed to transport troops. In 1843, a single-seat rescue boat weighing only 5 kg appeared.
In 1846, the British Macintosh company, famous for its waterproof raincoats, with whom Hancock collaborated, made a 38.6 kg Macintosh inflatable boat for the Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin. To increase the reliability of the boat, a protective cover was used, and the sides were divided into two isolated compartments. By the way, this was the first two-layer construction.
In 1850, Bonney was designed and successfully tested the largest inflatable boat for that time - a raft with a passenger capacity of 40 people and a mass of 81 kg.
The design idea did not stand still, and now, at the 1862 World Exhibition, a triple satchel boat, very compact for that time, was exhibited. More exotic designs were developed. A raincoat boat was built, which consisted of several isolated compartments and was used as a raincoat in the normal state, saving from rain. When filling half the sections with air, the product turned into a soft bed. All sections of the product could be filled with air, and it could serve as a life-saving tool for one person. The complication of the construction of boats is evidenced by the design of the boat patented in 1875, which was set in motion by means of rotating wheels made of inflatable floats.
Until the mid-20th century, inflatable boats were used mainly for military and rescue purposes.
During the First World War, inflatable boats were used to carry out all kinds of covert operations. In 1918, a German submarine landed troops in Libya with the help of inflatable boats, delivering weapons and equipment to local rebels. Since 1919, production of inflatable boats was established in England, which were subsequently used by the Air Force as life-saving equipment for pilots.
In the 20s of the last century, rescue inflatable boats are increasingly used in aircraft emergency kits. The hulls of inflatable boats are becoming more and more familiar to all. Complicated options for attaching the bottom to the height of the inflatable balloon (1924) appeared, the inflatable bottom itself (1926) was improved. In order to increase reliability, the inflatable sides were divided by two partitions in the horizontal plane into three isolated compartments.
But until the beginning of the 50s, inflatable vessels did not cause active interest among the ordinary consumer, despite the emergence of more durable and lighter synthetic materials. Only after the outstanding journey of the French doctor Alain Bombard, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a typical inflatable boat of the Zodiac company in 65 days, was a breach in public opinion made.
After analyzing the swimming results of his compatriot, the famous scientist Jacques Yves Cousteau ordered the company "Zodiac" for his expedition a whole inflatable ship. In 1959, one of the largest Amphitrite inflatable transport ships was built, with a length of 19.8 and a width of 9, with a side diameter of 1.5 m. The total weight of the ship with two 300-liter diesel engines. with. was less than 6 tons
Since then, the scope of inflatable ships has been expanding all the time. Could not pass by such a vast market and manufacturers. Currently, modern materials and equipment are used in the manufacture of inflatable boats, which makes it possible to give inflatable boats new advantages and significantly expand their scope.