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Diving Apparatus

Leonardo's diving apparatus design.
© The British Library. British Library, Arundel MS 263, f 24v.

Leonardo's design for an underwater breathing apparatus consists of cane tubes joined by leather, with steel rings to prevent them being crushed by the water pressure. The tubes are attached to a face-mask and at the other end to a bell-shaped float to keep the openings above water.

A diving suit based on this design using pig leather, bamboo tubes, and a cork float was built, and tested by a diver, Jacquie Cozens. It worked well in shallow waters.

Other drawings for diving suits included a coat with a pouch to hold a leather wineskin to store air and a urination bottle so the diver could remain underwater for a long period.

Leonardo's vision of storing air in a wineskin was revisited in 1825 when an aqualung for compressed air was outlined by the English engineer, William James. The necessary valve was designed by Emile Gagnon and Jacques Cousteau in 1943.

Model of the diving apparatus.
Model-maker: Simon Sanderson, from a design by Scott Cassell.

















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Main Main
His life His life
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Glider Glider
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