The Harpoon Gun
By: Jack L. McSherry,III
In 1864, Norwegian Svend Foyn, modified existing designs and invented the modern harpoon gun. It consisted of a cannon that fired a barbed explosive head harpoon. Aimed and fired, the harpoon barb would hook into the whale. A moment later an explosive charge in the head of the harpoon would inflict a mortal wound. Then the whale was retrieved by a winch. Once along side the whaling vessel, the whale was pumped full of air to keep it afloat, as the whale was moved to the location of processing.
The devastating effect of the Harpoon.
(left) The inital strike of the harpoon. (right) The moment that the explosive charge ignites, killing the whale.
scources: Gill, Peter, Whales Dolphins & Porpoises, Springfield, MA.:FederalStreetPress, 2001, p.216
Photo source: Anrews, Roy Chapman, Ends of the Earth, New York: The Curtis Publishing Co., 1929, p. 25&26