World War II Submarine Exide Battery Cell
The batteries on board World War II fleet submarines were extremely important.
Because the engines could not run under water, submarines relied solely on
battery power when submerged. Submarine batteries were manufactured for the
U.S. Navy by both the Gould Storage Battery
Co. and the Exide Corporation.
Each submarine had two
batteries, each made up of 126 cells. The forward battery was located
beneath the Officer's Quarters and Mess, and the after battery sat beneath the
Crew's Quarters and Mess. Each battery consisted of 6 rows of 21 cells each.
All the cells were connected in series to produce the electricity.
Each cell, like this one, was about 4½ feet tall, 1¼ feet
deep, and 1¾ feet wide. Each also weighed about 1,650 lbs and was
encased in its own acid-proof
rubber jar as a precaution against leakage. This encasement was
essential because the cells were made up of two kinds
of lead plates immersed in sulfuric acid. Since sulfuric acid is highly
corrosive, it was important to make sure that there were no undetected leaks
which could allow acid to seep out and weaken the ship's hull. The battery
cells also had to be properly sealed to prevent salt water from mixing with the
sulfuric acid and producing chlorine gas, which could be deadly to the crew.