‘Morel’ – Yefim Nikonov’s ‘Secret Vessel’


( Post and Packing not included)

‘Morel’ – Yefim Nikonov’s ‘Secret Vessel’ – 1:36

In 1718, a Russian carpenter named Yefim Nikonov wrote to Peter the Great claiming that he could build a “secret vessel” that could sail underwater and destroy all enemy ships with cannons. Curious and interested, the Tsar invited Nikonov to Saint-Petersburg and asked him to get down with the construction.

Nikonov finished constructing the model in 1721, and tested it in Peter’s presence, who was so pleased with the results, that he ordered Nikonov to build a full-sized secret battleship.

Nikonov’s submarine was built out of wood and shaped like a barrel. It was armed with “fire tubes”, a weapon akin to flame-throwers. The submarine was supposed to approach an enemy vessel, put the ends of the “tubes” out of the water, and blow up enemy ships with some combustible mixture. In addition, he designed an airlock for aquanauts to come out of the submarine and to destroy the bilge of the ship.

The first trial of the submarine was conducted in autumn 1724. It was a disaster. The submarine sank, hit the bottom and broke the bilge. Nikonov himself, along with four oarsmen, were inside. It was only by a miracle that the crew managed to save themselves. Peter was supportive and encouraged Nikonov to improve the design. But failures continued to plague Nikonov, especially after the death of his principle patron, Tsar Peter. In the spring of 1725, the second test of the “secret ship” ended in a fiasco, as did the third one in 1727. Finally, the patience of the Admiralty Board of the Imperial Russian Navy snapped. Nikonov was charged with abuse of public funds, reduced to the status of common carpenters and sent off to work at another shipyard on the Volga River.


  • Scale 1:36
  • Museum quality
  • Assembled dimensions are (LxWxH) 220mm x 140mm x 130mm.
  • All wooden parts are laser cut to simplify assembly.
  • All planks are laser cut and pre-shaped.
  • Highly detailed photo etched brass parts.


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