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Diesels for the First Stealth Weapon: Submarine Power 1902-1945

This scholarly historical work is about the engine and its inventor—the failures, setbacks, risks, and the imaginative solutions. Few histories of technology are so rich with insight, so full of anecdotes and contemporary quotes, so well laid open for the reader. Cummins, now the historian after retiring from a career as mechanical engineer, gives us his insight to a fascinating story.

Raised in the family of America’s automotive diesel pioneer, Cummins’ career as a mechanical engineer includes the design, development and marketing of diesel engine retarders and fuel systems for which he was awarded five patents. Cummins has devoted over two decades exhaustively researching his subject in corporate and museum archives throughout Europe and North America to provide this definitive history of the diesel.

Diesel’s Engine is the readable and inclusive history of man and an engine. It traces the life of an obsessed engineer and his contemporaries who struggled to bring the world’s most efficient heat machine to the marketplace. Rudolf Diesel’s ideas were often ahead of their time, and his engine endured failures and setbacks until new technologies were found. Only interim, imaginative solutions overcame the frustrating problems encountered.

What Rudolf invented is seen from the perspective of his peers and of historical hindsight.

His engine created an international industry through the struggles of risk-taking licensees who turned it into reliable, land-based powerplant. It soon went to sea as propulsion for commerce and underwater weapons of destruction.

These dedicated licensee companies, with their strengths and frailties and the gradually maturing products they built, are related with an understanding and empathy byone who both knew of and faced similar experiences at a later time.

Above all, Diesel’s Engine is about a troubled man who devoted his life to a dream, yet at the zenith of fame lost control over his fate. Others reaped its rewards.

Diesels for the first Stealth Weapon, by Lyle Cummins.
Sewn Cloth Hard Cover, Dustjacket, 756 pages, 11 5/16” x 9” x 2", 500+ B&W photos and line drawings.


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