On August 6 1926 Yves Le Prieur stayed under water for 10 minutes using a diving apparatus he had developed himself, the ‘SCAPHANDRE LE PRIEUR’. The system was simple: he had taken an oxygen tank as used by Michelin to inflate car tires at garages where they had no (money for a) compressor. He built a reducer on it and a manifold to control the flow. The flow was lead to a mask where the air streamed ‘through’, escaping from the side. A fully charged tank ( 150 bar ) would last for some 10 minutes ...

Le Prieur was a French Navy man, but also was a mix between an adventurer and an inventor. He had learned to fly an airplane in 1908, he made his first flight when he was in Tokio Japan to learn Judo. He also invented a device that would improve shooting from airplanes, rockets which could be fired from airplanes and anti-submarine bombs as well as anti tank bombs. After he had developed his Scaphandre he came up with a sub marine rifle ...

His ‘Scaphandre’ was well received and in 1935 it was officially adopted by the french navy. Later it led to the establishment of the first french diving club called ‘Le Club des Scaphandres et de la Vie sous l’eau’ ( the club of diving apparatus and under water life ) The club had its own indoor diving school where you could learn how to use the apparatus.

The succes Le Prieur had with his invention is somehow a bit surprising because his apparatus was extremely simple and lasted only ‘minutes’ under water. The ‘Aerophore’ by Rouquayrol and Denayrouze which was invented some 70 years earlier was in fact much more sophisticated with its demand valve system. In Germany a self contained high pressure version of the Aerophore had been built by Ludwig von Bremen in the 19th century, and around 1915 the Hanseatische Apparatenbau Gesellschaft ( formerly Ludwig von Bremen ) had built a self contained high pressure apparatus ( AUDOS ) which was in many ways better then Le Prieurs invention.

Nowadays the ‘Scaphandre Le Prieur’ is very sought after by collectors. I once had one in my collection ( the one at the pictures here below ) This apparatus is now in display in the permanent exhibition of the  ‘History of Diving Museum’ in Islamorada FL USA. Even though it found itself a perfect destination in this museum I would be very happy with a Le Prieur for my own collection, so when you have one available then I would be happy to exchange it with you for a genuine copper helmet, or make you a cash offer for it.

In 1965 Léon Moreel held a speech at the Académie de Marine ‘Yves Le Prieur: L'homme, le marin, l'inventeur’ It tells us a lot about the life, work and adventures of Le Prieur. The original text which is in French and an English translation which were kindly provided by Mr. Emmanuel ROCHE from France can be read by clicking HERE

1926. The ‘Scaphandre Le Prieur’

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