TheTerrifying Turtle

The Terrifying Turtle

If anyone can drive away the 100-odd British ships blockading New York Harbor, it might be a shy Connecticut inventor who has devised a strange new weapon of maritime warfare. David Bushnell, 35, calls it a "submarine vessel," also known as the Turtle. Like that creature, it can dive under water and attack its enemies by surprise. It strikes them with an explosive device that its creator has named, after the electric ray, a torpedo.

Bushnell has had little training as an inventor. Reared on a...