Frank McDowell Leavitt
|Frank McDowell Leavitt|
|Born||March 3, 1856
|Died||August 6, 1928
Scarsdale, New York
|Parent(s)||John McDowell Leavitt and Bethia Brooks Leavitt|
|Projects||Developed the Bliss-Leavitt torpedo|
Frank McDowell Leavitt (1856–1928) was an American engineer and inventor. Leavitt devised one of the earliest machines for manufacturing tin cans  and later invented the Bliss-Leavitt torpedo, the chief torpedo weapon used by United States Navy in World War I. Leavitt was part of an emerging cadre of American engineers whose design feats were putting United States manufacturing might on the map at the dawn of the twentieth century.
Early life and career beginnings
Frank M. Leavitt was born at Athens, Ohio, on March 3, 1856, the son of Rev. John McDowell Leavitt, later president of Lehigh University, and his wife Bethia (Brooks) Leavitt of Cincinnati, Ohio. Leavitt married Ohio-born Gertrude Goodsell at Brooklyn, New York, on November 8, 1893, and settled in Brooklyn Heights, New York, where he pursued his career as an engineer. Within a decade of his marriage, Leavitt had patented an early – and lucrative – process to manufacture tin cans.
By 1904, Leavitt had turned his attention to weaponry: he began working with the civilian contracting firm E. W. Bliss Company of Brooklyn to design a new type of torpedo. The recently concluded Russian-Japanese War had caught the attention of United States Naval officials, because both nation's fleets had lost most of their battleships to underwater explosives. The race was on to perfect the deadly armaments, and the United States Navy was becoming the world leader in torpedo technology.
Final years and legacy
Frank M. Leavitt, who served as chief engineer for the E. W. Bliss Company for many years, died at his home in Scarsdale, New York, on August 6, 1928. The Ohio-born inventor and his wife had no children. His sister Anna Goodrich Leavitt, who married USN Commander James C. Cresap, had a grandchild named in honor of the inventor: U.S. Navy Lieut. Commander Frank McDowell Leavitt Davis, who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Lieut. Commander Davis later commanded a Naval torpedo bombing plane squadron in World War II, and perished while on duty in a Navy plane crash off Malta in 1946. Frank McDowell Leavitt Davis is honored with a plinth at the Naval Academy cemetery. Frank M. L. Davis and his father, Lieut. Ralph Otis Davis, both were assigned to the Navy submarine service.
- Steam Pumping Engine, United States Patent Office, Frank M. Leavitt
- Steering Apparatus for Automobile Torpedoes, F. M. Leavitt, United States Patent Office, December 25, 1906
- Power Consumed in Propelling The Whitehead Torpedo at Various Speeds, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers
- Lieut. Commander Frank McDowell Leavitt Davis, United States Navy, United States Naval Academy Cemetery & Columbarium
- Newport and Navy Torpedoes: An Enduring Legacy, Mary Anne Cowell, Edward C. Whitman, GlobalSecurity.org
- The Bliss-Leavitt Line
- The History of the Torpedo and the Relevance to Today's U.S. Navy, Russell Thomas, Naval History Museum
- Hellions of the Deep: The Development of American Torpedoes in World War II, Robert Gannon, Penn State Press, 1996, ISBN 0-271-01508-X
- Iron Men and Tin Fish: The Race to Build a Better Torpedo During World War II, Anthony Newpower, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, ISBN 0-275-99032-X
- The Devil's Device: The Story of Robert Whitehead, Inventor of the Torpedo, Edwyn Gray, Published by Seeley, 1975, ISBN 0-85422-104-2
- The Federal Reporter, Vol. 67, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, May-July 1895, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minn., 1895
- Compressed Air Magazine: A Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Useful Application of Compressed Air, William Lawrence Saunders (ed.), New York, 1903
- Mechanical Engineers, in Big Demand, Win Quick Success, The New York Times, October 19, 1913
- The Sons of the American Revolution, New York State Society, 1893–94, Edward Hagaman Hall, The Republic Press, New York, 1894
- TIME magazine, August 13, 1928
- Hellions of the Deep: The Development of American Torpedoes in World War II, Robert Gannon, Published by Penn State Press, 1996, ISBN 9780271015088
- The Boone Family, A Genealogical History of the Descendants of George and Mary Boone who Came to America in 1717; Containing Many Unpublished Bits of Early Kentucky History, By Ella Hazel Atterbury Spraker, Jesse Procter Crump, Published by Genealogical Publishing Company, 1974 ISBN 978-0-8063-0612-4
- United States Naval Academy Cemetery and Columbarium