If you've ever wanted to master English by using the phrase "My hovercraft is full of eels," then it's time you learned about the history of the strange vehicle known as the hovercraft. Here is a photographic history of this legendary piece of technology.

The first hovercraft design, looks like an upside down boat, by Emanuel Swedenborg in Sweden, 1716

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The first working hovercraft-like vehicle by Dagobert Müller von Thomamühl, named Versuchsgleitboot System Thomamühl, Austro-Hungarian Empire, 1915-1916

(via Eugen Savoyen)

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The first scientific description of the ground effect and theoretical methods of calculation of air cushion vehicles, by the Soviet Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, in his 1927 paper Air Resistance and the Express Train

(via Thomas W. Becker: The Race for Technology Conquering the High Frontier/Google Books, p. 113, FantLab, KnigaFund and Wikimedia Commons)

The hovercrafts of Vladimir Levkov in the 1930s

The L-1, 1935

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The L5, 1937

An assault hovercraft concept

(via Soviet Hammer)

Early prototypes by the Finnish Toivo J. Kaario, 1930s

An early Pintaliitäjä (Surface Soarer) prototype in 1935, tested on ice

His second prototype named Patosiipi No. 2 (1935) was able to lift, but it wasn't strong enough. In the next year he built a better one with a two-cylinder Harley-Davidson engine and put a skirt under the boat.

In 1939 the Patosiipi No. 8 was done and had a 53hp Porsche engine. It wasn't entirely flawless (there were vibration problems) but could reach 50 mph (80 kmh) with two people on board.

(via Axishistory and Pertti Korhonen: Toivo Kaario/PDF in Finnish)

Glidemobile, designed and constructed by Charles Joseph Fletcher

(Photos by Ad Meskens and William Maloney)

The Saunders-Roe Nautical SR.N1, designed by Sir Christopher Cockerell and built in 1959 by Saunders-Roe in Great Britain

On the 50th anniversary of Louis Blériot's cross-channel fight, one of these hovercrafts crossed the English Channel from Calais to Dover in almost two hours.

(via Zeably, Brocki and Edward Miller/Getty Images)

The Aeromobile of William R. Bertelson, 1959

(via Popular Science, July 1959)

Princeton's Flying Saucer, 1959

(via Popular Science, July 1959)

A Cushioncraft, a circular vessel for use on banana plantations in Southern Cameroon with its designers Desmond Norman and John Britten, 1960

(via Terry Disney/Central Press/Getty Images)

A Hover Scooter, powered by a 250cc twin cylinder 2-stroke motorcycle engine, developed by American engineer Charles Rhoades, 1960

(via Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The Princeton P-GEM, made by students of Princeton University, 1960

(via Freeman Airfields and Science And Mechanics/June 1960)

Commercialisation of hovercrafts: small-scale ferry service started between the UK and France with Vickers-Armstrong VA-3s, 1962

(Photo by Tucker/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

The first production-built hovercraft in the world, the British Saunders-Roe SR.N5 (or Warden class), 1964

(via Glass Half Full and from All Hands Magazine Nov 1966/PDF)

The Princeton AgGem with the cockpit bubble of a Hughes 300 helicopter, made by a team in Princeton University, 1960s

(via Freeman Airfields)

The largest passenger hovercraft ever, the Saunders-Roe Nautical 4 (SR.N4) carried passengers and cars between Calais and Dover between 1968 and 2000.

The Mark I and Mark II models were 130.18 ft (39.68 m) long, but the Mark III (or Super 4) had an amazing 184.97 ft (56.38 m) length.

(via Andrew Berridge and Wikimedia Commons)

A London milkman delivering bottles of milk from a hovercraft, 1973

(Photo by Graham French/BIPs/Getty Images)

The 164 ft (50 m) long N500 Naviplane by the French SEDAM. Only two were built in 1976 and 1977.

(via Aernav)

The 300-ton Super 4 BHC Hovercraft named Princess Margaret on Thames, 1979

(Photo by Colin Davey/Evening Standard/Getty Images)

The British RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) hovercraft H-001 Molly Rayner, 2005

(Photo by Chris McKenna)

VertiPod, the Segway of the Sky, by Air Buoyant

(via The Herald Bulletin and Gizmodo)

A Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) of the United States Navy, 2006

(Photo by Michael D. Kennedy/U.S. Navy via Getty Images, U.S. Navy 12)

A Zubr Class Russian LCAC with weapons, the largest hovercraft ever

(via U.S. Navy and Kremlin)

Firefighter hovercraft in Germany, 2009

(via Stoaberg)