I think his first version of the submarine was quickly made over a weekend.
He used the alligator and shark as a basis for the submarine ‘monster’. The alligator eyes are the lights above the windows of the conning tower. The rivets on the hull were supposed to represent the rough skin of the alligator. The sharks fin is the fin behind the conning tower. The submarine was also made pointed in the front like a sharks nose.
His combining of the riveted structure with victorian furniture (which makes the interior so neat I think) was inspired by a ship he saw in the 30’s called the USS Oregan, a Spanish American battleship. It was sold for scrap in the 40’s.
In this ship the cabinet makers made all the wood furniture fit into the steel hull, edged with brass fittings and such. Here is a site which shows some interior photos of the USS Oregan with it’s riveted structure and victorian furniture:
The Nautilus was made with jagged sawtooth eges as Jules Verne said the submarine ripped through the ships.
If you put drawings of the interior and exterior together they don’t fit. The interior is too big for the exterior.
The organ Nemo plays in the salon is now the organ at Haunted Mansion in Disneyland.
To get nick-picky – I always wondered how the conning tower windows and light could withstand ‘sawing’ through the hull of a ship. The hull would tear them apart.
Also, I also wondered where all the crew lived and where were all their supplies
The interior set was made of wood and fiberglass, a new product at the time.
The rivets of the interior sets were actually made of wood!
They had a big problem with lighting the interior scenes. They had to devise different ways to hide lighting behind furniture so it’d film properly.
I believe a lot of the books they had in Captain Nemo’s salon were books from the 1800’s. I’m not sure but I think they may of mostly been about marine life too.
There are actually two organs in the salon. The main one that Captain Nemo plays and the other is on the forward end of the salon on the port side (to the left of the door that goes into the chart room).
When they go in to see the power source there are many circular lights on the wall, which change colors. These were actually salad bowls! They put lights behind them to give it that effect.
This is the Firth of Forth bridge in Scotland. This inspired Harper Goff to use riveted tubular steel found in the interior of the Nautilus.
Here is a site about the Nautilus from Disney’s “20,000 leauges under the sea”. It has alot of trivia, information, pictures, and drawings about the submarine.
(I wrote most of this in 2009)