Torpedo History

 Welcome Visitors

A  Brief History of U.S. Navy Torpedo Development, covers the growth/development of the "auto-mobile" or self-propelled torpedo in the U.S. Navy.  The book covers the beginning of  torpedo invention in Europe by Robert Whitehead in 1866 up to the Torpedo Mk 48 of 1978. Part I is a narrative of the history of the evolution, while part II contains illustrations and  characteristics of each of the torpedoes that was in development or is/was in service use over the 112-year period.

 Although limited  by what was still classified in 1978, it remains an easy reference to most of the US Torpedoes. This document is not classified. Information on more recent, including current inventory, U.S. Navy torpedoes may be found at:
http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/weapons/wep-torp.html

 In  this online version of the manual we have attempted to keep the flavor of the original layout while taking advantage of the Web's  universal accessibility.  Different browsers and fonts will cause the text to move, but the text will remain roughly where it is in the  original manual. We have attempted to preserve the text of the original manual, including its eccentric spelling. If we have accidentally introduced new typos, please report these typos or any content errors to  underseainfo@kpt.nuwc.navy.mil  for correction or annotation.

 Readers interested in torpedo tubes on Fleet and Guppy submarines, should  look at the Pampanito  website:
Torpedo  Tubes, 21-Inch submerged, Mk 32 to 39 OP 1085.


 NUSA Technical Document 5436
15 September 1978
 
 A Brief History of U.S. Navy Torpedo Development

 E.W. Jolie
Weapons Systems  Department

An illustration   showing airplanes, helicopters, destroyers, blimps and nuclear   submarines.

Naval Underwater Systems Center
Newport  Laboratory

Distribution limited to U.S. Government  agencies only;
test and evaluation; 15 September 1978.
Other  requests for this document must be referred
to the Naval Underwater Systems Center.


PREFACE

 In the preparation of this report, the author has relied on the archival holdings of  the Naval Underwater Systems Center and resource material made available  by current NUSC staff members. Particular thanks are due to Mr. A. E. Burke of the Weapon Systems Staff, Mr. R. R. Corridon of the  Technical Shops Department,  and Mr. A. J. Turner of the Weapon  Systems Department; and the efforts of Ms. P. A. Ellis,  Mr. M. A. deSa, and Mr. R. A. Thibodeau of the Information Services Department  in editing and  illustrating this report are gratefully acknowledged. Other persons too numerous to  mention have also  provided both information and support in the preparation of this document.

 This report is presented with the awareness that parts of the story could be treated only as fully as the resource material  permitted.  Suggestions for additions, corrections, or other  improvements will be welcomed at any time.

 REVIEWED AND  APPROVED: 15 September 1978

J.E. Sirmalis signature.
J. E.  Sirmalis
Head, Weapon Systems Department

 The author of this  report is located
at the Newport Laboratory, Naval Underwater
Systems Center, Newport, Rhode Island  02840.


Report Documentation Page;  Report Number TD 5436;  A Brief   History of U.S. Navy Torpedo Development, E. W. Jolie;  Naval   Underwater Systems Center, Newport Laboratory, Newport, Rhode Island   02840;  15 September 1978, 150 pages;  Unclassified, Distribution   limited to U.S. Government agencies only; test and evaluation; 15   September 1978.  Other request for this document must be referred to   the Naval Undersea Systems Center; [ed: this is no longer   necessary]  Keywords: Torpedo Development, Flywheel, Hot and Cold   Running Torpedo, U.S. Naval Torpedo Station, Howell Torpedo, Steam   Torpedo, Whitehead Torpedo, Electric Torpedo, Bliss-Leavitt Torpedo,   Monopropellant;  This report covers the growth/development of the   auto-mobile or self-propelled torpedo in the U.S. Navy from torpedo   inception in Europe by Robert Whitehead in 1866 up to and including   Torpedo Mk 48 of 1978. Part I is a narrative of the historical   aspects of the evolution, while part II contains illustrations and   characteristics of each of the torpedoes that was in development or   is/was in service use over the 112-year period.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

iv

LIST OF TABLES

iv

FOREWORD

1

PART 1 - HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

3

HISTORY OF EARLY TORPEDOES (1800-1870)

The Good Old Days

5

Origin of the Whitehead Torpedo

7

The  Whitehead Torpedo in the World Market

8

The  Schwartzkopff Torpedo

8

U.S. Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I

9

The  U.S. Navy "Fish" Torpedo

9

The  Torpedo Takes a New Shape

10

U.S. Reaction to the Whitehead Torpedo

11

EARLY U.S.N. TORPEDO DEVELOPMENTS (1870-1915)

Torpedo Experiments in the U.S. (1870-1900)

13

The Howell Torpedo

17

The  Whitehead Torpedo Joins the U.S. Navy

19

The  Schwartzkopff Torpedo Purchase

21

Bliss-Leavitt Torpedoes

22

Exploder Mechanisms

23

Explosives

25

The  U.S. Navy Torpedo Factory

25

The  "Steam" Torpedo

26

Torpedo Designations of 1913

27

The Torpedo Boat

28

The  Torpedo Boat Destroyer

28

The  Submarine

28

WORLD WAR I  AND THE AFTERMATH (1915-1929)

World  War I

29

U.S. Navy Electric Torpedo Development

30

After  the War was Over

30

PRE-WORLD WAR  II ERA (1930-1939)

Development of the Aircraft Torpedo Mk 13

31

Development of the Submarine Torpedo Mk 14

34

Development of the Destroyer Torpedo Mk 15

34

WORLD WAR II ERA (1939-1950)

National Defense Research Committee

35

The  Electric Torpedo Mk 18

35

Passive Acoustic Homing Torpedo Development

36

i



TABLE OF CONTENTS (Cont'd)

Page

Active Acoustic Homing Torpedo Development

38

Development of Chemical Torpedoes Mk 16 and Mk 17

39

Development of Torpedo Mk 25

41

Improved Torpedo Mk 13

42

The  Navy Electric Torpedo Mk 20

42

World  War II Torpedo Production

43

World War II Submarine Torpedo Performance

44

Early Post-World War II

44

Interim Weapons

44

MODERN TORPEDO DEVELOPMENTS (1950-PRESENT)

Torpedoes Mk 35 and Mk 37 Development

44

The Lightweight ASW Torpedo

49

ASW Standoff Weapon Development

53

A Final Word on Torpedoes Mk 14 and Mk 16

53

Wire Guidance as a Torpedo Control System

54

Pattern-Running Torpedo Development (Torpedo Mk  42)

55

Torpedo Mk 48

56

PART 2 - DETAILED REVIEW OF TORPEDOES

59

HOWELL TORPEDO

61

WHITEHEAD TORPEDO MK 1

62

WHITEHEAD TORPEDO MK 2

64

WHITEHEAD TORPEDO MK 3

66

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 1

67

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 2

68

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 3

69

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 4

70

WHITEHEAD TORPEDO MK 5

71

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 6

72

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 7

73

SHORT  TORPEDO MK 7 (TYPE D )

74

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 8

75

BLISS-LEAVITT TORPEDO MK 9

76

TORPEDO MK 10

77

TORPEDO MK 11

78

TORPEDO MK 12

79

TORPEDO MK 13

80

TORPEDO MK 14

81

TORPEDO MK 15

82

TORPEDO MK 16

83

TORPEDO MK 17

84

TORPEDO MK 18

85

TORPEDO MK 19

86

TORPEDO MK 20

87

ii



TABLE OF CONTENTS (Cont'd)

 Page

TORPEDO MK 21 MOD 0

88

TORPEDO MK 21 MOD 2

89

TORPEDO MK 22

90

TORPEDO MK 23

91

TORPEDO MINE MK 24

92

TORPEDO MK 25

93

TORPEDO MK 26

94

TORPEDO MK 27 MOD 0

95

TORPEDO MK 27 MOD 4

96

TORPEDO MK 28

97

TORPEDO MK 29

98

TORPEDO MK 30

99

TORPEDO MINE MK 30

100

TORPEDO MK 31

101

TORPEDO MK 32 MOD 2

102

TORPEDO MK 33 MOD 0

103

TORPEDO MK 34 MOD 1 (MINE MK 44)

104

TORPEDO MK 35

105

TORPEDO MK 36 MOD 0

106

TORPEDO MK 37 MODS 0 AND 3

107

TORPEDO MK 37 MODS 1 AND 2

108

TORPEDO MK 38 MOD 0

109

TORPEDO MK 39 MOD 1

110

TORPEDO MK 40 TEST VEHICLE

111

TORPEDO MK 41 MOD 0

112

TORPEDO MK 42

113

TORPEDO MK 43 MOD 0

114

TORPEDO MK 43 MODS 1 AND 3

115

TORPEDO MK 44 MODS 0 AND 1

116

TORPEDO MK 45 MODS 0, 1, AND 2

117

TORPEDO MK 46 MODS 0 AND 1

118

TORPEDO MK 47

119

TORPEDO MK 48 MOD 1

120

ASROC

121

REFERENCES

122

BIBLIOGRAPHY

123

APPENDIX A - CHRONOLOGY OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

A-1

APPENDIX B - IDENTITY INDEX

B-1

iii



LIST OF  ILLUSTRATIONS

Figure

Page

1

Explosive Charge Lashed to Boom of Spar Torpedo

6

2

Spar Torpedo Rigged for Test from Bow of Steam Launch

6

3

Probable Form of Whitehead Torpedo (1868)

7

4

Newport's Auto-Mobile "Fish" Torpedo

10

5

Lay Torpedo

14

6

Barber Torpedo

14

7

Ericsson Torpedo

15

8

Lay-Haight Torpedo

15

9

Sims--Edison Torpedo

16

10

Cunningham Torpedo

16

11

Howell Torpedo

17

12

USS MORRIS (USTB 14) Launching Whitehead Torpedo

21

13

War Nose Mk 1

23

14

Typical  Hot Gas Generator System of Steam Torpedo

26

15

Aircraft-Dropped Torpedo Mk  7

33

16

Mine Mk 24

37

17

Torpedo Mk 32

39

18

Torpedo Mk 16

41

19

AD 4 Aircraft Launching Torpedo Mk 44

54

20

ASROC Launch from  Destroyer

55

21

One Hundred Years of U.S.N.  Torpedo Development

57

LIST OF TABLES

Table

Page

1

Cold Serviceable Torpedoes

27

2

Hot Serviceable  Torpedoes

27

3

Torpedo Attacks and Hits for U.S. Carrier-Based Aircraft (7 Dec 1941 to 31 May 1945)

43

4

Torpedoes  in Service at End of World War II

45

5

Straight-Running Torpedoes Under Development at End of World War II

46

6

Homing Torpedoes Under Development at End of World War II

47

7

Torpedoes Produced as  Interim ASW Weapons

48

8

Characteristics of EX-2  Torpedoes

50

iv



FOREWORD

 This document is an attempt to present in an organized way, and thereby  preserve, what is known of the history of torpedo development while the  resources are still available. The last known attempt at a comprehensive  treatment of this special weapon form in the United States was the "History  of the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station." Compiled  around 1946 and covering the  time period from 1869 through 1945, the  document (by subject and by design) presents a parochial view, and its seven volumes are concerned primarily  with the "steam" torpedo  and the Navy in-house effort in the development of an electric  torpedo. A limited but outstanding history of the early passive  acoustic homing torpedoes is a volume by Albers.1

 This history is based for the most part on source material from the  archives of the Naval Underwater Systems Center, Newport Laboratory, Newport, Rhode Island  (successor to the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station) and the files of its current staff. The limiting factor on the depth of treatment  of some torpedoes is the availability of information; the darkest spot is  the era between 1900 and 1930. Since a main objective was to present the  information in an unclassified document, security classification  limited the details and discussion of the more current torpedoes.

 From the days of its inception by Howell and  Whitehead, the torpedo has  been a keystone in naval tactical development. The destroyer and submarine came into being as a result  of the need for a launch platform for the  torpedo. The torpedo's  awesome potential was demonstrated on a large scale  in World War I  when the German U-boats sank 5400 Allied ships with a total displacement of 11,189,000 tons.

 In spite of their problems and  seemingly endless adverse publicity by  critics, the U.S. Navy  submarine torpedoes in World War II were credited  with sinking 1314 Japanese ships for a total of 5,100,000 tons accounting for 55 percent of all World War II Japanese ship losses. Thus, the  torpedo, which in the 1880's "stirred naval tacticians more profoundly than any  weapon produced,"2 demonstrated its tremendous effectiveness in a  time of great need.

 This document is divided into two sections. Part 1 is a brief  narrative on the history of the various torpedoes. Part 2  presents the  physical and performance characteristics of the individual torpedoes as well as a simple illustration of the shape of the weapon. A chronology of significant events relating to the  development of modern torpedoes is given  as appendix A, while a list of the former and current identities of various  developers and  producers of the modern torpedo is presented as appendix B.

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