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Folks,

A Brief History of U.S. Navy Torpedo Development, sometimes called OP 353W or TD5436. 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.

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. By letter Ser 700OC/90, 2007, this docuement is now approved for Public Release, distribution unlimited. Information on more recent, including current inventory, U.S. Navy torpedoes may be found at:
http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=2100&tid=900&ct=2

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. We have accidently introduced new typos that we wish to correct.

Please report any content errors, typos, etc. with the Mail Feedback Form for correction.

Readers interested in torpedo tubes on Fleet and Guppy submarines, should look at:
Torpedo Tubes, 21-Inch submerged, Mks 32 to 39, O.P. 1085.

Richard Pekelney
Online Version Editor, Feb 2004


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NUSC 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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