When Pampanito was commissioned on November 6, 1943 she represented
the state of the art in submarine design and construction. To understand
the role of US submarines during WW II is critical to understand how they
work and what they are capable of accomplishing.
Pampanito was one of the "thick skinned" Balao class submarines
whose thicker pressure hull allowed for an increased maximum diving depth
to over 400 feet, a depth of 100 feet beyond the earlier Gato class
boats. The increase in operational depth, one of the best kept secrets
of the war, was accomplished by switching from 5/8-inch mild steel to 7/8-inch
high tensile steel hull plates. Although officially rated to a depth of
400 feet, Pampanito's class was known to have operated at greater
depths. In addition to the greater operating depth, Pampanito also
carried new sophisticated electronic gear for detecting targets, a Torpedo
Data Computer (TDC) for working out and setting torpedo firing angles,
new Mark 18 electric torpedoes, and a Bathythermograph for detecting cold
water layers, or thermoclines, under which she could slip to deflect enemy
sonar pings and make the boat hard to detect.
Short descriptions of the technology and the equipment aboard Pampanito
are contained in the following sections. In depth training manuals on most
of the boat's systems may be found in the Fleet Submarine Online, many other technical manuals are available.