World War II Submarine Technology

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.


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