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The Us Torpedo Scandal


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#1 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 11 March 2017 - 1930 PM

I mean, I always sorta knew about it but Ivanhoe's PT boat kind of brought it back for me. Those douchebags not being able to make a working torpedo,when that was a totally established technology at the time, is pretty incredible.

#2 lastdingo

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 0337 AM

The problem was insufficient testing. Interwar exercises frequently used torpedoes, but they were intentionally set to pass below (and were harmless due to no explosives or fuse or both anyway) and their bubble trail was observed to see if they would have hit.

 

That was no way to detect the impact angle fuse issue, or to detect that the torpedo often runs deeper than set.

 

Just as today air forces don't really test their air combat missiles against fully representative aircraft that carry sophisticated countermeasures and try to dodge at 9-11 g (or whatever is their limit at higher altitudes).



#3 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 0406 AM

Its interesting to note, that there were similar problems to the Germans with their torpedo's, and for much the same problem. Not least scientists and bureaucrats refusing to believe there could be anything wrong with their torpedo, ergo, it was the submariners shooting badly to blame.

 

Might have been better all round if the Americans had bought British Mk8's.



#4 lastdingo

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 0409 AM

The British had their own torpedo issues.

Some of their air-dropped torpedo fuses exploded on impact.



#5 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 0501 AM

True. But the sea launched ones seem to have been ok, or at least not read of any particular problems with the Mk8.

 

What let us down, at least in submarines, was the lack of a decent fire control system comparable to the German or American one. We seem to have tried to make up for that with a bigger broadside. Ive read when attacking on the surface, the standard system for aim off was to hold your hand out in front of you, and point your bow at your thumb, or something like that. Well at least your thumb usually didnt go unserviceable. :)


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 12 March 2017 - 0502 AM.


#6 DougRichards

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 0615 AM

In May 1941 the British had problems with their air launched torpedoes, in the Bismarck hunt. 



#7 shep854

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1156 AM

All the major navies started out with influence (magnetic) exploders.  In theory, this was most effective, since they would explode under the target, with all the explosive force going into the air-filled void of the ship's hull, rather than mostly into the atmosphere, as with contact exploders.  The British and Germans quickly found out that the magnetic exploders didn't work in actual combat conditions and quickly abandoned them.  The US Navy Gun Club refused to learn the lesson, and persisted well into the US involvement.  The near-mutiny of come captains is well-known.



#8 Markus Becker

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1200 PM

Torpedoes were the (unguided) naval missiles of their age and VERY complicated pieces of technology. The magnetic detonators merely added new complications, which might not even have been fully understood by the engineers. At least that would explain why the US, the UK and Germany got them all wrong. German and American torpedoes also had bugs in the more conventional components, like depth control.

 

What was different was the way High Commands reacted. When German skippers told Dönitz that the fish didn’t work right he trusted them, because he trained them. So he had the engineers look into it and in a rather short time almost all flaws were found and fixed.

 

One of the American admirals who was in charge of the submarine force in 1941/42 had unfortunately developed the torpedoes the skippers claimed didn’t work. He trusted his abilities more than the reports of his subordinates. Once another admiral had is engineers do some tests, flaws were also found and fixed in a very short time. 



#9 lastdingo

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1439 PM

All the major navies started out with influence (magnetic) exploders.  In theory, this was most effective, since they would explode under the target, with all the explosive force going into the air-filled void of the ship's hull, rather than mostly into the atmosphere, as with contact exploders.  The British and Germans quickly found out that the magnetic exploders didn't work in actual combat conditions and quickly abandoned them.  The US Navy Gun Club refused to learn the lesson, and persisted well into the US involvement.  The near-mutiny of come captains is well-known.

 

Magnetic fuses were kept in use, and the greatest promise of these were

- breaking keel against small/weak ships

- bypassing the anti-torpedo bulges of battleships

 

Presumably, running at a greater depth should have had an influence on the bubble trail. I don#t know if the bubble trail was more visible because of greater width or less visible because of greater dispersion. Either way, it should have even visible only farther behind the torpedo than with contact fuse mode.



#10 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1602 PM

So Japan never really had problems, right?

#11 shep854

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1719 PM

In his first novel, Final Harbor, Harry Homewood (a WWII submariner) gives an excellent account of the USN torpedo problems and their effect on the prosecution of the submarine campaign.



#12 lastdingo

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1830 PM

So Japan never really had problems, right?

 

Not sure about that. I read that late war air-dropped torpedoes had some ugly towed contact fuse instead of a nose fuse.

There must have been some unsatisfactory performance if they really introduced such a contraption.



#13 Calvinb1nav

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1858 PM

The problem was insufficient testing. Interwar exercises frequently used torpedoes, but they were intentionally set to pass below (and were harmless due to no explosives or fuse or both anyway) and their bubble trail was observed to see if they would have hit.
 
That was no way to detect the impact angle fuse issue, or to detect that the torpedo often runs deeper than set.
 
Just as today air forces don't really test their air combat missiles against fully representative aircraft that carry sophisticated countermeasures and try to dodge at 9-11 g (or whatever is their limit at higher altitudes).


Au contraire;
http://airman.dodliv.../combat-archer/
http://www.tyndall.a...and-future.aspx

#14 Ivanhoe

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 1921 PM

I mean, I always sorta knew about it but Ivanhoe's PT boat kind of brought it back for me. Those douchebags not being able to make a working torpedo,when that was a totally established technology at the time, is pretty incredible.

 

D-bags in retrospect, but in the timeframe of the decisions to not perform full-dress testing, those decisionmakers were probably seen as responsible and frugal.

 

Of course, history has a bad tendency to prove otherwise...



#15 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 0255 AM

In May 1941 the British had problems with their air launched torpedoes, in the Bismarck hunt. 

 

Though its perhaps not out of order to suggest they did succeed in fatally damaging it. And the FAA didnt seem to have much in the way of problems at Taranto the previous year.



#16 lastdingo

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 0414 AM

 

The problem was insufficient testing. Interwar exercises frequently used torpedoes, but they were intentionally set to pass below (and were harmless due to no explosives or fuse or both anyway) and their bubble trail was observed to see if they would have hit.
 
That was no way to detect the impact angle fuse issue, or to detect that the torpedo often runs deeper than set.
 
Just as today air forces don't really test their air combat missiles against fully representative aircraft that carry sophisticated countermeasures and try to dodge at 9-11 g (or whatever is their limit at higher altitudes).


Au contraire;
http://airman.dodliv.../combat-archer/
http://www.tyndall.a...and-future.aspx

 



Pilots carry telemetry pods on their fighter aircraft and employ weapons against a fighter-representative target.

 

The key is that this "fighter-representative target" isn't.

QF-4s don't dodge like a Su-30 and they don't have modern countermeasures onboard.

 

QF-16s with

  • a recoverable (parachute) jamming pod or two
  • chaff + flare + single use RF emitter decoy dispensers on inner pylons
  • a towed passive decoy

that are actually manoeuvring correctly for dodging would be an altogether different challenge for the missiles.

That's when pk would drop from about 0.85 to well below 0.50.



#17 DougRichards

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 0426 AM

 

I mean, I always sorta knew about it but Ivanhoe's PT boat kind of brought it back for me. Those douchebags not being able to make a working torpedo,when that was a totally established technology at the time, is pretty incredible.

 

D-bags in retrospect, but in the timeframe of the decisions to not perform full-dress testing, those decisionmakers were probably seen as responsible and frugal.

 

Of course, history has a bad tendency to prove otherwise...

 

 

Of course the crew of the Sheffield (and the ships cat) would have been happy about the FAA's torpedo problems.....

 

( In the report of the attack, Admiral Sir John Tovey, commanding Home Fleet, was told only no hits were scored on Bismarck.[4] The reaction of Sheffield's crew "has not made its way into the official records")



#18 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 0822 AM

Torpedoes were the (unguided) naval missiles of their age and VERY complicated pieces of technology. The magnetic detonators merely added new complications, which might not even have been fully understood by the engineers. At least that would explain why the US, the UK and Germany got them all wrong. German and American torpedoes also had bugs in the more conventional components, like depth control.

 

What was different was the way High Commands reacted. When German skippers told Dönitz that the fish didn’t work right he trusted them, because he trained them. So he had the engineers look into it and in a rather short time almost all flaws were found and fixed.

 

One of the American admirals who was in charge of the submarine force in 1941/42 had unfortunately developed the torpedoes the skippers claimed didn’t work. He trusted his abilities more than the reports of his subordinates. Once another admiral had is engineers do some tests, flaws were also found and fixed in a very short time. 

Ralph Waldo Christie was the naval officer behind the influence fuse and later commanded submarines in the SW pacific.  He was sure that the torpedoes were good and was skeptical of his subordinate skippers' complaints that the fuse was the problem and not human error.  In fairness to Adm Christie, the Torpedo Lab was never able to run a live fire test.  While the navy was more than happy to give them an old ship to sink, they also specified that the lab would be responsible for paying for the clearing of the wreck after the test which was totally beyond the lab fiscal capability.



#19 Markus Becker

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 1058 AM

That excuses the initial malfunction of the magnetic detonator but not Christie’s reaction. Quite the contrary, if well trained crews claim that a new and never fully tested system is defective, it should have set off the alarm bells. Big time!

 

I recalled a story that could be another factor why it took so long for the USN to admit there was a problem. When the skippers were told it was all their fault and they must continue to use the magnetic detonator they ignored the order and switched to contact detonators. Of course they faked the logs and told the crew to SFTU. The contact detonators were also not very reliable but they were not nearly as bad as the magnetic ones. So more ships got sunk and the brass attributed the increased sinkings to the improved marksmanship of the crews. 



#20 lastdingo

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 1114 AM

They didn't expend terribly many Mk 14 torpedoes early on anyway, about half of the depot torpedoes in the Pacific theatre was lost with the fall of Manila.

 

Many of the submarines used in early 1942 were old and crappy and used old torpedoes.

https://en.wikipedia...class_submarine






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