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The Us Torpedo Scandal


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#41 Markus Becker

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 1247 PM

Cruel irony. The good shots, who hit a target at the perfect angle get rewarded with a dud. If you take a short from what the manual calls a poor angle​ ... Boom!

#42 shep854

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 1751 PM

Cruel irony. The good shots, who hit a target at the perfect angle get rewarded with a dud. If you take a short from what the manual calls a poor angle​ ... Boom!

So sub skippers tried to make grazing hits until the problems were finally corrected.



#43 shep854

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 1756 PM

FWIW, Operation Pacific, a 1951 submarine movie starring John Wayne, featured the torpedo problem as a major plot element.  Firing of torpedoes at nets and dropping warheads from a crane were shown, as the issues were identified and corrected.



#44 Markus Becker

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 0647 AM

 

Cruel irony. The good shots, who hit a target at the perfect angle get rewarded with a dud. If you take a short from what the manual calls a poor angle​ ... Boom!

So sub skippers tried to make grazing hits until the problems were finally corrected.

 

 

 

Once they knew but the nature of this flaw also disguised the flaw. It made ths skippers who attacked by the book look like people who could not hit the broadside of a barn because the contact fuse clearly works as demonstrated by the hits scored under less than ideal circumstances. 


Edited by Markus Becker, 12 June 2017 - 0653 AM.


#45 JWB

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 1158 AM

 

Cruel irony. The good shots, who hit a target at the perfect angle get rewarded with a dud. If you take a short from what the manual calls a poor angle​ ... Boom!

So sub skippers tried to make grazing hits until the problems were finally corrected.

 

The torpedoes also worked in chase if the target ship was traveling fast enough and the torp didn't get chopped up by a screw.



#46 sunday

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Posted 12 June 2017 - 1313 PM

Tameichi Hara writes about a torpedo that passed through the rudder of his ship, Shigure, without exploding during the battle of Vella Gulf. They only noted some sluggishness to rudder until they put she in drydock -in Sasebo- and discovered a very round, and very big hole in a rudder blade.



#47 Josh

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 1246 PM

I always wondered if the air dropped torpedoes worked against Shōhō specifically because the TBDs sandwiched her with oblique shots from both bows. I think there were something like a half dozen detonations. This too would have tended to cover up how bad the fuse issue was.

#48 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 1822 PM

So the Germans had the same problem though, right? (Maybe this was covered a few pages back, can't find it). Also pretty interesting how the Japanese managed to make the best torps by a wide margin. 


Edited by Brian Kennedy, 13 June 2017 - 1901 PM.


#49 Markus Becker

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 2209 PM

Sort of. The contact fuses worked and all serious flaws were very quickly identified and adressed.

#50 GregShaw

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 2340 PM

I always wondered if the air dropped torpedoes worked against Shōhō specifically because the TBDs sandwiched her with oblique shots from both bows. I think there were something like a half dozen detonations. This too would have tended to cover up how bad the fuse issue was.

Mk 13 was a lot slower, 33 kts vs 46 kts typical for Mk 14 (submarine) and 45 kts for Mk 15 (destroyer), and it used completely different fuze. Mk 13 did have problems, but failure to go bang doesn't seem to have been one of them.


Edited by GregShaw, 13 June 2017 - 2340 PM.


#51 Ken Estes

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 0213 AM

The Royal Navy did not have torpedo problems that I can recall. Their 21 inch torps generally outperformed the same size in all other navies.



#52 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 0226 AM

The Royal Navy did not have torpedo problems that I can recall. Their 21 inch torps generally outperformed the same size in all other navies.

 

Mk8  seems to be a bit short ranged compared to the Mk14, though I question how useful a 9000 yard range really was to a submarine. They also were reportedly pretty noisy, which again, was less of  a problem if you were plinking merchants. OTOH, they seemed to go bang pretty much when we wanted them to. It was still the antiship weapon of choice when we replaced it with Harpoon in 1983.

https://en.wikipedia..._inch_Mark_VIII

 

It remains, the only torpedo to ever sink another submerged submarine from another submarine. I guess we got our moneys worth.

 

 

 

Incidentally, whilst reading up on 'Cold Waters' the other day, I noticed this on archive.org. It only goes up to 1978, and many of the details of M37 and Mk45 were still classified at that time. But interesting all the same, not least the number of other projects they had at the time of Mk14. I idly wonder if that was the problem, they had too many torpedos being developed at the same time.

https://archive.org/...pedoDevelopment


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 14 June 2017 - 0241 AM.


#53 Rick

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 0713 AM

The Royal Navy did not have torpedo problems that I can recall. Their 21 inch torps generally outperformed the same size in all other navies.

I believe the same could be said of the Italian Navy.



#54 Ken Estes

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 0714 AM

The British 21 inchers had a hefty 750 lb. warhead. The primitive submarine FCS did little for long range engagements, and vs mechants was not a problem. The conventional submaine of WWII as relegated to stalking in any case.

 

Not so with the surface ship Mk IX 21 inch torpedos, much more impressive, viz:

 

Explosive Charge

Mark IX and IX*:
750 lbs. (340 kg) TNT
Mark IX**:
Originally: 722 lbs. (327 kg) TNT
Later: 805 lbs. (365 kg) Torpex Range / Speed

Mark IX:
10,500 yards (9,600 m) / 36 knots
13,500 yards (12,350 m) / 30 knots
Mark IX*:
11,000 yards (10,050 m) / 36 knots
14,000 yards (12,800 m) / 30 knots 

Mark IX**:
11,000 yards (10,050 m) / 41 knots
15,000 yards (13,700 m) / 35 knots

 

Power Burner-cycle, 264 hp @ 41 knots

 

** Rick, all Italian torpedos had warheads under 600 lb. They were certainly speed demons, though, at short range.

 

I see the IJN has the record for explosive charge in the 21 inch class of 1213 lbs, purchased at a loss of range, but the oxygen/kerosene fuel permitted up to 49-51 kts/6000 yds

 

[Edit to format data correctly]


Edited by Ken Estes, 15 June 2017 - 0110 AM.


#55 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 0756 AM

I seem to recall reading that the fire control in British boats was so primitive, that the commander of HMS Upholder was taught that in engagements on the surface, he was taught to aim the bow off by holding his hand at arms length and extending a thumb. They may have been joking, but I dont think so. Even at the end of the war, reportedly the fire control on the T boats was still behind that on the American boats or even the German ones. The remarkable thing is how well they seem to have done even with that limitation.

 

The size of the warhead is the reason why they were used in sinking the Belgrano. I think the Mark 24's at that point were modded to be able to engage surface targets, but not only were they unreliable in breaking wires, they had a much smaller warhead thank the Mk8. It will be remembered that a Mk8 blew the Belgrano's bow clean off.

 

Infuriatingly hard to find much about British torpedo development than in that Peter Hennessy book 'The Silent Deep'. Its next to impossible to find much on the Mk20 or Mk23 'grog' which seem to have been truly horrible torpedos. We didnt really have much luck in guided weapons till we finally sorted Spearfish, or so out it would seem. Tigerfish seemed to evolve into a good torpedo, but other than being quiet, doesnt seem to have delivered much the Mk37 did a good 20 years earlier, at least in speed.



#56 Yama

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 0936 AM

The US has been buying ex-Soviet hardware since the end of the Cold War, including a MiG-29 squadron from Moldavia, and 2 Su-27 from Ukraine, plus assorted other stuff, so they pretty well know what they need to simulate and how.


Usually such sales have highly sensitive systems removed, though. I very much doubt those Ukrainan Su-27's had operational radars or Sorbitsya pods, for example. But even if they did, the system is 30 years old and hardly cutting-edge.

Even supposedly rigorous testing can have holes or oversights, which I suppose was major factor in torpedo crisis as well. From modern times, well-known example is flare avoidance programmed to late mark Sidewinders. Missiles were live fire tested, they avoided flares and hit the targets, what more can you ask? Until Cold War ended and USA got their hands on authentic Soviet made flares...it turned out that missiles homed into them no problem. Needless to say what a huge issue this would have been in a real war.
More recent example is AMRAAM failures in cold weather. It was an uphill fight to get manufacturer to acknowledge there was a problem, since the missile HAD been cold tested and worked, so why it now suddenly wouldn't work? Impossible, you must have been doing something wrong.

#57 Yama

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 0951 AM

So the Germans had the same problem though, right?


Yes, G7e had similar set of problems as US torpedoes: both influence and contact detonators were defective and depth setting wouldn't often work, sending the torpedoes too deep. One of Cajus Bekker books had quite detailed description of the problems. G7e contact detonator had set of levers which would detonate the warhead 'from behind'. This was meant to improve reliability from oblique angles. However, the system was delicate and easily damaged, and in practical terms produced an opposite result.

Max Valentiner, WW1 sub ace, approached Kriegsmarine before the war and inquired whether they had resolved torpedo reliability problems which plagued U-Boats in Great War. Particularly, he raised the issue of running depth: in poor weather, WW1 torpedoes might go as much as 30 metres too deep! He was assured that there was no problem, everything had been throuhgly tested...and it was, by Torpedo Office, which had its own set of testing criteria and wouldn't accept Kriegsmarine's own tests if they weren't also involved. But when Torpedo Office requested some ship time to perform their own realistic, adverse weather testing, KM said they had no ships to spare: all were needed in operations or training and some 'superfluous' testing was in the bottom of the priority pile.

#58 Ken Estes

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 1002 AM

The UK Mk VIII became the choice of the Norwegian coast defense artillery branch postwar.

 

5wZn2s.jpg



#59 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 1011 AM

 

The US has been buying ex-Soviet hardware since the end of the Cold War, including a MiG-29 squadron from Moldavia, and 2 Su-27 from Ukraine, plus assorted other stuff, so they pretty well know what they need to simulate and how.


Usually such sales have highly sensitive systems removed, though. I very much doubt those Ukrainan Su-27's had operational radars or Sorbitsya pods, for example. But even if they did, the system is 30 years old and hardly cutting-edge.

Even supposedly rigorous testing can have holes or oversights, which I suppose was major factor in torpedo crisis as well. From modern times, well-known example is flare avoidance programmed to late mark Sidewinders. Missiles were live fire tested, they avoided flares and hit the targets, what more can you ask? Until Cold War ended and USA got their hands on authentic Soviet made flares...it turned out that missiles homed into them no problem. Needless to say what a huge issue this would have been in a real war.
More recent example is AMRAAM failures in cold weather. It was an uphill fight to get manufacturer to acknowledge there was a problem, since the missile HAD been cold tested and worked, so why it now suddenly wouldn't work? Impossible, you must have been doing something wrong.

 

 

One of the SU27's seen over the Nellis range had the wingtip jammers pods on it. Doesnt mean they worked of course, otoh, kind of an odd thing to do if they didnt.



#60 Marek Tucan

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 1647 PM

One thing is that while the Type 93's are elevated to Almost-Tiger-Level of engineering among the Axisaboos, they had their own share of problem - IIRC Hara mentioned loss of depth control ("dolphins") and too sensitive detonator / premature detonations among them. 

 

Seems that UK and Italy are really out there with the torpedo problems (or lack thereof). Does anyone know how were the French or Soviet torps doing? Probably not much evidence either way, but Soviets would probably get some things from the Italians in 1930s?






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