torpedoes and torpedo bulges

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paul.mercer
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torpedoes and torpedo bulges

Postby paul.mercer » Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:39 pm

Gentlemen,
Yet another question for you!
I was looking at a picture of a QE class ship and the enormous anti torpedo bulges she had on each side, yet in WW2 a number of ships were sunk by torpedoes, including her sister ship Barham, Bismarck and Yamoto. In addition, a number of ships were disabled by striking mines, were these bulges no good, or was it almost impossible to protect a ship from being severely damaged by these weapons?

dunmunro
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Re: torpedoes and torpedo bulges

Postby dunmunro » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:27 am

paul.mercer wrote:Gentlemen,
Yet another question for you!
I was looking at a picture of a QE class ship and the enormous anti torpedo bulges she had on each side, yet in WW2 a number of ships were sunk by torpedoes, including her sister ship Barham, Bismarck and Yamoto. In addition, a number of ships were disabled by striking mines, were these bulges no good, or was it almost impossible to protect a ship from being severely damaged by these weapons?



Generally the bulges on older capital ships were effective in limiting the damage from a single hit, but were not sufficient to protect against multiple hits on one side.

RA Burt's British Battleships 1919-45 gives a good summary of torpedo damage on bulged ships.

paul.mercer
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Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Re: torpedoes and torpedo bulges

Postby paul.mercer » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:57 am

Thanks for that.
I realise that the effect of an explosion underwater magnifies the damage (rather like the 'Dambuster' bomb), but I'm puzzled as to why over the years that battleships were being built that so much was spent on providing upper hull protection against heavy shells that so little thought was given to the effect of the torpedo, particularly the larger ones fired by submarines.
I remember my father once telling me a story of when he was a young Midshipman on Queen Elizabeth in the late 20's, all the officers were attending a talk on possible ways to attack the ship, at the end the senior officer invited the Middies to comment and apparently my Dad asked about the possibility of bombs or torpedoes from aircraft. His question was answered (and dismissed) by the reply 'aircraft would never be able to get past our defences'! So was it just complacency by the RN and its designers?

dunmunro
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Re: torpedoes and torpedo bulges

Postby dunmunro » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:05 pm

paul.mercer wrote:Thanks for that.
I realise that the effect of an explosion underwater magnifies the damage (rather like the 'Dambuster' bomb), but I'm puzzled as to why over the years that battleships were being built that so much was spent on providing upper hull protection against heavy shells that so little thought was given to the effect of the torpedo, particularly the larger ones fired by submarines.
I remember my father once telling me a story of when he was a young Midshipman on Queen Elizabeth in the late 20's, all the officers were attending a talk on possible ways to attack the ship, at the end the senior officer invited the Middies to comment and apparently my Dad asked about the possibility of bombs or torpedoes from aircraft. His question was answered (and dismissed) by the reply 'aircraft would never be able to get past our defences'! So was it just complacency by the RN and its designers?


Adding in effective protection from torpedoes. beyond adding a bulge was extremely difficult. However, when QE was rebuilt from 1938-41 her machinery spaces were completely rearranged giving QE much enhanced protection from torpedoes:
Image
Warrior to Vanguard, p576.

additionally the bulges were rebuilt and made more effective, although externally they appeared the same.

I would suggest visiting a library and looking for these books for more info:

Warrior to Vanguard by Parkes
British Battleships by Raven and Roberts
British Battleships 1919-45 by Burt

for more info

paul.mercer
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Re: torpedoes and torpedo bulges

Postby paul.mercer » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:38 pm

Thanks, I'll do that.
I wonder if Barham was ever modified, I believe she was only hit by one torpedo, yet the result was catastrophic, every time I see that film of her blowing up I think of those poor chaps inside her - were there any survivors?

dunmunro
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Re: torpedoes and torpedo bulges

Postby dunmunro » Wed Mar 15, 2017 7:04 pm

paul.mercer wrote:Thanks, I'll do that.
I wonder if Barham was ever modified, I believe she was only hit by one torpedo, yet the result was catastrophic, every time I see that film of her blowing up I think of those poor chaps inside her - were there any survivors?


Barham was bulged but not rebuilt as per Warspite, QE and Valiant.

Barham was hit by a simultaneously by salvo of 3 or 4 torpedoes something that very few battleships could survive:


BARHAM while carrying out a sweep in the Eastern Mediterranean with the Battle Fleet,
was torpedoed and sunk. Owing to the lack of detailed evidence about this incident
the following has been based upon the Report of the Board of Inquiry.

At 1625 three or four torpedoes struck the port side between the funnel and the
after turrets. Between the attack and a heavy explosion* four minutes elapsed^ by
which time BARHAM was on her beam endSg, to porto The seat of the explosion was
probably abreast X and Y 15 inch, magazines, which vented through the upper deck
and the ship°s side starboard, We are unable to establish the reason for the
explosion but it may have been due to a fire started in the port 4 inch magazine a
which spread to the adjacent 15 inch magazine. Although this explosion accelerated
the rate of sinking it is our opinion that it was not the primary cause of the
foundering of BARHAM.,
We believe that the ship°s port side was blown in over a considerable length which
opened her vitals to the sea thus causing a heavy list to port, a slight pause at
an angle of 40°to continue until she capsized in about 4 minutes.
The internal lighting and communications system failed rapidly.
The vessel was in a recognized state for cruising with a satisfactory degree of
water-tight subdivision. The damage and rapidity of heel was so considerable as to
preclude any effective measures to save the ship.
The conditions for launching boats or rafts were extremely severe,, Certain rafts
secured with lashings proved an unsatisfactory feature.
No general orders for the conduct of the ship were heard subsequent to her being
struck. This was probably due to the failure of the broadcasting system.
HM Ships Damaged or Sunk by Enemy Action 3rd Sept, 1939 to 2nd Sept, 1945, p.14


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