Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

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Byron Angel
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Byron Angel » Wed Mar 16, 2016 2:47 am

Steve - I cannot comment on the fate of Suzuya, but there are at least four different stories surrounding Chokai's loss. In general, Chokai is cited as having suffered one, possibly two, torpedo hits plus several 5in hits from Samuel B Roberts plus a 500lb bomb hit plus an explosion of on board torpedoes and is ultimately said to have been scuttled. The "single 5in miracle hit" from a CVE's 5in gun has been claimed by both Kalinin Bay and by White Plains. There appears to be no doubt that Chokai's torpedoes exploded, but it is unclear whether it was their warheads or their oxygen vessels or both. Rupture of the oxygen vessels would not in and of themselves have produced a catastrophic explosion, but they would definitely have enhanced the severity of any fires burning nearby. Given all the contradictory testimony, I'm doubtful that the proximate cause of Chokai's destruction can really be pinned down.

FWIW.

B

Steve-M
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Steve-M » Wed Mar 16, 2016 3:34 pm

Byron Angel wrote:Given all the contradictory testimony, I'm doubtful that the proximate cause of Chokai's destruction can really be pinned down.


Alas, that tends to happen in war time. Going by the TROM at Combined Fleet:

At 0851, CHOKAI is taken under 5-inch fire from "Taffy 3" escort carriers and destroyer escort ROBERTS. She receives 6 shell hits to port side amidships, probably from escort carrier WHITE PLAINS (CVE-66).

At 0859, a secondary explosion, probably caused by CHOKAI's own torpedoes on deck, knocks out her engines and rudder. She shears out of formation to port and moves eastward.

After 0905, four TBM-1C "Avengers" from KITKUN BAY’s VC-5 attack a Japanese heavy cruiser (in all likelihood CHOKAI), already being engaged by WHITE PLAINS, using her 5-inch stern gun. Led by Cdr Richard L. Fowler, the "Avengers" score one 500-lb SAP bomb hit to the cruiser’s stern. The pilots observe how the crippled CHOKAI, billowing smoke, begins to slow down. [5]

At 0955, lookouts on cruiser TONE observe CHOKAI, dead in the water, 3.8 miles away.

At 1006, Kurita orders Cdr Matsuzaki Tatsuji's destroyer FUJINAMI to escort CHOKAI. She and FUJINAMI down an Avenger during an air attack. FUJINAMI removes the survivors including Captain Tanaka.

At 2148, FUJINAMI signals that she scuttled CHOKAI with torpedoes at 11-22N, 126-22E.


Any way you look at it, having Type 93s aboard their CAs didn't do the Japanese any favors that day. AFAIK, no USN losses were attributed to the Type 93 at Samar; OTOH, American DD-launched torpedoes were crucial in turning back what could have been one of the worst shellackings in US history. That just goes to show the truth of the matter: from a practical standpoint, the best weapon isn't the one with the best specs, it's the one that's used in the right place at the right time to achieve decisive results.

It's true that the Type 93 had a hand in sinking roughly two dozen Allied cruisers and destroyers. It's also true that the bulk of these victories were achieved early in the war, which helped to push the Allies into a tight spot in the near term; however, in the two opportunities to deliver serious pain to the US, particularly at Guadalcanal where the loss of SoDak and Washington in lieu of Kirishima would have had considerable strategic implications, the Type 93 didn't show up to the party. From that standpoint, a single torpedo launched from an obsolete biplane arguably arguably had as much or more of an impact on the course of history as the Long Lance ever did.

Byron Angel
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Byron Angel » Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:35 pm

Steve - Re tactical employment of the Type 93 at 2nd Guadalcanal:

DD WALKE - sunk
DD PRESTON - sunk
DD BENHAM - sunk

BB SODAK - sailed right through a mass launch of approximately Type 93s, which miraculously missed her despite the fact the she was totally unaware of the attack.

BB WASHINGTON - never spotted or engaged by Kondo's force.

I'm unsure how this can be categorized as a failure of the torpedo.

B

Steve-M
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Steve-M » Thu Mar 17, 2016 4:04 pm

Byron Angel wrote:I'm unsure how this can be categorized as a failure of the torpedo.

That's not really my point, though in SoDak's case we can't really say definitively what happened except that it was miraculous that she wasn't blown out of the water.

All I'm saying is the "best" torpedo is simply the one that hits its mark and does its job. Sometimes that was the Long Lance; other days it wasn't. On some occasions, the Type 93 proved to be a liability, which was a compromise the Japanese understood and accepted. As far as I'm concerned though, when you've got two working torpedoes with adequate range and striking power for the job at hand, other factors (training, tactics, sighting the enemy before they sight you, sheer luck) will play a more important role.

The Long Lance did of course have a much longer range than Allied torpedoes. That said, in the relatively short-range nighttime knife fights where it did so much damage, it's hard to say that being able to reach out to 20+km was a deciding factor in the outcomes of those battles. There were stray hits at long range of course; however, nobody could reasonably expect to reach out and touch a relatively fast, maneuverable warship like a cruiser or destroyer untied to a battle line at that range via torpedo with any meaningful chance of success. Doubly so once the enemy understands the capability of your weapon. Given that the tradeoff for that range was the relative volatility of the Type 93, those hits would be balanced by the damage inflicted to Japanese ships by their own weapon, of which there are at least a couple examples beyond Samar.

Byron Angel
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Byron Angel » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:27 pm

"All I'm saying is the "best" torpedo is simply the one that hits its mark and does its job." I would suggest a paraphrase of the above statement: "... the best torpedo is simply the one that gives it operators the best chance to hit the mark and do the job." From that perspective, given its terrific speed/range envelope and lethality, my vote goes to the Type 93.

IMO, the on board risk is being greatly over-stated.

B

Steve-M
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Steve-M » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:58 pm

Byron Angel wrote:IMO, the on board risk is being greatly over-stated.

How's that? There's no real question about the volatility of pure oxygen, and the historical results are what they are.

In any event, I've said my peace and I'm starting to repeat myself at this point. I don't have much else to add, so I'll leave you gents to it.

Mostlyharmless
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Mostlyharmless » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:08 am

Byron Angel wrote:Steve - Re tactical employment of the Type 93 at 2nd Guadalcanal:

DD WALKE - sunk
DD PRESTON - sunk
DD BENHAM - sunk

BB SODAK - sailed right through a mass launch of approximately Type 93s, which miraculously missed her despite the fact the she was totally unaware of the attack.

BB WASHINGTON - never spotted or engaged by Kondo's force.

I'm unsure how this can be categorized as a failure of the torpedo.

B


There seems to be a persistent belief that all Japanese torpedoes carried by surface warships were the oxygen fuelled Type 93s. However, many of the older destroyers and cruisers were fitted with older conventionally powered torpedoes. I made a post about the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal back in June last year viewtopic.php?f=36&t=6752 which I partly repeat below:

The failure of the Type 93 torpedoes at the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal requires some qualification and explanation.

The qualification is that the two light cruisers and some of the Japanese destroyers involved were equipped with the older Type 90 torpedoes rather than the oxygen fuelled Type 93. The first team had fought the first battle and that night mostly older destroyers were accompanying Kondo's heavy ships. Samidare, Asagumo and Teruzuki were all new enough to be equipped with the Type 93 but together with the older Ikazuchi and cruiser Nagara had taken part in the first battle two nights earlier (Ikazuki had suffered significant damage). Nagara, Samidare and Ikazuki are mentioned as launching torpedoes but neither Asagumo nor Teruzuki appear to have launched any torpedoes despite being ahead of the American force during the battleship action and presumably close to Kirishima (they eventually took off survivors). Thus it seems plausible that they had used all their torpedoes in the earlier battle. However, there were Type 93s on Atago and Takao and also on the two destroyers sent to help by Tanaka.

In fact, the older and slightly slower Type 90 torpedoes (with Samidare's Type 93s) seemed adequate. However, they were fired at the four American destroyers that were placed 5,000 yards ahead of Lee's battleships according to Robert Lundgren's detailed article at http://www.navweaps.com/index_lundgren/ ... lcanal.pdf. Ayanami probably hit USS Preston which was misidentified as a heavy cruiser. The cruiser Nagara and destroyers Ikazuchi, Samidare, Shirayuki, and Hatsuyuki probably torpedoed the destroyers Walke and Benham. The cruiser Sendai and destroyers Shikinami and Uranami were astern of the American force and not in a position to use their torpedoes.

Byron Angel
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Byron Angel » Fri Mar 18, 2016 1:22 pm

Thanks for posting your commentary, MH. I had not thought to closely investigate the torpedo outfits of the IJN ships involved.

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Siegfried
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Re: Best and Worst Torpedo WW2

Postby Siegfried » Wed Dec 28, 2016 7:47 am

frontkampfer wrote:The Km had issues with their torpedoes early on as well.


The German torpedoes during the Narvick campaign (British operation Wilfred, the invasion of Norway at Narvick to cut of German iron ore supplies in 1940) were very unsatisfactory.

1 Magnetic pistol was unreliable.
2 Mechanical pistol was unreliable due to a limited striking angle.
3 Depth keeping was unreliable because during actual combat operations at sea the submarines were spending much longer under water. This somehow slowly effected the torpedoes pressure reference and lead to the torpedos running deep.

The problems were identified fairly quickly but Doenitz estimated nearly 40 ships would have been sunk or hit had they have worked.) Maybe this would have altered the course of the U-boats.

The Germans did act much faster than the USN did.

The solution was:
1 Abandon the magnetic pistol, though a 'magnetic pistol' was reintroduced some years latter (1942/43?) which was really a 2 coil metal detector rather than a magnetic pistol.
2 Fix the mechanical pistol
3 Fix the depth keep issue.

Early German air dropped torpedoes suffered as well. They were fixed though part of the solution was to use the excellent Italian Torpedoes. Early release limits (speed altitude) was not that good either.


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