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Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 58 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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YOKE CONNECTING STEERING ROD WITH VERTICAL RUDDERS The efficiency of the Whitehead torpedo has thus been enormously increased, and more accurate practice can now be made at 2000 yds. than was formerly possible at 800 yds. This adds considerably to the chances of torpedo-boats attacking ships, even in day-time, at sea or at anchor, and will render further protection necessary against this weapon. Against a ship in motion there is still, however, the calculation as to her speed and the distance she will travel before the torpedo reaches her. Should this be miscalculated, an increased range for torpedoes will magnify the error. For instance, a 3o-knot torpedo will travel woo yds. in a minute. If aimed at a ship on the beam assumed to be steaming 15 knots an hour, to reach her when loon yds. distant the torpedo must be discharged at a point 500 yds. ahead of her. But if the ship is actually steaming 12 knots, she will have travelled only 400 yds. in the minute, and the torpedo will be too yds. in advance of her. If discharged at a range of 500 yds., such a miscalculation causes an error of only 50 yds. or 15o ft. But if the object is 300 It. long, and her centre was taken as the target, her bow would be just at the spot the torpedo would reach in thirty seconds. It would seem, therefore, that increased velocity of torpedo is necessary before the full advantages of the gyroscope can be realized. Now the range of the torpedo is entirely dependent upon the store of energy which can be carried; upon, therefore, the capacity of the air reservoir, the maximum pressure it can stand, and on the efficiency of the propelling engines. The speed over a given range is also dependent upon these factors; the maximum speed beingsimple frame. The rod, pressing against the tail with some force, was apt to damage or disarrange the rudders, so the air-gun took the place of rod impulse. Here the torpedo fits closely in a tube or cylinder with an opening at the rear made air-tight when closed. At the desired moment compressed air is admitted to the rear part of the cylinder and blows the torpedo out. Gunpowder then superseded air for this operation; and now this has given place to a small charge of cordite, which does not leave any deposit on the inside of the cylinder. There is a double risk in the use of locomotive torpedoes from above water. (I) The charge may be exploded by hostile fire. Though mainly consisting of damp gun-cotton, which is not readily ignited, the dry primer and detonator may be struck, which would lead to a disastrous explosion. (2) The air-chamber is also a source of danger. As it contains air compressed to a high degree of tension, experiments have shown that if struck by a small shell it may burst with great violence; and as .it offers a considerable mark, this is not an improbable event in an action. An instance of the danger of above-water torpedo tubes occurred in the Spanish-American War at the battle of Santiago. A shell entered the " Almirante Oquendo " and struck a t4-in. torpedo in the tube. The charge detonated, causing a fearful explosion and practically wrecking that part of the vessel. The development of moderate-sized quick-firing guns has increased this risk. Hence we find the use of above-water torpedo tubes now mainly confined to torpedo and other craft too small for submerged discharge. 56 Submerged Discharge.—The risk attached to having loaded torpedoes above the water-line—independently of the fact that to get the best result they should start in the element to which they belong—has given great impetus to the system of submergedand tube into the ship again, so that practically the whole operation is one motion. Fig. 3 will further explain this apparatus. A is the outer tube; B the inner tube; C the shield; D torpedo; E explosion chamber for cordite charge placed at K; F pipe for gas to pass into outer tube; G and Y doors of inner and outer tube; J the valve which opens automatically when inner tube arrives at position shown in fig. 2 ; T and P appliance for running the tube in and out by hand when desired; 0 arrangement for bringing whole apparatus back for repair, &c.; M and N sluice-valve and handle; R, ri, r2, r3, for draining tubes before torpedo is put in; X indicator showing position of inner tube. Torpedoes have been discharged from this apparatus with successful result from a ship steaming at 17; knots. The advantage of cordite over compressed air for impulse is that it requires no attention: when a charge Gun end Torpedo reedy to fire VERTICAL SECTION. discharge. From the earliest days of the weapon this has been employed to some extent. But it was principally in the direction of right-ahead fire, by having an orifice in the stem of the ship under water, to which a torpedo tube was connected. The tactical idea was thus to supplement attack with the ram, so that if the vessel endeavouring to ram saw that the object would evade this attack, she could project a torpedo ahead, which, travelling faster than the vessel, might as effectually accomplish the required service. The stem orifice had a water-tight cover, which was removed on the torpedo being placed in the tube and the inner door closed; then, sufficient impulse being imparted to eject the torpedo, and its machinery being set in motion at the same time, it darted forward towards the enemy. There is, however, some risk of the ship using a torpedo in this manner striking it before the missile has gathered the necessary impetus from its propellers to take it clear of the vessel. The system, moreover, has the disadvantage of weakening the ram, the construction of which should be of immense strength. There is the further liability of ramming with a torpedo in the bow tube, which would be as disastrous to friend as foe. This method of submerged discharge has therefore given place to ejecting the torpedo from the broadside. Considerable difficulty attached to betting the torpedo clear of the ship from this position without injury, especially when the vessel was proceeding at speed. The natural tendency of the passing water acting on the head of the torpedo as it emerged was to give a violent wrench and crush the rear end before that portion could clear the aperture. To prevent this the torpedo must be held rigid in the line of projection until the tail is clear of the ship. This is thus effected. Besides the tube with the aperture in side of the ship under water, fitted with sluice-valve, all broadside submerged discharge apparatus possess the following features: A shield is pushed out from the ship's side. In this shield there are grooves of some form. Guides on the torpedoes fit and run in these grooves. When discharged the torpedo is thus supported against the streams of passing water, and guided so that its axis continues in the line of projection until the tail is clear of the side, the shield being of such length that this occurs at the same time that the guides on the torpedo leave the grooves in the shield. An apparatus on this principle has been fitted to a number of ships of the British navy, and gives good results at high rates of speed. It has the defect that the shield must be run out previous to the torpedo being discharged, and brought back afterwards, thus involving three separate operations, each performed by compressed air. In the broadside submerged discharge, designed, constructed and supplied to many foreign navies by Messrs Armstrong of the Elswicl{ works, the three operations are combined in one. There is an outer tube as before, but it contains an inner tube carrying the torpedo. Fized to this tube, and prolonging it, is the shield fitted with grooves. Both tubes have a door at the rear—made air-tight when closed—by which the torpedo is entered. A charge of cordite is used for ejection instead of compressed air, the gas from which entering the outer cylinder first forces the inner tube out, and then by means of a valve in the door of the inner tube passes in and blows out water and torpedo together, the shield supporting the latter until the tail is clear of the ship. By this time the cordite gas has expanded and cooled so as to relieve the pressure in rear; this causes the pressure of the water outside to push the shieldis placed in the explosion chamber, and a torpedo is in the tube, all is in readiness for firing when desired, without further attention in the torpedo-room. The cordite is fired by electricity from the conning-tower; the officer, therefore, having ascertained that all is ready below, has only to press a button when the object is in the required position. Automatic indications are given in the conning-tower when the sluice-valve is opened and when all is in readiness for firing. This method of discharging torpedoes from the broadside under water eliminates the principal danger of the system, which required the shield to be put into position beforehand. It was then liable to be struck and distorted by passing wreckage without the fact being apparent to those in the ship. On the discharge of a torpedo its course might thus be arrested, or possibly the charge be pre-maturely exploded in dangerous proximity to its own ship. There was a risk of getting the shield out too soon, and thereby exposing it unduly to injury, or leaving the operation until too late. The tendency of naval equipment being towards complication, any readjustment which makes for simplicity cannot be otherwise than beneficial, and this feature is especially desirable in all matters connected with the use of torpedoes. The compartment containing the broadside submerged apparatus usually extends across the ship, so as to contain a tube for each side. Use in War.—This has been mainly confined to attacks upon squadrons and single ships by torpedo craft of various types. At the battle of Yalu, between the Chinese and Japanese fleets, torpedoes were discharged by the former, but none took effect. The Japanese trusted solely to gun-fire. After the defeat of the Chinese at sea, their remaining ships took refuge in the harbour of Wei-hai-Wei. Here they were blockaded by the Japanese fleet, which, having a number of torpedo-boats, made several determined attacks upon the ships inside. After one or two attempts, foiled by the obstructions placed by the Chinese to bar the passage, the Japanese boats succeeded in torpedoing several ships, and thus expedited the reduction of the place. In the war between Spain and the United States the inferiority of Admiral Cervera's squadron to that under Admiral Sampson might at the battle of Santiago have been to some extent counterbalanced by a skilful and vigorous use of torpedoes. If, instead of striving only to escape, a bold dash had been made for the American ships, the Spanish cruisers rapidly approaching end on to the foe, enveloped in the smoke of their own guns, should—some at least—have got within torpedo range without fatal injury. Closing each other at a speed of io knots only they would cover an interval of 6000 yds. in 9 minutes—a short time in which to disable a ship by gun-fire under such conditions. But Cervera elected to offer a passive resistance only, and while suffering destruction wrought no material injury upon his opponents. On the other hand, there have been several instances of large warships being sunk by locomotive torpedoes discharged from small craft. During the Chilean revolutionary war of 1891, a battleship, the " Blanco Encalada," of 3500 tons, was attacked in Caldera Bay by two torpedo vessels —the " Lynch " and " Condell "—of 750 tons. They entered the bay at dawn, the " Condell " leading. This vessel fired three torpedoes which missed the ironclad; then the " Lynch," after one ineffective shot, discharged a second torpedo, which struck the " Blanco " on the side, nearly amidships. The latter had opened fire with little result, and sank soon afterwards. A similar incident occurred in 1894, when the Brazilian ironclad "Aquidaban " was sunk in Catherina Bay by the " Sampaio "—a torpedo vessel of 500 tons. She entered the bay at night, and first discharged her bow torpedo at the ironclad, which missed; she then fired a broadside torpedo, which struck and exploded against the bow of the " Aquidaban." It caused a great shock on board, throwing an officer on the bridge into the water. The vessel sank soon afterwards, and the " Sampaio " escaped uninjured. In the war (1904–5) between Russia and Japan the Whitehead torpedo did not exercise an important influence upon the naval operations. It scored a success at the beginning of the struggle when a Japanese torpedo-flotilla made an attack upon the Russian fleet lying at anchor outside Port Arthur. For some unaccountable reason, though war was imminent, little or no precautions seemed to have been taken for effectually guarding the vessels. They had no nets in position nor boats patrolling outside them. Thus taken by surprise when the Japanese torpedo-boats suddenly appeared about midnight on the 8th of February 1904, several Russian ships were struck by torpedoes before they could offer any resistance. The most damaged were the " Retvisan " and " Tsarevitch " (battleships) and " Pallada " (cruiser), but all managed to get into Port Arthur and were eventually repaired. With three ships hors de combat the Russian fleet was considerably weakened at an early stage. The loss of the " Petropavlovsk " in April from a mine explosion was a further discouragement, especially as with this ship went down the gallant and energetic Admiral Makarov. In these circumstances the Russian fleet could not assume the offensive nor prevent the Japanese troops being sent by sea to invest Port Arthur. In June when the injured vessels were fit for service again the fleet put to sea but returned the same evening. The incident is noteworthy only because it led to an attack by the Japanese torpedo craft on the retiring squadron after sunset. As illustrating the uncertainty of hitting a moving object at sea with the Whitehead torpedo, already mentioned, no vessels were struck on this occasion and they reached the anchorage uninjured. In the battle of Tsushima the Japanese torpedo-boats attacked the Russian fleet after its disablement by gun-fire and gave the coup de grace to some of the ships, which had little power of resistance owing to the destruction of their light armament. This war, therefore, did not increase to any extent our knowledge of the actual capability of this weapon. Effect upon Naval Tactics: Blockade.—It has often been assumed that steam and the torpedo will in future render blockade impossible as it was carried out in .the old wars; that, no longer dependent upon the wind to allow egress frorn the blockaded port, a vessel using steam can emerge when she chooses, while the fear of torpedo attack will deter a blockading squadron from keeping such watch as to foil the attempt. As regards the power conferred by steam, it will be no less advantageous to a blockading squadron, enabling it to maintain its position, whereas sailing ships were often driven by gales to leave their station and seek a port. This gave opportunities for the blockaded vessels to escape. As regards torpedo-boats, they would no doubt be a danger to a blockading squadron unprovided with a means of defence against these craft. Such defence consists in an adequate number of small vessels interposing an in-shore squadron between the port and the main body outside. Thus they perform the twofold service of watching the enemy's movements within and frustrating a torpedo attack. As aninstance of blockade under modern conditions, we have that of Admiral Sampson upon Santiago—a guard more rigidly maintained than any in the old wars. So little was he deterred by the knowledge that' Admiral Cervera had two torpedo vessels in his force, that he drew his squadron closer in at night when an attack might be expected, actually illuminating the entrance of the harbour with his electric searchlights, so that no craft could come out unperceived. No attempt was made to' dislodge him from that position, and we may assume that blockade, if required in any scheme of naval strategy, will be carried out, whatever the weapons of warfare. As regards the effect of torpedoes upon tactics at sea, and in general, as well as single ship, actions, they must operate against close range and employment of the ram. If it is recognized that a vessel within r000 yds. is liable to a fatal blow, she will endeavour in ordinary circumstances to keep outside that distance and rely upon gun-fire. The exception would be where she is overmatched in that respect, and hence might endeavour to restore the balance by the use of torpedoes. In a fleet action the danger of missing a foe and hitting a friend would restrict the discharge of torpedoes; and this risk increases as formations disappear. But the torpedo must be conceded a tactical superiority over the ram for the following reasons: A vessel to use the latter must come within torpedo range, while her adversary may successfully apply torpedoes without placing herself in any danger of being rammed. The ram can only be used in one direction, and a small miscalculation may cause disaster. If a vessel has, more than one position from which torpedoes can be discharged, she is not confined as regards attack to a single bearing or direction. In action we may consider the speed of the torpedo as double that of the ship, and since against a moving object allowance must be made for the space traversed while ram or torpedo is travelling towards it, the faster weapon is less affected in its chance of successful impact by change of direction and speed of the object at the last moment. Lastly, with machinery disabled a ship is powerless to use the ram, but can avert a ram attack with her torpedoes. The movements of squadrons or single ships on entering an action are not likely to be influenced by any contemplated immediate use of torpedoes, for the gun must remain the primary weapon, at any rate at the first onset. Commanders would hardly risk being crushed by gun-fire before getting within torpedo range. Having faith in the efficiency of their ordnance and the gunnery skill of their crew, they would first manoeuvre to bring these into play. Tactics for torpedo attack in such circumstances have not therefore been laid down, and it is only necessary to consider the positions which are advantageous for the use of this weapon, and, conversely, what should be avoided when a vessel, finding herself overmatched in gunnery, seeks to redress the balance with torpedoes. Size of Target.—This, with a ship, varies in length as the torpedo approaches end on to the vessel, or at angle to the line of keel; the greatest being' when the path of both forms a right angle. Hence the object is to place your ship where it presents the former condition to the enemy, while he affords the larger target. It must be remembered that, owing to the comparatively slow velocity of the torpedo, it must be aimed not directly at a ship in motion—. like a shot from a gun—but at a point ahead which the ship will reach after the torpedo has traversed the intervening distance. Thus speed of object has to be estimated, and hence the importance of adding to the velocity of the torpedo and getting a broadside shot so as to reduce as much as possible errors of calculation. The great increase of the dimensions of warships, especially in length, which now has reached 500 ft., adds to the chances of a successful hit with torpedoes, and will doubtless tend to diminish a desire in future naval tactics to close inside torpedo range for the purpose of ramming. Range.—Though the effective range of a torpedo discharged from a ship or torpedo vessel against a single object moving at high speed may be considered as approximately within moo yds. this limit of distance is considerably augmented where the target consists of several vessels at sea in close order, or is that afforded by a fleet at anchor. In the first case it may be worth while to discharge torpedoes from a distance 'of two or three thou-sand yards at the centre of the line for the chance of hitting one of the vessels composing it. As regards a mass of ships at anchor, unless protected by an impenetrable guard such as a breakwater or some invulnerable defence carried by the ships themselves, the increased range and accuracy of the torpedo imparted by recent developments would give it a chance of success if discharged against such a target at even greater distance. Finally, by improvements in construction and methods of (Was charge the torpedo has recovered the place it was rapidly losing a few years ago. As armour receives increased resisting power to above-water projectiles, and gets on a level again with the gun, more attention will be given to under-water attack, against which no adequate protection has yet been devised. Thus we shall probably find the torpedo taking a very prominent place in any future war between the great maritime powers. (S. M E.-W.)

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