Encyclopedia > Torpedo

  Article Content


A modern torpedo is a self-propelled guided projectile that operates underwater and is designed to detonate on contact or in proximity to a target.

Table of contents


After the electric ray[?], one of the fishes of the family Torpedinidae[?], having a rounded body and a pair of organs capable of producing an electric discharge, which is used to stun or kill prey. Also called crampfish[?] and numbfish[?].

In naval usage, the term "torpedo" was first used to refer to tethered naval mines (when? by the American Civil War). Later (date? by World War I) torpedoes came to mean self propelled projectiles fired from a ship or submarine. Only later (when?) did torpedoes have a guidance system.

Torpedoes are weapons that may be launched from submarines, surface ships, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. They are also used as parts of other weapons; the Mark 46 torpedo used by the United States becomes the warhead section of the ASROC (Anti-Submarine ROCket) and the Captor mine[?] uses a submerged sensor platform that releases a torpedo when a hostile contact is detected. The three major torpedoes in the US Navy inventory are the Mark 48 heavyweight torpedo, the Mark 46 lightweight and the Mark 50 advanced lightweight.

Mark 48 Torpedo

The MK-48 is designed to combat fast, deep-diving nuclear submarines and high performance surface ships. It is carried by all Navy submarines. The improved version, MK-48 ADCAP, is carried by attack submarines, the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and the Seawolf-class attack submarines. The MK-48 replaced both the MK-37 and MK-14 torpedoes. The MK-48 has been operational in the U.S. Navy since 1972. MK-48 ADCAP became operational in 1988 and was approved for full production in 1989.

MK-48 and MK-48 ADCAP torpedoes can operate with or without wire guidance and use active or passive homing. When launched they execute programmed target search, acquisition and attack procedures. Both can conduct multiple reattacks if they miss the target. The MK-46 torpedo is designed to be launched from surface combatant torpedo tubes, ASROC missiles and fixed and rotary wing aircraft. In 1989, a major upgrade program began to enhance the performance of the MK-46 Mod 5 in shallow water. Weapons incorporating these improvements are identified as Mod 5A and Mod 5A(S).

General Characteristics, MK-48, MK-48 (ADCAP)

  • Primary Function: Heavyweight torpedo for submarines
  • Contractor: Gould
  • Power Plant: Piston engine; pump jet
  • Length: 19 feet (5.79 meters)
  • Weight: 3,434 lbs (1545.3 kg) (MK-48); 3,695 lbs (1662.75 kg) (MK-48 ADCAP)
  • Diameter: 21 inches (53.34 centimeters)
  • Range: Greater than 5 miles (8 km)
  • Depth: Greater than 1,200 ft (365.76 meters)
  • Speed: Greater than 28 knots (32.2 mph, 51.52 kph)
  • Guidance System: Wire guided and passive/active acoustic homing
  • Warhead: 650 lbs (292.5 kg) high explosive
  • Date Deployed: 1972

Mark 46 Torpedo

The MK-46 torpedo is designed to attack high performance submarines, and is presently identified as the NATO standard. The MK-46 Mod 5 torpedo is the backbone of the Navy's lightweight ASW torpedo inventory and is expected to remain in service until the year 2015.

General Characteristics, MK-46 MOD 5

  • Primary Function: Air and ship-launched lightweight torpedo
  • Contractor: Alliant Techsystems
  • Power Plant: Two-speed, reciprocating external combustion; Mono-propellant (Otto fuel II) fueled
  • Length: 102.36 in. tube launch configuration (from ship)
  • Weight: 517.65 lbs (warshot configuration)
  • Diameter: 12.75 inches
  • Range: 8,000 yards
  • Depth: Greater than 1,200 ft (365.76 meters)
  • Speed: Greater than 28 knots (32.2 mph, 51.52 kph)
  • Guidance System: Homing mode: Active or passive/active acoustic homing
  • Launch/search mode: Snake or circle search
  • Warhead: 98 lbs. of PBXN-103 high explosive (bulk charge)
  • Date Deployed: 1966 (Mod 0); 1979 (Mod 5)

Mark 50 Torpedo

The MK-50 is an advanced lightweight torpedo for use against the faster, deeper-diving and more sophisticated submarines. The MK-50 can be launched from all ASW aircraft, and from torpedo tubes aboard surface combatant ships. The MK-50 will eventually replace the MK-46 as the fleet's lightweight torpedo.

General Characteristics, MK-50

  • Primary Function: Air and ship-launched lightweight torpedo
  • Contractor: Alliant Techsystems, Westinghouse
  • Power Plant: Stored Chemical Energy Propulsion System
  • Length: 112 inches
  • Weight: 750 pounds
  • Diameter: 12.75 inches
  • Speed: 40+ knots
  • Guidance System: Active/passive acoustic homing
  • Warhead: Approximately 100 pounds high explosive (shaped charge)

cut'n'pasted from http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/weapons/wep-torp

Note: a slightly more recent writeup on the Mk 48 is available at http://www.welshcoast.net/clwyd/ssbn624/torpedo.htm

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article

... governmental power, from the Greek language turannos. In Classical Antiquity[?] it did not always have inherently negative implications, it merely designated anyone ...

This page was created in 31.5 ms