Category:Torpedo Control

From The Dreadnought Project
Jump to: navigation, search
"Torpedoes, like projectiles, must be fired in large numbers to obtain hits.
Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1918, p. 191.

Torpedo Control is a term used much less often than the gunnery equivalent of Fire Control. It generally is used to describe the command and communication within a vessel to harmonise the aiming and firing of her own torpedoes, but later in the war was increasingly used to help groups of ships coordinate their fire to achieve the best communal result and to avoid endangering friendly units.


Torpedo Directors

The Royal Navy generally relied on torpedo directors, or sights, based on the geometry of either the Director Triangle or the Deflection Triangle. These were often located right atop the above water torpedo tube whose fire it aimed, but when this was not feasible (as in the case of submerged tubes), adaptations such as a Tangent Bar could be used to factor out the offset introduced by the displacement of sight from the firing position of the torpedo. Eventually, common sense indicated that these small corrections were nonsensical in light of the unknown and variable factors in computing target motion and variant torpedo behaviour from the ideal.

Data and Communication Equipment

The Royal Navy regarded the issue of torpedo control aboard a ship as being much like that of fire control, and as resources became available, similar technologies were applied to both. Characteristic of these is the Barr & Stroud Mark II Gyro Angle Instrument, which permitted officers in the torpedo control tower of a dreadnought to prompt the men in the submerged torpedo flat as to the gyro angle desired for an imminent firing.[1]

In some large ships, attention and equipment provided to torpedo control was wildly disproportionate to the suitability of the platform to deliver torpedo attack. Like the secondary batteries with their less-well-protected and volatile magazines, it was indicative of the over-emphasis the navies placed on each individual ship being able to contribute to each and every dimension of naval warfare.

Rangefinding and Plotting

In the simplest case where a sight can be located at the position of the firing tube, there is no pressing need to know the range to the target. However, any torpedo sighting mechanism must have data entered on it to reflect the speed and heading of the target, and knowledge of the range is also a vital check as to whether the torpedo will be able to reach the target. As time went on, the Royal Navy increasingly eyed the use of range, range rate and bearing rate to fortify the confidence in the enemy speed and heading hypothesis.

Doctrine of Use

Through Jutland, Royal Navy destroyers generally fired their torpedoes individually, not only as a ship, but at the torpedo level. The weapons were regarded as nearly magical and precious, and their number so small that they were aimed and fired individually with some sort of supposition that if the torpedo director were set correctly, a hit would result or some defect in process or materiel were at fault. This miserly application of the weapon was based on the gnawing worry that a better firing opportunity might present itself in future and proved extremely unwise. The innovations to be applied were successive: doctrinal change to urge individual ships to be more profligate in loosing as many torpedoes as possible at the first reasonably worthy opportunity, and that groups of ships operating together might discharge their fish as a collective skein or pattern to maximize the collective threat delivered.

Speed and Gyro Setting and Firing

Flotilla Firing Methods

See Also


  1. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913, p. 101.


  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1917). Handbook of Torpedo Control, 1916. C.B. 302. Copy No. 141 at The National Archives. ADM 186/381.
  • H.M.S. Vernon. (Feb 1914) Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913, with Appendix (Wireless Telegraphy). Copy 42 at The National Archives. ADM 189/33.
  • H.M.S.O., London (1914). Torpedo Drill Book, 1914 (Corrected to May 15) Copy in Tony Lovell's library.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1910). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Copy No. 173 is Ja 345a at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1914). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. G. 01627/14. C.B. 1030. Copy 1235 at The National Archives. ADM 186/191.



This category has the following 3 subcategories, out of 3 total.

Pages in category "Torpedo Control"

The following 59 pages are in this category, out of 59 total.