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Author Topic: Whitehead Torpedo Trials 1870  (Read 2457 times)

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Offline Nemo

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Re: Whitehead Torpedo Trials 1870
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2016, 15:54:49 »
Visited Rijeka, Croatia recently but alas didn't have time to visit the exhibition http://newsletter.kvarner.hr/en/Home.aspx?PageID=17&newsId=482.

Offline shoot999

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Re: Whitehead Torpedo Trials 1870
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2014, 16:29:27 »
Wind the clock forward a hundred or so years and I was involved in similar trials. Our ship fired the torpedos and also acted as a mobile range to track them.
The name of the vessel? RMAS Whitehead.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Whitehead Torpedo Trials 1870
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2014, 22:23:26 »
From the Sydney Morning Herald, 17 January 1871.

On Saturday last the Torpedo Committee, consisting of Captain Arthur R.N., president, Captain Singer R.N., and Lieutenant Wilson R.N., appointed by the Admiralty to investigate the "J" fish torpedo brought under the notice of the Government by Mr Whitehead, proceeded in H.M.S. Oberon, which has been specially fitted for the service, for the practical experiment with one of those machines, loaded with a heavy charge, of attacking the Aigle, long used as a coal depot in Sheerness harbour. None of the officials connected with the experiments were permitted on board the Oberon. Visitors with special permission watched the experiment from one of the dockyard tugs, amongst whom were Major-General Adye C.B.,R.A., the director of artillery, Captain Hood C.B.,R.N., the director of naval artillery.....(page torn)...dockyard. About a quarter of a mile from the Isle of Grain, the Aigle, one of the old 6th rates, was moored head and stern, we doubt whether the vessel to be attacked in actual service would remain so passive awaiting the attack. The signal "To prepare" was hoisted on board the Oberon at 1 hour 11 minutes; the cap covering the discharge tube was removed at 1 hour 11 minutes 20 seconds, the vessel still steaming straight on, until at 1 hour 13 minutes 35 seconds she was backed hard astern, and brought to a stop at a distance seemingly of 120 0r 130 yards - certainly not at the outside more than 140 yards - from the broadside of the hulk. At one hour 14 minutes exactly the signal flag was dipped and the torpedo was liberated. In about twenty-five seconds the explosion against the hulk made itself visible in a lofty double semi-circular cloud of dense white foam and thin black smoke raising some 60 or 80 feet, and bending over in two parallel curves from the Aigle's side. The Aigle dropped by the stern and the bows soon followed to the same level. The Aigle had sunk, and was aground from end to end at 1 hour and 16 minutes. This torpedo, which was a large one, contained a charge of 67lbs of gun-cotton. 

A second torpedo, a small one (14 feet long, 14 inches diameter), was fired from a gig 20 feet in length at the same distance as the first, or as near as may be 110 yards. The arrangements below the boat was a line of rollers supported by iron stanchions passing down from each side and meeting beneath. The torpedo was fired against a net of 1 inch rope, placed about five or six yards from the Aigle's broad-side, and exploded. No harm whatever was done to the hulk by it, nor, so far as could be made out, to the net. The charge was 11lbs of glyoxline , a very strong explosive, which should have left a mark somewhere. The opinion relative to this torpedo would appear to be that it is too complicated, is not reliable for a greater distance than 400 yards, and is very costly; and amongst practical men, that it will not bear comparison under adverse circumstances with Com. Harvey's otter torpedo. But as the Admiralty will doubtlessly, after such a large expenditure of money on these experiments, lay the results before Parliament we shall look forward to hearing more of the "fish torpedo".


Robert Whitehead, a British engineer in charge of an engineering company in Austria, built a prototype self-propelled torpedo in 1866. It was propelled by compressed air working a rotary engine which drove a propeller. It had a speed of 6.5 knots for 200 yards with a further 100 yards at a lower speed. Depth was regulated by elevators controlled by hydrostatic pressure. Improvements were made to the system which allowed the torpedo to run at a set depth. This control was known as "The Secret".

In 1868 Whitehead built two new designs, torpedoes with diameters of 16 and 14 inches, capable of 7 knots for 700 yards. A committee of RN gunnery officers observed a demonstration and in October 1869 the Admiralty invited Whitehead to bring two torpedoes to England for a series of tests.
Preliminary demonstrations were convincing and in August 1870 the Admiralty purchased two torpedoes of each size for more extensive trials. These took place in the Medway in September and October 1870. 100 firings with unarmed torpedoes were carried out from the old iron paddle sloop Oberon, both with an above water launcher and a submerged torpedo tube. The last test involved sinking the old wooden corvette Aigle with a live 16 inch torpedo fired from 134 yards. A 20 foot x 10 foot hole was blown in the ships side by the charge and the Aigle soon sank.

As a result of the trials the Admiralty paid £15,000 for the non-exclusive rights to manufacture the torpedoes at Woolwich, production beginning in 1872.
The early Woolwich torpedoes had a length of 14 foot with a diameter of 16 inches and a warhead of 106lbs of wet guncotton. Air stored at 800lbs/square inch drove a 2-cylinder engine giving a speed of 9.5 knots for 250 yards or 800 yards at 7 knots.
A 3-cylinder engine and contra-rotating propellers improved performance to 300 yards at 12.25 knots or 1200 yards at 9 knots. Replacing the pointed nose with a blunt nose increased speed by 1 knot, as well as allowing a larger warhead.
By 1886 Woolwich was producing the 14 inch Mk VIII with a charge of 78lbs of wet guncotton and a speed of 22 knots for 1,000 yards.




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