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The Torpedo and Torpedo damage

Catalogue number 122080

Launching a torpedo with a drop collar.

The drop collar or cradle was a solution for launching a torpedo from a small boat where limiting top weight was important, here the collar is on a small Royal Navy torpedo boat. Note the keys still in place just forward of the propeller to adjust the running of the torpedo. See also the propeller-like device (called the "whisker") for arming, in the nose of torpedo. The photograph is labelled "Whitehead torpedo" but the torpedo here is of Royal Navy design with the characteristic propeller behind the tail fins.

13.1cm x 8.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 30030

Launching torpedoes from a surfaced submarine.

The French Pluviôse class submarines had four drop collars for torpedoes fixed to the outer hull. One can imagine the difficulty in aiming at the target.

11cm x 8cm printed imageGelatin silver print


Catalogue number 57058

Launching over a stern ramp

Another method of launching torpedoes was to drop them off a stern ramp. Here we have two Russian G5 torpedo boats with two torpedoes each on the stern ramp. Once launched the boat had to turn quickly out of the track of the torpedo.

10.3cm x 5.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 44123

K.u.K. Kriegsmarine S.M.S. Blitz

In 1902, the Austro-Hungarian destroyer Blitz was in drydock, the stern 47mm gun was removed and replaced with a 35-inch rotating torpedo tube.

Verso: "Aviso "Blitz"-Torpedo tube (starboard rear)-

Credit: Schäfer, Kiel

17.5cm x 12.7cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 123090

A very early Whitehead torpedo, 1900

This postcard shows an early filiform Whitehead torpedo being brought aboard a French torpedo boat in 1900.

Recto: Text written from Algiers to a friend in France, franked 1900.

7.5cm x 7.5cm printed image


Catalogue number 108013

U.S. Navy torpedoes, U.S.S. Georgia

U.S.S. Georgia had four 21-inch submerged, broadside torpdeo tubes

Recto "Torpedoes on the foc'sle" in black ink.

Verso: Azo stamp box 1904-1918

13.6cm x 8.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 124076

Proving U.S. Navy torpedoes

We believe these are two 18-inch mk3 or type A American torpedoes on the proving range in Cape Cod Bay on the East coast of the U.S.A. It was useful to know the behaviour of individual torpedoes so as to fine tune them and assure true running. Note the trolly for moving the torpedoes on deck.

13.9cm x 8.7cm gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 127033

Handling a U.S. Navy torpedo

A torpedo is being manhandled aboard a U.S. warship, fortunately, the sea is calm.

8cm x 9.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108029

The torpedo flat of a battleship

A 21-inch torpedo is being lowered into the forward torpedo flat of the battleship U.S.S. Hampshire (commissioned 1908). At the time, battleships had broadside submerged torpedo tubes because these warships were expected to fight in parallel lines, a line of battleships making a good target for mass spread of torpedoes.

Verso "1916 U.S.S. New Hampshire".

13cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 92073

Stowing a U.S. Navy torpedo

American battleship torpedoes at this time weighed over 600 kg and handling them was hefty work.

Verso: Azo stamp box dated period 1904-1918

8.6cm x 12cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114020

Stowing a U.S. Navy torpedo

Note the support to hold the torpedo upright as it is lowered down into the torpedo flat.

Verso: Azo stamp box dated period 1904-1918

8.6cm x 12cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 125040

Recovering a German torpedo

A motor launch has brought a torpedo alongside after a trial firing. It looks like a G7a torpedo, note the tail arrangement with the propellers within the fins.

Verso: "Aufuahme (?) Torpedo am Bord"

8.3cm x 11.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 115031

Handling torpedoes on a British warship

Men are working around two torpedoes on deck, one group at the warhead and another getting the torpedo ready to go down to the torpedo flat.

18.8cm x 13.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 25035

Bringing torpedoes on board a Royal Navy destroyer

One "fish" is on supports on deck whilst torpedomen are bringing a second on board. The torpedo tubes are far right aft of the searchlight plateform, the torpedoes do not seem to have fins fitted.

Verso: "Getting the third "fish" onboard. Note two others lying on deck. Also note me half-way through my hatch" in light pencil

12.8cm x 7.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 81

The motor of an early torpedo

Here we can see the motor of an early Whitehead torpedo, note the single propeller with guard and fins along the torpedo body. The open ports gave access to the torpedo controls.

Recto: "Military Marine. rear half of a Whitehead torpedo" in French and in black ink. From a boxed set of 29 glass slides of the French Navy dated 25th January 1910.

7cm x 7cm Matt Glass positive slide


Catalogue number 117093

French Navy Algesiras, torpedo school

The Algesiras was a French three-decker ship of the line launched in 1855 and became a torpedo training ship from 1889. Here we can see part of the depth-keeping mechanism.

22.3cm x 14.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 81

Firing an early torpedo from the Algesiras

The early Whitehead torpedoes required several test launches to characterise the performance of each torpedo. This is a later model to that shown above - no propeller guard and no fins on the body of the torpedo.

Verso: "Military Navy Launching a Whitehead torpedo"

9.9cm x 8.4cm glass plate positive, from a boxed set of 27 with the inscription "25 Janvier 1910 - Marine Française"


Catalogue number 81

Model of a steam launch with a spar torpedo.

Although very successful during the American Civil War, attacking a warship at anchor with a spar torpedo was a risky business. This was more of a weapon for a surprise attack at night as the explosive head or "torpedo" had to be taken up againt the hull of the enemy ship. The torpedo is inclined so that when the spar is lowered into the water, the explosion occurs below the waterline.

Recto "F. Mazo Paris N°14 Marine Militaire Serie Torpille portée" .

9.9cm x 8.4cm glass plate positive, from a boxed set of 27 with the inscription "25 Janvier 1910 - Marine Française"


Catalogue number 81

A spar torpedo exploding.

This photograph is taken during an exercise and shows how the crew of the steam launch were only a few metres away from the explosion which shattered the spar and often sank the launch if not injuring the crew. Spar torpedoes were used extensively by the Navies of America, France, Russia and China but the British considered them unsporting.

Recto "F. Mazo Paris N°11 Marine Militaire Serie Explosion d'une torpille portée".

9.9cm x 8.4cm glass plate positive, from a boxed set of 27 with the inscription "25 Janvier 1910 - Marine Française"


Catalogue number 45212

A Whitehead torpedo.

The Royal Navy showed a late interest in the spar torpedo and only began testing them when the Whitehead torpedo became available and made the spar torpedo obsolete. The fourth man from the left has a badge of a crossed torpedo and cannon, this badge first appeared in 1885 and was changed in 1903 which gives us some idea of the date of the photograph. The fourth man from the right is a Ist Petty Officer and a three badge man - ie at least 13 years of good conduct (or undiscovered crime!) - and his cap tally is from HMS Vernon.

13.4cm x 8.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 18046

French Navy torpedo.

The three sections of an early torpedo - from left to right, machinery, power plant and explosive head - can be clearly seen in this photograph dated 1908. Cap tallys show the men are from the Torpilleurs 2ième Flotte.

Recto "5 centimes stamp and frank dated 1908. Verso "Bien le bonjour à tous" in ink

13.9cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 37171

Torpedo trial.

A torpedo with the characteristic shape of a Whitehead model has just been fired from a vessel and a light steam launch is closely following the proceedings. The photograph was sent from Spezia and is dated 1904, is it the Austro-Hungarian Navy doing trials?

Recto "1904 Spezia Emile". Verso francked Spezia 1904

13.9cm x 8.9cm


Catalogue number 81

Model of a hull-mounted torpedo tube.

Torpedo tubes were mounted in the hull of warships and this photograph shows the thick armoured hull pierced by a ball joint through which the torpedo tube projects.Angle of fire is obtained by turning the tube using a trolley running on a half-circle rail. A certain degree of inclination was possible using a screw gear mechanism. The tube is shown with a torpedo in place.

Recto "F. Mazo Paris N°18 Marine Militaire Serie Tube lance torpille armé".

9.9cm x 8.4cm glass plate positive, from a boxed set of 27 with the inscription "25 Janvier 1910 - Marine Française"


Catalogue number 24039

Hull-mouted torpedo tube.

The Creusot works of Schneider and Company made this kind of torpedo tube. Angle of fire is obtained by rotating the tube about the ball joint with the tube running along a half-circle rail fixed to the upper deck, inclination was obtained using the screw shown below the runners. The torpedo was loaded via the hinged door and the explosive charge to eject the torpedo was loaded through a breech-like mechanism in the lower part of the tube. No sighting system is apparent.

Verso "4 Schneider et Cié - Usine du Creusot Artillerie - Tube lance-torpilles" in pencil

26.7cm x 21.1cm Albumen print


Catalogue number 47072

Making torpedo tubes.

A twin torpedo mounting is under construction at the Schneider factory. It looks as though the mounting has the tubes arranged for firing in opposite direction, with the tube to the left we can see the door for loading the torpedo and to the right is the hood to protect the torpedo crew when the torpedo is fired from the tube.

Recto "49 LE CREUSOT - Usines Schneider - Montage des Tubes Lance Torpille".

13.2cm x 7.7cm printed image


Catalogue number 92073

Stowing a torpedo

A 21-inch torpedo is being stowed away in an American battleship. This torpedo would be fired from a hull-mounted tube located in the side of the ship below the waterline. Although these mighty torpedoes could pack a heavy punch, the idea of battleships engaging in a torpedo battle is very risky and stored torpedoes were a hazard should they be hit and explode.

8.7cm x 12.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 40145

HMS Rodney during trials

This photograph shows the upright lattice structure on the forecastle used to stow torpedoes. The weapons would be lifted on the forecastle using the two derricks and then lowered onto the horizontally-placed lattice. Once secured, the lattice is raised to the vertical over a hatch through which the torpedo is lowered to be stored below. The torpedo would be fired from a hull-mouted tube in the side of the ship below the waterline. Rodney and her sister ship Nelson both initially had two 24.5 inch submerged tubes housed port and starboard under the lower deck forward but these were removed from Nelson in 1941/42 and blanked off in Rodney in 1943/44.

Recto "HMS RODNEY". Verso "After trials - note temporary erection on forecastle" in pencil

13.2cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print. One of a series of three


Catalogue number 71095

HMS Hood detail

Like most capital ships at the time, HMS Hood was fitted out with two pairs of 21 inch torpedo tubes above waterline, the armoured doors can be seen at the level of the main mast just aft of the gangway. Forward of these doors, above the stern of the moored cutter, are the two sealed off ports of a second pair of tubes that was planned but never fitted. Single underwater tubes were also located in the usual flat forward but were removed in 1937.

12.9cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 97097

Schleswig Holstein torpedo tube turret

In line with the stern gun turret and at the level of the lower deck can be seen a small turret-like structure that is a rotating torpedo tube. Schleswig Holstein, shown here after the 1930s reconstruction, initially had six such turrets for 45cm torpedoes, two at the stern and four forward. Compared to the hull-mounted tubes, these turrets gave a greater arc of fire but they could be difficult to work in a heavy sea.

Verso "Linienschiff ? nach gehen 1932 Schleswig Holstein" in pencil

8.6cm x 5.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 13023

Triple torpedo tubes of Marine Nationale Simoun

Smaller warships like the pre-First World War torpedo boat Simoun mounted multiple torpedo tubes like the triple mounting shown here. Fast and manoeuvrable, such destroyers were to race in with a saturation attack, fire off a suit of torpedoes at enemy battleships and then get out quickly. Here an exercise is underway, the torpedo-man is at his post and instructions from the bridge can be given to the sailor with the headphones on. Behind the mounting is a high angle gun and all this added top weight and influenced stability of the vessel.

13.9cm x 8.8cm Printed image


Catalogue number 80379

Marine Nationale Tartu

Launched in 1931, Tartu was one of the Vauquelin class of destroyers that had a remarquable turn of speed and was equipped with three torpedo mountings, one triple and two double tubes. Here we see the port set of tubes with 21.7 inch torpedoes in place. Tartu's sister ship Maille Bréze had the ignominous fate of accidentaly torpedoing itself at Greenock in 1940.

8.3cm x 5.3cm negative, from a series of 89 similar negatives


Catalogue number 55009

Quadruple torpedo tubes on a Royal Navy destroyer

During the inter-war years, most classes of British destroyers were built with two quadruple 21 inch torpedo tube mountings as shown here. The torpedo-man would sit on the seat between the two pairs of tubes and behind the seat can be seen the two handles for rotating the mounting. The tubes of the second mounting can just be seen aft of the searchlight platform. Officers are in formal dress and a group of cheerful visitors are aboard, note the ship's bell. Is it the Master-at-Arms - three buttons on his sleeve - just by the open bunker cover?

13.2cm x 7.9cm Gelatin print


Catalogue number 35285

Vickers Vildebeest

Coastal Command used the Vildebeest as a first-line torpedo bomber at the outbreak of war in 1939. The idea of using aircraft, both land-based and shipborne, to make torpedo attacks on shipping closely followed improvements in the performance of aircraft. The Vildebeest carried an 18 inch torpedo but required a steady and lowlevel approach during the attack.

13.2cm x 8.3 photograph mounted on card


Catalogue number 15014

Torpedoed cargo ship.

When the torpedo hit home, this is the kind of damaged incurred. Plates have been blown in and rivets torn out whilst part of the bilge keel has gone. It looks as if the cargo was transporting grain in sacks which may have limited damage by absorbing shock, it may have been a different story if the cargo had been iron ore. The dockyard men have marked off the ribs either side of the hole in anticipation of repairs. From the uniform of the men, the photograph seems to be from the beginning of the First World War and the person who sent the photograph writes that it reminds him of a difficult time.


Verso "Mes chers amis, Je vous envoie ce petit souvenir qui me rappelle une heure critique.....etc" in ink

14cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 93

Torpdoed Italian cargo ship

What a mess ! This Italian cargo ship has taken a torpedo in the side and plates have been blown in, rivets burst and the upper hull plates have split almost up to the deck.

17.8cm x 8.3 glass plate negative


Catalogue number 29047

Early radio-controlled torpedo 1909

The Schneider company built this radio-controlled torpedo, more of a semi-submersible weapon, that was invented by Gustave Gabet. About 9 metres long, it contained up to 900kg of explosive and was supposed to be guided to the enemy ship, Gabet claimed to be able to control the weapon to a range of 13 km. It was feared that radio transmissions from a warships would interfere with the radio-controls. Major problems with float torpedoes were that they had to remain within view of the operator and lacked any stealth approach.

13.7cm x 8.6cm

Catalogue number 35285

Early radio-controlled torpedo

Secrecy surrounded the trials and there is confusion as to how the weapon was driven to the target, some journalists at the time saying a petrol motor drawing air through the one of the pipes emerging from the float, drove the torpedo to the target. Others said that power was from an electric motor. The device was equipped with a variable-pitch screw

13.7cm x 8.6cm