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Encyclopedia > Depth charge
Mark XI Depth Charge used by US Navy later in World War II. Unlike the cylindrical, barrel-shaped depth charge used earlier, the Mark XI is streamlined and equipped with canted fins to impart rotation on the depth charge, allowing it to fall in a straight trajectory with less chance of drifting off target. This type of depth charge contained 200 pounds (90 kg) of Torpex.
Mark XI Depth Charge used by US Navy later in World War II. Unlike the cylindrical, barrel-shaped depth charge used earlier, the Mark XI is streamlined and equipped with canted fins to impart rotation on the depth charge, allowing it to fall in a straight trajectory with less chance of drifting off target. This type of depth charge contained 200 pounds (90 kg) of Torpex.

The depth charge is an anti-submarine weapon intended to defeat its target by the shock of exploding near it. Most use explosives and a fuse set to go off at a pre-determined depth. Some have been designed to use nuclear warheads. Depth charges can be deployed by both ships and aircraft. Depth charge may refer to: Depth charge, an anti-submarine weapon fused to go off at a certain depth Depth charge (cocktail), a cocktail consisting of a shot of whiskey, tequila, or vodka, and a glass of beer Depth Charge, a character in the Beast Wars: Transformers universe Depth Charge... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Torpex is a secondary explosive 50% more powerful than TNT by weight. ... Anti-submarine warfare is a term referring to warfare directed against submarines. ... For other uses, see Weapon (disambiguation). ... Look up fuse in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945 lifted nuclear fallout some 18 km (60,000 feet) above the epicenter. ...

Contents

History

The concept of a “dropping mine” was first discussed in 1910, and the idea was developed into practicality when the British Bill Cosby’s Commander in Chief, Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Callaghan, requested its production in 1914. The design work was carried out by Herbert Taylor at HMS Vernon Torpedo and Mine School in Portsmouth, England. The first effective depth charge, the “Type D”, developed in 1916, was a 300-pound (140 kg) barrel-like casing containing a high explosive, usually TNT. A “pistol” actuated by water pressure at a pre-selected depth detonated the charge. The “Type D” could be detonated as deep as 300 feet (100 metres). Year 1910 (MCMX) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday [1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... William Henry Bill Cosby, Jr. ... Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Astley Callaghan (December 21, 1852-November 23, 1920) GCB entered the British Royal Navy as a cadet in 1865. ... Year 1914 (MCMXIV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Wednesday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... For other ships of the same name, see HMS Vernon. ... For other places with the same name, see Portsmouth (disambiguation). ... Year 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Friday of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... This article is concerned solely with chemical explosives. ... Trinitrotoluene (TNT, or Trotyl) is a pale yellow crystalline aromatic hydrocarbon compound that melts at 354 K (178 Â°F, 81 °C). ...


The depth charge was such a successful device that it attracted the attention of the United States, which requested full working drawings of the devices in March 1917. Having received them, Commander Fullinwider of the US Bureau of Naval Ordnance and US Navy engineer Minkler made some modifications and then patented it in the US. It has been argued this was done to avoid paying the original inventor.


In 1943, Torpex, an explosive 50% more powerful than TNT, was introduced along with a more streamlined depth charge casing that sank faster. Although the explosions of the standard 600-pound (270 kg) depth charge used in World War II were nerve-wracking to the target, an undamaged U-boat’s pressure hull would not rupture unless the charge detonated closer than about five meters. Placing the weapon within this range was entirely a matter of chance and quite unlikely as the target maneuvered evasively during the attack. Most U-boats sunk by depth charges were destroyed by damage accumulated from a long barrage rather than by a single carefully-aimed attack. Many survived hundreds of depth charge detonations over a period of many hours; U-427 survived 678 depth charge blasts aimed at her in April 1945, though many (if not all) of these may have actually detonated nowhere near the target. Year 1943 (MCMXLIII) was a common year starting on Friday (the link will display full 1943 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Torpex is a secondary explosive 50% more powerful than TNT by weight. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... U-boat is also a nickname for some diesel locomotives built by GE; see List of GE locomotives October 1939. ... Unterseeboot 427 or U-427 was a Nazi German U-Boat that served during World War II. It was first launched on February 6th, 1943, with a crew of 53 under the command of Graf Karl Gabriel von Gudenus. ... Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ...


Delivery Mechanisms

Loading a drum-type Mark VII depth charge onto the K-gun of the Flower class corvette HMS Dianthus
Loading a drum-type Mark VII depth charge onto the K-gun of the Flower class corvette HMS Dianthus

The first delivery mechanism was to simply roll the “ashcans” off racks at the stern of the attacking vessel. Originally depth charges were simply placed at the top of a ramp and allowed to let roll. Improved racks, which could hold several depth charges and release them remotely with a trigger, were developed towards the end of the First World War. These racks remained in use throughout World War II, because they were simple and easy to reload. Image File history File links Mk_VII_depth_charge. ... Image File history File links Mk_VII_depth_charge. ... The Flower class corvettes were a class of 267 corvettes developed by the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy specifically for the protection of shipping convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic (1939-1945) in World War II. They were a stop-gap measure in the war against the German... Armistice Day Celebrations in Toronto, Canada - 1918 Armistice Day is the anniversary of the official end of World War I, November 11, 1918. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000...


Some Royal Navy trawlers used for anti-submarine work during 1917-1918 had a thrower on the forecastle for a single depth charge, but there do not seem to be any records of it being used in action. Specialized depth charge projectors were developed to generate a wider dispersal pattern when used in conjunction with rack-deployed charges. The first of these projectors, produced in 1918, were called Y-guns in reference to their basic shape. Mounted on the centerline of the ship with the arms of the "Y" pointing towards the sides of the ship, a depth charge was cradled on a shuttle inserted into each arm. An explosive propellant charge was detonated in the vertical column of the Y-gun to propel a depth charge about 150 feet (50 meters) over each side of the ship. The main disadvantage of the Y-gun is that it must be mounted on the centerline of a ship's deck, which may otherwise be occupied by superstructure, masts, or gun turrets. A modern Icelandic trawler A trawler is a fishing vessel designed for the purpose of operating a trawl, a type of fishing net that is dragged along the bottom of the sea (or sometimes above the bottom at a specified depth). ... forecastle with figurehead Grand Turk Focsle of the Prince William, a modern square rigged ship, in the North Sea. ... 1918 (MCMXVIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. ...


The K-gun, made standard in 1942, replaced the Y-gun as the primary depth charge projector. K-guns could be mounted on the periphery of a ship's deck, thus freeing up valuable centerline space. The K-guns were often used together with stern racks to create patterns of six to ten charges. In all cases, the attacking ship needed to be moving above a certain speed or it would be damaged by the force of its own weapons. Year 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link will display the full 1942 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Depth-charges can also be dropped from an attacking aircraft against submarines. At the start of World War II, Britain's aerial anti-submarine weapon was the 100 lb anti-submarine bomb. This weapon was too light and ultimately, a failure. Indeed, on September 5, 1939, a Royal Air Force Avro Anson of 233 squadron was destroyed when its own A/S bomb skipped off the surface of the water and detonated under the aircraft. To remedy the failure of this weapon, the Royal Navy's 450 lb Mark VII depth charge was modified for aerial use by the addition of a streamlined nose fairing and stabilising fins on the tail. Later depth charges would be developed specifically for aerial use. Such weapons still have utility today and are in limited use, particularly for shallow-water situations where a homing torpedo may not be suitable. Depth charges are especially useful for ‘flushing the prey' in the event a diesel submarine is lying on the bottom or otherwise hiding with all machinery shut down. Homing torpedoes can be used for the same purpose, but the cost is prohibitive and aircraft and shipboard inventories limited. An example of such a weapon is the BAE Systems Mark 11, deployed by the British Fleet Air Arm. is the 248th day of the year (249th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... RAF redirects here. ... The Avro Anson was a twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm and numerous other air forces during World War II and afterwards. ... The torpedo, historically called a locomotive torpedo, is a self-propelled explosive projectile weapon, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater toward a target, and designed to detonate on contact or in proximity to a target. ... BAE Systems plc is the worlds third largest defence contractor,[3] the largest in Europe and a commercial aerospace manufacturer. ... The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the Royal Navy responsible for the operation of the aircraft on board their ships. ...


Effectiveness

A depth charge explodes after it had been dropped from HMS Ceylon.
A depth charge explodes after it had been dropped from HMS Ceylon.

The effective use of depth charges required the combined resources and skills of many individuals during an attack. Sonar, helm, depth charge crews and the movement of other ships had to be carefully coordinated. Aircraft depth charge tactics depended upon location of the sub during the day and at night, then quickly attacking once it had been located, as the sub would normally crash-dive to escape attack. Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Metadata No higher resolution available. ... For other ships of the same name, see HMS Ceylon. ...


As the Battle of the Atlantic wore on, British and Commonwealth forces became particularly adept at depth charge tactics, and formed some of the first destroyer hunter-killer groups to actively seek out and destroy German U-boats. Battle of the Atlantic can refer to either of two naval campaigns, depending on context: World War I - First Battle of the Atlantic World War II - Second Battle of the Atlantic A Third Battle of the Atlantic was envisioned to be be part of any Third World War that arose...


It is reported that many manatees and other aquatic creatures have been accidentally killed by coming too close to these charges, and detonating them. But, that's fine, because no one cares about manatees anywas. Species Trichechus inunguis Trichechus manatus Trichechus senegalensis Manatees (family Trichechidae, genus Trichechus) are large aquatic mammals sometimes known as sea cows. ...


The shortcoming of the depth charge as deployed by surface ships was not the weapon itself, but how it was delivered. An attacking vessel would usually detect a submerged contact using its Sonar (or in British parlance, Asdic). However, to drop its depth charges it had to pass over the contact to drop them over the stern. As such, Sonar contact would be lost immediately prior to attack, thus rendering the hunter blind at the crucial moment. A skillful submarine commander therefore had an opportunity to take successful avoiding action. This situation would be remedied by the adoption of the ahead-throwing weapon, allowing contacts to be engaged at a stand-off distance while still in sonar contact. This article is about underwater sound propagation. ...


Pacific Theatre

In the Pacific, Japanese depth charge attacks initially proved fairly unsuccessful against U.S. and Russian subs. Unless caught in shallow water, a U.S. submarine commander could normally dive to a deeper depth in order to escape destruction.


The deficiencies of Japanese depth-charge tactics were revealed in a press conference held by U.S. Congressman Andrew J. May, a member of the House Military Affairs Committee who had visited the Pacific theater and received many intelligence and operational briefings. At the press conference, May revealed that American submarines had a high survivability rate because Japanese depth charges were fused to explode at too shallow a depth. Andrew Jackson May (June 24, 1875—September 6, 1959) was a Kentucky attorney and influential New Deal-era politician, best known for his central role in the May Incident. ...


Various press associations sent this leaked news story over their wires, compounding the danger, and many newspapers (including one in Honolulu, Hawaii), thoughtlessly published it. Soon, Japanese forces were resetting their depth charges to explode at a more effective average depth of 250 feet. Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, commander of the U.S. submarine fleet in the Pacific, later estimated that May's revelation cost the United States Navy as many as ten submarines and 800 seamen lost in action.[1] Charles Andrews Lockwood (6 May 1890 – 7 June 1967) was an admiral of the United States Navy. ...


Later Developments

For the reasons expressed above, the depth charge was generally replaced as an anti-submarine weapon. Initially, this was by ahead-throwing weapons such as the British-developed Hedgehog and later Squid. These weapons throw a pattern of warheads ahead of the attacking vessel to bracket a submerged contact. Hedgehog was contact fused, but Squid fired small depth-charges with hydrostatic arming. Later developments included the Mark 24 "Fido" acoustic homing torpedo (and later such weapons) or the SUBROC, which was armed with a nuclear depth charge. The USSR, United States and United Kingdom developed anti-submarine weapons using nuclear warheads and these are sometimes referred to as Nuclear Depth Bombs (NDB). Hedgehog anti-submarine weapon, British WWII Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar with full load of practice bombs, circa 2002. ... Squid was a World War II ship-mounted anti-submarine weapon. ... A Subroc was a type of submarine launched rocket intended for use as an anti-submarine weapon. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter A nuclear weapon derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fusion or fission. ... A Nuclear Depth Bomb (NDB) is the nuclear equivalent of the conventional depth charge and is used in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) for attacking submerged submarines. ...


See also

Polish wz. ... A Nuclear Depth Bomb (NDB) is the nuclear equivalent of the conventional depth charge and is used in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) for attacking submerged submarines. ...

References

  1. ^ Blair Jr., Clay, Silent Victory: The US Submarine War against Japan, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2001

External links

  • Inventor of the Depth Charge Discovered at "Explosion!"

  Results from FactBites:
 
Depth charge - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (526 words)
Depth Charge used by U.S. Navy later in World War II The depth charge is the oldest anti-submarine weapon.
Conventional delivery of depth charges had other problems too, most of which were solved by the use of ahead-thrown weapons such as the Hedgehog.
Although the explosions of the standard 600-pound depth charge used in World War II were nerve-wracking to the target, an undamaged U-boat's pressure hull would not rupture unless the charge detonated closer than about five meters.
U.S. Navy Depth Charges (716 words)
Two depth charges had sufficed for her destruction, and indeed, the numbers dropped for each kill in WWI gave a serious underappreciation of what the Navy would need to drop in the future.
Helicopters were the last U.S. weapons platform to retain depth charges, and many brown-water navies continue to use the depth charge today, in lieu of the hardly effective homing torpedos (since their sonar has problems distinguishing the bottom of shallow waters from a potential target).
This was a projector, firing depth charges using a small explosive charge, located on the centerline of a ship and having two "exits", forming a Y. On each exit, a depth charge was tied, to be fired off in support of the other charges, and landing some hundreds of yards outboard.
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