Speed of a Torpedo

The Physics Factbook
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Blair, Clay. Hitler's U-Boat War. New York: Random House, 1998: 171. "With a speed of about twenty knots and a range of about 7,200 yards, the T-3 Falke was believed to be effective against ships traveling at speeds of up to twelve knots." 6.2 m/s
torpedo, in naval warfare. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition. New York: Columbia University. 1993. "The torpedoes used in World War II were usually 20 to 24 ft (6.1–7.3 m) long, carrying up to 600 lb (272 kg) of explosives at a speed of 50 knots for more than 10,000 yd (9,144 m)." 26 m/s
Torpedoes. U-boat Net.
Type   Propulsion Range/Speed
G7a T1 Compressed air
(wet heater)
6000 m/44 kts
8000 m/40 kts
14000 m/30 kts
G7e T2 Electric 5000 m/30 kts
  T3 Electric 5000 m/30 kts
  T4 Electric 7500 m/20 kts
G7s T5 Electric 5700 m/24 kts
  T11 Electric 5700 m/24 kts
 
23 m/s
21 m/s
15 m/s
15 m/s
15 m/s
10 m/s
12 m/s
12 m/s
Armstrong, Lieut. G.E. Torpedoes and Torpedo-Vessels. London: Bell, 1896: 18. "In 1876 Mr. Whitehead made another great advance by designing torpedoes with a diameter of only 14 inches with a speed of 18 knots for a distance of 600 yards and a charge of 26 pounds of gun cotton …. In 1884 the Whitehead torpedo was again thoroughly redesigned. More powerful engines were introduced, giving a maximum speed of 24 knots, an increase in knots more than the preceding pattern, and the explosive charge in the head was considerably increased." 9.3 m/s

12 m/s
All Hands. 981 (January 1999): 30. "MK-46, 45 kts
MK-50, 40 kts"
23 m/s
21 m/s
Torpedo 2000. Bofors Underwater Systems. "Speed & endurance: maximum speed and range in
excess of 45 kts and 50 km"
23 m/s

Through my research I found out that torpedoes are self-propelled devices that destroy other hostile machines. The unit most used to measure the speed of a torpedo is the knot. A knot equals one nautical mile per hour. I had thought that torpedoes were only launched out of submarines, but I found out that they could also be launched out of fighter planes. I concentrated on the torpedoes that came from submarines. Torpedoes came right along with the invention of the submarine. During the Civil War, a basic flywheel-propulsion torpedo was used. At that time, the Whitehead torpedo only traveled at a speed of 25 knots (13 m/s) in a range of 400 yards (370 m). As time passed, technology played its role and improved the torpedoes. In World War I, torpedoes showed up again. But it was in World War II that the torpedoes were vitally important. Torpedoes and submarines were important factors of Hitler's winning streak. The torpedoes used then traveled at a speed of 50 knots (26 m/s) for more than 10,000 yards (9000 m). It was also during World War II that the torpedoes improved their style and stealth techniques. They no longer left a trail of bubbles on the surface of the sea and there were homing devices on them. The propulsion system improved from compressed air to electric motor. This change enabled a longer range and more stamina of the traveling torpedo. The latest improved torpedo is the Torpedo 2000, which can maintain a speed of 45 knots (23 m/s) for 50 kilometers.

Wendy Ng -- 1999

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
VA-111 Shkval Underwater Rocket, Robert Sherman, Federation of American Scientists. "Apparently fired from standard 533mm torpedo tubes, Shkval has a range of about 7,500 yards. The weapon clears the tube at fifty knots, upon which its rocket fires, propelling the missile through the water at 360 kph [about 100 m/sec / 230 mph / 200-knots], three or four times as fast as conventional torpedoes." 100 m/s

Editor's Supplement -- 2005