Straight Running Torpedo Attacks
by Guest Writer Don
WW II era destroyers were, by today's
standards, relatively small vessels. Although capable of high
speeds, they carried no armor and thus succumbed relatively
fast to battle damage, if hit. Their 5" gun armament
was generally useful against their own counterparts or smaller
vessels, but against an armored capital ship they weren't
likely to be the victor in a guns only shooting match. However,
most WW II era destroyers carried a powerful torpedo battery,
one no capital ship commander could ignore. For the above
reasons, destroyers can be described as "Eggshells armed
with hammers", or in the case of Japanese destroyers
armed with the Type 93 "Long Lance" torpedo, "Eggshells
armed with sledge hammers."
Command (DC) does a very creditable job of simulating
straight running torpedoes. In addition, the player is provided
with a fairly realistic and useful torpedo director station
(F12). In this article I will touch on the technical requirements
of the straight running torpedo firing problem. Pattern running
and homing torpedoes are not simulated in DC and are not covered
Like any weapon system, torpedoes
have their advantages and disadvantages. DC does a very good
job of simulating these advantages and disadvantages. Here
are some of the factors to consider:
- Massive damage per hit. Even battleships
can not ignore this weapon.
- Fire and forget. Once launched
it requires no further guidance from the launch platform.
- Difficult to spot. Especially at
night or in low visibility, the target may not even know
it's under attack until KA-BOOM!
- Slow missile. A torpedo is, in
general, not much faster than its target, and in some cases
it is even slower. This results in large "lead"
angles and long run times, giving the target more opportunities
- Limited number of torpedoes carried.
The most number of torpedoes carried by a US destroyer class
was 16 aboard the Bagley/Benham/Gridley class, and the destroyers
of most nations carried about half that number.
- No at sea reload capability (except
Japanese destroyers). This factor, along with 2, above,
make torpedoes a sort of "Silver Bullet."
- Killer robot. Be careful of where
you shoot these weapons. Once launched they have no friends
and there are no means to self destruct them. They will
just as easily blow your friends out of the water as they
will your enemies.
As with any weapon system, one must
be within the weapon's release envelope to even have a possibility
of a hit. In naval parlance the weapon's release envelope
is called the Torpedo Danger Zone (TDZ). This is the first
part of the problem. Once in the TDZ, the aiming problem must
be solved. However, just being in the TDZ and solving the
aiming problem does not say anything about the probability
of a hit. The optimum firing position is influenced by the
aiming problem itself and the ability of the target to evade
the attack. In general, one wants the torpedo to cross the
target's path at a right angle in order to maximize the hit
probability. In addition, one wants to shoot from as close
a range as possible in order to minimize the target's opportunity
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