...Those Marvelous Tin Fish: The Great Torpedo Scandal Avoided

This POD may cause Japan to divert more building of escorts and convoys once War starts.
Why?

Pre-war the IJN had to assume USN torpedoes were not as impotent as a fat 85 year old. The motive to build or not build convoy escorts plus develop the relevant doctrine should be fairly invariant. Remember needing convoy escorts implies a long war which IJN knows it can not win.
 
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SsgtC

Banned
Why?

Pre-war the IJN had to assume USN torpedoes were not as important as a fat 85 year old. The motive to build or not build convoy escorts plus develop the relevant doctrine should be fairly invariant. Remember needing convoy escorts implies a long war which IJN knows it can not win.
For the IJN to build large numbers of convoy escorts requires a massive shift in Japanese strategic thinking. They need to see submarines as raiders, not scouts for the battle fleet. To the Japanese, it wasn't "honorable" to go after merchant shipping. Only other warships were "honorable enough" to be worthy of an attack. Their biggest failure was thinking that the USN would see it the same way
 
I was thinking, perhaps naively, that losing more cargo ships and tankers earlier might cause Japan to protect them. By not doing so they will follow OTL losses and more.

Moving on, if the US can sink more Japanese ships, especially tankers, they can limit Japan's force projection.
 
Everyone focusses on the Mk XIV while ignoring the fact that the Mk XIII aerial torpedo and the Mk XV torpedo used by destroyers were both worse than the Mk XIV. The biggest impacts I see are.
#1 At least one of the big Japanese carriers won't survive the Coral Sea
#2 Japanese losses at Midway will be heavier.
#3 The naval battles off Guadalcanal will see far more Japanese cruiser losses.

I read the wikisite Battle of Midway yesterday and came across something that i have never Heard Before. The torpedosquadrons that were wiped out actually managed to launch torpedoes Before going down and several was Heard to impact Carriers without detonating. So if Coral sea do not butterfly anything the torpedo squadrons will not only have sacrificed themselves to get the zeros low, but they have also hurt a japanese carrier and making it a easier target for the dive bombers.

I guess we would see submarines more effective from the start in 41 rather than 43.
 

McPherson

Banned
Okay, a subject near and dear to me!

1. It is not just the torpedoes that have to be fixed. It is the users. If the Japanese have trouble with freighter killing, then don't forget the USN has a lot of submariners who have to unlearn the warship hunter doctrine, too. Fleet problems have also taught them to fear the airplane too much and dive at the first alarm of enemy aircraft when they are in the middle of an attack.
2. It should be noted, that other companies were interested in torpedoes besides Bliss. I would like to see Bliss have some competitors like General Electric and Westinghouse. And I would like to see the dratted EL1 (the electric torpedo brainchild of the luckless Ralph Christie) actually make it to op-eval so that the Germans aren't the only ones with electric torpedoes. Might also want to look at the NAVOL torpedo.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE SUBMARINE TORPEDO MK 14

The submarine torpedo inventory of 1930 consisted of Torpedo Mk 7 (18-inch tubes), Torpedo Mk 9 (converted from battleship torpedoes), and Torpedo Mk 10 (developed about 1915). The development of the Torpedo Mk 14 during the decade following provided a 21-inch modern steam torpedo with a two-speed/range capability and a large warhead.

With Mk 14 development completed and production started prior to the start of the second World War, approximately 13,000 torpedoes of this type were manufactured during the war years. The mainstay of the submarine force in the war until the advent of the wakeless, electric Torpedo Mk 18 about 1944, the Mk 14 is credited with sinking approximately 4,000,000 tons of Japanese shipping.

Originally designed and produced for mechanical fire control setting, Torpedo Mk 14 was modified to be compatible with modern electrical-set fire control systems, and continues in service in today's submarine forces.

Wartime service demands for more torpedoes and scarcity of materials in 1943 led to development and manufacture of Torpedo Mk 23, a short-range, high-speed torpedo (4500 yards at 46 knots). Identical to the Mk 14 without the low-speed feature, this torpedo was not favored by the operating forces since the multispeed option of the Mk 14 permitted greater tactical flexibility, especially during the latter stages of World War II, when more sophisticated escorts and ASW tactics forced firing from longer ranges.

If that was true for freighter convoys, then imagine how tough it was to work inside the Japanese fleet screens in the later war.
 
Is it feasible to have sound homing and wire guided torpedoes with pre-war technology? I see no fundamental problems but of course I might be wrong.
 
The Assistant Secretary of the Navy’s Report on the Research, Development, and Production of Torpedoes for the United States Navy.
Bravo on all points.:cool::cool:

Only one political issue: the R.I. Congressional delegation is going to want assurances NTS won't close, which it appears they'll have; if Daniels &/or PotUS promise actual expansion, you get them onside. You also improve torpedo output, because even at peak, OTL, NTS was only capable of producing 3.5 Mark XIVs/day.:eek: And that was with 3 shifts on.:eek:

Now, if your proposed testing/development/production improvement plant includes "engineering for production", so torpedoes can be built more rapidly, or by less-precision-oriented companies, or (preferably) both...:cool:

I also hope your development program can eliminate the "sine wave" depth keeping typical of the Bliss-Leavitt/USN designs; if Howells could run at a constant depth in the 1870s...:rolleyes:
This POD may cause Japan to divert more building of escorts and convoys once War starts.
Don't bet on it. IJN ASW was a joke.:eek:
Is it feasible to have sound homing and wire guided torpedoes with pre-war technology? I see no fundamental problems but of course I might be wrong.
I'd say wire guidance is impossible, but hydrophone might be in reach. The fish would be speed-limited to around 12kt by self-noise (flow noise, AIUI, the same as for surface sonars). This idea's been hashed out elsewhere on this board; I maintain homers will remain too exotic, rare, & expensive to be anything but anti-escort weapons until after WW2, & never a standard fitment: that takes a change in Force thinking.
 
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McPherson

Banned
Is it feasible to have sound homing and wire guided torpedoes with pre-war technology? I see no fundamental problems but of course I might be wrong.

Not until 1935. The proper Pz crystal transducers don't exist in the US tech tree yet.

Bravo on all points.:cool::cool:

Only one political issue: the R.I. Congressional delegation is going to want assurances NTS won't close, which it appears they'll have; if Daniels &/or PotUS promise actual expansion, you get them onside. You also improve torpedo output, because even at peak, OTL, NTS was only capable of producing 3.5 Mark XIVs/day.:eek: And that was with 3 shifts on.:eek:

Then someone from the machine tool (preferably Chicago Tool and Die or FORD) had better be contracted to take over Goat Island and run it, because those watchmakers and civil service types of the RTL are not going to automate the assembly line.


Now, if your proposed testing/development/production improvement plant includes "engineering for production", so torpedoes can be built more rapidly, or by less-precision-oriented companies, or (preferably) both...:cool:

I also hope your development program can eliminate the "sine wave" depth keeping typical of the Bliss-Leavitt/USN designs; if Howells could run at a constant depth in the 1870s...:rolleyes:

Howells used a massive flywheel and the gyro mass principle. The best depth control for a torpedo of that era is nose or midbody spin control by Bernouli effect, not tail steer vanes set by hydrostatic valve or pendulum. Gonna be a weird looking US fish...
 

McPherson

Banned
If Japan was in trouble in OTL they are now facing far worse. I can see the war easily ending earlier...

Oddly enough, I believe the first year of the war, runs according to script, more or less, as the Japanese intend, with only the Battle of Midway being significantly different. It is possible that Shokaku could go down at Coral Sea if the bombs work better and the Philippine defense put up by the US subs at Lingayen Gulf might actually amount to something, but there are a lot of other critically wrong things that need fixing in the evil time of 1942-1944 from pre-war faulty doctrine to such basic mechanical factors as getting decent small arms and basic personal items to the troops. These things will take a couple of years. Some things may never get fixed as they were not in the RTL; such as a decent machine gun or decent uniforms for the sailors and soldiers that can take the beating of the climates. How about malaria for example? The Japanese had a solution. The Americans were still stuck in the 19th century with such tropical diseases. US ordnance needs a lot of work from things like the basic bayonet and grenade all the way to artillery shells. Ye-old-helmet was a problem. Or how about incompetent army officers who do not understand that you cannot waste time in planning set piece assault fighting against the Japanese. The sooner you attack off the beach, the sooner the Japanese artillery stops killing your men. There are bullheaded admirals who have not figured out that sometimes it is better not to charge into a carrier battle against the Japanese without proper recon. (Halsey does this constantly and it costs the US Navy. And while it is bad enough to be clobbered by the Japanese but clobbered by typhoons, too?).

Subs can bring a naval siege on sooner, and whittle the naval odds down in the middle period, but it will still take at least three years of island hopping to get within bombing range. That is not going to change much.
 
The Japanese will lose more tankers, thus less oil. And fewer transports means fewer supplies to outposts. There will definitely be a trickle-down effect between these...
 
Less than you'd expect, actually, given the amount of approbation the Mark XIV/Mark VI package attracts. If it's fixed on 7 Dec '41, & change nothing else, you see about 6-8mo shaved off the end of the war. (That's a rough guess, with the Japanese economy "crashing" in around June '44, instead of Jan '45 OTL.)

Not to say I don't like the idea: it'll save at least two boats sunk by circulars (not counting Tang, which was the victim of a Mark XVIII), & the shorter war will save several others (including Trigger?).

If you do butterfly Trigger's loss you may've butterflied Ned Beach's books.:eek::eek: And a lot of people don't get interested in history or the USN.:eek:


I would think winning the Pacific War as early as January 1945 would be mightily significant. Both in overall number of lives saved and a changed postwar situation in China and Korea. This is the Pacific War ending before VE-Day and the Soviet entry. This means no Iwo-Jima or Okinawa. And the end of the brutal occupation of large areas of China and the other countries enduring Japanese occupation. Whether having reliable torpedoes in itself would contribute to ending the war 6 to 8 months earlier is questionable.

Possibly if it included as well an immediate change to US Navy submarine doctrine and tactics. Just being ordered to commence unrestricted submarine warfare against the Japanese Empire didn't do it alone. The Americans had to develop and implement the procedures and tactics also. Having reliable torpedoes from the gitgo would have helped of course. I believe some of the US submarine captains realized the effectiveness of the way the Germans were deploying their U-boats and copied some of those methods. Having torpedoes that worked and achieving successful war patrols would have helped speed up the process of discarding ineffective prewar doctrine and implementing effective methods.

If the US Navy had been able to conduct the submarine campaign against Japan starting in 1942 with the effectiveness that was achieved in 1944 than perhaps the hugely significant 6 to 8 months earlier end to the Pacific War might have occurred.
 
I have a couple of observations now that I have read through all of these excellent posts.

It must be remembered that IOTL at the beginning of the war everyone firmly believed (including the Japanese) that we had good torpedoes. So everyone's initial reactions will be exactly the same. It is only once the sinkings start will the realization sink in as to what a great weapon we have (to the USN elation and the Japanese dismay).

Several posters have pointed out that submarine doctrine (both strategic and tactical) at the start of the war (IOTL), well... sucked. That is absolutely correct. Having a torpedo that works won't change that. Crappy doctrine and tactics were the result of pre-war exercises that emphasized caution above all else, and that were skewed to preserve the concept of the battleship being the center of the fleet. The old-timer "Gun Club" admirals were smart enough to realize the potential of the submarine to make their magnificent battleships obsolete. Exercise rules were sometimes intentionally manipulated to demonstrate the vulnerability of the submarine and the invulnerability of the battle line, sometimes to a ridiculous extent. Violating the rules during the exercise was cause for a career ending reprimand. In addition, a series of accidents during the 1920's (S-5, S-51, S-4, O-5, S-48, etc.) and the bad press they gathered gave the Navy a severe PR headache and safety and caution became official policies. All of this created an artificial environment that squelched initiative, creative thinking, and daring, all qualities that were later shown to be vital to a successful war patrol.

So the realities of war hit some of the sub skippers like a ton of bricks and many couldn't handle it and folded or were relieved. The great debate comes from how much a factor crappy torpedoes were in forming the attitudes of the sub skippers. If you went into combat knowing your primary weapon sucked then you will be a lot less willing to risk your life by being aggressive. I will explore this in coming chapters.

Aerial torpedo attack doctrine was fairly well developed by the time the war started and the aviators were certainly an aggressive bunch. The problem here definitely could be laid at the feet of the crappy Mk 13. The TBD's and TBF's were forced to fly low and slow because the 13 would not perform if you dropped it too high and too fast. Not enough R&D was done prior to the war. The 13's problems were eventually solved IOTL and survivability of the planes soared (pun intended) once the tactics could be adjusted. This too will be looked at!

I do not see the Japanese making any major adjustments early in the war to ASW. Once again, they assumed we had good torpedoes and were pleasantly surprised to find we did not. I foresee their reaction being too little and too late, similar to what happened IOTL. They were constrained by a rigid social structure that belittled ASW in favor of the battle line, and belittled anti-shipping raids as being beneath the mighty samurai, who should be sinking battleships and carriers.

To avoid massive butterflies, by intent is to keep this scenario as simple as possible. Looking into alternative torpedo fuel like hydrogen peroxide gets complicated and might result in design changes to the submarines and destroyers. I am going to sidestep all of that and not address it. However, the electric torpedo will be discussed, so stay tuned!

Don't worry... the "Plywood Wonders" will get their day in the sun too! ;)

Military duty will keep me busy next week so I have to ask for patience as I work that around the planned updates. I really appreciate everyone's enthusiasm for this project. It has been rolling around in my head for a long time.
 
By the way, I refuse to use Roman numerals! It is way to ponderous to read so I am going to stick with Mk 13, Mk 14, Mk 15, etc. :cool:
 
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