18" (45 cm) Torpedoes

Whitehead 18" (45 cm)

Ship Class Used On Surface Ships
Date Of Design about 1888
Date In Service 1894
Weight 845 lbs. (383 kg)
Overall Length 140 in (3.556 m)
Explosive Charge 118 lbs. (53.5 kg) wet gun-cotton
Range / Speed 800 yards (730 m) / 26.5 knots
Power Air-flask (cold running) compressed air powered, three cylinder, radial Brotherhood pattern engines

18" (45 cm) Mark V

Ship Class Used On "River" and "Tribal" destroyers of the early 1900s
Date Of Design about 1899
Date In Service 1901
Weight 1,353 lbs. (614 kg)
Overall Length N/A
Explosive Charge 296 lbs. (134 kg) including pistol
Range / Speed N/A
Power Air-flask (cold running) compressed air powered

Had a working pressure of 2,000 psi (141 kg/cm2).

18" (45 cm) Mark VI

Ship Class Used On Destroyers of the early 1900s
Date Of Design about 1904
Date In Service 1905
Weight N/A
Overall Length N/A
Explosive Charge N/A
Range / Speed 4,000 yards (3,650 m) / 28.5
1,000 yard (910 m) / 41 knots
Power Air-flask (cold running) compressed air powered

18" (45 cm) Mark VII and Mark VII*

Ship Class Used On Pre-World War I torpedo boats, destroyers and Flying Boats in the 1920s
Date Of Design 1907
Date In Service 1910
Weight N/A
Overall Length N/A
Explosive Charge 320 lbs. (145 kg) TNT
Range / Speed Mark VI:
6,000 - 7,000 yards (4,570 - 7,650 m) / 30 knots
3,000 yards (3,280 m) / 41 knots
Mark VI*:
5,000 yards (4,570 m) / 35 knots
7,000 yards (6,400 m) / 29 knots
Power Wet-heater

Introduced on the 1908 members of the 'Tribal' class. First Torpedo to be designed with wet-heater propulsion. Some Mark VI torpedoes were modified for aircraft use.

18" (45 cm) Mark VIII

Ship Class Used On World War I Submarines
Aircraft in 1920-1937
Date Of Design 1913
Date In Service 1914
Weight 3,828 lbs. (1,736 kg)
Overall Length N/A
Explosive Charge 320 lbs. (145 kg) TNT
Range / Speed 2,500 yards (2,300 m) / 35 knots
4,000 yards (3,650 m) / 29 knots
Power Wet-heater

18" (45 cm) Mark XI

Ship Class Used On Aircraft Launched
Date Of Design about 1934
Date In Service 1936
Weight 1,500 lbs. (680 kg)
Overall Length N/A
Explosive Charge 465 lbs. (211 kg) TNT
Range / Speed 1,500 yards (1,370 m) / 40 knots
4,000 yards (3,660 m) 24-25 knots
Power Burner-cycle

Was specified to be able to be dropped from 30 - 100 feet (9 - 30 m) at 150 knots and not dive below 60 feet (18 m) and then recover to set depth within 400 yards (360 m).

21" (53.3 cm) Torpedoes

21" (53.3 cm) Mark I "Short" and "Long"

Ship Class Used On Destroyers
Date Of Design About 1908
Date In Service About 1910
Weight Short: 2,100 lbs. (953 kg)
Long: 2,800 lbs. (1,270 kg)
Overall Length Short: 17 ft 10.5 in (5.45 m)
Long: 23 ft 1.25 in (7.04 m)
Explosive Charge Original: 200 lbs. (91 kg) wet gun-cotton
Modified: 225 lbs. (102 kg) wet gun-cotton
Range / Speed Short:
1,000 yards (910 m) @ 50 knots
7,500 yards (6,850 m) @ 30 knots
Long:
1,000 yards (910 m) @ 50 knots (?)
12,000 yards (11,000 m) @ 30 knots
Modified:
2,000 yards (1,820 m) @ 50 knots
10,800 yards (9,900 m) @ 30 knots
Power Wet-heater, 2,100 psi (148 kg/cm2)

The first 21" (53.3 cm) "heater" torpedo. Introduced on the Beagle class destroyers. Cost £1,086 in 1914 and £1,193 in 1917.

21" (53.3 cm) Marks II, II* and II**

Ship Class Used On World War I destroyers, former USA Lend-Lease destroyers, some submarines
Date Of Design About 1910
Date In Service About 1914
Weight N/A
Overall Length N/A
Explosive Charge Original design: 280 lbs. (127 kg) wet gun-cotton
Early versions: 400 lbs. (181 kg) TNT
Later versions: 515 lbs. (234 kg) TNT
Range / Speed World War I:
5,500 yards (5,000 m) / 30 knots
about 4,000 yards (3,600 m) / 35 knots
World War II:
Submarines, only: 5,000 yards (4,570 m) / 35 knots
Destroyers, only: 8,000 yards (7,300 m) / 29 knots
Power Wet-heater

Earliest versions dated to before World War I. Still used on old ships during World War II. Also used on ex-US Lend-Lease Flush Deck destroyers during World War II. The earliest version had a high speed setting for 3,000 yards (2,700 m) at 45 knots, but it was erratic at this speed, so it was reduced to 35 knots.

21" (53.3 cm) Mark II***

Ship Class Used On World War I battleships and battlecruisers
Date Of Design About 1914
Date In Service About 1915
Weight N/A
Overall Length N/A
Explosive Charge 515 lbs. (234 kg) TNT
Range / Speed 4,500 yards (4,110 m) / 45 knots
10,750 yards (9,830 m) / 31 knots
Power Wet-heater

An improved version of the Mark II used mainly on capital ships.

21" (53.3 cm) Mark III

No information.

21" (53.3 cm) Mark IV and Mark IV*

Ship Class Used On World War I: Surface ships and Submarines
World War II: Hood, older destroyers, MTBs
Date Of Design About 1912
Date In Service About 1916
Weight 3,206 lbs. (1,454 kg)
Overall Length 22 ft 7.5 in (6.896 m)
Explosive Charge 515 lbs. (234 kg) TNT
Range / Speed 8,000 yards (7,300 m) / 35 knots
10,000 yards (9,150 m) / 29 knots
13,500 yards (12,350 m) / 25 knots
World War II Submarines, only:
6,000 yards (5,500 m) / 40 knots
9,500 yards (8,700 m) / 35 knots
Power Wet-heater

Principal British Torpedo of World War I. Still used in World War II by most older ships and by MTB's in the absence of newer torpedoes. For example, as commissioned the Royal Sovereign class carried 21 torpedoes which were a mixture of Mark II, Mark IV and Mark IV*.

21" (53.3 cm) Mark V

Ship Class Used On "A" and "B" destroyers, Kent Class Cruisers
Date Of Design About 1917
Date In Service 1918
Weight 3,828 lbs. (1,736 kg)
Overall Length 23 ft 3 in (7.086 m)
Explosive Charge N/A
Range / Speed 5,000 yards (4,570 m) / 40 knots
13,500 yards (12,340 m) / 25 knots
Power Wet-heater

Replaced by Mark IX. Kent class cruisers used a modified version with a strengthened tail assembly.

21" (53.3 cm) Mark VII

Ship Class Used On 8" (20.3 cm) Cruisers
Date Of Design 1925 (?)
Date In Service N/A
Weight 4,106 lbs. (1,862 kg)
Overall Length 25 ft 6 in (7.772 m)
Explosive Charge 740 lbs. (336 kg) TNT
Range / Speed Mark VIIC: 5,700 yards (5,200 m) / 35 knots
Power Oxygen-enriched air

These torpedoes were all converted to natural air during the early part of World War II.

24.5" (62.2 cm) Torpedoes

24.5" (62.2 cm) Mark I

Ship Class Used On Nelson Class
Date Of Design About 1923
Date In Service About 1925
Weight 5,700 lbs. (2,585 kg)
Overall Length 26 ft 7 in (8.103 m)
Explosive Charge 743 lbs. (337 kg) TNT
Range / Speed 15,000 yards (13,700 m) / 35 knots
20,000 yards (18,300 m) / 30 knots
Power Oxygen-enriched Air

Carried only by Nelson class Battleships, the last battleship class designed with internal tubes.

Sources

Data from:

  • "The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906-1922" by D.K. Brown
  • "British Battleships 1919 - 1939" (revised edition) by R.A. Burt
  • "Naval Weapons of World War Two" by John Campbell
  • "Battleship Nelson: The Story of HMS Nelson" by Ronald Careless
  • "Naval Aviation in the First World War: Its Impact and Influence" by R.D. Layman
  • "Torpedo Warfare: A Successful Prediction" article by D.J. Lyon in "Warship Volume VII"

Page History

03 February 2008 - Benchmark


12 January 2009 - Added data on Mark V, added picture of Vanoc


19 May 2012 - Added photograph of Ramillies


04 January 2014 - Added photographs of Ripon Torpedo Bomber, unidentifed battleship, unidentified submarine and HMS Rodney torpedo room


09 August 2014 - Minor updates


30 August 2016 - Added note for 21" (53.3 cm) Mark IV regarding quantity of torpedoes carried by Royal Sovereign class.