Mark 24 mine

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Mark 24 mine
Mark24 mine.jpg
Mark 24 acoustic torpedo
Type Acoustic torpedo
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1942–1948[1]
Used by United States Navy
Royal Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Western Electric Company
Bell Telephone Laboratories
Harvard University Underwater Sound Laboratory[1]
Designed 1942[1]
Manufacturer General Electric Company[1]
Western Electric Company
Number built 4000[2]
Specifications
Weight 680 pounds[1]
Length 84 inches[1]
Diameter 19 inches[1]

Effective firing range 4000 yards
(10 minutes search duration)[1]
Warhead HBX[1]
Warhead weight 92 pounds[1]
Detonation
mechanism
Mk 142 fuze, contact exploder[1]

Engine Electric, secondary battery[1]
Speed 12 knots[1]
Guidance
system
preset circle search, passive acoustic[1]
Launch
platform
Aircraft

The Mark 24 mine (also known as FIDO or Fido) was a US air-dropped passive acoustic homing anti-submarine torpedo used during the Second World War against German and Japanese submarines. It entered service in March 1943 and continued in service with the US Navy until 1948. Approximately 4,000 torpedoes were produced, sinking 37 and damaging a further 18 submarines out of a total of 204 fired. The torpedo was also supplied to the British and Canadian forces. The deceptive name of "Mark 24 Mine" was deliberately chosen for security purposes, to conceal the true nature of the weapon.

Development[edit]

Mark 24 mine diagram

The US Navy began studies into an air-dropped anti-submarine torpedo in the autumn of 1941. Based on a formal set of requirements, Harvard Underwater Sound Lab (HUSL) and Bell Telephone Labs began development in December 1941. These later projects later became Office of Scientific Research and Development project 61 (FIDO).

Both Bell Labs and HUSL proceeded with parallel development of torpedoes, with a complete exchange of information between them. Western Electric were to develop a lightweight, shock resistant, 48 volt lead-acid battery capable of providing 110 amps for 15 minutes. General Electric were to design and fabricate propulsion and steering motors and to investigate an active acoustic homing system. David Taylor Model Basin was to assist with hydrodynamics and propulsion.

The guidance system consisted of four hydrophones placed around the midsection of the torpedo, connected to a vacuum tube-based sound processing array. A Bell Labs proportional and HUSL non-proportional steering system had been demonstrated by July 1942.

An existing Mark 13 torpedo provided the body of the torpedo, it was modified by shortening the hull, reducing the diameter, reducing the weight, and designing a hemispherical nose section to carry the explosive charge, and a conical tail section with four stabilizing fins and rudders and a single propeller. The effect of these modifications was to produce a relatively short, "fat" torpedo.

In June 1942, the US Navy decided to take the torpedo into production, even though there was still major testing work remaining on the project, including air-drop testing. The Bell Labs version of the guidance system was selected for production, with proportional homing. Testing of the pre-production prototypes continued on into December 1942, and the US Navy received the first production models in March 1943.

Initially 10,000 torpedoes were ordered, but FIDO proved so effective that the order was reduced to 4,000. The torpedoes ended up costing $1,800 each.

Description[edit]

Upon water entry, FIDO performed a circular search at a predetermined depth controlled by a bellows and pendulum system. This continued until the potential target's 24 kHz acoustic signal detected by the hydrophones exceeded a predetermined threshold level, at which point control was then shifted to the passive acoustic proportional homing system. Initially the torpedoes were set to search for a target at a depth of 50 feet (15 m), this was later changed to 150 feet (45 m). To prevent the torpedo accidentally attacking surface ships, it resumed its circling search if it rose above a depth of 40 feet (12 m).

The torpedo's relatively low speed was kept secret because, although U-boats could not outrun the torpedo when submerged, they could outrun it on the surface.

Combat history[edit]

On 14 May a Catalina of the US Navy attacked and destroyed a U-boat; this was either U-657[3] or U-640.[4] On 13 May Liberator B/86 had attacked a U-boat with a FIDO, but this vessel, U-456,[5] was only damaged, sinking the following day from damage received. One of these vessels was the first U-boat sinking achieved using FIDO. During its career, the torpedo sank a total of 37 submarines, achieving an effectiveness of about 22%, compared with about 9% for depth charges.

from US Navy OEG Study No. 289, 12 August 1946 provides the following data related to Mark 24 effectiveness:

Number of attacks in which Mark 24s were launched 264
Total number of Mark 24 torpedoes launched - all targets 340
Number of Mark 24s launched against submarines 204
Number of Mark 24 attacks on submarines by US aircraft 142
Number of Mark 24 attacks by Allied (primarily British) aircraft 62
Number of German U-boats sunk by FIDO 31
Number of German U-boats damaged by FIDO 15
Number of Japanese submarines sunk by FIDO 6
Number of Japanese submarines damaged by FIDO 3
Total number of submarines sunk by FIDO (German & Japanese) 37
Total number of submarines damaged 18

General characteristics[edit]

  • Diameter: 19 inches (46 cm).
  • Length: 84 inches (2.13 m).
  • Weight: 680 lb (308 kg).
  • Warhead: 92 lb (41.7 kg) HBX high explosive.
  • Propulsion: 5 hp (3.7 kW) electric motor driving a single propeller, powered by a 48 volt lead acid battery.
  • Speed and endurance: 12 knots for 10 minutes, giving a range of about 4,000 yards (3,700 m)
  • Homing system: 4 piezoelectric hydrophones operating at 24 kHz and vacuum tube signal processing system with proportional steering.
  • Maximum drop altitude: 200 to 300 ft (60 m to 90 m)
  • Maximum aircraft launch speed: 120 knots (220 km/h).

Variants[edit]

  • Mark 27 torpedo (Cutie) was developed for submarine use against surface vessels. It saw service in the Pacific war from the summer of 1944. Lieutenant Commander Carter L. Bennett's Sea Owl achieved the Mark 27's first combat success, damaging a Japanese patrol vessel in the Yellow Sea in November.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Torpedo History: Mark 24 mine". Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Jolie, E.W. (15 September 1978). "A Brief History of US Navy Torpedo Development". Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Kemp p117
  4. ^ Neistle p78
  5. ^ Kemp p116
  6. ^ Blair, Clay, Jr. Silent Victory (Bantam, 1976), p.788.

Sources[edit]