Down the throat

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Down the throat typically refers to a term used by United States Submariners in World War II, in reference to a type of torpedo attack angle used usually against attacking destroyers or anti-submarine craft. A "down the throat" shot would be any shot in which the target craft was presenting a 0-degree bow angle (AOB), or simply put, it was heading straight toward the submarine. These were extremely difficult setups from which to launch torpedoes, and usually it was only the skilled or desperate boat skippers who attempted such attacks. Further complications with the "down the throat" shot were the gyroscope issues that plagued US torpedoes,[citation needed] as well as the rapidly diminishing range of the target that could prevent arming of the torpedo.

It was first used by Pompano (SS-181) under the command of Lieutenant Commander Lew Parks during the boat's first war patrol, although it did not hit.

Its first successful use was by Dudley W. Morton, while in command of the USS Wahoo (SS-238), according to the foreword written by Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood, Jr. in "Wake of the Wahoo", by Forrest Sterling.

During its last patrol, Harder (SS-257) sank an attacking Japanese destroyer with such a shot.[1] Harder's captain, Cdr. S.D. "Sam" Dealey, was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for the patrol. Another Medal of Honor was awarded to the captain of Parche (SS-384), Lawson P. "Red" Ramage for a similar shot on a patrol that returned.[2]

Another submarine, which did not return from a patrol but was known to have used a "down-the-throat" shot was Gudgeon (SS-211).[3]


  1. ^ Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (1944), USS HARDER (SS 257): August 24, 1944 - 78 Men Lost, archived from the original (– Scholar search) on December 30, 2007 
  2. ^ Whitman, Edward C., Submarine Heroes: Lawson P. "Red" Ramage 
  3. ^ "USS Gudgeon", Dictionary of American Fighting Ships