Torpedo boat

A torpedo boat is a relatively small and fast naval ship designed to carry torpedoes into battle. The first designs rammed enemy ships with explosive spar torpedoes, and later designs launched self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes. They were created to counter battleships and other slow and heavily armed ships by using speed, agility, and the power of their torpedo weapons. A number of inexpensive torpedo boats attacking en masse could overwhelm a larger ship's ability to fight them off using its large but cumbersome guns. An inexpensive fleet of torpedo boats could pose a threat to much larger and more expensive fleets of capital ships, albeit only in the coastal areas to which their small size and limited fuel load restricted them.

The introduction of fast torpedo boats in the late 19th century was a serious concern to the era's naval strategists. In response, navies operating large ships introduced smaller ships to counter torpedo boats, mounting light quick-firing guns. These ships, which came to be called "torpedo boat destroyers" and later simply "destroyers", became larger and took on more roles, making torpedo attacks as well as defending against them, and eventually defending against submarines and aircraft. The destroyer eventually became the predominant type of surface warship in the guided missile age.

In the modern era, the old concept of a very small, fast, and cheap surface combatant with powerful offensive weapons is taken up by the "fast attack craft".

Torpedo boats attack on the Chilean central battery ship Almirante Cochrane during the 1891 Chilean Civil War.

Spar torpedo boats

CSS David drawing
Drawings of the Confederate torpedo boat CSS David

The American Civil War saw a number of innovations in naval warfare, including an early type of torpedo boat, armed with spar torpedoes. In 1861 President Lincoln instituted a naval blockade of Southern ports, which crippled the South's efforts to obtain war materiel from abroad. The South also lacked the means to construct a naval fleet capable of taking on the Union Navy on even terms. One strategy to counter the blockade saw the development of torpedo boats, small fast boats designed to attack the larger capital ships of the blockading fleet as a form of asymmetrical warfare.

The David class of torpedo boats were steam powered with a partially enclosed hull. They were not true submarines but were semi-submersible; when ballasted, only the smokestack and few inches of the hull were above the water line. CSS Midge was David-class torpedo boats. CSS Squib and CSS Scorpion represented another class of torpedo boats that were also low built but had open decks and lacked the ballasting tanks found on the Davids.

The Confederate torpedo boats were armed with spar torpedoes. This was a charge of powder in a waterproof case, mounted to the bow of the torpedo boat below the water line on a long spar. The torpedo boat attacked by ramming her intended target, which stuck the torpedo to the target ship by means of a barb on the front of the torpedo. The torpedo boat would back away to a safe distance and detonate the torpedo, usually by means of a long cord attached to a trigger.

In general, the Confederate torpedo boats were not very successful. Their low sides made them susceptible to swamping in high seas, and even to having their boiler fires extinguished by spray from their own torpedo explosions. Torpedo misfires (too early) and duds were common.

In 1864 Union Naval Lieutenant Cushing fitted a steam launch with a spar torpedo to attack the Confederate ironclad Albemarle. Also the same year the Union launched USS Spuyten Duyvil, a purpose-built craft with a number of technical innovations including variable ballast for attack operations and an extensible and reloadable torpedo placement spar.

Invention of the self-propelled torpedo

Whitehead torpedo General Profile, The Whitehead Torpedo U.S.N.1898
Whitehead torpedo's general profile: A. war-head B. air-flask. B'. immersion-chamber CC'. after-body C. engine-room DDDD. drain-holes E. shaft-tube F. steering-engine G. bevel-gear box H. depth-index I. tail K. charging and stop-valves L. locking-gear M. engine bed-plate P. primer-case R. rudder S. steering-rod tube T. guide-stud UU. propellers V. valve-group W. war-nose Z. strengthening-band

A prototype self-propelled torpedo was created by a commission placed by Giovanni Luppis, an Austrian naval officer from Rijeka, then a port city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Robert Whitehead, an English engineer who was the manager of a town factory. In 1864, Luppis presented Whitehead with the plans of the salvacoste (coastsaver), a floating weapon driven by ropes from the land that had been dismissed by the naval authorities due to the impractical steering and propulsion mechanisms.

Whitehead was unable to improve the machine substantially, since the clockwork motor, attached ropes, and surface attack mode all contributed to a slow and cumbersome weapon. However, he kept considering the problem after the contract had finished, and eventually developed a tubular device, designed to run underwater on its own, and powered by compressed air. The result was a submarine weapon, the Minenschiff (mine ship), the first modern self-propelled torpedo, officially presented to the Austrian Imperial Naval commission on December 21, 1866.

The first trials were not successful as the weapon was unable to maintain a course on a steady depth. After much work, Whitehead introduced his "secret" in 1868 which overcame this. It was a mechanism consisting of a hydrostatic valve and pendulum that caused the torpedo's hydroplanes to be adjusted so as to maintain a preset depth.

First torpedo boats

HMS Lightning - Torpedo Boat 1877
HMS Lightning, the first modern torpedo boat, built in 1876

During the mid-19th century, the ships of the line were superseded by large steam powered ships with heavy gun armament and heavy armour, called ironclads. Ultimately this line of development led to the dreadnought class of all-big-gun battleship, starting with HMS Dreadnought.

At the same time, the weight of armour slowed down the speed of the battleships, and the huge guns needed to penetrate enemy armour fired at very slow rates. This allowed for the possibility of a small and fast ship that could attack the battleships, at a much lower cost. The introduction of the torpedo provided a weapon that could cripple, or even sink, any battleship.

The first warship of any kind to carry self-propelled torpedoes was HMS Vesuvius of 1873. The first seagoing vessel designed to fire the self-propelled Whitehead torpedo was HMS Lightning. The boat was built by John Thornycroft at Church Wharf in Chiswick for the Royal Navy. It entered service in 1876 and was armed with self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes.

Torpedoboat rap 1873
Another early torpedo boat, HNoMS Rap

As originally built, Lightning had two drop collars to launch torpedoes; these were replaced in 1879 by a single torpedo tube in the bow. She carried also two reload torpedoes amidships. She was later renamed Torpedo Boat No. 1.[1] The French Navy followed suit in 1878 with Torpilleur No 1, launched in 1878 though she had been ordered in 1875.

Another early such ship was the Norwegian warship HNoMS Rap, ordered from Thornycroft shipbuilding company, England, in either 1872 or 1873, and built at Thornycroft's shipyard at Church Wharf in Chiswick on the River Thames. Managing a speed of 14.5 knots (27 km/h), she was one of the fastest boats afloat when completed. The Norwegians initially planned to arm her with a spar torpedo, but this may never have been fitted. Rap was outfitted with launch racks for the new self-propelled Whitehead torpedoes in 1879.

Early use in combat

Torpederas en Valparaiso Colocolo Janequeo
Chilean torpedo boats in Valparaíso, used successfully at the Battle of Caldera Bay during the 1891 Chilean Civil War.

The first recorded launch of torpedoes from a torpedo boat (which itself was launched from a torpedo boat tender) in an actual battle was by future Russian admiral Stepan Makarov on January 16, 1878, who used self-propelled Whitehead's torpedoes against the Ottoman gunboat İntibâh during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. The first sinking of an armoured ship by a torpedo boat using self-propelled torpedoes, the Chilean ironclad Blanco Encalada, occurred during the 1891 Chilean Civil War.

In the late 19th century, many navies started to build torpedo boats 30 to 50 metres (98 to 164 ft) in length, armed with up to three torpedo launchers and small guns. They were powered by steam engines and had a maximum speed of 20 to 30 knots (37 to 56 km/h). They were relatively inexpensive and could be purchased in quantity, allowing mass attacks on fleets of larger ships. The loss of even a squadron of torpedo boats to enemy fire would be more than outweighed by the sinking of a capital ship.

The Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905, was the first great war of the 20th century.[2] It was the first practical testing of the new steel battleships, cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and torpedo boats. During the war the Imperial Russian Navy in addition to their other warships, deployed 86 torpedo boats[3] and launched 27 torpedoes (from all warships) in three major campaigns, scoring 5 hits.

The Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), like the Russians, often combined their TBs (which possessed only hull numbers) with their torpedo boat destroyers (TBDs) (often simply referring to them as destroyers) and launched over 270 torpedoes (counting the opening engagement at Port Arthur on 8 February 1904) during the war. The IJN deployed approximately 21 TBs[4] during the conflict, and on 27 May 1905 the Japanese torpedo boat destroyers and TBs launched 16 torpedoes at the battleship Knyaz Suvorov, Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky's flagship at the Battle of Tsushima. Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, the IJN commander, had ordered his torpedo boats to finish off the enemy flagship, already gunned into a wreck, as he prepared to pursue the remnants of the Russian battle fleet.

Of the 16 torpedoes launched by the TBDs and TBs at the Russian battleship, only four hit their mark, two of those hits were from torpedo boats #72 and #75.[5] By evening, the battleship rolled over and sank to the bottom of the Tsushima Straits. By war's end, torpedoes launched from warships had sunk one battleship, two armored cruisers, and two destroyers. The remaining over 80 warships would be sunk by guns, mines, scuttling, or shipwreck.[6]

Torpedo boat destroyers

HMS Spider
HMS Spider, an early model of torpedo gunboat

The introduction of the torpedo boat resulted in a flurry of activity in navies around the world, as smaller, quicker-firing guns were added to existing ships to ward off the new threat. In the mid-1880s there were developed torpedo gunboats, the first vessel design for the explicit purpose of hunting and destroying torpedo boats. Essentially very small cruisers, torpedo gunboats were equipped with torpedo tubes and an adequate gun armament, intended for hunting down smaller enemy boats.

The first example of this was HMS Rattlesnake, designed by Nathaniel Barnaby in 1885.[7] The gunboat was armed with torpedoes and designed for hunting and destroying smaller torpedo boats. She was armed with a single 4-inch/25-pounder breech-loading gun, six 3-pounder QF guns and four 14-inch (360 mm) torpedo tubes, arranged with two fixed tubes at the bow and a set of torpedo dropping carriages on either side. Four torpedo reloads were carried.[7]

A number of torpedo gunboat classes followed, including the Grasshopper class, the Sharpshooter class, the Alarm class and the Dryad class – all built for the Royal Navy during the 1880s and the 1890s. However, by the end of the 1890s torpedo gunboats had been made obsolete by their more successful contemporaries, the torpedo boat destroyers, which were much faster.

HMS Havock (1893)
HMS Havock the first modern destroyer, commissioned in 1894

The first ships to bear the formal designation "torpedo boat destroyer" (TBD) were the Daring class of two ships and Havock class of two ships of the Royal Navy, ordered in 1892 by the Third Sea Lord, Rear Admiral Jackie Fisher.[8] These were basically enlarged torpedo boats, with speed equal to or surpassing the torpedo boats, but were armed with heavier guns that could attack them before they were able to close on the main fleet.[9]

HMS Daring and HMS Decoy were both built by Thornycroft. They were armed with one 12-pounder gun and three 6-pounder guns, with one fixed 18-in torpedo tube in the bow plus two more torpedo tubes on a revolving mount abaft the two funnels. Later the bow torpedo tube was removed and two more 6-pounder guns added instead. They produced 4,200 hp (3,100 kW) from a pair of Thornycroft water-tube boilers, giving them a top speed of 27 knots, giving the range and speed to travel effectively with a battle fleet.[10]

After the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), these ships became known simply as destroyers. Destroyers became so much more useful, having better seaworthiness and greater capabilities than torpedo boats, that they eventually replaced most torpedo boats. However, the London Naval Treaty after World War I limited tonnage of warships, but placed no limits on ships of under 600 tons. The French, Italian, Japanese and German Navies developed torpedo boats around that displacement, 70 to 100 m long, armed with two or three guns of around 100 mm (4 in) and torpedo launchers. For example, the Royal Norwegian Navy Sleipner-class destroyers were in fact of a torpedo boat size, while the Italian Spica-class torpedo boats were closer in size to a destroyer escort. After World War II they were eventually subsumed into the revived corvette classification.

The Kriegsmarine torpedo boats were classified Torpedoboot with "T"-prefixed hull numbers. The classes designed in the mid-1930s, such as the Torpedo boat type 35, had few guns, relying almost entirely upon their torpedoes. This was found to be inadequate in combat, and the result was a "fleet torpedo boat" class (Flottentorpedoboot), which were significantly larger, up to 1,700 tons, comparable to small destroyers. This class of German boats could be highly effective, as in the action in which the British cruiser HMS Charybdis was sunk off Brittany by a torpedo salvo launched by the Elbing-class torpedo boats T23 and T27.

Motor torpedo craft

Harwich Force destroyers
Destroyers of the Harwich Force in World War I

Before World War I steam torpedo boats which were larger and more heavily armed than hitherto were being used. The new internal combustion engine generated much more power for a given weight and size than steam engines, and allowed the development of a new class of small and fast boats. These powerful engines could make use of planing hull designs and were capable of the much higher speed of 30 to 50 knots (56 to 93 km/h) under appropriate sea conditions than displacement hulls. The boat could carry two to four torpedoes fired from simple fixed launchers and several machine guns.

During the First World War, three junior officers of the Harwich destroyer force suggested that small motor boats carrying a torpedo might be capable of travelling over the protective minefields and attacking ships of the Imperial German Navy at anchor in their bases. In 1915, the Admiralty produced a Staff Requirement requesting designs for a Coastal Motor Boat for service in the North Sea. These boats were expected to have a high speed, making use of the lightweight and powerful petrol engines then available. The speed of the boat when fully loaded was to be at least 30 knots (56 km/h) and sufficient fuel was to be carried to give a considerable radius of action.

They were to be armed in a variety of ways, with torpedoes, depth charges or for laying mines. Secondary armament would have been provided by light machine guns, such as the Lewis gun. The CMBs were designed by Thornycroft, who had experience in small fast boats. Engines were not proper maritime internal combustion engines (as these were in short supply) but adapted aircraft engines from firms such as Sunbeam and Napier. A total of 39 such vessels were built.[11]

In 1917 Thornycroft produced an enlarged 60-foot (18 m) overall version. This allowed a heavier payload, and now two torpedoes could be carried. A mixed warload of a single torpedo and four depth charges could also be carried, the depth charges released from individual cradles over the sides, rather than a stern ramp.[12] Speeds from 35–41 knots (40–47 mph; 65–76 km/h) were possible, depending on the various petrol engines fitted. At least two unexplained losses due to fires in port are thought to have been caused by a build-up of petrol vapour igniting.

Operation Cerberus-fr
Admiralty Chart of the Channel Dash, when German destroyers defended a German flotilla against Royal Navy Motor torpedo craft

Italian torpedo boats sank the Austrian-Hungarian SMS Wien in 1917, and SMS Szent István in 1918. During the civil war in Russia, British torpedo boats made a raid on Kronstadt harbour damaging two battleships and sinking a cruiser.

Such vessels remained useful through World War II. The Royal Navy's Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), Kriegsmarine 'S-Boote' (Schnellboot or "fast-boat": British termed them E-boats), (Italian) M.A.S. and M.S., Soviet Navy G-5 and U.S. PT boats (standing for Patrol Torpedo) were all of this type.

A classic fast torpedo boat action was the Channel Dash in February 1942 when German E-boats and destroyers defended the flotilla of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen and several smaller ships against Royal Navy MTBs.

By World War II torpedo boats were seriously hampered by higher fleet speeds; although they still had a speed advantage, they could only catch the larger ships by running at very high speeds over very short distances, as demonstrated in the Channel Dash. An even greater threat was the widespread arrival of patrol aircraft, which could hunt down torpedo boats long before they could engage their targets.

During World War II United States naval forces employed fast wooden PT boats in the South Pacific in a number of roles in addition to the originally envisioned one of torpedo attack. PT boats performed reconnaissance, ferry, courier, search & rescue as well as attack and smoke screening duties. They took part in fleet actions and they worked in smaller groups and singly to harry enemy supply lines. Late in the Pacific War when large targets became scarce, many PT boats replaced two or all four of their torpedo tubes with additional guns for engaging enemy coastal supply boats and barges, isolating enemy-held islands from supply, reinforcement or evacuation.

The most significant military ship sunk by a torpedo boat during World War II was the cruiser HMS Manchester which was attacked by two Italian torpedo boats (M.S. 16 and M.S. 22) during Operation Pedestal on 13 August 1942. It seems that the torpedo that mortally struck Manchester was launched by M.S. 22 (TV Franco Mezzadra) from a distance of about 600 meters.

Fast attack craft today

Boats similar to torpedo boats are still in use, but are armed with long-range anti-ship missiles that can be used at ranges between 30 and 70 km. This reduces the need for high-speed chases and gives them much more room to operate in while approaching their targets.

Aircraft are a major threat, making the use of boats against any fleet with air cover very risky. The low height of the radar mast makes it difficult to acquire and lock onto a target while maintaining a safe distance. As a result, fast attack craft are being replaced for use in naval combat by larger corvettes, which are able to carry radar-guided anti-aircraft missiles for self-defense, and helicopters for over-the-horizon targeting.

Although torpedo boats have disappeared from the majority of the world's navies, they remained in use until the late 1990s and early 2000s in a few specialised areas, most notably in the Baltic. The close confines of the Baltic and ground clutter effectively negated the range benefits of early ASMs. Operating close to shore in conjunction with land based air cover and radars, and in the case of the Norwegian navy hidden bases cut into fjord sides, torpedo boats remained a cheap and viable deterrent to amphibious attack. Indeed, this is still the operational model followed by the Chinese Navy with its Type 025-class torpedo boat for the protection of its coastal and estuarial waters.

See also

Selected torpedo boat histories


  1. ^ Chesneau, Roger and Eugène Kolesnik (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
  2. ^ Olender p. 233
  3. ^ Olender pp. 249–251
  4. ^ Olender pp. 235, 236
  5. ^ Olender p. 235
  6. ^ Olender p. 234
  7. ^ a b Lyon & Winfield. "10". The Sail and Steam Navy List. pp. 82–3.
  8. ^ Captain T.D. Manning (1961). The British Destroyer. Putnam and Co.
  9. ^ Lyon pp. 8, 9
  10. ^ Lyon, David (1996). The First Destroyers. ISBN 1-84067-364-8.
  11. ^ "WW1 numbers and losses of MTB classes".
  12. ^ Air Commodore F. R. Banks (1978). I Kept No Diary. Airlife. p. 29. ISBN 0-9504543-9-7.


  • Campbell, Thomas, R. "Hunters of the Night: Confederate Torpedo Boats in the War Between the States" Burd Street Press, 2001.
  • Jentschura, Hansgeorg. Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1869–1945. United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland; 1977. ISBN 0-87021-893-X.
  • Lyon, David. The First Destroyers. Chatham Publishing, 1 & 2 Faulkner's Alley, Cowcross Street, London, Great Britain, 1996. ISBN 1-55750-271-4.
  • Olender, Piotr. Russo-Japanese Naval War 1904–1905, Vol. 2, Battle of Tsushima. Published by Stratus s.c., 2010. Sandomierz, Poland. ISBN 978-83-61421-02-3.
  • Preston, Anthony. "Destroyer", Bison Books (London) 1977. ISBN 0-600-32955-0.
  • Spanish–American War The Spanish–American War Centennial Website. 2007. USS OLYMPIA. 4 Nov.-Dec. 2007.

External links

Bulgarian torpedo boat Drazki

Drazki (Bulgarian language: Дръзки; also transliterated as Druzki, "Intrepid") was a Bulgarian Navy torpedo boat built at the start of the 20th century. A ship of the same class is now a museum ship under her name in Varna.

Ciclone-class torpedo boat

The Ciclone class were a group of torpedo boats or destroyer escorts built for the Italian Navy which fought in the Second World War. They were slightly enlarged versions of the previous Orsa class, with improved stability and heavier anti-submarine armament. These ships were built as part of the Italian war mobilization programme and completed in 1942-43.


In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable, long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against powerful short range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century by Fernando Villaamil for the Spanish Navy as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBDs) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats". Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.Before World War II, destroyers were light vessels with little endurance for unattended ocean operations; typically a number of destroyers and a single destroyer tender operated together. After the war, the advent of the guided missile allowed destroyers to take on the surface combatant roles previously filled by battleships and cruisers. This resulted in larger and more powerful guided missile destroyers more capable of independent operation.

At the start of the 21st century, destroyers are the global standard for surface combatant ships, with only two nations (United States and Russia) operating the heavier class cruisers, with no battleships or true battlecruisers remaining. Modern guided missile destroyers are equivalent in tonnage but vastly superior in firepower to cruisers of the World War II era, and are capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. At 510 feet (160 m) long, a displacement of 9,200 tons, and with armament of more than 90 missiles, guided missile destroyers such as the Arleigh Burke-class are actually larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers.

Some European navies, such as the French, Spanish, or German, use the term "frigate" for their destroyers, which leads to some confusion.

German torpedo boat T36

The German torpedo boat T36 was the last of 15 Type 39 torpedo boats built for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) during World War II. Completed in late 1944, T36 was assigned to convoy escort duties and supporting German forces in the Baltic. At the end of January 1945, she rescued 564 survivors from the torpedoed ocean liner MV Wilhelm Gustloff. The boat screened German warships as they bombarded advancing Soviet troops and escorted convoys over the next several months. In May, T36 began to ferry refugees herself; she struck a mine on 4 May and was sunk by Soviet aircraft on the 5th.

List of torpedo boats of the United States Navy

This list of torpedo boats of the United States Navy includes all ships with the hull classification symbol TB.

Motor Torpedo Boat

Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) was the name given to fast torpedo boats by the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy. The 'motor' in the formal designation, referring to the use of petrol engines, was to distinguish them from the majority of other naval craft that used steam turbines or reciprocating steam engines.

The capitalised term is generally used for the Royal Navy (RN) boats and abbreviated to "MTB". During the Second World War, the US Navy built such craft, identified by the hull classification symbol "PT", for "Patrol, Torpedo".

German motor torpedo boats of the Second World War were called S-boote (Schnellboote, "fast boats") by the Kriegsmarine and "E-boats" by the Allies. Italian MTBs of this period were known as Motoscafo Armato Silurante ("MAS boats", torpedo armed motorboats). French MTBs were known as vedettes lance torpilles ("torpedo-launching fast boats"). Soviet MTBs were known as торпедные катеры (torpyedniye katyery; "torpedo cutters", often abbreviated as TKA). Romanian MTBs were known as vedete torpiloare ("torpedo fast boats").

After the end of the War in 1945, a number of the Royal Navy's MTBs were stripped and the empty hulls sold for use as houseboats.

Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109

PT-109 was a PT boat (patrol torpedo boat) last commanded by Lieutenant (junior grade) John F. Kennedy, future United States President, in the Pacific Theater during World War II. His actions to save his surviving crew after the sinking of PT-109 made him a war hero. PT-109's collision with a Japanese Destroyer contributed to Kennedy's long-term back problems and required months of hospitalization at Chelsea Naval Hospital. Kennedy's post-war campaigns for elected office referred often to his service on the PT-109.

Motor torpedo boat PT-617

Motor torpedo boat PT-617, also known as Big Red Cock and Dragon Lady, "is the sole surviving 80' Elco type PT boat and represents the United States's most heavily used, highly favored, and combat-tested PT boat type in World War II." She is a museum ship at the PT Boat Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. The 80-foot (24 m) Elco type boat was the predominant type and is the same type as the famous PT-109 commanded by John F. Kennedy; the 78-foot (24 m) "Higgins" boat is the other type.

PT-617 was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989.

Motor torpedo boat PT-658

Motor torpedo boat PT-658 is a PT-625-class Higgins 78-foot (24 m) PT boat, built for the United States Navy during World War II. PT-658 is a prime example of US Navy motor torpedo boat development during World War II. PT-658 was in the last group of four boats delivered from the 36-boat contract NObs-1680, October 1944 for PT-625 to PT-660. Delivered and accepted on July 31, 1945, she was fitted with all of the latest armaments and design modifications as a result of lessons learned from previous contracts and battlefield experience. In this way, PT-658 is a showcase of the final form that motor torpedo boats would take by the end of World War II. PT-658 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 2012. Of three PT boats listed on the National Register, she is one of 2 maintained in operating condition.

Motor torpedo boat PT-796

PT-796 is a 78-foot PT boat built by Higgins Industries of New Orleans in 1945. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 as one of a very few surviving PT boats, which were built in large numbers during World War II. She is part of the collection of the PT Boat Museum, which itself is part of the Battleship Cove museum in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Motor torpedo boat tender

Motor torpedo boat tender is a type of ship used by the U.S. Navy during World War II and Vietnam War. The motor torpedo boat tender's task was to act as a tender in remote areas for patrol boats (PT-boats) and to provide the necessary fuel and provisions for the torpedo boats she was responsible for. The type finds its root in the torpedo boat tender, developed in the 19th century.

This type of ship was classified as "AGP" and is sometimes called a "patrol craft tender."

Orsa-class torpedo boat

The Orsa class were a group of large torpedo boats or destroyer escorts built for the Italian Navy in the late 1930s. They were an enlarged version of the Spica-class torpedo boat, with more endurance and a greater depth charge load but less powerful machinery and a lighter gun armament. The surviving pair were rebuilt as anti-submarine frigates in the 1950s.

PT boat

A PT boat (short for patrol torpedo boat) was a torpedo-armed fast attack vessel (MTB) used by the United States Navy in World War II. It was small, fast, and inexpensive to build, valued for its maneuverability and speed but hampered at the beginning of the war by ineffective torpedoes, limited armament, and comparatively fragile construction that limited some of the variants to coastal waters.

The PT boat was very different from the first generation of torpedo boat, which had been developed at the end of the 19th century and featured a displacement hull form. These first generation torpedo boats rode low in the water, displaced up to 300 tons, and had a top speed of 25 to 27 kn (29 to 31 mph; 46 to 50 km/h). During World War I Italy, the US and UK developed the first high-performance motor torpedo boats (often with top speeds over 40 kn (46 mph; 74 km/h)) and corresponding torpedo tactics, but these projects were all quickly disbanded with the Armistice. World War II PT boats continued to exploit some of the advances in planing hull design borrowed from offshore powerboat racing and were able to grow in size due to advancements in engine technology.

During World War II, PT boats engaged enemy warships, transports, tankers, barges, and sampans. As gunboats they could be effective against enemy small craft, especially armored barges used by the Japanese for inter-island transport. Several saw service with the Philippine Navy, where they were named "Q-boats", most probably after President Manuel L. Quezon.Primary anti-ship armament was four 2,600 pound (1,179 kg) Mark 8 torpedoes. Launched by 21-inch Mark 18 (530 mm) torpedo tubes, each bore a 466-pound (211 kg) TNT warhead and had a range of 16,000 yards (14,630 m) at 36 knots (66 km/h). Two twin M2 .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns were mounted for anti-aircraft defense and general fire support. Some boats shipped a 20 mm Oerlikon cannon.

Propulsion was via a trio of Packard 4M-2500 and later 5M-2500 supercharged gasoline-fueled, liquid-cooled marine engines.

Nicknamed "the mosquito fleet" – and "devil boats" by the Japanese – the PT boat squadrons were hailed for their daring and earned a durable place in the public imagination that remains strong into the 21st century.

Spica-class torpedo boat

The Spica class were a class of torpedo boats of the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) during World War II. These ships were built as a result of a clause in the Washington Naval Treaty, which stated that ships with a tonnage of less than 600 could be built in unlimited numbers. Thirty-two ships were built between 1934 and 1937, thirty of which entered service with Italy and two which were transferred to the Swedish Navy in 1940. The two units in Swedish service were classed as destroyers until 1953, then re-classified as corvettes. Although commonly referred to as torpedo boats due to their smaller displacement, the Spica class armaments were similar in design to destroyers (their design was influenced by the Maestrale-class destroyer then in development), and were intended for anti-submarine duties, although they often had to fight aircraft and surface forces as well. Twenty-three vessels were lost during World War II.

Turya-class torpedo boat

"Turya class" is the NATO reporting name for a class of hydrofoil torpedo boats built for the Soviet Navy and Soviet allies. The Soviet designation was Project 206M.

Type 025 torpedo boat

The Type 025 torpedo boat, also known as the Huchuan or Hu Chwan class, was once the backbone of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in its confrontations with its much larger opponents in the Republic of China Navy. Although no longer serving in that capacity, this class is still active. While relatively unsophisticated, the class has enjoyed a longevity in active service thanks to a philosophy within PLAN which has continued to favor its use. Powered by Soviet-era engines, the hydrofoil-equipped boats are capable of 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) and carry two torpedo tubes for torpedoes, with some known to be armed with naval mines.

Yugoslav destroyer Beograd

Beograd was the lead ship of her class of destroyers built for the Royal Yugoslav Navy (Serbo-Croatian: Kraljevska Jugoslovenska Ratna Mornarica, KJRM) during the late 1930s. When Yugoslavia entered World War II due to the German-led Axis invasion of that country in April 1941, she was damaged by a near miss during an air attack, and was then captured by the Italians. After refitting, she saw extensive service with the Royal Italian Navy from August 1941 to September 1943, completing over 100 convoy escort missions in the Mediterranean under the name Sebenico, mainly as a convoy escort on routes between Italy and the Aegean and North Africa. Following the Italian armistice in September 1943, she was captured by the German Navy and redesignated TA43. Re-armed, she served with the 9th Torpedo Boat Flotilla on escort and minelaying duties in the northern Adriatic. She was sunk or scuttled at Trieste on 30 April or 1 May 1945. She was raised in June 1946, probably to remove her as a navigation hazard, only to be scuttled again in either July 1946 or in 1947.

Yugoslav torpedo boat T3

The Yugoslav torpedo boat T3 was a sea-going torpedo boat that was operated by the Royal Yugoslav Navy between 1921 and 1941. Originally 78 T, a 250t-class torpedo boat of the Austro-Hungarian Navy built in 1914, she was armed with two 66 mm (2.6 in) guns, four 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes, and could carry 10–12 naval mines. She saw active service during World War I, performing convoy, escort and minesweeping tasks, anti-submarine operations and shore bombardment missions. Following Austria-Hungary's defeat in 1918, she was allocated to the Navy of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which subsequently became the Royal Yugoslav Navy, and was renamed T3. At the time, she and the seven other 250t-class boats were the only modern sea-going vessels of the fledgling maritime force.

During the interwar period, T7 and the rest of the navy were involved in training exercises and cruises to friendly ports, but activity was limited by reduced naval budgets. The ship was captured by the Italians during the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941. After her main armament was modernised, she served with the Royal Italian Navy under her Yugoslav designation, although she was only used for coastal and second-line tasks. Following the Italian capitulation in September 1943, she was captured by Germany and, after being fitted with additional anti-aircraft guns, served with the German Navy or the Navy of the Independent State of Croatia as TA48. In German/Croatian service her crew of 52 consisted entirely of Croatian officers and enlisted men. She was sunk by Allied aircraft in February 1945 while in the port of Trieste, where she had been built.

Ōtori-class torpedo boat

The Ōtori-class torpedo boat (鴻型水雷艇, Ōtori-gata suiraitei) were a class of eight fast torpedo boats of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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