Aerial torpedo
The aerial torpedo, airborne torpedo or air-dropped torpedo is a naval weapon, the torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

, designed to be dropped into water from an aircraft (fixed-wing aircraft
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

 or helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

) after which it propels itself to the target. First used in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, air-dropped torpedoes were used extensively in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and remain in limited use today. Aerial torpedoes are generally smaller and lighter in weight than submarine- and surface-launched torpedoes.

Historically, the term "aerial torpedo" was used to describe flying bomb
Flying bomb
A flying bomb is a manned or unmanned aerial vehicle or aircraft carrying a large explosive warhead, a precursor to contemporary cruise missiles...

s and pilotless drone aircraft intended as weapons, the precursor to modern cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s. Today, the term refers primarily to water-borne torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

es launched from the air.


A successful aerial launched torpedo design needs to account for
  • The distance it travels through the air before entering the water
  • The heavy impact with the water

The Japanese Type 91 torpedo
Type 91 torpedo
The Type 91 was an aerial torpedo of the Imperial Japanese Navy which was designed to be launched from an aircraft. It was used in the naval battles of carrier task forces in World War II.The Type 91 aerial torpedo rev.2 won the admiration of the world...

 used aerodynamic tail stabilizers in the air. These stabilizers (introduced in 1936) were shed off when it entered the water. And a new control system (introduced in 1941) stabilized the rolling motion by countersteering both in the air and the water.
The Type 91 torpedo could be released at speed of 180 knot
A knot is a method of fastening or securing linear material such as rope by tying or interweaving. It may consist of a length of one or several segments of rope, string, webbing, twine, strap, or even chain interwoven such that the line can bind to itself or to some other object—the "load"...

s (333 km/h) from 20 m (66 ft) into shallow water but also at 204 knots (the Nakajima B5N2
Nakajima B5N
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Bridgwater, H.C. and Peter Scott. Combat Colours Number 4: Pearl Harbor and Beyond, December 1941 to May 1942. Luton, Bedfordshire, UK: Guideline Publications, 2001. ISBN 0-9539040-6-7....

's maximum speed) into choppy waves of a rather heavy sea.

Tactics and usage

The idea of dropping lightweight torpedoes from aircraft was conceived in the early 1910s by Bradley A. Fiske, an officer in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. Awarded a patent in 1912,
Fiske worked out the mechanics of carrying and releasing the torpedo from a bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...

, and defined tactics that included a night-time approach so that the target ship would be less able to defend itself. Fiske determined that the notional torpedo bomber
Torpedo bomber
A torpedo bomber is a bomber aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with aerial torpedoes which could also carry out conventional bombings. Torpedo bombers existed almost exclusively prior to and during World War II when they were an important element in many famous battles, notably the...

 should descend rapidly in a sharp spiral to evade enemy guns, then when about 10 to 20 ft (3 to 6.1 ) above the water the aircraft would straighten its flight long enough to line up with the torpedo's intended path. The aircraft would release the torpedo at a distance of 1500 yard from the target. Fiske reported in 1915 that, using this method, enemy fleets could be attacked within their own harbors if there were enough room for the torpedo track.

World War I

In July 1914, the first British aerial torpedo was dropped in trials performed in a Short "Folder"
Short Folder
Short Folder is a generic name often applied to several different Short Brothers' aircraft types designed and built prior to and during World War I...

 by Lieutenant (later Air Chief Marshall Sir) Arthur Longmore
Arthur Longmore
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Murray Longmore GCB, DSO was an early naval aviator, before reaching high rank in the Royal Air Force.-Biography:...

. In November 1914, Germans were reportedly experimenting at Lake Constance
Lake Constance
Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee , the Untersee , and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

 with the tactic of dropping torpedoes from a Zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

. In December 1914, Squadron Commander Cecil L'Estrange Malone
Cecil L'Estrange Malone
Cecil John L'Estrange Malone was Britain's first communist member of the House of Commons.-Early years:Born in Dalton Holme, Yorkshire on 7 September 1890, a rector's son, he joined the Royal Navy in 1905 and attended the Royal Naval College at Devonport. In 1912 he learned to fly and gained his...

 commented following his participation in the Cuxhaven Raid
Cuxhaven Raid
The Cuxhaven Raid was a British ship-based air-raid on the German naval forces at Cuxhaven mounted on Christmas Day, 1914.Aircraft of the Royal Naval Air Service were carried to within striking distance by seaplane tenders of the Royal Navy, supported by both surface ships and submarines...

 that "One can well imagine what might have been done had our seaplane
A seaplane is a fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are a subclass called amphibian aircraft...

s, or those which were sent out to attack us, carried torpedoes or light guns."

On August 12, 1915, a Short Type 184
Short Type 184
|-Manufacturers:Source: Barnes and James#Brush Electrical Engineering Co. Ltd. #Frederick Sage & Co. Ltd. #J. Samuel White #Mann, Egerton & Co. Ltd. #Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company #Robey & Co. Ltd. #S E Saunders Limited...

 piloted by Flight Commander Charles H. K. Edmonds from operating in the Aegean Sea
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

 took off with a 14 inches (355.6 mm), 810 pound torpedo to fly over land and sank a Turkish supply ship in the Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara
The Sea of Marmara , also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea, and in the context of classical antiquity as the Propontis , is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey's Asian and European parts. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Black...

. Five days later, a Turkish steamship was sunk by a torpedo aimed again by Edmonds. His formation mate, Flight Lieutenant G. B. Dacre, sank a Turkish tugboat
A tugboat is a boat that maneuvers vessels by pushing or towing them. Tugs move vessels that either should not move themselves, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal,or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, or oil platforms. Tugboats are powerful for...

 after being forced to land on the water with engine trouble. Dacre taxied
Taxiing refers to the movement of an aircraft on the ground, under its own power, in contrast to towing or push-back where the aircraft is moved by a tug...

 toward the tugboat, released his torpedo and was then able to take off and return to Ben-My-Chree. A limitation to using the Short more widely as a torpedo bomber was that it could only take off carrying a torpedo in conditions of perfect flying weather and calm seas, and, with that load, could only fly for a little more than 45 minutes before running out of fuel.

On May 1, 1917, a German seaplane loosed a torpedo and sank the 2784 LT British steamship Gena off Suffolk
Suffolk is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in East Anglia, England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east...

. A second German seaplane was downed by gunfire from the sinking Gena. German torpedo bomber squadrons were subsequently assembled at Ostend
Ostend  is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. It comprises the boroughs of Mariakerke , Stene and Zandvoorde, and the city of Ostend proper – the largest on the Belgian coast....

 and Zeebrugge
Zeebrugge is a village on the coast of Belgium and a subdivision of Bruges, for which it is the modern port. Zeebrugge serves as both the international port of Bruges-Zeebrugge and a seafront resort with hotels, cafés, a marina and a beach.-Location:...

 for further action in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

. Later in 1917, the U.S. Navy began to perform trials using a 400 pound dummy torpedo which, in its first air drop, porpoised from the water back up in the air and almost hit the aircraft. Several British torpedo bombers were built, including the Sopwith Cuckoo
Sopwith Cuckoo
-See also:-References:*Davis, Mick. Sopwith Aircraft. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire: Crowood Press, 1999. ISBN 1-86126-217-5.*Layman, R.D. Naval Aviation In The First World War: Its Impact And Influence. London: Caxton, 2002. ISBN 1-84067-314-1....

, the Short Shirl
Short Shirl
|-The name:Shirl is not a common English word. The Oxford English Dictionary gives four meanings. Two of these, "shrill" and "rough", re hair are very old and seem to have fallen out of use in Elizabethan times. Two usages remained extant at the beginning of the 20th century: "a trimming" and a...

 and the Blackburn Blackburd
Blackburn Blackburd
|-See also:-External links:...

, but a squadron was assembled so late in the war that it achieved no successes.

Interwar years

The United States bought its first 10 torpedo bombers in 1921, variants of the Martin MB-1
Martin MB-1
-References:NotesBibliography* The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft . London: Orbis Publishing, 1985, p. 2419.* Andrade, John. U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909. Hinckley, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1979. ISBN 0-904597-22-9.* Swanborough, F.G and Peter M....

. The squadron of U.S. Navy and Marine fliers was based at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown
Naval Weapons Station Yorktown
Naval Weapons Station Yorktown is a United States Navy base in York County, James City County, and Newport News in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia...

. General Billy Mitchell suggested arming the torpedo bombers with live warheads as part of Project B (the anti-ship bombing demonstration) but the Navy was only curious about aerial bomb damage effects. Instead, a trial using dummy heads on the torpedoes was carried out against a foursome of battleships steaming at 17 knots. The torpedo bombers scored well.

In 1931, the Japanese Navy developed the Type 91 torpedo
Type 91 torpedo
The Type 91 was an aerial torpedo of the Imperial Japanese Navy which was designed to be launched from an aircraft. It was used in the naval battles of carrier task forces in World War II.The Type 91 aerial torpedo rev.2 won the admiration of the world...

, intended to be dropped by a torpedo bomber
Torpedo bomber
A torpedo bomber is a bomber aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with aerial torpedoes which could also carry out conventional bombings. Torpedo bombers existed almost exclusively prior to and during World War II when they were an important element in many famous battles, notably the...

 from a height of 330 foot and a speed of 100 knot. In 1936, the torpedo was given wooden attachments to the tail to increase its aerodynamic qualities—these attachments were shed upon hitting the water. By 1937, with the addition of a breakaway wooden damper at the nose, the torpedo could be dropped from 660 foot and a speed of 120 knot. Tactical doctrine determined in 1938 that the Type 91 aerial torpedo should be released at a distance of 3300 foot from the target. As well, the Japanese Navy developed night attack and massed day attack doctrine, and coordinated aerial torpedo attacks between land- and carrier-based torpedo bombers.

The Japanese divided their bomber squadrons into two groups so as to attack an enemy battleship from both frontal quarters and make it extremely unlikely for it to be able to avoid the torpedoes by maneuvering, and more difficult for it to direct anti-aircraft fire at the bombers. Even so, Japanese tactical experts predicted that, against a battleship, the attacking force would be able to score hits at a rate of only one-third that observed during peacetime exercises.

Beginning in 1925, the United States began designing a special torpedo for purely aerial operations. The project was discontinued and revived several times, and finally resulted in the Mark 13 torpedo
Mark 13 torpedo
The Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 torpedo was the U.S. Navy's most common aerial torpedo of World War II. It was designed with unusually squat dimensions for its type: diameter was and length . In the water, the Mark 13 could reach a speed of for up to . The Mark 13 ran slower than the Mark 14 torpedo...

 which went into service in 1935. The Mark 13 differed from aerial torpedoes used by other nations in that it was wider and shorter. It was slower than its competitors but it had longer range. The weapon was released by an aircraft traveling lower and slower (50 feet (15 m) high, 110 knot than its Japanese contemporary.

World War II

On the night of November 11–12, 1940, Swordfish
Fairey Swordfish
The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War...

 biplane torpedo bombers of the British Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 sank three Italian battleships at the Battle of Taranto
Battle of Taranto
The naval Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11–12 November 1940 during the Second World War. The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, flying a small number of obsolescent biplane torpedo bombers from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea...

 using a combination of torpedoes and bombs. In the course of the chase of the German battleship Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

 torpedo strikes were attempted in very bad seas, and one of these damaged her rudder allowing the British fleet to catch her. The standard British airborne torpedo for the first half of World War II was the Mark XII, an 18 inches (457.2 mm) model weighing 1548 pounds (702.2 kg) with an explosive charge of 388 pounds (176 kg) of trinitrotoluene (TNT).

German aerial torpedo development lagged behind other belligerents—a continuation of neglect of the category during the 1930s. At the beginning of World War II, Germany was making only five aerial torpedoes per month, and half were failing in air-drop exercises. Instead, Italian aerial torpedoes made by Fiume were purchased, with 1,000 eventually delivered.

In August 1941, Japanese aviators were practicing dropping torpedoes in the shallow waters of Kagoshima Bay
Kagoshima Bay
is a deep inlet on the coast of Japan.Kagoshima Bay is on the south coast of the island of Kyūshū. The port city of Kagoshima and its well-protected harbor lie on the bays western coast....

, testing improvements in the Type 91 torpedo and developing tactics for the attack of ships in harbor. They discovered that the Nakajima B5N
Nakajima B5N
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Bridgwater, H.C. and Peter Scott. Combat Colours Number 4: Pearl Harbor and Beyond, December 1941 to May 1942. Luton, Bedfordshire, UK: Guideline Publications, 2001. ISBN 0-9539040-6-7....

 torpedo bomber could fly 160 knots (87 m/s), faster than expected, without the torpedoes striking the bottom of the bay 100 foot down. On December 7, 1941, the leading wave—40 B5N torpedo bombers—used the tactic to score more than 15 hits during the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...


In April 1942, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 made the production of aerial torpedoes a German priority, and the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

took the task over from the Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

. The quantity of available aerial torpedoes outstripped usage within a year, and an excess of aerial torpedoes were on hand at the end of the war. From 1942 to late 1944, about 4,000 aerial torpedoes were used, but some 10,000 were manufactured during the whole war. Torpedo bombers were modified Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

 and Junkers Ju 88
Junkers Ju 88
The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junkers' company through the services of two American aviation engineers in the mid-1930s, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early...

 aircraft, but the Focke-Wulf Fw 190
Focke-Wulf Fw 190
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger was a German Second World War single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank in the late 1930s. Powered by a radial engine, the 190 had ample power and was able to lift larger loads than its well-known counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf 109...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

 was successfully tested as a delivery system.

The Mark 13 torpedo was the main American aerial torpedo, yet it was not perfected until after 1943 when tests showed that it performed satisfactorily in only 33 of 105 drops made from aircraft traveling faster than 150 knot. Like the Japanese Type 91, the Mark 13 was subsequently fitted with a wooden nose covering and a wooden tail ring, both of which sheared off when it struck the water. The wooden shrouds slowed it and helped it retain its targeting direction through the duration of the air drop. The nose covering absorbed enough of the kinetic energy from the torpedo hitting the water that recommended aircraft height and speed were greatly increased to 2400 feet (732 m) high at 410 knot.

In 1941, development began in the United States on the FIDO, an electric-powered air-dropped acoustic homing torpedo intended for anti-submarine use. In the United Kingdom, the standard airborne torpedo was strengthened for higher aircraft speeds to become the Mark XV, followed by the Mark XVII. For carrier aircraft, the explosive charge remained 388 pounds (176 kg) of TNT until later in the war when it was increased to 432.5 pounds (196.2 kg) of the more powerful Torpex
Torpex is a secondary explosive 50% more powerful than TNT by mass. Torpex is composed of 42% RDX, 40% TNT and 18% powdered aluminium. It was used in the Second World War from late 1942. The name is short for Torpedo Explosive', having been originally developed for use in torpedoes...


During World War II, U.S. carrier-based torpedo bombers made 1,287 attacks against ships, 65% against warships, and scored hits 40% of the time. However, the low, slow approach required for torpedo bombing made the bombers easy targets for defended ships; during the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, for example, virtually all of the American torpedo bombers were shot down.

Korean War

After World War II, anti-aircraft defenses were sufficiently improved to render aerial torpedo attacks suicidal. Lightweight aerial torpedoes were disposed or adapted to small attack boat usage. The only significant employment of aerial torpedoes was in anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....


During the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 the United States Navy successfully disabled the Hwacheon Dam
Hwacheon Dam
Hwacheon Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the North Han River in Hwacheon County, Gangwon-do Province, South Korea. The dam was completed in 1944 as a primary source of electricity in South Korea...

 with aerial torpedoes launched from A-1 Skyraiders.

Modern weapons

Since the advent of practical anti-ship missiles technology, aerial torpedoes have largely been reduced to use in anti-submarine warfare. Missiles are generally much faster, with longer range and do not have the same launch altitude limitation of aerial torpedoes. Some modern aerial anti-submarine torpedoes do have the necessary guidance
Guidance may refer to:*Guidance *Guidance system*Guidance Solutions, an eCommerce development company*"Guidance", an episode of Death Note...

 capability to engage surface vessels, though given the widespread availability of missiles on aircraft and the small, specialized warhead on anti-submarine aerial torpedoes, this is not an option normally considered.

At the peak of the Falklands war
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, however, the Argentine Air Force
Argentine Air Force
The Argentine Air Force is the national aviation branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic. , it had 14,606 military and 6,854 civilian staff.-History:...

, in collaboration with the Navy
Argentine Navy
The Navy of the Argentine Republic or Armada of the Argentine Republic is the navy of Argentina. It is one of the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, together with the Army and the Air Force....

, outfitted an FMA IA 58 Pucará
FMA IA 58 Pucará
The FMA IA 58 Pucará is an Argentine ground-attack and counter-insurgency aircraft. It is a low-wing two-turboprop-engined all-metal monoplane with retractable landing gear, manufactured by the Fábrica Militar de Aviones.-Development:...

 prototype, AX-04, with pylons to mount Mark 13 torpedoes. The aim was the possible production of Pucaras as torpedo-carrying aircraft to enhance the anti-ship capabilities of the Argentine air forces. Several trials were performed off Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn is a city in the province of Chubut in the Argentine Patagonia. It is the head town of the Viedma Department, and has about 57,571 inhabitants according to the last census in 2001....

, but the war was over before the technicians could evaluate the feasibility of the project.

As a result of the loss of the role of anti-shipping aerial torpedo in modern naval doctrine, true torpedo bomber
Torpedo bomber
A torpedo bomber is a bomber aircraft designed primarily to attack ships with aerial torpedoes which could also carry out conventional bombings. Torpedo bombers existed almost exclusively prior to and during World War II when they were an important element in many famous battles, notably the...

 units no longer exist in modern armed forces. The most common platform for aerial torpedoes today is the ship-borne anti-submarine helicopter, followed by fixed-wing anti-submarine aircraft such as the American P-3 Orion
P-3 Orion
The Lockheed P-3 Orion is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft developed for the United States Navy and introduced in the 1960s. Lockheed based it on the L-188 Electra commercial airliner. The aircraft is easily recognizable by its distinctive tail stinger or...


The caveat
Caveat , the third-person singular present subjunctive of the Latin cavere, means "warning" ; it can be shorthand for Latin phrases such as:...

 to the above are torpedoes delivered by missiles/rocket systems, designed for anti-submarine warfare. Some designs are a straightforward mating of a rocket-propulsion system to the torpedo with a purely ballistic attack profile, such as the American ASROC
ASROC is an all-weather, all sea-conditions anti-submarine missile system. Developed by the United States Navy in the 1950s, it was deployed in the 1960s, updated in the 1990s, and eventually installed on over 200 USN surface ships, specifically cruisers, destroyers, and frigates...

. More complex, aerial drone-based system with autopilot
An autopilot is a mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being. An autopilot can refer specifically to aircraft, self-steering gear for boats, or auto guidance of space craft and missiles...

 have also been deployed, such as the Australian Ikara
Ikara (missile)
The Ikara missile was an Australian ship-launched anti-submarine missile, named after an Australian Aboriginal word for "throwing stick". It launched an acoustic torpedo to a range of , allowing fast-reaction attacks against submarines at ranges that would otherwise require the launching ship to...

. Most such systems are designed to be deployed from surface ships, though exceptions exist such as the Soviet navy
Soviet Navy
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean...

 RPK-2 Viyuga which can be launched from both surface ships and submarines.

Given the relatively soft
Soft target
Soft target is a military term referring to unarmored/undefended targets needing to be destroyed. For example, a soft target would be an automobile, a house, or assembly of people while a hard target could be a main battle tank or a well defended installation...

 nature of submarines, modern anti-submarine aerial torpedoes are much smaller than anti-ship aerial torpedoes of the past, and often classified as light weight torpedoes. They are also often of cross-platform design, able to be deployed from both aircraft and surface ships. Examples include the American Mark 46
Mark 46
The designation Mark 46 can refer to:* Mark 46 machine gun, lighter weight version of the M249 machine gun* Mk 46 nuclear bomb* Mark 46 torpedo...

, Mark 50 and Mark 54 torpedoes. There are few if any aerial torpedo designs that are also used by submarines, owing to the significantly reduced size and thus capability of aerial torpedoes compared with their full-sized submarine counterparts such as the American Mark 48 torpedo
Mark 48 torpedo
The Mark 48 and its improved ADCAP variant are heavyweight submarine-launched torpedoes. They were designed to sink fast, deep-diving nuclear-powered submarines and high-performance surface ships.-History:...


External links

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