Mark 14 torpedo
The Mark 14 torpedo was 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...

's standard submarine-launched anti-ship 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...

 of 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...


This weapon was plagued with many problems which crippled its performance early in the war, and was supplemented by the Mark 18
Mark 18 torpedo
The Mark 18 torpedo was an electric torpedo used by the US Navy during World War II.The Mark 18 was built in competition to the Bureau of Ordnance electric torpedoes, which had been in development at the Newport Torpedo Station , Newport, Rhode Island, since the 1920s, in particular the Mark II,...

 electric torpedo in the last 2 years of the war. Nonetheless, the Mark 14 played a major role in the devastating blow US Navy submarines dealt to the Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese naval and merchant marine forces during the Pacific War
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...


By the end of World War II, the Mark 14 torpedo was a reliable weapon which remained in service for almost 40 years in the US Navy, and even longer with other navies.


The Mark 14 was designed in 1930 to serve in the new "fleet" submarines, replacing the Mark 10
Mark 10 torpedo
The Mark 10 was a torpedo first put into use by the United States in 1915 and was used as the primary torpedo in the S-class submarine. It used alcohol-water steam propulsion. It was succeeded by the problematic Mark 14 torpedo, but remained in service in S-boats & fleet submarines through the...

 which had been in service since 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...

 and was standard in the older S-boat
United States S class submarine
The United States' S-class submarines, often simply called S-boats , were the first class of submarines built to a United States Navy design....

s. Although the same diameter, the Mark 14 was longer, at 20 inch, and therefore incompatible with older submarines' 15 inch torpedo tube
Torpedo tube
A torpedo tube is a device for launching torpedoes. There are two main types of torpedo tube: underwater tubes fitted to submarines and some surface ships, and deck-mounted units installed aboard surface vessels...


The Mark 14 was designed at the Newport Torpedo Station (NTS), Newport
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

, beginning in 1922 under the direction of Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Ralph Waldo Christie
Ralph Waldo Christie
Ralph Waldo Christie was an admiral in the United States Navy who played a pivotal role in the development of torpedo technologies...

. It had a fairly small warhead and was intended to explode beneath the keel
In boats and ships, keel can refer to either of two parts: a structural element, or a hydrodynamic element. These parts overlap. As the laying down of the keel is the initial step in construction of a ship, in British and American shipbuilding traditions the construction is dated from this event...

 where there was no armor. This required the sophisticated new Mark VI magnetic influence exploder, which was similar to the British Duplex and German models, all inspired by German magnetic mines of World War I. The Mark VI was intended to fire the warhead some distance below the ship, creating a huge gas bubble which would cause the keel to fail catastrophically.

The Mark VI exploder, designated Project G53, was developed "behind the tightest veil of secrecy the Navy had ever created." Small quantities were produced in extreme secrecy, and at a high cost of US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

10,000 per unit, by General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

 in Schenectady
Schenectady, New York
Schenectady is a city in Schenectady County, New York, United States, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 66,135...

. The exploder was tested at the Newport lab and in a small field test aboard USS Raleigh
USS Raleigh (CL-7)
USS Raleigh was an Omaha-class light cruiser of the United States Navy. She was the third Navy ship named for the city of Raleigh, North Carolina....

. At Christie's urging, equatorial tests were later conducted with Indianapolis
USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
USS Indianapolis was a of the United States Navy. She holds a place in history due to the circumstances of her sinking, which led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy...

, which fired one hundred trial shots between 10oN and 10oS and collected 7000 readings. Inexplicably, no live fire trial was ever done. Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
The Chief of Naval Operations is a statutory office held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy...

 William V. Pratt offered the hulk
Hulk (ship)
A hulk is a ship that is afloat, but incapable of going to sea. Although sometimes used to describe a ship that has been launched but not completed, the term most often refers to an old ship that has had its rigging or internal equipment removed, retaining only its flotational qualities...

 of Cassin
USS Cassin (DD-43)
The first USS Cassin was the lead ship of her class of destroyers in the United States Navy during World War I. She was later transferred to the United States Coast Guard, where she was designated CG-1...

-class destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

USS Ericsson (DD-56)
USS Ericsson was an built for the United States Navy prior to the American entry into World War I. The ship was the second U.S...

, but prohibited the use of a live warhead, and insisted the Bureau of Ordnance
Bureau of Ordnance
The Bureau of Ordnance was the U.S. Navy's organization responsible for the procurement, storage, and deployment of all naval ordnance, between the years 1862 and 1959.-History:...

 (commonly called BuOrd) pay the cost of refloating her if she was hit in error. These were strange restrictions as Ericsson was due to be scrapped. BuOrd declined. A service manual for the exploder "was written--but, for security reasons, not printed—and locked in a safe."

In 1923, Congress made NTS Newport the sole designer, developer, builder and tester of torpedoes in the United States. No independent or competing group was assigned to verify the results of Mark 14 tests. NTS produced only 1½ torpedoes a day in 1937, despite having three shifts of three thousand workers working around the clock. Production facilities were at capacity and there was no room for expansion. Only two thousand submarine torpedoes were built by all three Navy factories in 1942. This exacerbated torpedo shortages; the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force had fired 1,442 torpedoes since war began.


The Mark 14 was central to the torpedo scandal of the US Pacific Fleet Submarine Force during World War II. Due to inadequate Depression-era peacetime testing of this torpedo and its Mark VI exploder, it had defects that tended to mask each other. Indeed, much of the blame commonly attached to the Mark 14 correctly belongs to the Mark VI exploder. These defects, in the course of fully twenty months of war, were exposed, as torpedo after torpedo either missed, prematurely exploded, or struck targets (sometimes with an audible clang) and failed to explode.

Responsibility lies with the BuOrd, which specified an unrealistically rigid magnetic exploder sensitivity setting and oversaw the feeble testing program. Additional responsibility must be assigned to the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, which cut critical funding to the Navy during the interwar years, and to NTS, which inadequately performed the very few tests made. BuOrd failed to assign a second naval facility for testing, and failed to give Newport adequate direction.

Early suspicions

On 24 December 1941, Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 Tyrell Dwight Jacobs in Sargo
USS Sargo (SS-188)
USS Sargo , the lead ship of her class of submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the sargo.Her keel was laid on 12 May 1937 by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 6 June 1938 sponsored by Mrs. Chester W. Nimitz , and commissioned on...

 fired a total of eight torpedoes at two different ships, with no results, and had become very frustrated; when two additional merchantmen came in view, he took extra pains to get it right, pursuing for fifty-seven minutes and making certain TDC
Torpedo Data Computer
The Torpedo Data Computer was an early electromechanical analog computer used for torpedo fire-control on American submarines during World War II . Britain, Germany, and Japan also developed automated torpedo fire control equipment, but none were as advanced as US Navy's TDC...

 bearings matched perfectly before firing two torpedoes at each ship, at an average of 1000 yd (914.4 m), very close range. All missed.

A few days after he discovered the torpedoes were running too deep, and corrected the problem, Jacobs detected a big, slow tanker. Again, his approach was meticulous, firing one torpedo at a close 1200 yd (1,097.3 m). It missed. In exasperation, Jacobs signalled headquarters, questioning the Mark 14's reliability on an open radio circuit. In six attacks, he had fired thirteen torpedoes; all had failed to function correctly.

A similar experience was had by Pete Ferrall in Seadragon
USS Seadragon (SS-194)
USS Seadragon , a Sargo-class submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the seadragon.Her keel was laid on 18 April 1938 by the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut. She was christened and launched on 21 April 1939, sponsored by Mrs. J.O...

, who fired eight fish for only one hit, and began to suspect the Mark 14 was faulty.

Uniquely, Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander...

 John A. Scott in Tunny
USS Tunny (SS-282)
The USS Tunny was a Gato-class submarine which saw service in World War II and in the Vietnam War. Tunny received nine battle stars and two Presidential Unit Citations for her World War II service and five battle stars for her operations during the Vietnam War.Tunny was the first submarine of the...

 on 9 April 1943 found himself in an ideal position to attack aircraft carriers Hiyo
Japanese aircraft carrier Hiyo
Hiyō was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Begun as an ocean liner in 1939, she was purchased by the Navy Ministry in 1941 for conversion to an aircraft carrier...

, Junyo
Japanese aircraft carrier Junyo
was a of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was laid down at Nagasaki as the passenger liner Kashiwara Maru, but was purchased by the Japanese Navy in 1941 and converted to an aircraft carrier. Completed in May 1942, the ship participated in the invasion of the Aleutian Islands the following month...

, and Taiyo
Japanese aircraft carrier Taiyo
Taiyō was the lead ship of Taiyō-class of escort carrier operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II.-Construction and Conversion:...

. From only 880 yd (804.7 m), he fired all ten tubes, hearing all four stern shots and three of the bow's six explode. No enemy carrier was seen to diminish its speed, though Taiyo was slightly damaged in the attack. Much later, intelligence reported each of the seven explosions had been premature; the torpedoes had run true but the magnetic feature had fired them too early.

Dan Daspit (in Tinosa
USS Tinosa (SS-283)
USS Tinosa , a , was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tinosa, a poisonous, black, tropical fish.The first Tinosa was laid down on 21 February 1942 at Vallejo, California, by the Mare Island Navy Yard; launched on 7 October 1942; sponsored by Mrs. William E. Molloy; and...

) carefully documented his efforts to sink 19,000 ton whale factory ship
Factory ship
A factory ship, also known as a fish processing vessel, is a large ocean-going vessel with extensive on-board facilities for processing and freezing caught fish...

 Tonan Maru III on 24 July 1943. He fired four torpedoes from 4000 yd (3,657.6 m); two hit, stopping the target dead in the water. Daspit immediately fired another two; these hit as well. With no enemy anti-submarine combatants in sight, Daspit then took time to carefully maneuver into a textbook firing position, 875 yd (800.1 m) square off the target's beam, where he fired nine more Mark 14s and observed all with his periscope (despite the Japanese firing at it). All were duds. Daspit, suspicious by now he was working with a faulty production run of Mark 14s, saved his last remaining torpedo to be analyzed by experts back at base. Nothing out of the ordinary was found.

At Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

, despite nearly all his skippers' suspicions about the torpedoes, Admiral Thomas Withers refused to deactivate the Mark VI, arguing torpedo shortages stemming from inadequate production at NTS made it impossible. As a result, his men did it on their own, doctoring their patrol reports and overstating the size of ships to justify using more torpedoes. Only in May 1943, after the most famous skipper in the Sub Force, Dudley W. "Mush" Morton
Dudley W. Morton
Dudley Walker Morton was a submarine commander of the United States Navy during World War II. He was commander of during its third through seventh patrols. Wahoo was one of the most-celebrated submarines of World War II, sinking at least 19 Japanese ships, more than any other submarine of the time...

, turned in a dry patrol, did Admiral Charles Lockwood
Charles Lockwood
Charles Lockwood may refer to:* Charles A. Lockwood , United States Navy admiral* Charles Barrett Lockwood , British surgeon and anatomist* Charles Lockwood...

, Commander Submarine Force Pacific (COMSUBPAC), accept the Mark VI should be deactivated, but waited to see if Bureau of Ordinance commander Admiral William "Spike" Blandy
William H. P. Blandy
William Henry Purnell Blandy , known to friends as "Spike", was an admiral in the United States Navy during World War II.-Biography:...

 might find a fix for the problem. The Bureau of Ordinance sent an expert to Surabaja to investigate, who actually sabotaged one of Sargos trial torpedoes by turning the gyro backwards, causing it to run improperly. Though he found nothing wrong with maintenance or procedures, he submitted a report laying all the blame on the crew.


The Mark 14 had four major flaws.
  • It tended to run about 10 feet (3 m) deeper than set.
  • The magnetic exploder
    Magnetic pistol
    Magnetic pistol is the term for the device on a torpedo or naval mine that detects its target by its magnetic field, and triggers the fuse for detonation...

     often caused premature firing.
  • The contact exploder often failed to fire the warhead.
  • It tended to run "circular", failing to straighten its run once set on its prescribed gyro-angle setting, and instead, to run in a large circle, thus returning to strike the firing ship.

Running too deep

The torpedo tended to run some ten feet (3 meters) too deep for two reasons. The first was that it was never tested with the correct mass density in its warhead. A concrete dummy warhead was used to set the depth during development of the weapon. The dummy warhead was lighter than the wartime load. Additionally, the depth mechanism was designed prior to the warhead's charge being increased, making the torpedo heavier overall. Also, two depth testing devices used by NTS to verify results were both off by the same amount in the same direction, which compounded the problem. After hearing of the problem, most submarine skippers simply set their torpedoes running depth to zero, risking a broach. By August 1942, the faulty running depth situation was in hand and submarines were getting more hits with the Mark 14. Ironically, curing the deep-running problem caused more prematures and duds, now that hits were being achieved. The number of sinkings did not rise.

Premature explosions

Many submarine commanders in the first two years of the war reported explosions of the warhead with little to no damage of the enemy. The magnetic exploders were triggering prematurely, before getting close enough to the vessel to destroy it. Earth's magnetic field near NTS, where the trials (limited as they were) were conducted, differed from the areas where the fighting was taking place.


Early reports of torpedo action included some dud hits, heard as a dull clang. In a few instances, Mark 14s would strike a Japanese ship and lodge in its hull without exploding. The contact pistol appeared to be malfunctioning, though the conclusion was anything but clear until running depth and magnetic exploder problems were solved. Daspit's experience was exactly the sort of live-fire trial BuOrd had been prevented from doing in peacetime. It was now clear to all at Pearl Harbor the contact pistol was also defective.


There were numerous reports of the Mark 14 running erratically and circling back on the firing boat. This sank at least one submarine, Tullibee
USS Tullibee (SS-284)
USS Tullibee , a , was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tullibee, a whitefish of central and northern North America. Her keel was laid down on April 1, 1942 at Mare Island, California, by the Mare Island Navy Yard. She was launched on November 11, 1942 sponsored by Mrs....

, for certain. Likewise Sargo
USS Sargo (SS-188)
USS Sargo , the lead ship of her class of submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the sargo.Her keel was laid on 12 May 1937 by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 6 June 1938 sponsored by Mrs. Chester W. Nimitz , and commissioned on...

 was almost sunk by a circular. The Mark 15 torpedo
Mark 15 torpedo
The standard U.S. destroyer-launched torpedo of World War II, the Mark 15 was very similar in design to the Mark 14 torpedo except that it was longer, lighter, and had longer range and larger warhead. 9,700 were produced during the war....

 had collars to prevent circular runs, but the Mark 14 was never given this feature.


Against orders, some submariners disabled the magnetic feature of the Mark VI, suspecting it was faulty. An increase in hits was reported. Shortly after replacing Wilkes in Fremantle, newly minted Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

 Charles Lockwood
Charles A. Lockwood
Charles Andrews Lockwood was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is known in submarine history as the legendary commander of Submarine Force Pacific Fleet during World War II...

 ordered a historic net test at Frenchman's Bay on 20 June 1942. Eight hundred torpedoes had already been fired in anger, more than a year's production from NTS.

Jim Coe's Skipjack
USS Skipjack (SS-184)
USS Skipjack , a Salmon-class submarine, wasthe second ship of the United States Navy to be named after the fish. Her keel was laid down by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut, on 22 July 1936...

 did the honors, firing a single fish with an exercise head, set at 10 feet (3m), from 850 yards (777.2 m). It hit the net at a depth of 25 ft (7.6 m). Not satisfied, James Fife, Jr.
James Fife, Jr.
Admiral James Fife, Jr. was a United States Navy admiral who was promoted to four star rank after retirement as a "tombstone admiral".-Biography:...

 (formerly Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff
The title, chief of staff, identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a Principal Staff Officer , who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide to an important individual, such as a president.In general, a chief of...

 to COMSUBAS John E. Wilkes
John E. Wilkes
John E. Wilkes was a vice admiral in the United States Navy, who served in World War I and World War II. In December 1941 he was appointed Commander of Submarines, Asiatic Fleet. In 1944 Wilkes was commander of all ports in Northern Europe. From 1945 to 1951 he was the chief U.S. Naval Officer in...

, who Lockwood was replacing in Perth
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

Fremantle, Western Australia
Fremantle is a city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829...

) followed up the next day with two more test shots; Fife concluded they ran an average 11 ft (3.4 m) deeper than the depth at which they were set. BuOrd was not amused. Neither was Admiral King, who "lit a blowtorch under the Bureau of Ordnance". The fact destroyer Mark 15 torpedo
Mark 15 torpedo
The standard U.S. destroyer-launched torpedo of World War II, the Mark 15 was very similar in design to the Mark 14 torpedo except that it was longer, lighter, and had longer range and larger warhead. 9,700 were produced during the war....

es were suffering the same failures may have had something to do with it as well. On 1 August 1942, BuOrd finally conceded the Mark 14 ran deep, and six weeks later, "that its depth-control mechanism had been 'improperly designed and tested'". This satisfied Lockwood and Robert H. English
Robert Henry English
Robert Henry English was a United States Navy Commissioned officer who commanded the U.S. Navy's submarine force in the Pacific Ocean early in World War II....

Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet is the principal advisor to the Commander, United States Pacific Fleet for submarine matters. The Pacific Submarine Force includes attack, ballistic missile and auxiliary submarines, submarine tenders, floating submarine docks, deep submergence...

), who refused to believe the Mark VI could also be defective.

Finally, in July 1943, Admiral Lockwood ordered his boats to deactivate the Mark VI magnetic influence exploder and use only its contact pistol.

Tests were carried out by COMSUBPAC's gunnery and torpedo officer, Art Taylor
Art Taylor
Arthur S. Taylor, Jr. was an American jazz drummer of the hard bop school.After playing in the bands of Howard McGhee, Coleman Hawkins, Buddy DeFranco, Bud Powell, and George Wallington from 1948 to 1957, he formed his own group, the Wailers...

USS Haddock (SS-231)
, a Gato-class submarine, was the second submarine of the United States Navy to be named for the haddock, a small edible Atlantic fish, related to the cod...

). Taylor, Swede Momsen
Charles Momsen
Charles Bowers Momsen , nicknamed "Swede", was born in Flushing, New York. He was an American pioneer in submarine rescue for the United States Navy, and he invented the underwater escape device later called the "Momsen lung", for which he received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1929...

, and others fired warshots from Muskallunge
USS Muskallunge (SS-262)
, a Gato-class submarine, was a ship of the United States Navy named for the muskallunge, a fish of the pike family found in the upper Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes region, and northward....

 into the cliffs of Kahoolawe
Kahoolawe is the smallest of the eight main volcanic islands in the Hawaiian Islands. Kahoolawe is located about seven miles southwest of Maui and also southeast of Lanai, and it is long by wide, with a total land area of . The highest point on Kahoolawe is the crater of Lua Makika at the...

, beginning 31 August. Their third test shot was a dud. This revealed the firing pin had not been able to contact the detonator hard enough to fire the warhead.

To avoid "shaking hands with St. Peter" (as Lockwood put it), E.A. Johnson, USNR
United States Navy Reserve
The United States Navy Reserve, until 2005 known as the United States Naval Reserve, is the Reserve Component of the United States Navy...

, supervised by Taylor, dropped dummy warheads filled with sand from a cherry picker
Cherry picker
A cherry picker , is a type of aerial work platform that consists of a platform or bucket at the end of a hydraulic lifting system.- Design :...

 raised to a height of 90 feet (27.4 m). In 7 out of 10 of these trials, firing mechanisms bent, jammed, and failed with the high inertia of a straight-on hit (the prewar ideal). A quick fix was to encourage "glancing" shots (which cut the number of duds in half), until a permanent solution could be found. Lightweight aluminum alloy (from propellers of downed Pearl Harbor attackers
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...

) was machined to take the place of the Mark VI's heavy pin block so inertial forces would be lower. Electrical switches, developed by Johnson, were tried as well. Both fixes worked and were relatively easy to implement. In September 1943, the first torpedoes with new contact pistols were sent to war. "After twenty-one months of war, the three major defects of the Mark 14 torpedo had at last been isolated....Each defect had been discovered and fixed in the field—always over the stubborn opposition of the Bureau of Ordnance."

Once remedied, sinkings of enemy ships rose noticeably. By the end of World War II the Mark 14 torpedo had become a much more reliable weapon. Lessons learned allowed surface ships such as destroyers to remedy the failings of the Mark 15; the two designs shared the same strengths and faults.

After the war, the best features of the improved Mark 14 were merged with the best features of captured German torpedoes to create the hydrogen peroxide-fueled Mark 16
Mark 16 torpedo
The Mark 16 torpedo was a redesign of the United States Navy standard Mark 14 torpedo to incorporate war-tested improvements for use in unmodified United States fleet submarines. The torpedo was considered the United States standard anti-shipping torpedo for twenty years; although significant...

 with a pattern-running option. The Mark 16 became the standard United States post-war anti-shipping torpedo, despite the large remaining inventory of Mark 14 torpedoes.


Official US Navy naming policy had settled on using Arabic instead of Roman numerals to designate torpedo models since the 1917 development of the Bliss-Leavitt Mark 4 torpedo. However, many instances exist of the Mark 14 being referred to as the "Mark XIV" (Roman style) in official documentation and reports as well as accounts by historians and observers.


  • Function: Anti-ship
  • Powerplant: Wet-heater combustion / steam turbine
    Steam turbine
    A steam turbine is a mechanical device that extracts thermal energy from pressurized steam, and converts it into rotary motion. Its modern manifestation was invented by Sir Charles Parsons in 1884....

     with compressed air tank
  • Fuel: Methanol
    Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH . It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol...

  • Length: 20 inch
  • Weight: 3280 lb (1,487.8 kg)
  • Diameter: 21 in (53.3 cm)
  • Range / Speed:
    • Low speed: 9,000 yards at 31 knots (8.23 km at 57.41 km/h)
    • High speed: 4,500 yards at 46 knots (4.12 km at 85.19 km/h)
  • Guidance System: Gyroscope
  • Warhead: 643 lb (291.7 kg) of 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...

  • Date Deployed: 1931
  • Date Withdrawn from service: 1975–1980
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