Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/708

This page needs to be proofread.


A Deadly Man-Steered Torpedo

Would you pilot five hundred pounds of gun-cotton toward a hostile battleship and brave gun-fire ?

���VVIrii the torpedu has bun icK.r.cd the weight of the conning tower section causes it to keel over, thus forming a kuid of canoe in which the pilot paddles back to his vessel

��THE modern Whitehead automobile torpedo is by far the most feared weapon of modern naval warfare. It is, in effect, a little automatic sub- marine lioat, with engines and rudders controlled by a mechanical brain. The soul of the torpedo is the gyroscopi — a flywheel spinning at se\eral thousand re\'(jlutions per minute. Unfortunately, this flywheel loses speed from the moment of launching. Modern naval bailies are fought at ranges of five to ten miles. The Whitehead torpedo is inaccurate at such distances, hitleed, in the whole history of naval warfare (he tor[)t'do has reached its target only at short ranges.

Among the plans which have been suggested for increasing the effectiveness of the tfjrpedo, jK-rhaps the most daring

��is that of providing it with a real brain and a real controlling hand in the shape of a man. Commander Davis of the United States Na%^-, designed a little vessel, some years ago, which was to contain a huge explosive charge and whi-h was to be guided by a super-bold mariner against a battleship amid a storm of bullets. That men will \i)lun- teer for such hazardous work recent wars have abundantly tlemonstrated. We have only to remember how the Merri- mac was sunk in the mouth of Santiago harbor, during the Spanish-American war, in the effort to imprison the Spanish ships belie\-ed to lie within. I)o/ens of men volunteered to block the channel uiuier the fire of Sjianish- guns. Hence, when Jacob S. Walch, of Walla Walla, Washington, suggests a torindo

��694

�� �