Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/737

This page needs to be proofread.

Popular Sn'cnrr Moittlili/


���Should an invasion of the United States be attempted Uie first troopship to appear on the horizon would be immediately attacked from all directions by the mosquito fleet

��A modern torpedo is nineteen feet long and twenty-one inches in diameter, and it weighs over a ton. Obviously it can- not be carried on the deck of a small motor boat, or in an overboard tube. Accordingly I have devised a method of attaching torpedoes to the hull itself, one along each side of the keel. Thus sup- ported the torpedoes neither add nor subtract from the weight of the vessel; for the torpedoes have neither positive nor negative buo\ancy. There may be a slight reduction in speed; but that disad\antage is far outweighed by the fonnidable character of the weapon carried. No launching machinery is required; the mere starting of the torpedo-propeling machinery is enough for launching. The torpedo is so sus- pended that it can be dropped off, what- ever may be the speed of the vessel. Still more important, the torpedoes are launched with the motor boat bow on, thus facilitating fire-control. The motor boat need only be pointed at its target; a torpedo launched from a deck-tube, athwartship, as on a torpedo-boat de- stroyer, may miss its mark l)ecause of a hea\y roll. To be sure a motor boat will pitch; but pitching is never so marked as rolling and is more easily allowed for.

But is it not dangerous to earn,- torpedoes in this way? May not the motor boat be blown u|) by its own weapons? Rare experience convinces me that so long as the pistols in the war- heads of the torpedoes are locked (and the^• will be unlocked onlv when the

��tc^rpedo is to lie lired) there is no danger. A warhead, e\en though it is filled with five hundred pounds of guncotton can withstand a severe shock.

At interv^als of about one hundred miles along our coast stations would be maintained for ten or fifteen motor boats.

Hmc the Motor Torpedo Boats Would Defend Us

Imagine, now, an attempt to in\ade the United States. Two hundred miles at sea our fleet is engaging the enemy's battleships in an effort to stop him from reaching our .shores. The outcome of the battle is at least doubtful. Mean- while his transports steam on. A motor scout sees them. At once the wireless telegraphic key of a radio operator Hashes to the nearest boat station the number of the transports and their bearing. The news is wired from station to station. A verilal)le swarm of motor torpedo boats sets out. Their com- mander employs regulation torpedo- boat tactics; a dozen boats are sent against a single vessel; one at least will strike a telling blow. The boats lie low; they are difficult to hit. The enemy's transports, on the other hand, are large and \ery distinct. Moreo\er, the range is a mile and a half. The pistols in the war heads are set. A half dozen tor- pedoes are launched at once against the broadside of the transport. There is the thunrler of an explosion; a troopship dJN'es head foremost into the waves; tliree regiments perish.

�� �