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those damn torpedoes

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by rusty bubbles, May 29, 2011.

  1. rusty bubbles

    rusty bubbles Well-Known Member

    Been wracking my brain-about those Confederate torpedoes/sea mines.

    Please, you mines of information-do tell how they worked-

    Obviously-black powder filled,and in water-tight containers -but how was it

    ignited-sometimes only by a ship scraping alongside it?

    I've immagined all kinds of complicated percussion strikers, and hair triggers

    etc.,-but I just know I'm way out...

    I would appreciate your kind information.

    rusty b
  2. SDC

    SDC Well-Known Member

    Since these were actually what we would call "mines" today, figuring out a way to fuze them was a major problem at the time; there were patents issued for all sorts of command-detonated mines, using quickmatches or even water-proofed electrical lines (the same as used in mining and blasting), but these required someone to watch and set them off at the proper time. Others were just barrels with a slow match that was lit and set adrift, hopefully in a current flowing towards a flotilla of enemy ships. The earliest "set and forget" mines apparently worked like a flintlock or percussion pistol with a hair-trigger, where if the mine was jostled or bumped, it would cause a weight to fall out of a shallow cup, thereby pulling the "trigger" to fire a primer or percussion cap, which fired a booster, which fired the main charge. These would have been as dangerous to the crew setting them as to anyone else, so they didn't last long. The next idea was simply a series of caps under waterproofed thin copper shields, that could be crushed when a ship hit the mine, but these were likewise pretty dangerous to handle and set, so it wasn't until electrical/chemical-activated mines were developed at the end of the 1800s that they really became an effective sort of weapon.
  3. rusty bubbles

    rusty bubbles Well-Known Member

    Thanks, SDC-for your reply-must have been real scary setting out those mothers-in a small boat and a swell-

    rusty b

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