Spar torpedo

A spar torpedo is a weapon consisting of a bomb placed at the end of a long pole, or spar, and attached to a boat. The weapon is used by running the end of the spar into the enemy ship. Spar torpedoes were often equipped with a barbed spear at the end, so it would stick to wooden hulls. A fuse could then be used to detonate it.

Invention

The spar torpedo was invented during the American Civil War by E. C. Singer,Fact|date=June 2007 a private engineer who worked on secret projects for the benefit of the Confederate States of America (Singer was the nephew of Isaac Singer, inventor of the sewing machine). Singer's torpedo was detonated by means of a trigger mechanism adapted from a rifle lock (see flintlock mechanism for a similar device). The spring-loaded trigger was detonated by means of a long cord attached to the attacking vessel. The attacking vessel rammed its target, embedding the barbed torpedo in its hull, then backed off. When the attacker reached the limit of the trigger cord, the torpedo was detonated.

Use

The most famous use of a spar torpedo was on the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, which managed to sink the Union screw sloop USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864, although the Hunley was lost. Spar torpedoes were also used on the David-class of semi-submersible attack boats.

At night on October 27/28, 1864, Lieutenant Cushing employed a spar torpedo to sink the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Albemarle. Because the Confederate navy was tiny, the sinking of the "Albemarle" was the Union navy's only successful sinking of a Confederate vessel by torpedo. Lieutenant Cushing employed a spar torpedo designed by John Lay.

The innovative semi-submersible 1864 Union craft USS Spuyten Duyvil employed a spar torpedo, but not with a barbed attachment to the target. Owing to an innovative directable and extensible spar, this craft could release a slightly buoyant mine underneath the target, which would be exploded by the means described above. (This craft was not employed against Confederate targets, but was used to clear wreckage from rivers.)

Spar torpedoes were also used on small wooden launches in the late 19th century, although they were not very useful weapons. The locomotive torpedo (what we think of today as a torpedo) replaced the spar torpedo as a weapon for submarines and small boats in the 1870s.

Spar torpedoes were also massively used by the Russian and Romanian forces under viceadmiral Stepan Makarov during the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878. On May 13, 1877 (old style) , the Romanian craft Rindunica commanded by Ion Murgescu sunk the monitor "Duba Seyfi" on the Danube.


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  • Spar torpedo — Torpedo Tor*pe do, n.; pl. {Torpedoes}. [L. torpedo, inis, from torpere to be stiff, numb, or torpid. See {Torpid}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes belonging to {Torpedo} and allied genera. They… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spar torpedo — Spar Spar, n. [OE. sparre; akin to D. spar, G. sparren, OHG. sparro, Dan. & Sw. sparre, Icel. sparri; of uncertain origin. [root]171. Cf. {Spar}, v. t. ] 1. (Naut.) A general term any round piece of timber used as a mast, yard, boom, or gaff.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spar torpedo — noun : an explosive charge mounted on the end of a long spar and designed to be carried to a target by an attacking ship …   Useful english dictionary

  • Torpedo — Tor*pe do, n.; pl. {Torpedoes}. [L. torpedo, inis, from torpere to be stiff, numb, or torpid. See {Torpid}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes belonging to {Torpedo} and allied genera. They are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Torpedo boat — Torpedo Tor*pe do, n.; pl. {Torpedoes}. [L. torpedo, inis, from torpere to be stiff, numb, or torpid. See {Torpid}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes belonging to {Torpedo} and allied genera. They… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Torpedo nettings — Torpedo Tor*pe do, n.; pl. {Torpedoes}. [L. torpedo, inis, from torpere to be stiff, numb, or torpid. See {Torpid}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes belonging to {Torpedo} and allied genera. They… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Torpedo occidentalis — Torpedo Tor*pe do, n.; pl. {Torpedoes}. [L. torpedo, inis, from torpere to be stiff, numb, or torpid. See {Torpid}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes belonging to {Torpedo} and allied genera. They… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Torpedo vulgaris — Torpedo Tor*pe do, n.; pl. {Torpedoes}. [L. torpedo, inis, from torpere to be stiff, numb, or torpid. See {Torpid}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of elasmobranch fishes belonging to {Torpedo} and allied genera. They… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spar — Spar, n. [OE. sparre; akin to D. spar, G. sparren, OHG. sparro, Dan. & Sw. sparre, Icel. sparri; of uncertain origin. [root]171. Cf. {Spar}, v. t. ] 1. (Naut.) A general term any round piece of timber used as a mast, yard, boom, or gaff. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spar buoy — Spar Spar, n. [OE. sparre; akin to D. spar, G. sparren, OHG. sparro, Dan. & Sw. sparre, Icel. sparri; of uncertain origin. [root]171. Cf. {Spar}, v. t. ] 1. (Naut.) A general term any round piece of timber used as a mast, yard, boom, or gaff.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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