2010 The Torpedo

To many of us the the idea of a torpedo is that of a sweaty submarine, the commander peering through his periscope and announcing “fire”, and the torpedo whizzes through the water leaving a discernible foamy trail. The single hit is devastating. Whilst this has many elements of truth the Torpedo has a much longer history than the World War Two films we grew up with…

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  1. Michael Rancer

    To use an American bit of military slang, your latest podcast on the development of the torpedo, while generally very informative, really screwed the pooch on one important set of facts. In the podcast you state that 3 American aircraft carriers (Lexiington, Yorktown and Hornet) were sunk by 8 Japanese destroyers at the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Although I love your podcast for its usual great accuracy in research and presentation, in th this case, you could not have been further from the facts in several respects.

    First, there were no Japanese destroyers engaged at Pear Harbor. It was purely an air attack by carrier-based planes. Indeed it would have been impossible for Japanese destroyers to have even entered Pearl Harbor to make an attack.

    Second, purely by luck, there were no US carriers in port at the time of the attack. Hence, while several battleships were sunk, all three of the US Pacific Fleet carriers (Lexington, Saratoga and Enterprise) were at sea and not attacked. The Japanese inability to sink any carriers that day led directly to their own catastrophic defeat at Midway 6 months later.

    Third, of the three carriers you named, two (the Yorktown and the Hornet) were actually in the Atlantic on December 7.

    Finally, while all 3 of the carriers you named were indeed sunk at least in part by Japanese air and/or submarine torpedoes (as well as by dive bombers), their losses occurred months after Pearl Harbor:
    Lexington was sunk in May 1942 at the Battle of the Coral Sea.
    Yorktown was sunk in June 1942 at the Battle of Midway.
    Hornet was sunk in October 1942 at the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

    Love your podcasts, but disappointed by the above inaccuracies.

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