Torpedoes are the primary weapons of most submarines and anti-submarine warfare platforms. They are typically classified as being either lightweight (air dropped or rocket-delivered) or heavyweight (submarine or ship launched); with lightweight torpedoes carrying smaller warheads and having reduced range and endurance. Torpedoes primarily vary in their guidance mode and performance characteristics such as maximum depth, maximum speed and sensor performance. Torpedoes can be countered with acoustic countermeasures, decoys and even anti-torpedo torpedoes.
Lightweight vs Heavyweight
Torpedoes can be broadly classified as either lightweight or heavyweight; the primary distinction being not a particular weight but the mode of delivery, warhead and endurance. Lightweight torpedoes are designed to be delivered by aircraft or rocket, and typically have a warhead in the 40kg range. A lightweight torpedo is designed to be dropped very close to the target, and therefore has no wire guidance and frequently begins a programmed search pattern on entering the water. Lightweight torpedoes are typically ASW-only weapons with no ability to engage surface targets.
A heavyweight torpedo is typically fired from a submarine or surface ship and may have wire guidance. Compared to a lightweight torpedo a heavyweight torpedo will usually be much larger and have a warhead in the 300kg range. A heavyweight torpedo is designed to be launched from its firing platform and then travel to the target at high speed before acquiring the target and homing in on it (with the exception of WW2 era 'straight runners'). Heavyweight torpedoes tend to be dual purpose ASW and ASuW weapons, however some older types are clearly more suitable for one type of target than any others (e.g. the Mk 36 is able to outrun submarines of its era but is unlikely to catch up to a surface ship).
- Gyroscopic 'Straight Runner'
- Active sonar
- Passive sonar
- Magnetic influence
- Active/Passive combination
Submarine launched heavyweight torpedoes may be guided with a wire that connects them to their firing platform. This allows the firing platform to retain control over the torpedo, setting waypoints, changing speed and depth and even selecting a different target after launch.
In C:MANO when your submarine is using wire guidance the word 'WIRE' will appear below your submarine and its speed will be limited to 10kt. If the submarine is traveling at over 13kt on firing a torpedo, the wire will automatically be broken. Likewise, if a submarine is forced to 'engaged defensive' the wire will be cut to allow maneuvering.
Supercavitating and nuclear torpedoes bear special mention.
The Russian VA-111 Shkval is a super-cavitating torpedo that is capable of a speeds of over 200kts. A shaped nose-cone creates a pocket of air in front of the Shkval, drastically reducing resistance. At maximum practical engagement range a Shkval will reach its target in 2 minutes 24 seconds with virtually no chance of evasion.
In the late 2000's Germany prototyped and tested a supercavitating torpedo but abandoned the project. The Shkval remains in use in both conventional and nuclear varieties.
The vast majority of torpedoes and anti-submarine weapons are fitted with conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) warheads; however some torpedoes are fitted with nuclear warheads most frequently in the 10-20kT range. The huge destructive potential of these weapons eliminates the need for precision guidance and targeting, and virtually guarantees a kill on the target. Due to the large blast radius nuclear ASW weapons are best employed from the air or--if via ship or submarine--at maximum range (in fact a common joke amongst submariners discussing the US UUM-44 SUBROC 5kT weapon was that it had a 'probability of kill equaling 2', meaning that it was likely to destroy not only the target but also the firing vessel)
Countermeasures are automatically deployed by units under attack in C:MANO and include:
- Acoustic noisemakers
- Acoustic decoy (torpedo tube launched)
- Trailed decoy (e.g. Nixie)
- Sonar jammers
- Anti-torpedo munitions (torpedoes, rockets)