Military Review

Nuclear torpedo T-5

Having mastered nuclear technologies, Soviet scientists and the military began to look for new ways to apply the existing and future superpower weapons. The possibility of using nuclear charges with various carriers was considered. Soon there was a proposal to create a special torpedo, equipped with a special charging compartment and capable of independently hitting entire enemy enemy ship formations. The first domestic project of such weapons, brought to the test and operation, received the designation T-5.

Since the end of the forties, the Soviet command considered the possibility of creating special torpedoes equipped with nuclear warheads. Such weapons could be used by submarines for simultaneous destruction of several ships of the same order or for attacking large coastal targets. Various types of similar torpedoes, differing from each other in size and charge power, were proposed and worked out.

Nuclear torpedo T-5

In 1952, there was a proposal for the construction of an extra-heavy torpedo with a caliber of 1550 mm, capable of carrying a warhead weighing up to 4 tons with the corresponding power. The total length of such a product was 24 m, weight - 40 tons. However, it was quickly discovered that only one such torpedo could be deployed on existing and prospective submarines. Such restrictions did not suit the command fleet, and therefore abandoned such bold projects. Much more interesting for submarines was the weapon of standard dimensions.

As a result, in the autumn of 1953, the development of a new nuclear torpedo was launched, its size is not different from serial products. The design of such weapons was carried out by several organizations. The head developer responsible for the creation of the torpedo itself and the overall coordination of the work, was the Scientific Research Institute-400 (now the Central Research Institute "Gidropribor"), A.M. Borushko. The task of creating special combat equipment was assigned to employees of KB-11 of the Ministry of Medium Machine Building, headed by Yu.B. Khariton. On the rights of suppliers of certain units to the project involved some other organizations.

The project of a promising torpedo with a nuclear warhead received the working designation T-5 (also found other writing - T-V). In addition, in accordance with the existing nomenclature of mine-torpedo armament, the product was designated as 53-58. Special combat equipment for the torpedo, developed under a separate project, had its own name - RDS-9.

In accordance with the tasks assigned, the result of the T-5 / 53-58 project was to produce a thermal direct torpedo, characterized by a large range and no bubble trace. At the same time, it had to carry a plutonium charge of sufficient power capable of hitting several enemy ships at once within a radius of hundreds of meters.

To simplify the design and subsequent production, it was decided to build a T-5 torpedo based on the existing 53-57 product. The latter had sufficient characteristics, and therefore could well become a carrier of a nuclear charge. From the point of view of the main design features, the new torpedo 53-58 should have almost completely repeated the original product. In fact, two samples differed in a complete set of the charging compartment, in length, weight, and some running characteristics.

The base non-nuclear torpedo with a few changes borrowed corps, based on traditional developments. A cylindrical body of large elongation, which had a rounded head and conical tail fairing, was used. On the tail fairing were placed X-shaped plane of small scope. Immediately behind the stabilizer were placed propellers, behind them - the rudders.

The layout of the nuclear torpedo T-5, in general, consistent with the previous project. Inside the case, the head part and the charging compartment, the tank compartment, as well as the feed and tail parts were successively placed. The location of all units remained the same.

For the 53-58 torpedo, it was decided to create a new engine with the required characteristics. The thermal turbine engine used on the 53-57 was abandoned for a number of reasons. In the central compartment of the building were placed tanks for the storage of oxygen and alcohol-water mixture. The components of the fuel were fed to a vapor-gas piston engine with an 460 horsepower. The engine torque through the gearbox was issued on two coaxial propellers.

The nuclear torpedo was equipped with an inertial control system based on existing units. With the help of several gyroscopes, the automatics could track the position of the torpedo in space and issue commands to the rudders. This made it possible to maintain a predetermined course, but the possibility of performing maneuvers and aiming at the target was absent. Data entry for firing was carried out mechanically - through a system of spindles brought to the outer surface of the hull.

Specially for a promising torpedo, the personnel of KB-11 developed a compact nuclear warhead of the RDS-9 type. The main charge of this product was made of plutonium (239Pu) and supplemented with an initiating high-explosive charge. The nominal power of the product RDS-9 was 3 CT. A characteristic feature of this warhead, to some extent influenced the complexity of the development of the project, were its small dimensions. Having sufficient power, the charge had to fit into a limited-sized charging compartment of the torpedo.

To control the special charging compartment torpedo T-5 received a proximity fuze. He had to self-cocked at a safe distance from the submarine carrier, and then operate at a given point. Direct hit in the target ship was not provided. The main task of the torpedo was to deliver the RDS-9 product to the enemy’s naval connection, after which a nuclear explosion could simultaneously destroy or damage several targets at once.

In connection with the use of special combat equipment, the 53-58 torpedo turned out to be slightly larger and heavier than the base weapon. With a standard caliber 533 mm, it had a length of 7,92 m and weighed 2,2 m. The torpedo could withstand a depth in the range from 12 to 35 m and move at speeds up to 40 nodes. The range at that speed reached 10 km. In terms of its dimensions, the T-5 torpedo did not differ from existing serial weapons, and therefore could be used by various submarines equipped with the required control equipment.

Tests of new weapons started with inspections of the nuclear charging department. The first trial undermining the RDS-9 product took place on October 19 1954, at the Semipalatinsk test site. The charge was placed on the tower of the experimental field. At the command of the testers, a detonation of the initiating charge took place, as a result of which a small thin mushroom cloud appeared. As it turned out, for the first time in domestic practice, the undermining of the initiating charge could not start a chain reaction. The plutonium core of the warhead was partially destroyed, and its fragments scattered over the experimental field.

The test program was suspended for several months due to the need to refine the charge. Three versions of the updated design were created, which should now be tested and compared. A new attempt to undermine the 29 took place on July 1955 of the year. The charge on the low platform worked properly and showed power at the level of 1,3 CT. A similar undermining of 2 August was also successful; Scientists have recorded power 12 CT. Three days later, RDS-9 showed power 1,2 CT.

In the middle of September of the same year, the next experimental product RDS-9 was delivered to the Novaya Zemlya test site, where it was planned to conduct underwater tests. On September 21, the charge in the T-5 torpedo was delivered to a given point using the carrier vessel at a depth of 12 m. At a distance from 300 to 3000 m from the charge there were ships, ships and submarines that played the role of targets. On board the targets there were a significant number of different equipment, as well as several dozen dogs.

The power of the explosion reached 3,5 kt. The carrier vessel, which was directly above the charge, was completely destroyed. Targets at a distance of 500 m were disabled and completely or partially flooded. At long distances, ships and submarines received some kind of damage. According to the results of this test, it was possible to continue the development of a torpedo and complete the integration of a special warhead into the existing structure. In addition, the results of this test were taken into account when creating new warships.

In parallel with the development of a nuclear warhead, tests of experienced torpedoes with inert charging compartments were underway. The platform for these checks was the water area of ​​Lake Ladoga. During the tests, certain problems with control systems were identified. So, 4 shots with an experienced torpedo from 15 ended with a premature conditional undermining. After going about half the distance, the prototype did the so-called. torpedo bag, dramatically increasing the depth of travel. As a result, the hydrostatic contactor gave the command to undermine. Such problems have led to the need to improve management systems.

Also in practice, it was found that new torpedoes are characterized by a certain complexity of operation. In particular, the nuclear charging compartment needed special temperature conditions. The existing torpedo tubes did not have their own means of heating, which is why the temperature control problem had to be solved at the level of the torpedo design.

Despite all the difficulties, SRI-400 and KB-11 successfully completed the development of new weapons. By the fall of 1957, the T-5 / 53-58 product was successfully brought to state trials. The latest verification of the nuclear torpedo began with two shots of torpedoes equipped with an inert charging compartment. This was followed by one shot of a torpedo with an RDS-9 charge without plutonium. Only after that should I check the T-5 in full combat configuration.

In the course of state testing, the C-144 diesel-electric submarine of the 613 project became an experimental vessel. October 10 1957, the crew of the C-144 fired a full-fledged torpedo. The launch was carried out from the periscope depth on the target at a distance of 10 km. Having developed maximum speed, an experienced torpedo overcame a given distance. Down on the depth of 35 m, the torpedo blew up the warhead. The torpedo deviated from the given point by 130 m, but the power of the explosion at the level of 10 kt compensated for such a miss.

According to the results of state tests, the T-5 / 53-58 torpedo was commissioned by the Soviet Navy. The serial production of such weapons was assigned to the plant. CM. Kirov (Alma-Ata). Production of torpedoes continued for several years, but was carried out in small batches only. Due to the exceptional power and specific purpose of torpedoes, the fleet did not need large quantities of them. According to reports, special ammunition was sent to the arsenals of the Pacific and Northern fleets.

According to some sources, the T-5 torpedoes were present in the ammunition of various submarines that went into combat service. At the same time, for obvious reasons, the submariners never had to use this weapon against the ships of a real enemy. However, the practice of shooting such torpedoes was also not a frequent occurrence - only one event is known with the full use of special combat units.

In the middle of autumn 1961, in the Bay of Black Bay on Novaya Zemlya, Coral exercises were held, the purpose of which was to test existing nuclear torpedoes. October 21 diesel-electric submarine B-130 (project 641) performed two shots with 53-58 torpedoes without fissile materials in the charging compartment. Two days later, the submariners attacked the training target with the T-5 torpedo in full equipment. The 4,8 CT blast hit the target successfully. October 26 carried out another sighting shot, and the next day the last explosion of the RDS-9 warhead took place as part of the 53-58 product. Before the explosion, the torpedo rose to the surface of the water, where its charge showed a power of the order of 16 kt.

Back in 1957, before the completion of the tests of the T-5 torpedoes, a resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers appeared, determining the further development of the special weapons of the fleet. In accordance with this document, it was necessary to abandon the existing approaches to the creation of nuclear torpedoes. Future products of this class should be made by installing a special charge on the serial torpedo. Work on the project of autonomous special combat charging compartments (TSS) ended in the mid-sixties.

The new combat compartments could be installed on existing torpedoes, and therefore the fleet no longer needed special T-5 special specialized nuclear charge carriers. In the future, reinforcement of ammunition submarines was carried out only at the expense of products Allergy standard power 20 kt. However, the emergence of a successful alternative did not lead to an immediate rejection of special torpedoes. Products 53-58 remained in service for some time. According to various sources, such torpedoes remained in warehouses until the eighties of the last century.

The development of nuclear technology has reduced the size of the warhead, ensuring its installation on torpedoes of standard dimensions. The first real result of this was the appearance of a special torpedo T-5 / T-V / 53-58. This project led to the replenishment of the arsenals of the submarine fleet and a noticeable increase in its combat potential. In addition, he showed the fundamental possibility of creating and operating nuclear torpedoes. Further development of this subject has led to the appearance of warheads of the Alzoo. They differed in higher combat and operational characteristics, thanks to which they were able to replace the existing torpedoes T-5 over time.

Based on:
Shirokorad AB, Weapons of the domestic fleet. 1945-2000. Minsk, Harvest, 2001
Photos used:,
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. andrewkor
    andrewkor 12 October 2017 05: 59
    Thanks to the author for the comprehensive information. I look forward to the same on a more modern torpedo 65-73.
    1. 2534M
      2534M 18 October 2017 20: 16
      Quote: andrewkor
      for comprehensive information

      it’s not “information” but Nonsense

      Quote: andrewkor
      I look forward to the same on a more modern torpedo 65-73.

      I, too :)
      I think there will be neighing :)))))))))))))))
  2. Amurets
    Amurets 12 October 2017 07: 25
    In the middle of September of the same year, the next experimental product RDS-9 was delivered to the Novaya Zemlya test site, where it was planned to conduct underwater tests. On September 21, the charge in the T-5 torpedo was delivered to a given point using the carrier vessel at a depth of 12 m. At a distance from 300 to 3000 m from the charge there were ships, ships and submarines that played the role of targets. On board the targets there were a significant number of different equipment, as well as several dozen dogs.
    This was the first test of nuclear charge at the new Novaya Zemlya training ground. September 21, 1955 in the USSR, declared itself a marine nuclear test site.
  3. Ryabtsev Grigory Evgenievich
    Ryabtsev Grigory Evgenievich 12 October 2017 07: 33
    Range of a little more than five miles, power up to 20 kt. It is interesting what kind of damage the carrier has, and the condition of the crew during such a hydraulic shock can hardly be called comfortable. Water is a slightly compressible liquid, and science has not yet been canceled by Pascal's law. Even if, during the torpedo’s progress to the target, the carrier bounces away (maximum 3-4 miles), the blood from the ears of the acoustics is guaranteed
    1. spech
      spech 12 October 2017 09: 57
      blood from the ears acoustics guaranteed

      if only the acoustics are a stupid person and press their ear against the body lol
      1. jjj
        jjj 12 October 2017 10: 34
        The explosions of much larger charges showed that submarines are the least vulnerable
    2. opus
      opus 13 October 2017 01: 01
      Quote: Ryabtsev Grigory Evgenievich
      with such a hydraulic shock can hardly be called comfortable

      1. water hammer - (water hammer) - pressure surge in any systemfilled with fluid caused by a rapid change in the flow rate of this fluid
      water pipe for example (pipe)
      the ocean is very difficult to call it, at a distance of 5 miles, much less
      the system is not "closed and not tight"
      Underwater shock wave more correct
      2. 30 ct at a depth of 610 m (Operation "Wigwam")

      3. the bubble and everything else will "go" to the atmosphere (along the path of least resistance) Wilson cloud, etc.
      at a distance of 5 miles (almost 9000 m) will be tolerable)

      Quote: Ryabtsev Grigory Evgenievich
      Yes, and the law of Pascal, science has not yet repealed

      Pascal's law is the basic law hydrostatics.
      it has an indirect relation to explosions.
      Threat. surface ships suffer more (at a distance of 500 m at 100 kT charge, for 20 kT everything is easier)
  4. cedar
    cedar 12 October 2017 09: 46
    A conventional diesel submarine with such weapons in the coastal waters of a potential enemy becomes a factor of strategic importance ...
    1. 2534M
      2534M 18 October 2017 20: 18
      you will laugh, but the calculated combat capabilities of diesel-electric submarines with nuclear warheads were LOWER than those of diesel-electric submarines with homing torpedoes (type 53-65K and SAET-60M)
  5. xomaNN
    xomaNN 12 October 2017 10: 57
    I, a graduate of the PF LKI, was very interested in material about nuclear torpedo bombers. Of course, we did not study such things at the faculty. what
  6. SMP
    SMP 12 October 2017 11: 44
    The power of the explosion reached 3,5 kt.

    I wonder if it is possible to install a similar warhead on the cavalry torpedo Flurry?
    1. ser6119
      ser6119 13 October 2017 00: 22
      I think it is possible, but as I read about these torpedoes at the time, they have low efficiency against ships. It is better to use them against enemy ports!
    2. Aviator_
      Aviator_ 13 October 2017 22: 26
      I believe that it is with this warhead that it is planned to be used, because, although fast, it is upright and very noisy. To get into the maneuvering target is simply impossible with non-nuclear equipment.
  7. garri-lin
    garri-lin 12 October 2017 20: 30
    An interesting rpznitsa in the explosiveness of tests. What is the reason for this? Who is in the know?
    1. Soho
      Soho 13 October 2017 09: 30
      the degree of synchronization of the moment of the beginning of the chain reaction with the compression process of the subcritical parts of uranium (or plutonium) affects. therefore, the explosion power is not stable.
  8. ser6119
    ser6119 13 October 2017 00: 34
    Was I confused by such a spread in the power of detonating an atomic warhead? The charge on a low platform worked normally and showed a power of 1,3 ct. A similar bombing on August 2 was also successful; scientists recorded a power of 12 ct. Three days later, RDS-9 showed a power of 1,2 kt.
    1. Soho
      Soho 13 October 2017 09: 26
      ser6119 Today, 00:34 New
      Was I confused by such a spread in the power of detonating an atomic warhead?

      EMNIP greatly affects the power of the explosion, the degree and speed of compression of the mass of fissile material.
      The fact is that the energy released during the chain reaction leads to the rapid heating of the mass of fissile material and, as a result, to the expansion of this mass. That is, after some time, the charge loses its criticality and the chain reaction stops. Since the total energy of the explosion depends on the number of nuclei that managed to undergo fission during the time during which the charge was in a supercritical and critical state, to obtainОFor the explosive power required, it is necessary to keep the mass of fissile material in a more than critical state for as long as possible.
  9. mat-vey
    mat-vey 13 October 2017 11: 38
    No one knows what the marine RDS-9 differed from the artillery RDS-41 * It seems that there were similar requirements in terms of size?
  10. Technologist
    Technologist 17 October 2017 13: 00
    Quote: SMP
    The power of the explosion reached 3,5 kt.

    I wonder if it is possible to install a similar warhead on the cavalry torpedo Flurry?

    As far as I know, a flurry is only used with her.
  11. 2534M
    2534M 18 October 2017 20: 15
    afffftor, you didn’t sweat WITHOUT SOMETHING? It hurts her!

    To simplify the design and subsequent production, it was decided to build a T-5 torpedo on the basis of the existing product 53-57. The latter had sufficient characteristics, and therefore could very well become a carrier of a nuclear charge. From the point of view of the main design features, the new 53-58 torpedo should almost completely repeat the original product

    For your information:
    53-57 is a PEROXIDE product (based on German WWII developments)
    53-58 - OXYGEN torpedo

    due to which the problem of temperature control had to be solved at the level of the design of the torpedo.

    afffftor, did you even understand what WRONG you wrote?

    In the future, the strengthening of the ammunition of submarines was carried out only at the expense of ASBZO products with a standard capacity of 20 kt.


    etc. there is no desire to comment further on all this "brain juice" :)
    according to realities -