Military Review

53-27: the first torpedo of the Soviet development

After the end of the Civil War and the complete establishment of Soviet power, the fleet of the Workers 'and Peasants' Red Army disposed of about 2-2,5 thousand old torpedoes. In service were products arr. 1912 and 1910/15 in modifications for surface ships and submarines. These 450 mm torpedoes were heavily used. fleetbut by the mid-twenties it became clear that this weapon outdated and requires replacement. The result of the work started soon was the appearance of the first Soviet torpedo, known under the designation 53-27. Tests and practice have shown that these weapons did not fully meet the requirements of the time, but this did not prevent the most successful torpedo from taking its place in stories domestic weapons.

In the mid-twenties, the command of the Red Army dealt with a number of important issues, including studying the prospects for torpedo armament. The analysis of recent wars has shown that torpedoes with an explosive charge of the order of 250-300 kg are required for the effective destruction of modern ships. The calculations, in turn, demonstrated the impossibility of creating new 450-mm torpedoes with the required power of the warhead. Requires a transition to a larger caliber.

It is noteworthy that even in 1917, the maritime department ordered the creation of a torpedo of an 21 caliber inch (533 mm) in the plant of Lessner (now Dvigatel, St. Petersburg), but the events of that time prevented the completion of work. In the spring of the 18 plant, Lessner stopped production and then worked only as a weapons storage facility. It should be noted that similar projects of torpedo armament were also developed abroad; however, for objective reasons, Soviet industry began to create 533-mm torpedoes only in the mid-twenties.

53-27: the first torpedo of the Soviet development
The general structure of a typical combined-cycle torpedo. Figure

The development of promising weapons for ships and submarines was entrusted to the Special Technical Bureau for Military Inventions of Special Purpose (Ostechbureau), which was headed by engineer and inventor Vladimir Ivanovich Bekauri. This organization, founded in 1921, engaged in various armaments and equipment of various classes and types. One of the areas that Ostechburo was engaged in was mine-torpedo armament for the navy. In 1926, the Office of the former Lessner plant, soon renamed “Engine”, was transferred to the Bureau to speed up work on new torpedoes. Then there was an order to start work on a new torpedo caliber 533 mm.

When developing a new torpedo, Ostebbyuro experts took the existing 45-12 torpedo (product sample 1912) as well as the remaining documentation on the project for the 533-mm torpedo of Lessner's plant as a basis. The head of the new project was P.V. Bekhterev, the main developer - R.N. Korwin-Kossokovsky. Using existing experience and developments in previous projects, the Ostechburo team completed the development of a new project in just a few months. New torpedo was introduced already in 1927 year. In accordance with the new nomenclature introduced in 1924, the project received the designation 53-27 - the first number indicated the caliber of the torpedo in centimeters, and the second indicated the year of creation.

Due to a number of difficulties, the development of the first Soviet torpedo was delayed. Among other things, this led to a change in fleet plans. Thus, it was initially assumed that the new 533-mm torpedoes would become the main armament of the promising Dekabrist I-series submarines. However, by the time the first submarines of this project were commissioned, the new torpedo was not ready. Because of this, shipbuilders had to equip the boat’s torpedo tubes with special insert grilles, which were used to fire the existing torpedoes of the 450 mm caliber.

The Ostehbyuro team did not have much experience in creating torpedoes, which is why the 53-27 project had a number of characteristics. In terms of design, the new torpedo was an enlarged version of the existing 450-mm products with a larger body diameter and heavier warhead. In addition, the increased volume of fuel tanks. In this case, the layout of internal units, internal systems, etc. remained the same.

The 53-27 product had a traditional layout for the torpedoes of that time. The head part of the cylindrical body with a fairing was given to accommodate the fighting compartment with an explosive charge and means of its detonation. Behind the warheads were located fuel tanks, an air tank and some units of the power plant. The main mechanisms of the combined cycle engine, in turn, were located in the tail section of the hull. Due to the increase in caliber (in comparison with the base 45-12), the length of the torpedo increased. The 53-27 in the first version had a length of 6,98 m with a diameter of 533 mm. Also increased the total weight - 1675 kg.

To destroy the target, the new torpedo was supposed to use a high-explosive warhead weighing 200 kg. For comparison, the 45-12 carried half the charge. From the prototype, a new torpedo received two devices to undermine the warhead. It was proposed to use frontal (with four whiskers) and inertial drummers. In order to avoid defeat of the ship carrier, the projectile was equipped with a fuse. He allowed the cocking mechanisms only at a distance 150 m from the carrier.

A combined-cycle machine with a heating apparatus was supposed to set in motion a torpedo. The car had two cylinders located on the axis of the torpedo on either side of the common crankshaft (the so-called double-acting machine). Through the transmission in the form of several shafts with mechanisms, the engine torque was transmitted to the aft propeller. The combined-cycle machine had a heating apparatus with injection and evaporation of water, the design of which was based on the corresponding assembly of the 45-12 product. The applied combined-cycle machine developed a power of about 270 hp. A characteristic feature of the new machine was the lack of choice of mode of operation. The new unit was single-mode and could operate only at maximum power.

Ostebbyuro initially developed two versions of the new torpedo. The 53-27l modification was intended for submarine armament, and the torpedo boats were to carry the 53-27к torpedo. The differences between the two products consisted in the design of external units and the method of launch. The “underwater” version of the torpedo should have been launched from the submarine torpedo tube with the help of compressed gas. Modification "K" was intended for torpedo tubes of the flume type. In this case, the engine start and other procedures required a different approach to implementation.

The development of a new 533-mm torpedo project was completed in 1927, after which the Engine plant began producing pilot batches of this weapon. A simple enterprise for several years led to unpleasant consequences. Employees have lost the necessary skills, which affected the quality of products. The first torpedoes of a new type were not distinguished by high quality workmanship, and also had insufficient characteristics. During the tests, not only low rates were noted, but also technological problems. In particular, problems with depth control were observed, and some products had a leaky case. After identifying such problems, the specialists of Ostechbureau and the manufacturer had to spend a lot of time and effort on fine-tuning the project and correcting the flaws in the weapon.

Nasal 533-mm torpedo tubes of the submarine D-2 "Narodovolets" series I "Decembrist". Photo of Wikimedia Commons

The consequence of these problems and the need to correct them was delaying work. Tests and refinement of the new weapons began in the 1927 year and lasted for several years, ending only in 1930. During this time, the workers of the Dvigatel plant assembled and, together with the Special Technical Bureau, tested about fifty torpedoes in both versions, both intended for submarines and created for the surface fleet. After the completion of all the preliminary works and the correction of the biggest shortcomings, the people's commissariat of defense and the leadership of the defense industry approved the project. In addition, the plant and Ostechburo received permission to fully produce new torpedoes 53-27 with the subsequent delivery of products to the fleet.

The first Soviet torpedo 53-27 differed from the previous 45-12 not only in size, but also in other values ​​of some other characteristics. In addition, there was a noticeable lag in a number of parameters. Due to the increased power of the combined-cycle machine, it was possible to bring the speed up to the 43,5 node, but there was no possibility of changing the speed. The depth of the stroke could vary from 3 to 14 m and was controlled by the available automation. At the same time, the range of travel was reduced to 3700 m. For comparison, 45-12, depending on the set depth of the course, could attack targets at a distance of up to 6 km.

During serial production, the 53-27 torpedo underwent some changes. New series of these weapons are constantly being finalized, which led to some increase in performance. Nevertheless, in the aggregate of parameters, all new versions hardly differed from the basic modification. The most noticeable changes were made to the structure in the early thirties in the so-called. 200 Series. The torpedoes of this release received an updated elongated fighting compartment with 250 kg of explosives. Due to this refinement, the length of the weapon has increased to 7,15 m, and the weight has increased to 1725 kg. Other characteristics have not changed. A slight increase in weight and size could not have a noticeable effect on the characteristics of speed and range: the torpedo could still go as far as 3,7 km at a speed near the 43,5 node. The increased combat unit became interested in the military, as a result of which the torpedoes of the 200 series became the most popular among the entire 53-27 production.

According to various sources, by the 1935, the Dvigatel plant built at least 2-2,5 thousand torpedoes of the 53-27 type in two versions, for the surface and submarine fleets. So, only in 1934, the customer was given more than six hundred torpedoes for submarines and about 220 for ships and boats. In 35, production of the first Soviet torpedoes of its own design was stopped. The product 53-27 had insufficient characteristics, which is why its further production was considered inexpedient. It was necessary to carry out a deep modernization with an increase in the basic characteristics. The development of the project through small modifications in each series was considered unacceptable.

In the early 1930s, the Soviet Union purchased from Italy several samples of modern torpedo weapons, including an 533-mm product, which received the new designation 53F. During the modernization of the torpedo 53-27, it was decided to use some components of foreign development. The Italian torpedo borrowed a hydrostat, a heating apparatus, a pressure regulator, and some other nodes. The torpedo updated in a similar way was put into service in the 1936 year and received the designation 53-36. From the base 53-27, it differed in the composition of components, but not the main characteristics. Dimensions, weight, warhead, speed and range remained at the same level.

It should be noted that 53-36 hardly differed from the basic 53-27, not only in its main characteristics. In the course of the new project, technical and technological problems appeared again, due to which the Navy managed to install only a hundred torpedoes with borrowed units from 1936 to 1938 year. In 38, the unsuccessful product 53-36 was removed from service. In total, only a few thousand torpedoes of the 53-27 and 53-36 types were built and handed over to the customer, with the bulk of the products of the first model in several modifications.

In the spring of 1937, Ostechburo was taken over by the People’s Commissariat of Defense Industry. Later it was transformed into Special Technical Management, and then divided into three separate research institutes. In the fall, several employees of this organization, including the 53-27 project leaders, were arrested. At the beginning of the 1938 of the year V.I. Bekauri and P.V. Bekhterev were shot.

53-27 torpedo production ceased in 1935. Their upgraded version of the 53-36 was produced before the 1938 year. For all the time of development and production of two new torpedoes, the authors of the projects have not been able to eliminate the existing shortcomings and improve the characteristics of the products to an acceptable level. However, until a certain time there was no alternative to such weapons, due to which the fleet did not have to exploit the best torpedoes.

Due to the impossibility of the rapid and complete re-equipment of the fleet with new torpedoes, the 53-27 products were operated until the beginning of World War II. In this case, the first cases of the combat use of such weapons relate to the Soviet-Finnish war. According to reports, during this conflict, the Baltic Fleet used 11 torpedoes 53-27, of which only three hit the target. The destruction of enemy ships was prevented by the low quality of the manufacture of torpedoes, because of which the reliability of the weapon was unacceptably low. This was mainly manifested in the form of numerous blunders.

Shortly before the start of World War II, the fleet’s mines and torpedo department sent a proposal to the Commissariat of Defense to withdraw the remaining 53-27 torpedoes to the second-turn reserve. This meant that the existing old torpedoes should be sent to the rear warehouses, and then removed from service, decommissioned and disposed of. Such a proposal, which had good prospects, was not implemented due to the outbreak of war, which required even outdated weapons to be left in service.

The submarine series I "Dekabrist" - one of the main carriers of torpedoes 53-27. Figure Wikimedia Commons

It is known that during the Great Patriotic War torpedoes of the 53-27 type were used by submarines of the Baltic Fleet (other fleets did not use similar torpedoes). 44 products of this type were used: 19 ships and boats, 23 submarines. Two shots ended with the failure of the equipment with the undermining of the warhead, three - with a successful defeat of the target. Other 18 torpedoes did not reach their goal or passed it. At the same time, the Baltic Fleet had 350 torpedoes 53-27. The low reliability and efficiency of the first Soviet torpedo has received new confirmation.

Due to the extremely low consumption, a large number of obsolete torpedoes with low characteristics remained in warehouses and bases. All this weapon over time was written off and disposed of as unnecessary. From the end of the thirties only torpedoes of newer models with enhanced characteristics were delivered to the fleet. In this regard, the use or even the storage of 53-27 torpedoes was considered unnecessary. The pre-war proposal to transfer obsolete weapons to the reserve of the 2 turn came to practical implementation only by the mid-forties.

The first torpedo, created in the Soviet Union, did not differ high performance. In addition, it left much to be desired and the reliability of its various components. However, in the mid-twenties, the Soviet military fleet did not have a choice, because of which it had to use existing products that could be created and built by domestic experts. Further experience in the development and operation of 53-27 torpedoes with low characteristics made it possible to create a more successful project 53-38. Torpedoes of this type were distinguished by increased characteristics, which allowed them to become one of the main armaments of submarines during the years of the Great Patriotic War. As for the product 53-27, it, despite a lot of problems, has remained in the history of domestic mine-torpedo weapons as the first torpedo created in the Soviet Union.

Based on:
Shirokorad A.B. Weapons of the domestic fleet. 1945-2000. - Minsk: “Harvest”, 2001
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  1. inkass_98
    inkass_98 3 March 2016 07: 18
    Trite, but the first pancake is lumpy. Again, the designers did not have enough experience, which led to the appearance of an unfinished product. And what works well the first time? Experience and skill come with time, which was confirmed in the future.
    1. Bosk
      Bosk 4 March 2016 00: 17
      What lump ?, between the first and second world war in the entire Soviet Union, there were technically competent engineers of all industries ... well, maybe as many as there were in the firms of Junkers and Messer okay if together and at the same time something else was created and by the way a lot of that period created such what we are still proud of. By the way, this period is very interesting, the country is in ruins ... almost half of the engineering corps are in exile ... and they still construct and build something, but as you recall, the 90s ... - there was no war or bombing ... but what can I say.
    2. The comment was deleted.
  2. PKK
    PKK 3 March 2016 08: 27
    Foreign designers, engineers, workers, had half a century of experience in building torpedoes, especially the experience of World War I. And our workers apparently recruited from the plow, which for 10 years could not bring the product to mind. It was necessary to look for more sensible shots. Bekauri and Bekhterev , themselves to blame, for their execution, it was necessary to ask the subordinates more strictly, they were not engaged in jokes.
    1. Amurets
      Amurets 3 March 2016 10: 07
      Quote: PKK
      And our workers were apparently recruited from the plow, which for 10 years could not bring the product to mind.

      The revolution and the civil war dealt a big blow to the industry of Petrograd-Leningrad. Tens of thousands of workers of the highest qualifications were expelled from Leningrad after the Kronstadt Uprising, as well as the Trotskyist-Zinoviev opposition. After the defeat of which, purges began again in Leningrad, and again highly skilled production workers fell under repression. these facts can be found in the relevant literature. The facts are that the factories of Leningrad were really experiencing a shortage of personnel in highly qualified workers. You can read this in Danilov's book "Life-Search" in the first part. The author is a plus. I also want to add that the grates for torpedo tubes were used during the Second World War, since the use of 53-27 torpedoes was prohibited, and from the Pacific Fleet, some 53-38 torpedoes were sent to the active fleet. See the book of Korshunov, Yu.L. Strokov.A.A. "Torpedoes of the USSR Navy."
  3. qwert
    qwert 3 March 2016 11: 29
    Quote: Amurets
    Revolution and civil war dealt a great blow to the industry of Petrograd-Leningrad. Tens of thousands of highly skilled workers were expelled from Leningrad after the Kronshtad Uprising, as well as the Trotskyist-Zinoviev opposition. these facts can be found in the relevant literature.
    Solzhenitsin, Svanidze and Goebels?
    1. Amurets
      Amurets 3 March 2016 12: 30
      Quote: qwert
      Solzhenitsin, Svanidze and Goebels?

      Neither one nor the other or the third. Http://

      There are many materials on these events, moreover in the communist press. Look at the materials on the suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion. In principle, at this time there were unrest throughout Russia, which led to the abolition of "War Communism" and the transition to NEP. By the way, for various reasons, the same picture was at GosNikZavody in Nikolaev. And read Danilov's book "Life-Search". These are the memories of a turner of those times. And about the lack of qualified labor in Leningrad. There is nothing anti-Soviet in this book. Just the memories of a worker-innovator And there are many such memories of the restoration of the industry of Leningrad. Also take Perechev's book: "Soviet coastal artillery". It also contains data on the loading of the Leningrad artillery factories. In principle, in the non-fiction literature one can find data about the life of workers at different factories, especially R.M. Melnikov in a series about famous ships.
    2. Cap.Morgan
      Cap.Morgan 3 March 2016 20: 46
      Quote: qwert
      Quote: Amurets
      Revolution and civil war dealt a great blow to the industry of Petrograd-Leningrad. Tens of thousands of highly skilled workers were expelled from Leningrad after the Kronshtad Uprising, as well as the Trotskyist-Zinoviev opposition. these facts can be found in the relevant literature.
      Solzhenitsin, Svanidze and Goebels?

      You and Goebbels did not please?
      Do you prefer the creations of Zhdanov? Or Trotsky?
      1. Amurets
        Amurets 3 March 2016 22: 59
        I prefer nonfiction literature. Look at Perechnev: "Soviet coastal artillery." There is data on the loading of the artillery factories of Leningrad. It is not, and therefore there are no workers. The book "Cruiser Krasny Kavkaz", about the construction of cruisers of the "Svetlana" type. "Novik" by different authors, there are prices and terms and capacities of factories. People are behind all this. And lack of work, hunger, naturally caused discontent. In the book of Virolainen, V.M. "Green Street" there are references to meetings with workers Petrograd in different parts of the country, from Tver to Turksib. Because of the reasons for which people left St. Petersburg, political repression is by no means in the first place. But the fact that Petrograd lost its best workers from 1918 to 1927 is beyond doubt. Particularly strong losses were 1918- 1922. Hunger, illness, lack of work did their job. And I have already mentioned the series "Wonderful ships" and in this series of R.M. Melnikov there is always any information about factories, the life of the fleet and others. Technical books, not political in smaller quantities, but still this process took place at all large plants in Russia. Why smaller ones? Yes, because the workers had subsidiary plots and it was easier for them to survive in those conditions.
  4. merkava-2bet
    merkava-2bet 4 March 2016 02: 56
    Respect to the author, this topic is very interested and if it is possible in the same spirit to continue about the historical excursion around the torpedoes of the USSR. Thank you.
  5. mine
    mine 4 March 2016 04: 52
    the author once again p ... l in a puddle
    53-27 was so bad that it was armed massively stood old 45cm torpedoes - with gratings for 53cm TA PL (the fact of which was completely unnoticed by the "writer")

    53-38 had nothing to do with 53-27 because actually a copy of the Italian 53F
  6. Olegi1
    Olegi1 8 March 2016 22: 13
    In general, I have already read several articles here about torpedoes. All authors - plus. I somehow had little idea how a torpedo was a complex weapon and what problems existed and exist. In general, to all authors, thanks for the educational program!