Military Review

ET-80. The first Soviet electric torpedo

Early domestic and foreign torpedoes were equipped with steam-gas machines, which provided them with high driving performance. However, during the operation of such equipment, a vapor-gas mixture was formed, which was dropped overboard and thus produced the location of the torpedo. In addition, bubbles on the surface of the sea could unmask and submarine. It was necessary to create new torpedoes, not posing themselves until hitting the target. In the Soviet classification like weapon got the name "traceless." The first domestic traceless torpedo was the product ET-80. In addition, it remains in stories as the first Soviet torpedo with electric propulsion.

The first experiments on the creation of electric torpedoes in our country relate to the end of the twenties. As early as 1929, the Special Technical Bureau for Special Purpose Inventions (Ostechbureau) with the participation of several specialists in the field of electrical devices from the USSR Academy of Sciences developed the first electric motor for torpedoes. However, the new weapon required not only the engine, but also the rechargeable battery. Creating this device took a lot of effort and took a lot of time.

Full battery development work specifically for torpedoes began in 1932, at the Research Mine Research and Torpedo Institute (NIMTI). There have been formed requirements for a promising engine and battery for torpedoes. Further, some other organizations were involved in the project. For example, the Leningrad Central Battery Laboratory (now the Source NIAI) ordered the development of a new battery, and the Electrosila plant was to create an electric motor. Soon both products were submitted for testing.

General view of the torpedo ET-80. Photo

In general, the specialists of the electrical industry managed to solve the tasks, however, the results of their work did not fully satisfy the customer. During tests on the basis of NIMTI and the Central Battery Laboratory (DSL), it was found that the engine from "Electrosila" has insufficient efficiency, which exacerbated the problems in the form of a small capacity of the existing battery. In addition, a differential was needed to connect the engine with two coaxial screws, which complicated the design of the power plant and produced unacceptably strong noise. A few years later, it was found that such a machine, among other things, would not allow the torpedo to be equipped with acoustic guidance systems.

Despite the failure, the work continued. A new version of the electric power plant for the torpedo was proposed in 1936 year. The central battery laboratory introduced a lead-acid battery of type B-1, and Electrosila developed the DP-4 engine with a power of 45 kW. A characteristic feature of this device was a rotating rotor and stator (the so-called birotative scheme), the torque of which could be transmitted to two propellers.

The battery and the new type of engine were transferred to NIMTI, where they passed their preliminary tests. The first checks showed that a torpedo with such systems would be inferior to existing steam and gas products. However, in 1937, on the basis of the existing 533-mm torpedoes, two experimental products with an electric power plant were manufactured. In some sources they are referred to as ET-45. The assembly of experienced torpedoes was completed only at the beginning of the summer of the 38. In July, began their tests. The newly constructed sighting station on the Caspian Sea has become a platform for testing experimental weapons.

Tests at the sighting station fully confirmed the preliminary calculations. Products ET-45 really did not differ high performance and seriously inferior to the existing weapons with steam-gas machines. Nevertheless, these tests confirmed the fundamental possibility of building and using torpedoes with electric motors. In addition, they showed less noise of electric motors in comparison with steam-gas engines. Taking into account the experience gained in testing experienced torpedoes, the development of new electrical equipment began.

In 1939, it was decided to transfer all the work on electric torpedoes from NIMTI to TsKB-39. The project leader of the first torpedo of this class was N.N. Shamarin. This design office, working together with other enterprises, soon successfully completed the solution of the problem. Based on the new experience, the Research Laboratory №10 (NIL-10, formerly DSL) has developed an improved battery В-6-П. As part of this battery, 80 lead-acid batteries with a capacity of 65 A разряд h were present with a discharge current at the level of 830 A. A new engine PM5-2 with a power of 80 kW was also developed for advanced torpedo armament. The power plant, consisting of a new battery and engine, made it possible to count on obtaining high performance.

The development of a new torpedo project was completed in 1940 year. Soon started the assembly of experimental products that were planned to be used in tests. To simplify and speed up the development, it was decided to actively use the existing components and assemblies. The main source of spare parts was to be the existing combined-cycle torpedo 53-38. With some modifications, she borrowed a corps, a fighting compartment, etc.

The body of the base torpedo was borrowed with minimal changes associated with the use of the new power plant. At the same time, the layout of internal volumes was seriously changed due to the use of new units. The body had a cylindrical shape and was equipped with a hemispherical head fairing, as well as a conical tail with an X-shaped stabilizer. The total length of the product was 7488 mm, diameter - 533 mm. Total weight - 1800 kg.

In the head of the new torpedo placed a fighting compartment with 400 kg of explosive and two inertial fuses. Behind the fighting compartment, on the site of the air tank and the fuel tanks used in the 53-38, a large and long B-6-P battery was placed. A relatively compact PM5-2 electric motor was placed in the tail fairing of the case. In a small space between the battery and the engine placed the automatic control of the torpedo. The control system was unchanged borrowed from the base torpedoes: Aubrey's gyroscopic instrument and the hydrostat were to monitor the position of the torpedoes in space and control the rudder shifting to maintain the desired course.

ET-80. The first Soviet electric torpedo
The layout of the torpedo ET-80. 1 - battery B-6-P, 2 - PM5-2 electric motor. Figure

According to some reports, at some point, work on the new project accelerated. The reason for this was intelligence data, which managed to find out that the armament of the German fleet adopted torpedo G7e, equipped with an electric power plant. Thus, the new domestic electric torpedo was to be the answer to foreign development. In addition, the fact of the appearance of serial weapons abroad became a kind of proof of the viability of such torpedoes and an argument in favor of continuing work on its project.

By 1940, the new project was developed, after which the assembly of prototypes started. By this time, the project received the symbol ET-80 or "Product 115". The assembly of an experimental weapon was entrusted to the Leningrad plant to them. K.E. Voroshilov, who already had extensive experience in the construction of torpedoes. At the beginning of autumn, torpedoes-prototypes were delivered to one of the sighting stations for the first tests. These shots took place from September to December 1940. During these checks, it was found that the new torpedo could reach speeds up to 29 nodes and attack targets at a distance of 4 km. The stroke depth was set in the range from 1 to 14 m.

Even before the test began, it was clear that the speed of the new torpedo would be inferior to the existing samples with steam-gas machines. This, in the first place, was associated with lower engine power. The torpedo ET-80 was equipped with a 80-strong engine, while the 53-38 machine developed power on the order of 230 hp. However, the electric torpedo had a definite advantage in the form of the absence of a trace of bubbles of the emerging gas-vapor mixture formed during movement. In addition, the electric motor was much quieter than the combined-cycle machine.

Due to certain problems of the pre-war period, TsKB-39 was able to present a new torpedo for state tests only after the start of the Great Patriotic War. The tests were conducted by the fleet in quite difficult conditions, but were successful and led to the adoption of new weapons. The order to accept the ET-80 torpedoes into service with the Navy and the order to start the mass production of such weapons were issued in the 1942 year. At the end of the same year, the assembly of serial torpedoes began.

In December, the German torpedo G1942e was discovered on the Black Sea coast near Poti, 7. Soviet experts already knew about the existence of these weapons, and now they had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with a full-fledged sample. In addition, the German torpedo was studied by the People's Commissar of the Navy, Admiral N. G. Kuznetsov and People's Commissar of the shipbuilding industry I.I. Nosenko. According to the results of this study, it was decided to accelerate the production of serial torpedoes ET-80.

At the very beginning of 1943, the first batch of five torpedoes ET-80 (according to other data, only three) was transferred to the Northern Fleet. Until the end of the year several new batches of new torpedoes were transferred. 5 May 1943, submariners of the Northern Fleet conducted the first combat tests. The torpedo ET-80 with a full-fledged fighting compartment was sent to the rock on the shore and thus demonstrated its effectiveness. After this, new weapons were recommended for use in combat operations as weapons of submarines.

According to some sources, in 1944, the 55 of new torpedoes was handed over to the Northern Fleet. Most of these weapons were taken on board by submarines and used during combat trips. The number of weapons taken by submariners on board depended on the type of boat, as well as the plans of the commanders. In particular, the collection of ammunition from several types of torpedoes was practiced, for example ET-80 and 53-38.

It is known that the C-15, C-102 and C-103 submarines took four torpedoes ET-80 aboard one of the outlets into the sea. L-15 before the next campaign loaded six torpedoes, and the C-51, C-101 and W-402 submarines received eight each. Thus, a total of 42 torpedoes with an electric propulsion unit were on board the submarines during combat exits. In this case, the total consumption of weapons, according to some data, was only 14 torpedoes.

The Medium type C-15 submarine is one of the torpedo carriers ET-80. Photo of Wikimedia Commons

The first known combat use of ET-80 torpedoes took place on August 24 1944. The submarine C-15 (commander captain 3 rank GI Vasilyev) attacked the enemy's transport with four torpedoes, two of which hit the target and sent it to the bottom. September 10 C-51 submarine (commander captain 3 of rank IM Kolosov) discovered an enemy convoy consisting of two transports and three escort ships. The convoy was attacked by four torpedoes ET-80. Two hit the ship escort, after which he sank. The third torpedo hit one of the transports, which lost its course and caught fire.

The first domestic electric torpedoes were not used very actively. The fact is that the submarine commanders sometimes just shied away from taking such weapons on board. ET-80 had specific characteristics that should be considered when preparing for an attack. For example, because of the lower travel speed (compared to 53-38 or 53-39), a more accurate determination of the speed and direction of movement of the target was required. In addition, submariners feared for their boats. Only in the Northern Fleet during the operation of the ET-80, three explosions of batteries occurred. One of these explosions occurred on the C-101 submarine during its launch into the sea. The submarine and its crew suffered, but managed to return to base.

Due to the negative attitude of the submariners, the fleet command had to take appropriate measures. Thus, the 22 of May 1944, the submarine of the Northern Fleet L-20, executing the order of the People's Commissar of the Navy, conducted demonstration firing with torpedoes 53-39 and ET-80. The purpose of this event was to demonstrate the suitability of a new weapon for practical use. As the further history of combat work shows, the submariners did not change their opinion. They still tried to use older, but high-speed steam-gas torpedoes.

Exact information about the production of electric torpedoes ET-80 is missing. It is safe to speak only about the production of 60 units of such weapons, which were delivered to the Northern Fleet in 1943-44. There is also information about the supply of such torpedoes to the Baltic and Pacific fleets, which, however, did not use them, although they did have the appropriate submarines. Thus, it can be assumed that no more than a few hundred ET-80 torpedoes were produced.

Despite the extremely limited use, the torpedo ET-80 remained in the history of the domestic fleet as the first weapon of its class with an electric power plant. For the creation of the first such weapon in our country, a group of designers TsKB-39, headed by N.N. Shamarin was awarded the Stalin Prize.

Most of the serial torpedoes ET-80 met the end of World War II in the fleet warehouses. In 1946, a torpedo ET-80 was created on the basis of the ET-46 project and German developments. The development of ideas laid down in the late thirties, was continued in the new project, which later also became the basis for a new weapon. Over the next few years, Soviet engineers managed to get rid of the basic flaws inherent in early projects, after which electric torpedoes became full-fledged armament of the submarine fleet. Thus, the torpedo ET-80 became the first domestic model of its class, and also gave a start to the development of the most important direction.

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  1. Million
    Million 17 March 2016 09: 37
    In Russia, soon there’s no one to even make bolts, the whole country is trading, the military still works even less
    1. Dimon19661
      Dimon19661 17 March 2016 10: 30
      Well, you don’t have to be such a pessimist, the country begins to work, despite all sorts of sanctions and crises. We definitely have work on the Far East.
    2. 73bor
      73bor 17 March 2016 14: 50
      This year, seven machine-tool factories are launched!
      1. m262
        m262 17 March 2016 18: 10
        thanks, great news!
  2. Dimon19661
    Dimon19661 17 March 2016 10: 31
    The article is excellent, interesting and informative. +
  3. Sleepwalker
    Sleepwalker 17 March 2016 10: 50
    Submariners did not like lead batteries ... but silver batteries are another matter. In academic circles, it was believed that a ton of silver sprayed by an explosion paralyzes Godzilla and will allow transportation to a military dolphinarium.
  4. PKK
    PKK 17 March 2016 16: 19
    Sea wolves often attacked in stormy weather, when the trail from the torpedo was not critical. But how did the developers miss the explosive hazard of the battery? It turns out without valves.