It should be noted that the work on specialized anti-submarine self-guided torpedoes started in 1950 year. Then the experts of the Research and Mine-Torpedo Institute (NIMTI) conducted a series of studies, and also developed the first version of the project. Initially it was assumed that promising weapon will be based on the design of the new torpedo SAET-50. This product was equipped with a single-plane guidance system and could hit enemy surface ships. For combat work on submarines, more sophisticated equipment was needed, capable of searching for targets and directing a torpedo in two planes. Thus, the new project was reduced to the development of an updated guidance system and the adaptation of the basic torpedo for the installation of such equipment.
The first research on new topics started at the very beginning of the fifties. Torpedo received the symbol "Item 238". Its development was led by designer V.M. Shakhnovich. He proposed several original technical solutions, and was also one of the authors of the new test methodology. Through the use of this technique, it became possible to test torpedoes even on ice-covered reservoirs, which seriously reduced the time needed to complete all the necessary work. It is noteworthy that the new test method was tested in practice during the tests of the new anti-submarine torpedo.
The design of the “238 Product” ended in the 1954 year. At the same time on the Lake Ladoga underwent ice tests, which showed the main advantages and disadvantages of the development. In the course of the checks, information was collected with the help of which NIMTI specialists continued to improve the project. This stage of work lasted about a year. In 1955, the leadership of the industry and the Ministry of Defense ordered the project to be transferred to the designers of the Scientific Research Institute-400 (now the Central Research Institute Gidropribor) and the SKB of the Engine plant. The first chief designer was V.A. Golubkov, and later his place was taken by V.A. Polikarpov. Despite the change of developer, the project "238" was completed successfully.
According to the results of the first tests on Lake Ladoga, the project “Product 238” was finalized. In the design of the torpedo and its guidance systems made some changes aimed at improving the reliability and overall improvement in performance. In this case, the most common features of the torpedo remained unchanged. Similar improvements allowed in 1956 to transfer design documentation to the Engine plant, which manufactured the first experimental batch of new torpedoes.
The use of the existing torpedo SAET-238 as the basis for the “50 Product” led to the borrowing of the main aggregates. The new project used the existing case (with an increase in length and other design changes), as well as a power plant based on a battery and an electric motor. The layout of the case remains the same. In the head part, under the thin fairing, a receiving antenna of the hydroacoustic guidance system was placed; behind it was a fighting compartment, behind which was placed a battery. The feed was given under the control system and the engine with the shafts of two coaxial screws. The caliber of the product was 533 mm, length - 7,8 m. The mass of the torpedo exceeded 1470 kg.
An interesting feature of the torpedo "Product 238" was the presence of a significant amount of free space filled with air. One of the participants in the development of domestic torpedoes, R.A. Gusev, in his memoirs "This is the torpedo life" recalled that because of too large empty volumes, the torpedo "Product 238" had a positive buoyancy. As the experts explained, these “bubbles” were left on purpose, with a foundation for the future. In the near future it was supposed to equip the torpedo with a new battery, which could require more space in the body.
Torpedo SAET-50M - the predecessor of the SET-53. Photo Militaryrussia.ru
To search and defeat underwater targets, the “238 Product” received a new homing system developed under the guidance of V.I. Kolesnikova and S.G. Polesko. The composition of this equipment torpedoes were introduced several individual devices that were responsible for performing various tasks. So, at the first stage of work, after exiting the torpedo tube, the depth control system should control the maneuvers of the weapon. At first, she should work independently, and after switching on the homing equipment, according to her commands. Initially, depth control systems were proposed on the basis of a bellows-pendulum device (SMP) and on the basis of a hydrostatic contactor (GZ-III). Comparisons have shown that the SMP device has higher characteristics and therefore it is necessary to equip the torpedo with them.
At a distance of several hundred meters from the carrier (after 30-40 seconds of movement) the torpedo should have included a homing system. This device, which was a passive hydroacoustic station, was based on the ideas and solutions used in the CAET family projects. At the same time, the new system was noticeably reworked in order to ensure the search for targets in two planes. The main element of the system, the antenna, was made in the form of a cylindrical block with two receivers located one above the other. In addition, there was a movable shutter that moved along the surface of the antenna and covered a certain part of it. The antenna and the shutter were placed inside a sealed enclosure filled with ethylene glycol. The objective of this fluid was to damp oscillations from the shutter, which interfered with the normal operation of the antenna and created unnecessary interference.
As in the case of the SAET torpedoes, the homing system of the “238 Products” should have used the reverse magnetostriction phenomenon (it is the Willary effect). Under the action of vibrations emanating from the target, the antenna receivers had to deform, due to which the state of their magnetization changed. The torpedo electronics monitored such changes, compared signals from two receivers, and took them into account when aiming at the target. Thus, the difference in signal strength from the upper and lower receivers allowed us to determine the direction to the target in the vertical plane. To determine the direction in the horizontal, a movable shutter was used: the signal strength was automatically compared with the receivers at its different positions.
The proposed homing equipment operated at a frequency of 25 kHz. The sensitivity of the antenna made it possible to detect an enemy submarine going at a speed of at least 9 nodes at a distance of no more than 600 m. A search was made for targets at a depth from 20 to 200 m in a sector width 120 ° (60 ° left and right from the longitudinal axis of the torpedo). In case of loss of hydroacoustic contact, a special algorithm for the operation of automation was provided for. The torpedo remained at the current depth and continued searching for the target. After a new discovery, she continued to be led to her, until the moment of collision.
The torpedo "Item 238" received a fighting compartment with a weight of 287 kg, sufficient to cause fatal damage to any existing and promising submarines at that time. In order to increase the effectiveness of the attack by a group of engineers led by A.V. Miroshkina created a new proximity fuse based on a speaker system. This device provided for undermining the warhead when passing close to the target, regardless of the angle of the meeting with it. In the event of an unsuccessful attack in the design of a torpedo, a self-destroyer was envisaged. As recalled R.A. Gusev, this device required a lot of accuracy from torpedoists. When mistreated with a torpedo, the self-liquidator would fly out of the hull at high speed, threatening equipment damage and personal injury.
The design of the guidance system. Figure Wunderwafe.ru
In the central compartment of the housing housed the battery. The first version of the “238 Product” received a lead-acid battery of type B-6-IV, borrowed unchanged from the torpedo of SAET-50. This product weighed about 460 kg and gave out current with an average power of 870 A. Behind the battery, next to the control system, was the birotational PM5-3МУ electric motor with 46 kW power. A feature of this engine and its predecessors was the use of rotating anchors and stator, which were connected with the shafts of two coaxial screws. Such an engine design made it possible to eliminate complex transmission assemblies and thereby reduce the weight and noise of the power plant.
The first version of the power plant based on the B-6-IV battery allowed the torpedo to reach speeds up to 23 nodes and cover the distance to 6 km. In the future, the project was redesigned. The old battery was replaced with a new T-7, which made it possible to bring the range to 7,5 km while maintaining speed characteristics. Interestingly, the following upgrades to the 238 project, among others, implied the use of new batteries.
In 1956, the Leningrad plant “Engine” received from the research institute-400 a set of necessary documents, according to which the first experimental batch of 8 torpedoes was assembled. In the same year, torpedoes were tested on Lake Ladoga and the Black Sea. Factory tests were successful, after which the torpedo presented to the customer. In 1957, state tests that were deemed successful were passed. According to the results of all inspections, the “Product 238” was put into service under the designation SET-53 - “Self-guided electric torpedo, project 1953 of the year”. There is also information on the use of the designation "Raccoon-1". The corresponding order was issued in 1958 year. Serial production of new weapons was mastered by the engine plant.
Almost immediately after the start of mass production of the basic torpedoes SET-53, the development of a project for its modernization began. Engineers SKB plant "Engine" under the leadership of GA. Kaplunov made some changes in the design of the weapon and the composition of its units. The main innovation was the use of a new silver-zinc battery TC-3 with enhanced performance. Later, the TC-3 battery was replaced with the 3-3 product. The torpedo also received a leveling system and an electro-hydro-optical course instrument. Measures were taken to reduce the noise of the power plant. As a result of the modernization, the weight of the torpedo increased to 1490 kg. The range also increased: a new battery allowed the torpedo to pass 14 km.
In 1963-64, the updated SET-53 passed the full range of tests, the results of which were put into service. The updated product received the official designation SET-53M. In serial production, SET-53M changed the base torpedo.
Control equipment units. Figure Wunderwafe.ru
An interesting modification of the SET-53 was the TEST-68 torpedo, adopted for service in 1969. This product, created by SKB of the Dvigatel plant and TsNIIAG, received a telecontrol system through the wires. It was proposed to place coils for winding control wires on board the torpedo and on the carrier. At the same time, the homing system was maintained. It was proposed that the Office of Wires be implemented before homing is turned on. TEST-68 had some drawbacks in comparison with other weapons, but it was quite actively used fleet.
In 1967, the first export version of the SET-53 torpedo - SET-53E was developed. Within the framework of this project, the designers of the special design bureau of the Engine plant have equipped the base torpedo with some other components. In particular, the design of the homing system was changed, and another instrument of the course was used. In 1975, a torpedo SET-53МЭ appeared, developed on the basis of SET-53М. Like its predecessor, it had some differences from the base model.
The torpedo SET-53 was the first domestic weapon of its class, designed to destroy submarines. These submarines, as well as surface ships having compatible 53-cm torpedo tubes could use these torpedoes. The temporary lack of alternatives, as well as a successful design led to the corresponding results. The torpedoes SET-53 quickly became widespread and were able to win the respect of sailors.
The operation of the torpedoes SET-53 and SET-53М lasted until the eighties, helped by the reliability of such weapons and sufficiently high performance, further improved after upgrading the early sixties. There were some problems, but in general, the torpedo proved to be good. R.A. Gusev mentions that in 1978, the Mine-Torpedo Institute conducted a study of the training use of torpedoes by the Northern Fleet over the past 10 years. It turned out that, despite the emergence of new weapons, the aging SET-53 and SET-53М proved to be one of the most frequently used samples. For the period reviewed, about 200 shots were fired with such torpedoes - a quarter of all firing. Some products survived 40 shots, after each passing minor repairs and returning to service. During the firing practice, only 2% of the used products were lost, and in all cases it was about so-called. human factor.
With all the success, the torpedoes of the SET-53 were not without flaws. In addition to the already mentioned self-killer, capable of flying out of a torpedo and causing injury or damage to equipment, there were some other features that could lead to negative consequences. For example, there were losses of personnel associated with the use of ethylene glycol in the homing system. This substance is 3-th hazard class and therefore can not be used as an alcoholic beverage. Those who forgot about it paid with health or life.
Instruments torpedoes SET-53 outside the hull. Photo Militaryrussia.ru
Also neglect of torpedoes could lead to an explosion of combustible gases. Lead-acid and some other batteries tend to release hydrogen, both gaseous and bound. To avoid an explosion, the torpedo's battery compartment should be regularly ventilated. Failure to comply with these requirements led to the risk of an explosion. For example, according to the book "This is torpedo life," the typical cause of "cotton" was the accumulation of dangerous gases due to the lack of ventilation for about one and a half months, as well as the use of incorrect measuring devices. If you use a megohmmeter with a voltage not 100 V (recommended) but more powerful on 500 V when checking the insulation of a fighting compartment, a spark may appear on the primary relay of an amplifier of a proximity fuse that can ignite dangerous gases.
Some features of the design of the torpedo, namely the presence of air chambers inside the hull, led to curious cases. At the beginning of the seventies in the Northern Fleet, an instructional shot torpedo TEST-68 was made. Torpedolov went to the area of ascent of the product, but did not find it. After two days of searching, in accordance with the instructions, they stopped searching and headed to the base. The design of such torpedoes was provided for so-called. The drowning plug is a special device that, after 48 hours after the shot, opens the valve and lets water into the body, flooding the weapon. The plug worked properly and started to draw water inside the torpedo, but the remaining air did not let the product sink. Five days later, he was accidentally discovered by a ship passing by. Only after that the torpedo caught and returned to the base.
The first customer and main operator of the torpedoes SET-53 was the navy of the Soviet Union. From the end of the sixties, torpedoes in versions “E” and “ME” were delivered to the GDR and India. According to some reports, it was the Indian sailors who only used this weapon in real combat. December 4 1971, the Indian destroyer D141 Rajput, submerged the Pakistani Navy submarine Gazi. According to one version, the submarine was destroyed by depth charges, according to another - by a torpedo SET-53 in the export version.
The emergence of the first national antisubmarine torpedoes SET-53 allowed to solve an important task in time, which became relevant in connection with the development of the submarine fleet. A fairly successful design and relatively high performance ensured long-term operation of such weapons. Despite the emergence of new types of weapons, SET-53 and SET-53M were operated until the eighties, after which they were written off due to moral and physical obsolescence. By this time, not less successful samples of torpedo weapons were adopted, which allowed not only to preserve, but also to increase the potential of the anti-submarine means of the fleet.
Shirokorad A.B. Weapons of the domestic fleet. 1945-2000. - Minsk: “Harvest”, 2001
Gusev R.A. Such is the torpedo life. - S.-PB.: Willow, 2003