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Circular Torpedo Runs


Circular or wild running torpedoes were greatly feared by American submariners during World War II. When submerged, a submarine’s sonar operator was the first person to hear the terrifying sounds from a torpedo they had just fired as it unexpectedly turned hard left or right and then began to circle back to its source. When surfaced, it was usually the bridge team who first saw the incoming wakes from these wild-running harbingers of imminent destruction. We know for a fact that two submarines were destroyed this way – Tang and Tullibee. There were probably others – possibly Triton and Growler – but there is no conclusive evidence to support this assumption. We know it was a major problem for our submariners during the Pacific war. But how big was this problem? What was its scope? How many instances of circular runs were there? In an effort to get a handle on this issue, today I published on Subsowespac.org a presentation titled Instances of Circular-Running Torpedoes Reported by United States Submarines During World War II. In it I list twenty-nine instances I have come across in my research and reading, and which I have been informed of by Charles R. Hinman, of OnEternalPatrol.com. There are without doubt many other instances of circular-running torpedoes which I have not yet come across. Therefore this presentation will be updated as I discover new and verifiable instances of “wild” torpedoes. I welcome your comments on and contributions to this list. This project is a collaborative effort with other individuals who share my interest in this topic.

Instances of Circular-Running Torpedoes Reported by United States Submarines During World War II

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