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Submarine "bow shot(s)" on enemy ships during WWII...

Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:36 pm
by L. Kafka
I have seen Run Silent, Run Deep a number of times. This past Saturday when I happened to flip to Run Silent, Run Deep on TCM ( I wondered, again, how common it was for a submarine to sink a ship with a dead on "bow shot" as it was called in the movie. Considering that most cargo and navy ships smaller than aircraft carriers and battleships had beams of around 60 to 90 feet, or 20 to 30 meters, sinking a ship by hitting it dead on in the bow or stern seems like a low probability.

Were some of the torpedos of all navies during WWII equipped with proximity-type fuses that would detonate from magnetic fuse settings? This would make a bow shot more likely.

I read Run Silent, Run Deep by Eward Beach years ago. There was one exciting episode in the book that did not appear in the movie. While running on the surface at night near the coast of Florida the submarine that Edward Beach is commanding picks up a radar contact. It turns out to be a German submarine that is trailing the American sub while apparently hoping it turns to expose its flank to a torpedo. The American sub holds speed and course but prepares to fire torpedoes from its stern tubes if the German sub fires its torpedoes. The tense stand off lasts for an hour or two before the German sub finally reduces its speed in order to fall back outside of torpedo range. The narrative of this section of the book is worth reading.

I have read sections of Operation Drumbeat about the German submarine campaign off of America. I should finish reading it; good story.

Re: Submarine "bow shot(s)" on enemy ships during WWII...

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:02 am
by fridgeman
Dont know the book or movie you told about, but of course there were torpedoes with proximity type fuses during WW2.
Germans used for example the "G7-e" and Torpedo "Zaunk├Ânig" late in war. Aswell as the americans, the germans had
many problems in the beginning with this new technology, so often a fired torpedo did not explode or missed the aim.

Re: Submarine "bow shot(s)" on enemy ships during WWII...

Posted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:44 am
by lwd
I think I recall reading that the Britt's also tried them prewar but gave up on them before the war started. Found a reference that indicates they actually had some success with them but problems as well
Here's the corresponding page on German torpedoes:
And for the US:
Info on others at: