Shown here is a General Electric "44-ton Switcher" locomotive carefully moving live Mk18 torpedo warheads at the Yorktown Mine Depot (now called Yorktown Naval Weapon Station). These switcher trains shipped the warheads to main rail lines. From there, main railroads took the warheads to the Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island or the new Naval Ordnance facility in Forest Park, Illinois. At these facilities, workers attached the warhead to a torpedo propulsion unit, and then shipped the finished product out to the Fleet.
|Mk 18 torpedo warhead|
Measured as fifty percent more powerful than the traditional TNT explosive, British scientists discovered the TORPEX formula and then shared it with the United States. American ordnance experts conducted only a few safety tests on TORPEX, due to the pressure to get the explosive into the hands of war fighters as soon as possible. By mid-1943, the facility was producing over 2,000,000 pounds of TORPEX per month. Safety officers had initially indicated that a rate of 500,000 pounds/month was the acceptable limit. Unfortunately, the Depot experienced a major accident involving TORPEX. Read about the incident here. A very good discussion on American naval torpedoes can be found at one of our sister museum's, the Undersea Warfare Museum, website here.
|Mark 14 Torpedo and all its moving parts|