Fairchild's proposal for a self-propelled torpedo


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Carronade

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#3
There was a USS Henry Janes, a schooner purchased for the mortar flotilla for the attack on New Orleans. She also bombarded Vicksburg as part of Farragut's 1862 expedition, something I hadn't heard of until I wikied her just now, and later served with the blockading squadrons on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
 
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#4
There was a USS Henry Janes, a schooner purchased for the mortar flotilla for the attack on New Orleans. She also bombarded Vicksburg as part of Farragut's 1862 expedition, something I hadn't heard of until I wikied her just now, and later served with the blockading squadrons on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
Seems that she may be that ship exactly. The "Dictionary of American naval fighting ships" have no "Henry JaMes". Unfortunately, no data about her crew and J. B. Fairchild. I was unable to found any data about his torpedo also.

P.S. Maybe ""Torpedoes and Torpedo Warfare" by C. W. Sleeman" have something on this matter...
 

kepi

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#5
26 March 1865, J. B. Fairchild of the USS Henry James proposes a self-propelled torpedo. I wonder if this particular design came to fruition?


View attachment 117061
Fascinating! I'm familiar with the torpedoes (mines) used in the Yazoo during the war, but I never realized a self-propelled torpedo was ever proposed.
 
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#6
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#7
P.S. Also, there are mentions about some kind of electrical-controlled "fire ship", suggested by William H. Noble in 1862 in "Unmanned systems of World War I and II" by H. Everett (MIT press)
 

Carronade

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#8
Captain Giovanni Luppis of the Austrian navy - there was such a thing back then - was working on self-propelled torpedos in the 1850s; the concept was ultimately perfected by British engineer Robert Whitehead, working at Fiume on the Adriatic, in the 1860s. I wonder if their work was widely known? As we know from the Civil War, there was nothing like modern security in that era.
 
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#9
Captain Giovanni Luppis of the Austrian navy - there was such a thing back then - was working on self-propelled torpedos in the 1850s; the concept was ultimately perfected by British engineer Robert Whitehead, working at Fiume on the Adriatic, in the 1860s. I wonder if their work was widely known? As we know from the Civil War, there was nothing like modern security in that era.
they were anything but landlocked then
 
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#10
Seems that she may be that ship exactly. The "Dictionary of American naval fighting ships" have no "Henry JaMes". Unfortunately, no data about her crew and J. B. Fairchild. I was unable to found any data about his torpedo also.

P.S. Maybe ""Torpedoes and Torpedo Warfare" by C. W. Sleeman" have something on this matter...
Nothing in Sleeman (1880) or any of the books I have checked thus far
 
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#11
Quite interesting!

Hm... what was the USS "Henry James"? Can't remember this ship. Maybe "Henry Janes", the steam schooner?
USS Henry James was bought by the U.S. Navy in about 1862 and converted into a mortar schooner. She was commanded by Acting Master Lewis W Pennington.
The USS Henry James participated in the Battles of Mobile Bay, Vicksburg, and Sabine Pass. Also performed blockade duties.
During the Battle of Sabine Pass in 1862, crew from the Henry James made for Taylor's Bayou and attempted to destroy a railroad bridge.
Although the crew claimed the bridge destroyed, it turned out to not have been true.
 

georgew

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#12
Well, there were even one that was tested...

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/e-b-hunts-sea-miner-rocket-torpedo.123826/

Rocket-propelled one, to be precise.

And, in 1863, mr. Mills Candler from NY proposed tethered-controlled rocket-propelled guided torpedo:

View attachment 117067
This is the same principal as the "manta" surface skimming rocket device from the 1300-1400s in the middle east. Recently a history show on cable actually built one and tested it - it worked! But a big scary for the exposed operator.
 

gary

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#13
I wonder if the proposed design was a small boat with a steam engine? Think Bogart's African Queen.

they were anything but landlocked then
Concur. Lest we forget, back then it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire with access to the Adriatic Sea. The Austro-Hungarian Navy was among the first to use triple gun turret on a battleship. There's a famous clip now on YouTube of one of the ships rolling over after being torpedoed.
 
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#14
I wonder if the proposed design was a small boat with a steam engine? Think Bogart's African Queen.
Probably, quite probably. The mid-XIX century tech level make perfectly possible to control the ship's rudder by electric cables, but the electric engines of 1860s were still far too primitive to be of serious consideration as source of propulsion. It would be simpler to have steam or chemical engine to propel the ship, and electricity just to steer it.

Just like the Lay torpedoes of 1870-1880s; they used compressed carbonic acid to power the piston engine, and were steered by telegraph cables from control station on coast or launching ship.
 

Carronade

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#15
Concur. Lest we forget, back then it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire with access to the Adriatic Sea. The Austro-Hungarian Navy was among the first to use triple gun turret on a battleship. There's a famous clip now on YouTube of one of the ships rolling over after being torpedoed.
That's the dreadnought Szent Istvan; the video often shows up in programs when they need a dramatic shot of a ship sinking. She was hit by an Italian motor torpedo boat (MAS) commanded by Lieutenant Luigi Rizzo. This was Rizzo's second battleship; he had earlier torpedoed the pre-dreadnought Wien in port on the Adriatic coast.
 



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