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 Author  Topic: Mk XIII Torpedo Colors & Questions
Blake

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Blake   Send Email To Blake Posted on: Oct 21, 2009 - 9:23am
Had a friend ask me some torpedo questions & I had to tell him I really didn't know. Thanks to this forum though, I told him I could probably find out.
In general here were his questions:
1. Why are the bodies & war heads different colors?
2. In many photos the bodies appear to be black,
a. Why black, (or what color was it)?
b. why gloss?
c. Was it applied at the factory, or in field?
d. Was there a performance reason for it(efficiency in the water, etc.?), or was it mainly a visibility issue relating to night ops?
3. The warheads usually appear gray, were they, & why gray?
4. Later the bodies appear to be mainly natural metal.
a. What material is the body constructed of?
b. Why the switch to unpainted?
c. Why did they seem to have a yellow tint, were they clear coated, or was it due to the construction material weathering in field?
A lot of questions, I know, but things I've never really thought about, but am curious about now that they've been brought up.
As always thanks to everyone here.
Blake-

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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Oct 21, 2009 - 10:34am
Hi,

I can answer a few questions about the torpdoes. Mostly Mark 13. THe warheads were made from Phosphor bronze but were normally painted a primer grey color. The warheads were stored and shipped separately, and I have seen color film from Frank Andruss's DVD Called "PT Boats At War" Volume I and II, where the crewmen are using a crane to lift the warhead from a storeroom magazine deep below decks on a tender. Then they placed it on the deck and bolted it onto the air flask and afterbody. Then they picked up the assembled torpedo and loaded it onto the PT Boat Roll Off Rack. The color is very definitely primer grey in the color film. I asked these same WW2 PT Boat Torpedomen about if they painted the warheads, and was told "Why would we paint something that was likely to be launched the next mission?" So they as a general rule would not bother painting the warheads at all. Of course, I am sure there was at least one Boat Captain who wanted the torpedoes painted to match the camoflage scheme, but it must have been a decision that was left up to the preferences of the man in charge of each boat or perhaps even the Squadron CO. It seems unlikely that they would only paint the warhead and not the entire torpedo if they decided to paint it at all. It is hard to stop painting when you start and end up with a perfect edge at the joint. Also, the operation of the detonator could be affected if globs of excess paint were to enter the little paddlewheel located on the bottom of the warhead assembly. IF they were painting the warhead with camo colors, they would have to mask over the detonator assembly to keep it from being painted by accident.

The afterbody is made of steel. The steel was rubbed down often especially just after a patrol with "Crotin Oil" which was the consistency of thin cosmoline, and was the same color as cosmoline. It was rubbed on to prevent corrosion. I was told this by Dick Lowe, a Torpedoman on PT323 and also by Beaty Lay a PT boat torpedoman on PT185. The old Mark 8 torpedoes had to be greased since they were inside the old torpedo tubes, So I imagine the afterbody of the Mark 8 was steel discolored by grease.

The warheads were never painted yellow. Only training heads were painted yellow in order to aid in recovery. Imagine what a target bullseye having four big yellow painted warheads would have been on the front lines! The photos showing yellow warheads were mostly all taken at Melville Training base, where they would have likely been training torpedoes.

Here is a photo of PT 309 loading a Mark 13 torpedo, even though it is a B&W picture I think you can sort of tell the aft part is not painted all all, and the warhead is grey. Jerry PT658 Portland OR


Another picture of PT131 showing bare unpainted after bodies and warheads.



Also I got the info about the warhead being made from Phosphor bronze from the Tech manual on Mk13 torpedoes and also it is mentioned in Naval Ordnance and Gunnery Volume I Naval Ordnance Chapter 12 Torpedoes posted online at HNSA Here is an excerpt from there:


"The Mark 15 type torpedo is provided with a Mark 17 war head. It is ogival in shape at its forward end, and cylindrical in its after part. A nose ring is provided at the forward end of the shell to facilitate handling. The shell itself is made of phosphor bronze. Although the Mark 17 war head uses only an impact exploder at the present time, the use of phosphor bronze rather than steel makes it possible to use an influence exploder when necessary.

The high-explosive charge consists of more than 800 pounds of HBX. The lead ballast weight, mounted in the bottom of the war head shell, helps to control the trim of the torpedo and to minimize rolling.

A joint ring at the after end of the war head shell is drilled and tapped for the joint screws that secure the head to the air-flask section. The after end of the shell is closed by a bulkhead, which is bolted to a flange on the inner side of the joint ring. A gasket between the bulkhead and flange forms a watertight seal.

The exploder mechanism fits in a cavity in the bottom of the forward end of the war head. The exploder is mounted on a base plate, which is secured to the war head shell with screws. The base plate is curved to match the curvature of the war head."

Jerry Gilmartin

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TGConnelly

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Oct 21, 2009 - 11:05am
Hello,

Yes, ...

The warheads of the Mark XIII torpedoes used on PT boats were painted to match the base color of the camouflage measure which the boat wore or to match the area of the scheme that they were in front of.

They were yellow if they were practice torpedoes. Their bodies were whatever metal used to construct them and the propellers were a bronze color.

Garth


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Drew Cook

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Drew Cook  Posted on: Oct 21, 2009 - 12:07pm
...But some warheads, like the Mark VIII's seen in PT 61's (and PT 109's, to starboard) tubes in Ken Prescott's color Kodachrome photos, were left unpainted Phosphor bronze...


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CJ Willis

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of CJ Willis  Posted on: Oct 21, 2009 - 3:39pm
I was one of two torpedomen aboard P.T.242. I spent 13 months aboard and made 85 patrol missions of Jap held islands in the Solomons . We expended lots of ammunition and mortars but never fired a torpedo because we were fighting shore batteries and barges whose draft was not deep enough to use torpedos. Our old Mark 8's were greased and in the tubes. The tubes were camouflaged to match the boat. When we got Mark 13's we painted warhead and afterbody with black cosmoline to protect from rusting. On page 223 of "At Close Quarters" is a picture of our boat and you can see the Mark 13's are all black. I think the paint scheme was left up to the boat captains and squadron commanders.

C. J. Willis

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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Oct 21, 2009 - 6:32pm
Hi CJ!
So I would like to defer to CJ's memory if there is anything I said that seems to not agree with that. I looked on a website called Historylink101.com which has a picture evidently taken up at a Naval Air Station in Alaska. It is a COLOR Photograph of a Mark 13 torpedo. In the photo, you can clearly see the GREY warhead and the bare metal afterbody, (it sort of appears to be yellowish metal) which would subsequently be smeared with cosmoline juice once it was placed on the PT boat. I hope this helps, I have been looking for a color picture of the torpedos for a long time myself.
Jerry PT658 Portland, OR



Jerry Gilmartin

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ducati650

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of ducati650   Send Email To ducati650 Posted on: Oct 22, 2009 - 5:55am
When i built my model of the 495 i did a lot of research into how the torpedos looked and did a lot of experimenting to find ways to duplicate the look. As others have stated the warheads were brnze and the bodies steel. sometimes warheads were painted with camo paint and sometimes not. I have seen photos with the mk13s painted in camo patterns that match that of boat.

for my model I tried to depict a mix of colors to show some variety. Also, in the time period I was depicting, most boats carried only 2 fish as there were few chances to engage targets with torpedos and saving the weight of 2 was a benefit. On the day/night depicted, Surigao Strait in Oct '44, the boats were loaded with all 4 fish because they fully expected to engage warships, not barges.

What i did was paint the each of 3 warheads a diffent green shade and one in a grey. The photos do note pick up the slightly different shades of green very well. I masked off the warheads and painted the bodies with a metalizer steel and sealer. After dried I appied applied a thick wash ofblack and turpentine then removed most of it with a wide, dry brush. after this dried I added yellow food color to future flor polish and airprushed this over the bodies to try to give it the cosmoline look. the blash wash under it looked like black streaks or pigments in the cosmoline that i read was sometimes added to the cosmoline to reduce the shine and make the bodies look black. it was often streay. again the photos do not pick up the yellow, glossy cosmoline look very well unfortunately. In real life the yellow tint is more visible. For reference, the fish props are painted entirely with just the future floor polish with yellow food coloring. they just got more coats built up to deepen the color.

http://www.modelshipwrights.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=1578


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Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Oct 22, 2009 - 6:15am
Ed

I forgot how wonderful that boat looked. You must be ready to donate it to my Exhibit by now (ha, ha.) Great shots by Jerry, which gives the rest of us a real time line look at what the torpedoes looked like. I think we might do something like this on the PT-374 project. You reading this Alex............................


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TGConnelly

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Oct 22, 2009 - 7:02am
I still say that the warheads were painted to match the base color of the scheme the boat wore or to match the area of the scheme they were in front of.

As to if the bodies were 'natural metal' or painted black? That seems to be up to the boat's crew.

Garth


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Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Oct 22, 2009 - 8:36am
Garth

You could be correct, as not all warheads in the War Zone were gray, and I would bet that at least some of the Skippers had the Crew paint the heads to match their boats color. Hmmm, interesting coversation. Now, where are all those Torpedomen that might know this answer.


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