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View Full Version : Lethality of depth charges?



gnolam
01-25-2005, 08:11 PM
One of the things that bother me in sub movies is how they always drop depth charges that explode when they're close enough to be able to touch the sub, but somehow leave it no worse for wear except for some shaking and the occasional leaking valve (the latest example I saw was in the rather craptacular "In Enemy Hands"). I seem to remember an old game manual (Wolfpack? Secret Service II? ) saying that a depth charge detonation within 5 m meant a sub was completely, 100%, toast.

So I'm wondering: how lethal were WW2-era depth charges really? I understand that most kills with them were after prolonged bombing, but how close would you have to get one to score a direct kill on the average u-boat?

gnolam
01-25-2005, 08:11 PM
One of the things that bother me in sub movies is how they always drop depth charges that explode when they're close enough to be able to touch the sub, but somehow leave it no worse for wear except for some shaking and the occasional leaking valve (the latest example I saw was in the rather craptacular "In Enemy Hands"). I seem to remember an old game manual (Wolfpack? Secret Service II? ) saying that a depth charge detonation within 5 m meant a sub was completely, 100%, toast.

So I'm wondering: how lethal were WW2-era depth charges really? I understand that most kills with them were after prolonged bombing, but how close would you have to get one to score a direct kill on the average u-boat?

Bulwark_
01-25-2005, 08:16 PM
I'm not sure exactly how depth charges work... is it possible to have a dud depth charge? Maybe it'll just bounce off the side? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif

gnolam
01-25-2005, 08:25 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Bulwark_:
I'm not sure exactly how depth charges work... is it possible to have a dud depth charge? Maybe it'll just bounce off the side? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_confused.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
As with all explosives, it's possible to have duds. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Depth charges aren't made to explode on contact though (at least not primarily, but I would assume that someone must have thought of putting magnetic fuses or similar on them as well) - you set a pressure fuse to make them explode at a certain depth in the water and toss 'em in, hoping that you can get them to explode close enough to the submarine you're hunting to damage or destroy it.

It's that "close enough" factor I'm asking about http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Dominicrigg
01-25-2005, 11:05 PM
A direct kill with just one depth charge?

The highest chance of killing with one charge would be if

<LI>The sub was deep as possible
<LI>The depth charge was close as possible
<LI>The depth charge was underneath you or as near to that (the "bubble" would cause more damage)
<LI>The depth charge was the late war type

Those all coming together in the right way would kill you in one shot.

But its like asking how hard do i have to hit you to knock your head off? It doesnt really have an answer and will be different depending on all things...

gnolam
01-25-2005, 11:41 PM
But one can still come up with estimates for the Guaranteed Toast Radius (tm) http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

SailorSteve
01-26-2005, 03:11 AM
From Naval Weapons of World War Two, by John Campbell:

"The 290lb (132kg) amatol charge would split a 7/8in (22mm) hull at 20ft (6.1m), and probably cause the submarine to surface at twice this distance."

The British tried a very large DC with a 2000lb (907kg) warhead, but testing confirmed that it only moved the guaranteed kill radius out to 30ft.

Magnetic detonators were experimented with by the British and Americans, but the magnetic fuses required special care, and were not used in service.

gnolam
01-26-2005, 06:24 AM
Ah, thanks!
And once again, an old Amiga sim manual proves to be pretty accurate http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

EFileTahi
01-26-2005, 06:50 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gnolam:
Ah, thanks!
And once again, an old Amiga sim manual proves to be pretty accurate http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Amiga used to kick ***! Ever played Silent Service II on amiga?

Redwine
01-26-2005, 08:36 AM
Depth Charges Lethal Radius was not too high, as you can see at this link......

http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WAMBR_ASW.htm

As you can read, a 135 Kg of TNT depth charge, (mounted on 300Lbs and 420Lbs units)had only about 4.3 meters as lethal radius....... on a 0.875 inch hull, this was increased up to 6.1 meters and more when TNT was replaced by MINOL or AMATOL explosive........

Really they needs to explode so near of the hull to kill the sub..............

gnolam
01-26-2005, 10:21 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by EFileTahi:
Amiga used to kick ***! Ever played Silent Service II on amiga? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Err, I said so in my first post, but yes. And it rocks http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
I still play it from time to time...


Redwine: confirms what SailorSteve said. Now I can laugh at the movies' indestructible submarines with confidence http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

blue_76
01-26-2005, 10:45 AM
getting depth charges that close to a sub was a rather rare occasion though.. most simply exploded harmlessly in the distance