HUMAN-TORPEDOA large part of the surface of the Earth is covered with water. Since ancient times people preferred to live near rivers, lakes, seas and oceans, learning the techniques of crossing water spaces. It was so even in the ancient world, as the formation of the merchant fleet, there are warships escorting the cargo ships.

Original shipbuilders was created solely for surface vessels, however, attracted the most advanced depths of the sea, where it would be possible with impunity to attack the ships and vessels of the enemy. Beliefs and legends mention some attempts at the creation of submarines, however, took centuries to practice their rational design.
One of the first made it the great Creator of the Renaissance Italian scientist, artist and engineer Leonardo da Vinci. Claim that Leonardo destroyed the drawings of his submarine, basing it this way: “People are so evil that they are ready to kill each other even at the bottom of the sea.” However, with the improvement of science and technology designers-shipbuilders in many countries have increasingly tried to create submarines.
The first attack of the enemy, carried out the submarine, was taken by the Americans in 1776 during the war of the American colonies for independence – this was the beginning of the submarine fleet in General, and small submarines in particular, classified today as underwater subversive means. The submarine for this purpose was established in 1773 by Yale University student David Bushnell.
Creating a submarine called Tagie (eng. – turtle), Bushnell independently designed a system that allowed the submarine to sink and float when filling or emptying ballast tanks, located at the bottom of Tartle – the principle of its action is still used in the construction of modern submarines. In addition, Bushnell has provided emergency ballast lead weight, which during an emergency ascent is easily disconnected from the body.
Human-torpedo V
Man-torpedo V:
And the driver of the torpedo; B – bomber;
1 – detachable warhead, 2 – limb of a platoon of clockwork, 3 – bow ballast tank, 4 – bow panel batteries, 5 instrument and control panel, 6 – open cockpit, 7 – surge tank, 8 – aft panel batteries, 9 – electric motor; 10 – the aft ballast tank, 11 – coaxial propellers, 12 drive vertical steering (rudder), 13 – hydroplanes, 14 – vertical rudder

In the fully submerged position of the boat could be no more than an hour, however, when using the ventilation system of the facing surface of the pipe from closing when submerged valves stay under water can not styles limited the variety. By the way, this device, later called “snorkel” is also used on modern submarines.
The boat was equipped with a compass for maintaining the course and underwater pressure gauge for controlling the depth of immersion.
The movement of the submarine resulted in the only team member using the vertical and horizontal rotor blades as the turbine of the mill.
The object of the first submarine attack was a 64-gun English frigate Eagle, flagship of Vice-Admiral Richard Howe, commander of British squadron, which was at anchor in the outer Harbor of new York in June 1776. The fleet consisted of 20 frigates and about 200 transports, which were 40-strong army of invasion.
Submarine, driven by Sergeant Lee, went on the attack on Eagl on the evening of September 5, 1776. The sailor safely to the frigate, but could not get a drill in metal sheathed the bottom of the ship. Tartle had to go back to home empty-handed.
So, the first real attack of the enemy from under the water were unsuccessful, but the next attempt took place only 90 years old when, in 1862 – 1864, in the midst of the Civil war, the navies of northerners and southerners joined combat submarines Alligator and the Hunley.
After the unification of Italy and the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy in March 1861 was formed the Royal Navy of Italy – RMI (Regia Marina Italiana). Of course, the fleet of the new Kingdom for many years inferior to the squadrons of the great Maritime powers. That is why the Italian sailors we had some ideas about ways to destroy superior enemy forces.
The idea of using a slow-speed torpedo, managed sitting on it riding two divers-saboteurs to carry out acts of sabotage against the enemy’s ships appeared during the First world war. Miniature submarine-tandem with a pneumatic motor has been developed by engineer-captain 3rd rank R Rossetti and Lieutenant of the medical service of R. Paolucci, who took as a basis the German 510-mm torpedo. This commando boat with a crew of two people is called “Mignatta” S-1 (from the Italian. mignatta “leech”). To the head of the torpedo was attached to the two 170-kg charge of TNT, which was fixed to the hull with powerful magnets, and would be undermined by a clockwork mechanism. The length of this man-the torpedo was 8.2 m with a displacement of 1.5 T. the Sub-tandem speeds up to 4 knots and had a range of 8-9 miles. Saboteurs dressed in a pressurized diving suits.
Human-torpedo SLC
Man-torpedo SLC:
And the driver’s seat of the torpedo; B – location of the diver-bomber;
1 – detachable warhead, 2 – halo platoon of clockwork, 3 – clutch detach the warheads, 4 – eye for fixing rope in the bow torpedoes, 5 – protective visor for driver, 6 – instrument control 7 – container of the battery, 8 – motor, 9 – lever quick dip, 10 – ballast capacity for a quick dip, 11 – 20 kg reserve tank of air, a 12 – baggage compartment for the reserve tank and tool for cutting nets, 13 – differentional feed tank 14 screw – in ring fixed to the nozzle, 15 – the rudder 16 is the wheel depth, 17 – plug for battery recharge, 18 – hole to fill water compartment

After several months of training it was decided to carry out sabotage in the port of Pola, where based Austrian battleships.
31 Oct 1918 in the operation of the Italians was sunk the battleship Viribus Unitis. However, on 29 October, two days before the sabotage, Austria-Hungary sued for peace, and her Navy began to prepare to surrender.
In such circumstances in the conduct of diversion was not necessary.
However, the experiment failed, and to implement this idea came back 17 years later. In 1935, during the escalation of Anglo-Italian relations due to the aggression in Ethiopia started work on the creation of new assault vehicles. Two young engineer of the Navy sub-lieutenants, Teseo Tesei and Emilio Longing proposed a project managed by divers torpedo, able to make small transitions in a fully submerged state.
In the torpedo workshops Officine San Bartolomeo (La Spezia) was built two prototypes. In January 1936 inventors personally held a series of secret tests, which ended with success. In the same year began the training of personnel.
10 June 1940 Italy declared war on Britain and France. By the time the Italian Navy was already fourth in the world in numbers. Mussolini believed that if Italy will control the Mediterranean sea, it will be able to expand the “New Roman Empire”, to join the Kingdom of Tunisia, the Balkans, Corsica and nice.
In November 1941 the British Mediterranean fleet based in Alexandria (Egypt), consisted of two battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant. To neutralize these battleships, it was decided to use managed divers of the torpedo. These sabotage devices was the informal name Maiale (ital. -pig), the English sources that torpedo called Pig, Hog, Chariot, Human Torpedo, Slow Speed Torpedo.
Frogmen who drove Maiale, used a special breathing apparatus-a rebreather, driving in a closed circuit pure oxygen, which allowed to get rid of air bubbles, which could attract the attention of the enemy. Such “aqualung”, developed by Pirelli, was called A. R. O.
Maiale was, in fact, torpedoes reduced speed. They had a length of 6.7 meters and a width of 0,533 meter. The claimed maximum depth was 15 m, but in fact frogmen sank to a depth of 30 meters. At maximum speed 2.3 node Maiale floated up to 150 km. the First series of 12 of these submarines were built in 1940, and until 1943 they were released more than 80 units.
The Italian frogmen on the SLC Maiale (Siluro a Lenta Corsa -
Italian frogmen in SLC Maiale (Siluro a Lenta Corsa – “slow torpedo”)
The design of the devices allowed to have on Board 220 kg of explosives. In 1935 the first prototype was equipped with a motor of 1.6 HP
In the night of 18 December 1941, three Maiale with six combat swimmers went on Board a submarine Serie in the direction of Alexandria. Alexandria port was equipped with metal nets, to prevent a torpedo attack. To get into the waters of the port, combat swimmers had to first cut network, while avoiding mines, and then not to catch the eye of British patrols.
Italian commandos successfully infiltrated the waters of the port and set the explosive time bomb on 3 ships: the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant and the tanker Saratoga.
Exhausted after the operation, all six swimmers were caught by the British and, ironically, delivered to one of them booby-trapped ships. For a few minutes before the explosion, Lieutenant commander De La Penne said one of the British officers: “Save your team”… the Lieutenant managed to escape from the battleship Queen Elizabeth, taking advantage of the chaos on the ship.
During explosions, the tanker Saratoga, and located near him tanker Jervis was seriously damaged. The battleships Valiant and Queen Elizabeth sunk. However, externally, it was almost unnoticed because of the shallow waters in the Bay, the ships only slightly plunged and fell on the ground. To enter the enemy misleading, the British continued on the battleships combat training, raise flags, etc. to Bring the battleships out of the Bay, the British were only able through 17 months, when the war with Italy had already been completed.
According to Churchill, the Alexandria operation was “an example of courage and generosity”. The courage lay in the fact of penetration in the waters of the well protected port, and the generosity that Italian frogmen warned the British about the explosion a few minutes before him, which helped to avoid casualties. In 1945, Lieutenant De La Penne awarded the British medal “For courage”.
Another result of the operation was hit Маiаlе in the hands of technical experts of the British Navy, which appreciated the efficiency of the Italian human-torpedoes.
Another coveted target for Italian submarine was in Gibraltar. It was only necessary to find the method of delivery of combat swimmers and their torpedoes for the waters of the enemy port. The unique geographical position of Gibraltar, located near a neutral country, it has suggested to set up a secret base, where means of assault will be able to go to sea.
At the time Italy entered the war a private merchant vessel Оltегга was at the Gibraltar RAID and was interned in Spain. Part of the crew eked out here sad meager existence, guarding in accordance with international law, property of the shipowner. Prince Borghese, commander of all the assault vehicles, the idea arose to use this ship, which stood very near the entrance in the base of Gibraltar, for their own purposes. Negotiations with the shipowner was successful, and he appealed to the Spanish authorities a statement that he intends to fix Оltегга and sell it to the Spanish society of shipping. The vessel was towed into the port of Algeciras and osvirtual at the outer breakwater. Thus, the Italians were only six miles from the entrance to the waters of the British military base.
The crew Оltегга replaced technicians and sailors from assault vehicles (from the previous crew left only the captain and chief engineer). All commandos are selected for this operation were trained on merchant ships, where they adopt the manner of dress, eating, drinking, Smoking, remembered the terms of the Maritime slang, and then, providing them with passports, groups of two or three people were transported to Algeciras under the guise of a new crew, sent to replace the old one. In fact, it was the specialists who were supposed to equip on Оltегга base for mounting and production of guided torpedoes, sent from Italy dismantled. After a few months on the ship were functioning workshop with all necessary equipment.
Оltегга careened, in-Board torch cut a large hole. When the ship straightened, the hole disappeared under water – controlled torpedoes from the flooded hold could easily go to sea. In the fall of 1942, everything was ready for deployment on ship and sabotage tools.
Launching Маіа1е SLС. The streamlined shape of the compartment for tools and a backup respiratory device shows that this is one of the first samples of pre-war human-torpedoes
Launching Маіа1е SLС. The streamlined shape of the compartment for tools and a backup respiratory device shows that this is one of the first samples of the pre-war man-torpedoes
Soon, from Spices, delivered torpedoes, oxygen devices, equipment, overalls, dismantled and Packed in boxes so that they were taken by customs officials for materials and spare parts for repair of the vessel. For the torpedoes was followed by frogmen: under the guise of merchant seamen they arrived on the ship and watched the Assembly of torpedoes.
By December 1942, after four months of hard work, everything was ready for the release of three human-torpedoes.
Soon to Gibraltar entered squadron consisting of the battleship “Nelson”, battle cruiser “Renown” carriers “Furies” and “Formidable”, and numerous escort ships.
The Italians designated the attack of the ships of the squadron on 7 Dec. That evening all three crew left on torpedoes database Olterra and headed for the entrance to the base. The interval between releases is one hour. The swimmers did not know that the port security these days has been considerably strengthened. In addition to the usual patrol boats plied the RAID was added every two or three minutes made reset depth bombs.
First crew got to the entrance of the port, overcame obstacles and under the water moved to the battleship “Nelson”. When the target was only a few hundred meters, they spotted a hydrophone patrol boats. Immediately he had dropped a depth charge, then another, and both drivers died.
The second human torpedo was seen from the Mall and fired from a machine gun. Her crew tried to go in depth, but was stunned with the boat with depth charges. The torpedo sinking and rising to the surface, saboteurs in a semi-conscious state climbed the ladder on an American ship standing in the Harbor, and was immediately captured.
The third man-the torpedo was caught up in the anxiety that rose at the base when she was still at a great distance from the entrance to the port. The commander decided to dive and go under water, but close to tears of deep bombs that could injure the person for a few hundred meters, forced him to abandon the attack. When man-torpedo surfaced and moved back to the Olterra, the commander found that his partner had disappeared.
So, of the six crew members that came into the attack, he returned alone: three were killed and two were captured. On questioning, the Italians claimed to have been delivered to the base in a submarine.
Failure when using subversive man-torpedo demonstrated that their time has passed, the protection of naval bases has risen to such a level as to penetrate to the “top” on the dashboard has become virtually impossible. But the frogmen were forced to switch from attack warships in a secure bases to attack merchant vessels in foreign raids.
11 November 1942 Anglo-American forces landed in North Africa. The tenth fleet was given orders to stop the supply of the new army. According to the reconnaissance, in an Algerian port and at anchorage for unloading ships were many. It was decided to carry out a combined operation with the simultaneous participation of guided torpedoes and combat swimmers. The crews of the torpedoes must penetrate into the port, and swimmers to attack ships at anchor. Shipping assault vehicles to the scene of operations was assigned to the submarine Ambra.
On 4 December, the submarine left the Spice, taking on Board three of the crew managed ten torpedoes and combat swimmers. Swimming Ambra held safely. On 11 December, she approached the Algeria and, clinging to the bottom, the evening in a submerged position entered the RAID. With an 18-metre depth through the hatch was released dressed in a diving suit senior assistant to the commander of the boat captain-Lieutenant Iacobacci, which monitored the situation and reported it to the commander of the boat on the phone. When it became clear that the port is still far away, submarine, quietly moving at the bottom, went into the RAID and top the observer ran its course. Finally, 21.45 Ambra penetrated directly into the center of the group of six ships.
At 22.30 frogmen started exiting through the hatch of the submarine for half an hour, they all left the submarine. Behind them came the crews managed human-torpedoes. At 23.20 all participants of the attack appeared on the surface. The observer explained the situation to the swimmers and returned to the submarine.
Sailors waiting in Ambra the return of the spies, heard numerous explosions of depth charges. At 3.00 when the time stipulated for the return of drivers torpedoes and frogmen, long expired, Ambra beginning of the maneuver waste. On 15 December, the submarine made the trip, returning to La Spezia.
What happened at the port? The commander of the group guided torpedoes, making sure that access to the port impossible, decided to attack the ships at anchor. The first crew approached the large ship, but the malfunction of a torpedo, most likely damaged when the storm blew off the attack. Taking in tow the two swimmers, the commander tried to return to the submarine, but to find her he could not. The Italians could only go ashore. Destroying a torpedo, the four of us went on land, where it was almost immediately detained by French soldiers.
The second crew successfully mined a large ship, and then, also taking in tow the two stray from the forces frogmen, moved to the shore. In 4.05 they made landfall, but already at 6.00 am, they were detained by Scottish hands.
The third crew decided to attack a large tanker. The tanker was not lateral keels (case is pretty rare), so the charge had to attach to propellers.
Control panel of the driver SSB Maiale
The driver control panel SSB Maiale
Since the warhead of the torpedo consisted of two charges of 150 kg, it was decided to select a second victim. It was a big ship — a charge attached in the middle of his body. On the way back the torpedo was illuminated by the searchlight and fired from a machine gun. Not finding the submarine, commandos at 4.30 swam to the shore, where they were immediately detained by the British.
Frogmen-saboteurs whose actions were complicated by the cold and strong currents, was able to mine only one ship. After the assignment, they, too, were all arrested. About this attack of British Admiralty announced: “At 0.30 min 12 Dec numerous means of assault attacked merchant ships in the Bay of Algiers and was attached to some of them mines and explosive charges. The British steamship Ocean Vanquisher (7174 tons) and the Norwegian steamship Berta (1493 tons) was sunk, the British court Empire Centaur (7041 tons) and the Armatan (7587 t) – damaged. Captured 16 of the Italians.”
The operation had some success, however it was too small. While using 16-year-saboteurs could expect a lot more. During this operation the commander of the boat Ambra captain 3rd rank, Arillo was awarded the gold medal “For bravery”, and the members of the assault team were awarded silver medals.
The use of Italian guided torpedoes is almost over. However, at the time of the capitulation of Italy on Board the Olterra again preparations were made for the attack of Gibraltar by using torpedoes new design of the SSB, where the crew were covered by a light metal casing, resulting in several increased its resistance to explosions of depth charges, but to realize their plans, the saboteurs did not have time.
This project was developed by major Mario Maselli and captain Travelingi. Themselves human-torpedo was built in 1943 in the torpedo workshops Officine San Bartolomeo La Spezia. In the fighting did not participate. Currently, two human-torpedoes SSB are in museums Imperial War Museum (London, UK) and Historic Ship Nautilus & Submarine Force Museum (Groton, USA).
These double torpedo Maiale SSB was not published. We only know that they had a greater diameter, batteries of larger capacity, the motor capacity of 7.5 HP, a 300-kg warhead (or two 280-kg warhead) and could speed up to 4 knots.
Specifications SLC Maiale
Underwater speed, knots……………..2,3 -4,5
Maximum diving depth, m. ….30
Autonomy, miles…..4 miles to 4.5 uz.
15 miles at 2,3 bonds.
Crew…………………………………. ……2
Submerged displacement, t…………. …1,5
Length on the body, m………………………. …6,7
Length with screw and rudder, m…………… …7,4
Case diameter, mm…………………….. 533..
Electric motor power, HP…… …1,6
Warhead mass, kg…………………….. 200..


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