Austrian Torpedo Boats

The first ever torpedo boat was a product of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. Find out about the origins of the torpedo boat and how it managed to change the nature of naval warfare.

Amongst the many interesting floaters that form part of the Austrian navy is the unforgettable torpedo boat. A torpedo boat is a highly effective tool for any navy to possess. This is because it is a relatively small sized boat and is specifically designed to carry torpedoes in battle. Initially torpedo boats were designed in such a manner that they were to be rammed straight into the enemy ships with the star torpedoes on board.

Later on the design evolved and torpedoes could now be launched from the small boats. These were self propelled whitehead torpedoes and were created in order to counter the enemy battle ships along with other heavily armed ships that were slow in speed. Hence the fast moving Austrian torpedo boats proved to be very effective in the battle zone.

The origins

The torpedo that exists today has been derived from the one made by captain Giovanni Luppis in 1860. It came into being in the Croatian city of Rijeka which was at that time part of the Austrian-Hungary Empire. The public got its first look at the amazing invention in 1860 and around six years later the torpedo was demonstrated along with the help of Robert Whitehead. The factory where the first ever torpedo was built was situated in Rijeka.

It is from here that the torpedo boats gained credibility and were increasingly being incorporated in the naval forces of the leading countries around the world. The period of the American Civil war saw great use being made of these torpedo boats. These torpedo boats served to overcome hurdles that the South was facing against the mighty Union Army in the American Civil War. The fast speed boats were specifically designed in order to target the larger capital ships that were part of the blockading fleet.

A steam powered modified version of the torpedo boat was also developed during these years. It functioned like a semi-submarine as only a few inches of the boat could be seen above the water. This made them very hard to detect especially during the dark night hours which made them a highly effective component of the navy.

Self propelled torpedoes

The coastsaver as it was known back then was the first ever prototype of the torpedo in Europe. It was developed by an Austrian naval officer who displayed it to the world in 1860. Initially the navy rejected to take up the project which forced the inventor to take other alternatives. He managed to sign a contract with an English engineer which allowed them to perfect the invention. This resulted in the submarine like weapon known as the Minenschiff which is considered to be the first self propelled torpedo. On December 21 1866 it was officially presented to the Imperial Naval commission.

The torpedo was a revolution in naval warfare. This is because on one side battle ships with bigger and better guns were being made but the weight of these guns slowed down the speed of the ships. This made them vulnerable to be attacked by a small fast moving half sunken self propelled torpedo boat that could easily reach it undetected.

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