B-25 Experiments With Glide Torpedoes

Last revised March 11, 2000

One of the problems with conventional torpedo bombing from aircraft is the need to approach the target in a low straight-and-level pass before releasing the torpedo, exposing the attacking aircraft to antiaircraft fire. One of the possible solutions to this problem was to equip the torpedo with a set of wings and a tail, release it from the aircraft at a safe distance, and let it glide by itself to the vicinity of the target.

Later production blocks of the B-25J had been provided at the factory with the capability of carrying glide bombs and glide torpedoes underneath their fuselages. Several missions were flown by B-25Js in the closing days of the war with glide torpedoes. The glide torpedo consisted of a standard Navy torpedo attached to a jettisonable airframe that was fitted with wings and a tail. This assembly was to be carried underneath the fuselage of the B-25J and would be released from the aircraft at a safe height and distance, from which it would glide to the vicinity of the target. A set of explosive bolts would separate the torpedo from its airframe when it was at the correct altitude above the water for normal launch.

The First Provisional Glide Torpedo Squadron was formed to test the concept in actual combat. This squadron was assigned to the 41st Bombardment Group. This unit was issued with several B-25J-1s that were specially modified to carry the glide torpedo underneath the fuselage. The glide torpedo was taken into action for the first time on July 31, 1945 in an attack on shipping targets in Sasebo Harbor, Kyushu. Another attack was made on August 1 against targets in Nagasaki harbor.

Since the torpedoes had been released from distances as far as twelve miles from the target, with breakaway being made immediately thereafter, it was difficult to determine if any significant damage was actually done in these attacks. It was concluded that it would be necessary in the future for reconnaissance aircraft to accompany the B-25s on these missions to determine if they were effective. However, the war in the Pacific ended before any further glide torpedo missions could be carried out.


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