The Torpedo So Good No One Knew Where it Came From


The Type 93 Torpedo, colloquially known by military historians as the Long Lance, was easily one of the most high-tech things on or in the water during the whole of WW2. One of the reasons it was considered so advanced was because of its simply ridiculous range compared to other torpedoes of the day.

As you can see using this handy chart, the Type 93 Torpedo had literally double the potential range of the torpedoes the Americans were using at that time. In fact, under the right conditions the Type 93 could, theoretically, hit a target from 8 times further away than the nearest comparable allied torpedo. It was that good.

The range was so unthinkable that when Allied forces first started being hit by these things, they had no idea where the hell they were being fired from. This was because they used their own torpedoes as a frame of reference when it came to gauging where the shots had been fired from. Since their torpedoes had a range that was (at least) half of what the Type 93 was capable of, when the figures were plotted on a map, the shots would appear as though they were being fired from an empty section of the ocean. This led the Allies to beging assuming that the Japanese were sometimes attacking them from tiny hidden submarines working alongside their various warships.

The Japanese actually had tiny submarines, but that's a story for another day.
The Japanese actually had tiny submarines, but that’s a story for another day.

In fact, intitally, the Allies refused to believe that the Type 93 even existed because its range and power was so unbelievable and it wasn’t uncommon for the Allies to blame hits from Type 93’s on mines. This, coupled with the fact that Type 93 left almost no trail in the water, it was pretty much a secret until about halfway through the war when the Allies captured a bunch of secret Japanese documents detailing its existence. Only then did they realise, “holy crap these things kick all kinds of ass, we have to get our hands on one!”.

However, getting hold of one of the torpedoes proved to be especially difficult because the Japanese had a nasty habit of throwing them overboard as soon as they came under attack. Not because they wanted to protect the valuable science contained inside them mind you, but because they had a habit of randomly exploding if they were knocked nudged about. We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we found out that, that was a deliberate feature included to ensure that each Type 93 had a 100% kill ratio.