The Brennan Torpedo.
Mr L. Brennan, the young Victorian who invented tho above torpedo, writes to a brother in Melbourne describing the official trial of his invention on June 26 on the Solent. The installation was on the Isle of Wight, at the point where the channel was narrowest, between Cliff End and Hurst Castle, and tho width of the Solent at that point is 1,300 yards. Among those present were the Secretary of War, Lord Wolseley, Lord Tennyson, the Inspector-general of Fortifications, all the members of the Ordnance and Defence Committees, and a host of admirals and generals. The object of attack was an old paddle steamer 160 ft long by 30ft beam, and about 600 tons burthen when loaded. The young inventor goes on to describe the experiment, which was highly successful: — The tug was signalled to run past, and was soon seen coming round from Yarmouth (Isle of Wight) with the hulk in tow. She was going out with the tide at an estimated speed over the ground of fifteen knots. The distance betweer the tug and the hulk was 400 yds, and I estimated that from tho direction she was taking she would pass Oliff End at a distance of about I,oooyds, which proved to bo as nearly as possible the case.
Meanwhile I had taken up my position in the observing station, together with Lieutenant Collins, R.F., who has charge of the installation, and who, daring tho t dal, manipulated the electric signalling apparatus between us and the engine-room, under my directions. When the hulk had arrived at a point which I judged would just bring her, going at the same speed, exactly in front of the installation at the anno time that the torpedo would reach her, if kept going in a straight line, I gave the order “ Start her,” and she at once ran down the slipway into the water. For the first 209 yards the torpedo ran on the surface, and then descended to her proper depth of 9ft, which she kept for tho remainder of the run. The object of keeping on the surface for tho first 200 yards is to allow the torpedo to get over a stretch of shallow water into tho channel, otherwise she would strike the boulders at the bottom and injure herself. The chase was now most exciting, especially to the onlookers, to most of whom it appeared that the torpedo would go wide of the mark ; in fact, they thought that she was more likely to hit the tug than the target. They did not reckon on the fact that the target was going out on the tide,'and that tho torpedo would partake of any motion due to that cause in the same way as the bulk. They also did not know that tho torpedo, at the first period of its run, was working in almost still water, and that it would be in the channel, where the full force of the tide, between four and five knots, would be felt. The betting for the first third of the run was 10 to 1 on the hulk, but it soon changed when tho torpedo curved smoothly round and faced her prey. The betting was now about 10 to 1 on the torpedo, and continued so for the next third, when it again changed, as it seemed as if the torpedo would run under the stern of the hulk. The torpedo again changed its course, and, turning, ran almost in a parallel direction to the bulk until it came a little nearer the bow than the stern, when it turned again, and while every breath was held, and every heart gave a spasmodic flutter, it darted at the bulk and struck her fair amidships, There was a stately rise of a vast body of water, a sudden crack under foot, the water continued to rise to a height of 300 ft, and one could just see tho stern and stem of the hulk protruding from the sides of the column, the middle portion being completely carried away; then the water fell, and the great hulk, which a few seconds before had been a black patch on the sunlit sea, had disappeared for ever from the sight of man. I felt a strong inclination to rub my eyes, it was so like a dream and bo different from anything of my ordinary experience,
but a ringlt g oheor and a clapping of hands along the hill sides and the cliffs beyond brought mo to myself, and I was soon surrounded by numerous friends who were loud - in their congratulations.
A luncheon at the Totland Bay Hotel followed (given by feir Leicester Sraythe, general officer commanding the Southern District). Mr Stanhope made a speech, in which he said that a good deal of opposition had been shown to the torpedo in Parliament, and even ridicule had been cast upon it, but that ho felt that, after the demonstration they had had that day, the Government were fully justified in the course they had taken ; and it was with great pleasure he congratulated Mr Brennan on the invention of hj weapon which would prove of incalculable value in the defences of the Empire. Of course I had to reply, and in doing so I did justice to the valuable assistance I have had from Temperley, and also stated that it was satisfactory to both of us that the invention was for the use of our own country and our own country alone.
After luncheon we returned to Cliff End, and had a run of another torpedo, which Mr Stanhope steered himself, Lord Wolseley being with us in the conning tower. They were both delighted with the ease and certainty with which the weapon could be directed, and Mr Stanhope almost succeeded in hitting a small basket floating on the water at a distance of about 1,200 yards, after which he ran the torpedo for the remainder of the 2,000 yards, testing the steering power all the time. The torpedo has now taken its proper place in the estimation of all the officials at the W.O. and the Admiralty, I hope, and I look on Wednesday, 26th June, as the day on which it left doubt behind and entered on its phase of acknowledged usefulness. The post is about to close, so with love to yourself and Joe, —I am, etc., Louis Bbennan.
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The Brennan Torpedo., Evening Star, Issue 8008, 10 September 1889
The Brennan Torpedo. Evening Star, Issue 8008, 10 September 1889
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