The Hunley's Torpedo

Torpedo Cutaway

Note: Illustration is a probable torpedo layout based on Singer's fuse design

Hunley's torpedo was a sealed canister with 90 to 130 lbs. (conflicting sources) of black powder with a lanyard detonated fuse; attached to an iron barb. Designed to be rammed into a blockade ship well below the water line; and detonated by lanyard after the sub has backed away. Apparently the sub was originally designed to tow a torpedo and drag it into its target; but this method wasn't very effective.

Hunley Torpedo System

The torpedo was constructed out of a copper canister which contained the powder and fuse. The canister was attached to an iron "thimble" that slipped over the end of the sub's spar. This allowed the torpedo to slide off the spar as Hunley backed away. Sources vary as to the design; many describe it as a "can" stuck on the end of the spar, with the iron barb protruding out of its center. It would seem more likely that the iron barb would connect directly to the thimble with the canister hung below (as shown in the illustrations on this site). This would transfer the impact from the ramming through the barb, directly to the spar and the sub itself, rather than through the sensitive canister.

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