Torpedo warfare, Portsmouth, 1879.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News' (Vol 79/2 p 377). The torpedo was first used in warfare during the American civil war. The invention of the self-propelled underwater torpedo in 1868 made it necesary to provide small fast vesels suitable for launching these torpedoes against enemy ships. One of these was the 'Lightning', a galvanised steel vesel 84 ft 6 ins long. The armament consisted of two 14-inch diameter Whitehead torpedoes, stowed amidships on transporting carriages and rails, which were discharged by means of compresed air from a pivoted tube mounted in the bows. Here, searchlights illuminate targets during night trials.