Mousetrap Anti-Submarine Rocket Launcher
|Country of Origin
|2.25-inch MK 3 solid rocket motor
|30 pounds TNT or 33 pounds Torpex
Contributor: David Stubblebineww2dbaseThe Mousetrap Anti-Submarine weapon was a forward firing array of small rockets designed to deliver a pattern of charges ahead of the firing vessel that covered an area roughly 40-yards across. Mousetrap was a direct follow-on design to the very successful British Hedgehog forward firing anti-submarine mortar. In fact, after some trial and error with the Mousetrap, it was found that the Hedgehog's 33-pound torpex warhead was more effective than earlier Mousetrap warheads and the Hedgehog warhead was used in the Mousetrap rockets. The principal difference between the two design concepts was that Hedgehog used a spigot-mortar launching system that created a 40-ton recoil force against the deck of the launching ship while the Mousetrap used a rocket and rail system that created almost no recoil. This also meant the launching systems mounted to the ships could be much lighter for the Mousetraps than for the Hedgehogs.
In both cases, the weapons fired more conventional contact bombs rather than in depth charges. This had the advantages of simplified detonator mechanisms, faster sinking rates, instant feedback on whether an attack had successfully contacted a submarine, and did not interfere with sonar or ASDIC operations in those cases without contact. It also meant the Hedgehog and Mousetrap system could use smaller explosive charges since, by definition, they would be in direct contact with the submarine when they detonated rather than in proximity.
While the Hedgehog systems were generally considered more effective, the lighter launching systems and reduced recoil of the Mousetrap meant that they could be mounted on a larger number of patrol vessel types. Both the British Royal Navy and the United States Navy used both the Hedgehog and the Mousetrap systems during World War II but the Mousetrap was used more widely by the Americans, including in the Pacific Theater.
Even though Mousetrap was developed to sink German submarines, the system was responsible for sinking at least one Allied warship. On 3 Jan 1944, while anchored off Ambrose Light at the entrance to New York Harbor, the destroyer USS Turner suffered several magazine explosions attributed to faulty Mousetrap contact fuses. The Turner sank and 138 crewmen were lost.
Development of the Mousetrap led directly to the development of the substantially similar tank-mounted T37 "Whiz-Bang" demolition rocket for use against bunkers and other hardened land targets and also the "Woofus" rocket array launched from landing craft for shore bombardment.
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Last Major Revision: Jul 2019
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|3 Jan 1944
|While anchored off Ambrose Light about 10 miles east of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, United States at the entrance to New York Harbor, the destroyer USS Turner suffered several magazine explosions attributed to faulty Mousetrap contact fuses. The Turner sank at 0827 hours and 138 crewmen were lost. Nearby ships picked up the survivors, landing the injured to the hospital at Sandy Hook. A United States Coast Guard Sikorsky HNS-1 helicopter flown by Lieutenant Commander Frank A. Erickson delivered two cases of blood plasma from New York to Sandy Hook; it was the first time that a rotary wing aircraft had been used in a life-saving operation.
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Winston Churchill, 1935