depth charge

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depth charge,

explosive device used against submarines and other underwater targets, either rolled into the water from rails on the stern of a ship or propelled from depth charge throwers. The charge is detonated by water pressure at a predetermined depth. It does not have to come into actual contact with the target to destroy it, since the concussion can accomplish this if the charge explodes near enough. First used by the British navy in World War I, it contributed significantly to the defeat of the German U-boat campaign.

Depth Charge


one of the types of naval weaponry designed to combat submerged submarines.

The depth charge is a shell with a powerful explosive substance or atomic charge contained in a metal housing that may be of a cylindrical, spherocylindrical, teardrop, or other shape. The explosion of the depth charge breaks the hull of the submarine and damages or destroys it. The explosion is set off by a fuse that may engage when the charge strikes the hull of the submarine at a given depth or when the charge passes the submarine at a distance not greater than the radius of action of a proximity fuse. The stabilizing tail assembly gives the spherocylindrical and teardrop depth charges a stable attitude when moving on a trajectory. Depth charges are subdivided into aviation and ship charges; ships launch rocket depth charges from starters and fire depth charges from single- or multiple-barreled launchers or dump them from stern-mounted bomb release mechanisms. Depth charges were first widely used in World War I (1914-18) and remained a very important type of antisubmarine weapon in World War II (1939-45).


Kvitnitskii, A. A. Bor’ba s podvodnymi lodkami (po inostrannym dannym). Moscow, 1963.
Shmakov, N. A. Osnovy voenno-morskogo dela. Moscow, 1947. Pages 155-57.


depth charge

[′depth ‚chärj]
A cylindrical or teardrop-shaped container holding a charge of TNT or other explosive, dropped from the deck of a ship, and detonated at a preset depth as an antisubmarine weapon.
References in periodicals archive ?
U-94 was finished--Its pressure hull had suffered both numerous depth-charge attacks and gunfire from the corvette, and the ramming had smashed in the front of the conning tower and split the hull.
My task on Bulldog, and on later ships, was to prepare, load and operate our torpedo tubes or depth-charge launchers.
We zeroed in on the target, fired our depth-charges from the stern and unleashed a newish weapon called a "hedgehog" from the bow.
They may have hit a mine, suffered an accident or been hit by depth-charges.
But it comprehensively depth-charges the Hollywood version of the story, as told in U571.
Shock waves radiating from the miniature depth-charges create localized pressures approaching those of the deepest ocean trench.
While the historical account is there, a number of narratives by participants on both sides figuratively place the reader in a merchant ship, the cockpit of an aircraft or even a U-boat under attack by depth-charges.
The Edinburgh Evening News, meanwhile, were crowing when told their operation would be unaffected by the depth-charges dropped from on high.