depth charge

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Related to depth charge: U Boat

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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Depth charges were dropped in various patterns to give the best chances of success.
For this operation, our aircraft's weapon load was improvised from Japanese 50-kg (110-lb) HE bombs and 375-lb depth charges. The latter were, of course, our anti-submarine weapons normally fused to explode at a certain depth under water.
There was a group of off-duty stokers standing around the fiddly, abaft the funnel, who were to assist In reloading the depth charge throwers.
Campbell loosed depth charges and then circled to linger over the target area.
Two depth charges exploded dead ahead of the periscope.
However, the PBY's attack had caused turbulence in the water, which prevented Lawrence from acquiring a good echo and reporting when to drop their own depth charges. He could only say that the U-boat was moving left.
Nights spent drinking Depth Charges - a pint of Snakebite with a tumbler of Tia Maria in the bottom - are a blur.
The fire broke out after a depth charge exploded prematurely during a training exercise on May 29, 1962.
Lt Pat O Mathuna and Stoker William Mynes suffered severe burns fighting the fire on the LE Cliona in 1962 after a depth charge exploded prematurely during an exercise.
U-Boat depth charge personnel get ready to drop their charges in 1941