The single greatest surprise the U.S. Navy suffered in the Solomon Islands campaign was the Japanese Type 93 torpedo. Fired by cruisers and destroyers, it was much more massive than U.S. torpedoes—but more important was its spectacular combination of long range and high speed. U.S. Navy captains were trained to zigzag their ships when they were in what they thought to be torpedo range. The Type 93 allowed the Japanese to hit ships that did not zigzag because their commanders believed them to be safe from torpedo fire. When the light cruiser USS Helena (CL-50) was sunk on 6 July 1943, it was assumed she had been hit by a Japanese submarine because of the distance between opposing forces (see “A Promise Kept,” April 2018, pp. 34–39). In fact, she had been hit by a Type 93.
A Massive Torpedo
By Norman Friedman