World's first torpedo - Interesting Engineering

World’s first torpedo

January 9, 2013


It was invented by Arab inventor named Hassan Al Rammah between 1270 and 1280, who worked in Syria after the Mongol destruction of Baghdad. He wrote a treatise on gunpowder and rockets called “The Book of Military Horsemanship and Ingenious War Devices”. This book included more than 100 recipes for gunpowder, as 22 of them could be used as rocket fuel. Experts state that at least one of these recipes is extremely close to the modern ideal mix for gunpowder. Al Rammah also designed an early torpedo, probably the first of its kind.


Soon after the book was written, he travelled her way to the European continent. There the book was used for improving the local armies armament.

A tactic using burning unmanned ships for destabilizing enemy’s naval battle formations was commonly used in the Medieval sea battles. But these ships were difficult to aim and required a ship that would have to be sacrificed, something like a marine kamikaze.


The torpedo was named Al-Rammah and it was a point-and-fire weapon far cheaper and more efficient than a fire ship. When activated, the torpedo’s built-in pair of rockets would push it through the water, and tail stabilizers would direct it to the target. A spear on the front would impale itself in the hull of an enemy ship, and then the whole first-of-a-kind torpedo would explode.

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