Posted by: SJS | October 6, 2011

Torpedoes, humor, and serious business

     The pages of the PT instruction manual, Know Your PT Boat, that was published by the US Navy in 1945 contained more than important information and comic illustrations.  Between the lines it conveyed the essential philosophy that guided the actions of every officer and enlisted man in the Navy’s Mosquito Fleet:  know your job thoroughly and be familiar enough with every other crewman’s job so that you could perform it if necessary. 

Torpedo section from Know Your PT Boat

Torpedo section from Know Your PT Boat

     The section of the book on torpedoes makes this point extremely well.  While the PTs had evolved into high-speed gun boats by 1945, the torpedo remained the primary weapon on board.  If and when the opportunity to lauch a torpedo presented itself, every sailor on board was expected to know how to get that “fish” into the water and swimming toward its target.

     PT officers like Belton Copp as well as radiomen like Tom Saffles and Red Stahley had to be ready–at a moment’s notice–to use their boat’s chief weapon against an enemy vessel.  Coming through the light-hearted drawing and the humorous language in the instruction manual is a point of utmost seriousness:  war is no game and you need to be ready to do what you’ve been trained to do. 

      The remarkable record of success compiled by the PT fleet during WWII indicates that the sailors in the Mosquito Fleet learned this lesson quite well.


  1. Yes indeed!

    • Darren, Thanks for your continued support, it is much appreciated. Steve

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