At the top center of the director is a “Solution” indicator, marked from 0 to 100%. The manual doesn’t define what this means, but from what I can tell it only tells if the director has solved for SA. It does not check to see if the torpedo is in a clear arc or can actually reach the target.
To the right of the main display is an information display regarding the selected torpedo settings. One of the most useful indicators is the run time indicator. This is the quickest means of determining if you are in the TDZ. If the run time is less than the maximum run time for the selected speed setting, you are in the TDZ and have a possibility of hitting the target. Note that one revolution of the run time indicator is 20 minutes. Unfortunately, there’s no indicator to show if the displayed run time is > 20 minutes. To be honest, you are wasting your torpedoes if your run time is over 20 minutes. In Table 2 the run times are listed for the torpedoes used in DC. If you were assigned as the Torpedo Director Officer for your ship you would have been expected to have this data memorized for your torpedoes.
The Target Speed, Torpedo Speed and Torpedo Depth indicator show what your virtual “Torpedo Director Officer” has entered into the torpedo director. If you switch to manual you can enter these values yourself. I usually prefer to leave the torpedo director in automatic.
Spread angle is the angle the torpedo spread covers. The spread angle selector switch defaults to 2°. This is what your AI ships always seem to fire at. If I have confidence in my aiming solution I set the spread angle to 0° in order to maximize the number of hits.
At the top left is a Tube Offset Adjust Knob and Tube Offset Indicator. The Tube Offset Adjust Knob allows you, up to a point, to unmask the torpedo launcher. For example, if you want to fire to port but SA puts the LOF forward of the torpedo launcher’s clear arc, you can dial in a left tube offset angle (up to 30° ). This offsets the launcher up to 30° to the left of the LOF and it inputs an equal right turn into the torpedo’s guidance mechanism. In effect, your torpedo launcher’s clear arcs are increased by ± 30°. This is a very handy feature to allow you to get a shot off and get the hell out of there.
Below the Tube Offset Adjust Knob are the Gyro Angle indicators for the forward and aft tube mounts. The angle index mark at the top center must be in a clear arc (i.e., not a red arc) in order to be able to launch torpedoes.
At the bottom right are switches and knobs which allow you to fire torpedo tubes individually or to salvo all tubes from a mount. This feature gives the player great flexibility to fire the number of torpedoes as required by the tactical situation. For example, if you are commanding USS O’BANNON (DD 450) in the November 13th, 1942, night action off Guadalcanal, you might want to fire all 10 tubes at IJN HIEI as the chances of regaining a firing position (and surviving) are pretty slim. However, if you are part of a destroyer Surface Action Group (SAG) that has intercepted a weakly defended convoy, maybe only one or two torpedoes (at most) per merchant vessel are justified. You certainly don’t want to fire every torpedo from a mount at just one ship, which is what will happen if you order the torpedo attack from F2 CIC. Unfortunately, AI controlled destroyers seem to shoot everything when ordered to conduct a torpedo attack, and there does not appear to be any means to order them to conserve torpedoes.
Figure 5 is a screen shot of the F12 Torpedo Director taken in the stock torpedo training scenario. At first glance you might think this is a great shot — Solution Indicator shows 100%, a near right angle impact (TA relative to target’s bow) and SA in a clear arc for the torpedo launcher. However, look at the Run Time indicator and the Range Indicator. The range is over 17,000 yards and the run time is 21 minutes. You can now see why having no total run time indication (one might mistakenly think run time here is 1 minute) can be confusing. A Mk 15 torpedo at its lowest speed setting of 26.5 knots has a total run time of 17 minutes. In this case, YOU ARE NOT IN THE TDZ — GET CLOSER! MUCH CLOSER!!
Figure 6 is how the approach to firing position looks from the F12 Torpedo Director. Again, don’t be fooled by the 100% Solution Indicator. Although we are in the TDZ (run time = 10 minutes), the torpedo tubes do not yet have a clear shot. This is due to the course our ship needs to steer in order to reach a closer firing position. The 30° tube offset is not sufficient to unmask the tubes. We will need to alter course to starboard when we get near the firing position. One other item to note – at Flank Speed our destroyer makes 37 knots, while the torpedo speed setting must be at 26.5 knots in order to have sufficient endurance to reach the target. If you could shoot forward you would run over your own torpedoes! Again, get closer.
Figure 7 is another screen shot of the F12 Torpedo Director, only this time we are in an ideal firing position. We are well within the TDZ, allowing the torpedoes to use their maximum speed setting, and our port side tubes are unmasked. The impact angle is near 90° and the run time is less than one minute. If all 8 tubes on the port side are fired we are virtually guaranteed of at least one hit, and 2-3 hits are certainly within reason. This type of damage will cripple or sink a heavy cruiser.
The training scenario represents, of course, an ideal situation. We have a cooperative target that isn’t shooting back at us. Against an AI or a human opponent that is fighting back it will be much more difficult to deliver a torpedo attack, but all of the principles outlined above still apply.