Torpedo vs Missile: What’s the Difference?

The torpedo and the missile are two of the most feared weapons in the world. But what is the difference between them? How do they work? And which one is more deadly? In this article, we will answer all of these questions and more.

The torpedo is a self-propelled weapon that is launched underwater and explodes on contact with its target. The missile, on the other hand, is a guided projectile that is launched through the air and can be controlled until it hits its target.

We will start by discussing the history of both weapons. Then, we will explain how they work and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, we will give you our opinion on which weapon is deadliest.

History of missiles and torpedoes

The torpedo is a relatively old weapon, with the first recorded use of a kind of torpedo dating back to the 16th century. The missile, on the other hand, is a relatively new weapon, with the first recorded use in World War II.

The modern torpedo was invented by Robert Fulton, an American engineer, in 1805. Fulton’s torpedo was a floating mine that could be detonated by a timer or by contact with an enemy ship. Fulton’s torpedo was not very successful, but the idea caught on and torpedoes were used extensively in the American Civil War and World War I.

The first missiles were developed by the Germans in World War II. The German V-I missile was a pilotless plane that was used to bomb London. The V-I missile was not very accurate, but it did cause a lot of damage and terror.

Torpedoes and missiles are still used extensively today. Torpedoes are typically used by submarines to sink ships, while missiles are used by both ground-based launchers and aircraft to destroy targets on the ground or in the air. Thanks to advances in technology, torpedoes and missiles have become much more accurate and destructive than they were in the past.

The United States has used torpedoes and missiles extensively, even in recent years. Torpedoes were used by the US Navy to sink the Iranian ship Iran Ajr in 1988, and missiles were used by the US Air Force to destroy Iraqi targets during the Gulf War in 1991.

How do missiles and torpedoes work?

Torpedoes are typically launched from submarines, surface ships, or aircraft. They are unguided once they are launched, and rely on their momentum and the element of surprise to hit their target.

Here is an interesting video you can watch to see how torpedoes are launched from ships:

Missiles, on the other hand, are guided weapons. They can be launched from land, sea, or air.

How are missiles and torpedoes powered?

Missiles are propelled by engines or rockets. Rockets provide the missile with its initial thrust, while the engine takes over once the missile is in flight. Missiles can travel at speeds of up to Mach 20, which is about 15,000 mph.

I go in more details about missiles and rockets in this article if you want to learn more about this:
What is the Difference Between a Missile and a Rocket?

Torpedoes are typically powered by an electric motor and can travel at speeds of up to 50 knots, which is about 58 mph.

Torpedoes have a shorter range than missiles. Torpedoes can travel for about 20 miles, while missiles can travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles.

Where are torpedos and missiles used?

Torpedoes are used by submarines and surface ships to attack other vessels. They can also be used to target underwater structures, such as oil rigs.

Missiles are used by aircraft, land-based systems, and ships to attack targets on the ground or in the air. Missiles can also be used to target underwater structures.

What are some examples of torpedoes and missiles?

Some examples of torpedoes include the Mark 46 torpedo, used by the U.S. Navy, and the Type 93 torpedo, used by the Japanese Navy.

Some examples of missiles include the Tomahawk missile, used by the U.S. military, and the Exocet missile, used by the French military.

Guidance system: difference between a torpedo and a missile

One of the main differences between torpedoes and missiles is the guidance system.

Torpedoes are unguided weapons, meaning they do not have a guidance system. Missiles, on the other hand, are guided weapons, meaning they have a guidance system that helps them to hit their target.

The type of guidance system used by a missile depends on the type of missile. For example, some missiles use GPS to guide them, while others use radar.

Advantages and disadvantages


Some advantages of torpedoes include the fact that they are very difficult to detect and they can be launched from a submarine, making them hard to defend against. Disadvantages of torpedoes include the fact that they are slow and can be easily deflected by waves.


Missiles are much faster than torpedoes, meaning they are more likely to hit their target. They can also be launched from land, sea or air, making them very versatile. However, missiles are much easier to detect than torpedoes, and they can be intercepted by anti-missile systems.

Both torpedo and missile have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it really depends on the situation as to which one would be more effective. In general, missiles are better for long distances, while torpedoes are better for close combat situations.

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