Собственно, вот этот отрывок - настоящее и будущее москитного флота. Извините, что на английском, сил нет переводить.
THE ROMANCE OF UNDER-WATER WARFARE
"The torpedo has brought into the Navy a fresh zest, a new romance, and possibilities more daring than were ever existent before its adoption."
"A BLENDING of the heroic, the marvellous, the mysterious, and the imaginative in actions, manners, ideas, language, or literature; tendency of mind to dwell upon or give expression to the heroic, the marvellous, the mysterious, or the imaginative."
Such is one of the definitions given in the "Century Dictionary" for the word "romance," and as in the following pages there will be much of "the heroic, the marvellous and the mysterious," there is every justification for using the term in connection with under-water warfare.
Some months since the writer was standing on the pier at Kyle of Loch Alsh, a tiny village in South-west Boss-shire, waiting for the boat going south to Oban.
The sky was leaden, and ever and again a squall swept over from Skye and blotted out the landscape for a time. Presently a little shiver of excitement ran through the group of tourists, fisher folk, and idlers gathered at the pier head. All eyes were directed up Loch Alsh, and for a few minutes it was difficult to discover what it was that was attracting so much attention.
Gradually there came into sight the first of a little flotilla of torpedo-boats, making their way, in single column, line ahead, to the open sea. Each was painted black from bow to stem, each bore a number in place of a name, and each crept along like a snake, surprised at finding itself observed, and anxious to escape from the haunts of men. One by one they passed by, gathering speed as they went, and in a little while the last had disappeared into the mist and the rain, and nothing remained to show that they had passed save a few white patches of foam scattered over the sullen waters.
What were the thoughts uppermost in the minds of those who watched these tiny engines of destruction ? Were they not of the next occasion on which Great Britain shall require her Navy to assume the offensive and "to take arms" against the foe that dares to threaten her proud supremacy?
Were they not of the fate of the crews of these vessels in the next great battle on the seas, and of the part they will be destined to play when the "Real Thing" comes?
The torpedo-boats and the destroyers of His Majesty's Navy are manned by brave and fearless officers and men, who take a keen interest in their work and who mean to show of what their ships are capable if ever they get the chance; while the torpedo lieutenant in a battleship, in spite of the good-humoured sneers of his brother-in-arms, the gunnery lieutenant, is not a whit less determined to inflict some injury with the weapon which is his especial care. The commander of a destroyer when he lies down at night in his "duffle suit" and endeavours to take his well-earned repose dreams of a naval action in which he plays a prominent part.
— It is a night attack, and the destroyers have orders to seek the enemy and torpedo him. As silently, and withal as speedily as possible, the mosquito fleet starts on its deadly mission. The pace is tremendous, and our commander, his nerves braced, his heart beating, and his mouth set, peers forth from the conning-tower into the darkness. His funnels are flaming slightly, but he dare not slacken speed, and all he can do is to pray Heaven that they do not betray him. Suddenly the foremost ship begins to signal. The quarry is discovered! Onward rush the destroyers, and out to meet them come the destroyers of the enemy. The twelve-pounders and the six-pounders are brought into play, and the fight between the opposing forces waxes fierce. So far our commander and his craft have escaped injury, and the boat tears along, dodging its foes like a three-quarter in Rugby football. He has set his heart on torpedoing a mighty ironclad steaming ahead with her consorts at some sixteen knots speed, and he means to get past the hostile destroyers or die in the attempt. Shells are bursting all around, and his armoured conning-tower has been hit, but so far luck has favoured him. Will the gods be kind and allow him to accomplish his desire? He is now within torpedo range, and the moment has arrived for the firing of the first torpedo. Out of its tube rushes the Whitehead, plunges beneath the waves, and is seen no more. A few anxious seconds, and then the commander knows that it has missed its prey. Another must be fired; but the ironclad is unpleasantly near, and her quick-firing guns are already discharging on him a heavy and continuous fire.
The second torpedo is fired, and the destroyer waits not another second, but makes away at topmost speed. But "her mission is through." The sound of a mighty explosion is heard, and the commander knows that he has accounted for one of the battleships of the enemy.
The lieutenant of to-day thanks his stars for the opportunities that the torpedo has afforded him of assuming the command of a torpedo-boat or a destroyer at an early age, or of acting as torpedo lieutenant in a big ship. There is no fear of his rusting or of his finding his life uneventful while such posts as these are open to him;
"...They are young," says Mr. Rudyard Kipling, "on the destroyers,— the chattering black decks are no place for the middle-aged — they have learned how to handle 200 feet of shod death that cover a mile in two minutes, turn in their own length, and leap to racing speed almost before a man knows he has signalled the engine room. In these craft they risk the extreme perils of the sea and make experiments of a kind that would not read well in print. It would take much to astonish them when, at the completion of their command, they are shifted say to a racing cruiser. They have been within spitting distance of collision and bumping distance of the bottom; they have tested their craft in long-drawn channel jobs, not grudgingly or of necessity because they could not find harbour, but because they 'wanted to know, don't you know,' and in the embroilment have been very literally thrown together with their men. This makes for hardiness, coolness of head, and, above all, resource."
There is yet another dream that is dreamed by the younger of our young naval lieutenants, and this relates to an engagement in which the submarine boat plays a part.
Great Britain is at war with a rival Power; hostilities have barely commenced, and one of the enemy's swiftest cruisers has been sent to gather information as to the probable movements of the British squadron. Her captain is noted for his daring and resource, and he has succeeded in obtaining news of a valuable character respecting the condition of our ships and their immediate destination. Accompanied by two first-class torpedo-boats, he has come, has seen, and is now making off to join his fleet and to relate his news to the Admiral. It is of the utmost importance that his message should not be delivered; the British fleet is not quite ready to strike, and it does not wish the enemy to know this. Onward steams the cruiser, the fastest vessel of her class in the world. It is broad daylight, and she can be seen by our own cruisers who, unhappily, are half a knot slower than she is. British destroyers have attempted to torpedo her as she steams quickly by, but her quick-firing guns and her attendant torpedo craft have so far foiled their purpose, and the daylight is against them.
There is only one chance—the submarine flotilla.
It is lying off a port which the cruiser must soon pass on her way down channel, and a wireless message, which the cruiser is powerless to intercept, has been sent to the commander of the "mother ship," a torpedo gunboat, to send out his tiny fleet and endeavour to torpedo the cruiser. The "catcher" has no chance herself against the enemy's swift torpedo-boats, so she keeps in the background, ready to render assistance to her "ducklings" should they happen to require it.
The cruiser and her attendants are sighted, and the order to dive is at once given. In a few moments there is nothing to be seen of the five boats, and the look-out in the cruiser is in blissful ignorance of his hidden foes. Suddenly Submarine No. 1 comes to the surface to take bearings. She is observed by the look-out, the quick-firers are immediately trained on her, and the torpedo-boats, at full speed, rush to the attack. But she has disappeared before they can reach her, and no one has any idea which direction she has taken. The excitement is intense. The hearts of the cruiser's captain and crew beat fast, and eager eyes scan the face of the waters for any sign of the submarines, but there is nothing to be seen. All at once a lieutenant in the cruiser, gazing down into the water, shouts to his captain. He has seen a submarine missile, but it is too late! The torpedo strikes, an explosion ensues, and the cruiser's fate is sealed. Her satellites dart hither and thither like policemen in chase of a burglar, but their prey has eluded them, and is now making off to port. The commander of the submarine flotilla has done his work well. After coming momentarily to the surface he dived below. His comrades also had taken their bearings, and the position of the cruiser, her speed, and her direction were known. All five of the submarines discharged their torpedoes. Four missed, but one was more fortunate, and was enough to encompass the destruction of the enemy. After the explosion the commander thrust his tiny periscope on the surface, and as a glance assured him that the cruiser would float no more, he made off with his boats to the shelter of port.
The torpedo-boats did not escape; hunting for the submarines, they forget to consider the possibility of an attack on themselves, and it was only when they saw four British destroyers at no great distance that they sought refuge in flight. But they had delayed too long. The twelve-pounders had something to say to them, their own three-pounders were quickly silenced, and they soon went to the bottom.
Напоминает космооперу, а? Я как-то предлагал Славе Макарову выделить в отдельную категорию сюжеты, вселенная которых представляет собой Идеальное Море, но он сказал, что это страшная ересь.