Paravane (weapon)

The paravane /ˈpærəvn/, a form of towed underwater "glider" with a warhead that was used in anti-submarine warfare, was developed from 1914–16 by Commander Usborne and Lieutenant C. Dennistoun Burney, funded by Sir George White, founder of the Bristol Aeroplane Company.[1] It was used against naval mines and submarines.


Initially developed to destroy naval mines, the paravane is strung out and streamed alongside the towing ship, normally from the bow. The wings of the paravane pull it away laterally from the towing ship, placing a tension on the tow cable. If the tow cable snags the cable anchoring a mine then the anchoring cable is cut by jaws on the paravane, allowing the mine to float to the surface, where it is destroyed by gunfire. If the anchor cable fails to part, the mine and the paravane are brought together and the mine explodes against the paravane. The cable can then be retrieved and a replacement paravane fitted.

Burney developed explosive paravanes as an anti-submarine weapon, a "high speed sweep". It was a paravane, containing 80 pounds (36 kg) of TNT towed by an armoured electric cable. The warhead was fired automatically as soon as the submarine touched the paravane or towing cable, or manually from the ship's bridge. It could be quickly deployed into the water and towed up to 25 knots (46 km/h), and recovery was reasonably simple.

See also


  1. Leasor, James (2001) [1957]. The Millionth Chance: The Story of the R.101. London: Stratus Books. p. 66.


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