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Though fascinating, and I'm sure all true, I would like to know how much of this info is actually canon. That which is should be referenced. – Redge 16:57, 24 Jul 2004 (CEST)

Ah, my apologies. The information comes from the Technical Manuals, which as we all know can only claim to be semi-canon. I fear I would have a hard time finding concrete on-screen examples of many of the things stated in the article. – Kv1at3485 09:39, 28 Jul 2004 (EST)

Well, in that case I suggest we find all info we can on-screen, and perhaps someday background info like this can also be listed on MA. Untill then, we'll need to see how much of this info we can keep. – Redge 01:16, 29 Jul 2004 (CEST)

There is no on-screen info on photon torpedoes in TOS or the TMP movies. There is no mention that they even use antimatter nor that they travel at warp speeds. More detailed explanations occur in TNG and VOY but that is another era entirely. As such, the technical explanation of photon torpedoes in this article is non-canon and therefore anathema, yet it is not labeled as such. It's another example of how fans have totally confused canon with fanon because the entire body of Trek has gotten so large it is now unwieldy, and so it is just easier to take things for granted and believe the word of others (or trust books) rather than to research something for oneself. – Atrahasis 12:11, 12 Sep 2005 (UTC)

Point of View

With respect, I re-included my info about photon torpedoes in TOS in the article because it is the only canon info about photon torpedoes in the entire article. All the rest is from tech manuals or fanon, but every word of what I say can be verified by the episodes. --Atrahasis 06:01, 12 Sep 2005 (UTC)

Except that it is written it the entirely wrong perspective. Our articles are written from within the Star Trek pov, and your additions were added from the perspective of "outside looking in". They either need to be rewritten from the Star Trek universe perspective or placed into the background section, which would be written in our perspective. --Alan del Beccio 06:10, 12 Sep 2005 (UTC)
Yes, POV changes strangly in this article. Also, the first image is soley from Star Trek: The Magazine. - AJHalliwell 06:21, 12 Sep 2005 (UTC)
I've added a pna-unformatted to this, as I do not want to start an edit war by reverting this again, nor do I really want to do a make over on this article tonight. --Alan del Beccio 06:25, 12 Sep 2005 (UTC)

Actually, putting it to the end as a "background info" kind of thing works well for me, as somebody took the initiative to already do. As for POV, I think there should be a section at the very beginning of the article explaining that all of the info about the workings of a photon torpedo that follows is pure conjecture and is more or less fanon, because it is a fact that it was never explained on screen in TOS or the movies, and was rather taken for granted. The idea that they used antimatter was also not mentioned, especially since they had to come up with a seperate antimatter warhead to kill the amoeba creature in "The Immunity Syndrome"....why not just use a torpedo if all they needed was an antimatter strike? Even Andrew Probert when desiging the ST:TMP ship did not have a clear idea of what a photon torpedo was, but he does categorically say they were not capsules in his 2005 interview. In fact, he favors the idea of energy or plasma.

  • Tyler: At the time The Motion Picture was in the works, what was your take on photon torpedoes? Did you imagine them as the capsule-shaped things from The Wrath of Khan, or as something else?
  • Probert: I envisioned them as what we saw during the TV era, they were glowing globs of plasma or some sort of energy. They weren't giant capsules. I envision them as big, glowy, dangerous blobs of... scariness.

Original 2005 Probert interview can be found here

The weapon may have been explained in greater detail during the run of TNG or VOY, at times even mentioning yields in "isotons", but strictly speaking those were details for that particular torpedo (like the "Type 6) that the Voyager happened to use, and not necessarily the same as what the producers of TOS and TMP envisioned. --Atrahasis 11:46, 12 Sep 2005 (UTC)

Rewrite Needed

As has been mentioned above, this article is a mixture of information seen on the show, information from non-canon reference material, and conjecture. It needs a massive clean-up to reflect only what we know from the series, not what we might think we know based on comments elsewhere. Aholland 20:57, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

I agree, it reads like a "list 'o facts" rather than a coherent stream. Liu Bei 16:07, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Took a stab at it. Let me know what you think Liu Bei 16:07, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Still needs some work but its much better then it was--Illwill 18:28, 10 April 2006 (UTC)

Specifics of dispersal patterns

Was this ever adressed as to how ships can apparently fire more torpedoes at once than they have launchers? Do you think the pods queue up in the chamber and are fired at once, or are they just shot an at extremely rapid rate? Liu Bei 13:32, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

While i cannot remember the exact episodes, was there not times when a vessel fired torpedoes in dispersal pattern sierra, where one torpedo was fired to then "split up" and become several torpedoes. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk).
To me is clear from TNG episodes that Enterprise can Fire a "cluster" of torpedoes and then they spread according to a specific pattern chosen by the Tactical Officer.
Example 1: pattern sierra used in "Yestarday´s Enterprise".
Example 2: TS Generations Movie, at the final battle with the Klingons Riker command: "Worf, prepare a spread of photon torpeadoes (...)we must hit then the instant they begin to cloak!". What do we see on the external shot? Looks like 1 single big torpedo. What I believe was that? A cluster of photon torpedoes flying very close one from another.
Voyager, Excelsior and even Defiant apears to have tubes that unload 2 or more torpeadoes, but 1 at a time, like a semi-automatic weapon.
Anyway, just my opinion. Regards, Sage.

Reorganization of article

May I suggest something? I believe in order to preserve canon information and then address the technical and backround information, we reorganize the page into a section of the canon information, which would by necessity include no technical information and only uses, forms, and history. Then we can go forward, and pull out of the internal point of view to address semi-canon technical information (such as the matter/anti-matter reaction, gamma ray photons, etc) and the TOS confusions.--The Rev 16:34, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Space Burial

Does anyone have a definitive answer about what was done with Jadzia Dax's body following her death? The article on photon torpedos originally stated that her remains had been launched into space after her death, but I don't remember seeing that on the series, nor hearing any lines on Deep Space Nine or other Trek productions that indicated that she was buried in this fashion. I do know that one of the Deep Space Nine relaunch novels indicated that Jadzia was buried on Trill following her death - but of course that's not an offical explanation of what was done. --Jesster79 06:39, 14 June 2006 (UTC)


When I read this article about the photon torpedo a lot of it DOES seem to be rather non-concrete. There are missed opportunities such as when La Forge and Worf were modifying the torpedoe and the snakes came out of it, or when they outfitted the torpedos with phase discriminators to attack the aliens on their plane (Time's Arrow TNG) I think the speculation about the spread pattern above regarding Generations is moot.. The art dept. didn't get the script change to spread and they only showed one torpedo... big deal.. I don't think I need to explain to you that this is a TV Show and a set of movies, nothing more. This article needs to be re-written with respect to what has been SEEN on Star Trek or written in books that we regard as Star Trek lore, not someone's opinion about what they surmise a torpedo spread is..let's get real here Seb 09:16, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Why can't Torpedo's be made?

Some where along the line, I got the impression that Torpedoes could not be made on board a starship, and that each ship had a limited amount they could use, hence one of the reasons why they are used so sparingly in combat. Is this true? If so, why exactly can't more be made on board, and when was this established? --Adrian.

I don't think it has been specifically established, but it has been shown that there is a limited amount. In Nemesis we saw the Enterprise run out, IIRC. As for why, well, there are a number of materials that cannot be replicated, perhaps some of them are required in the components of Torpedoes. --OuroborosCobra talk 22:05, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Its my impression that one of the components of at least a federation torpedo is antimatter which I have never seen or heard of being replicated. --User with a probe 22:09, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
True, but I discounted that being the limiting factor since starships carry stores of antimatter pods, and seem to have some way to move antimatter from the pods to the warp core. It would seem to me that they would also be able to move it to new torpedo warheads. --OuroborosCobra talk 22:16, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Sounds like it would be a complicated/dangerous procedure to manufacture new warheads onship though, which is probably why they dont. I forget what voyager did about it...--Cyno01 09:34, 25 January 2007 (UTC)
the only place that you could get the antimatter is from the pods. they are used in the warp reactor, which keeps the ship going. in my opinion, the power of the ship is more important than defending it because without the warp reaction, the ship would only have backup power to keep up the shields. Captain Jon 00:45, 27 January 2007 (UTC)
Early in Voyager it was specifically stated by Tuvok that once they ran out, that was it, but evidence from later in the series seems to contradict this statement, or at least need some explanation. Ex Astris Scientia says it best with the "Photon torpedoes used: 93 out of 40." In "Equinox" and "Equinox, Part II" I think they at one point say they (the Equinox) are out of torpedos, and then later after running from Voyager someone mentions "we have a full complement of torpedos." So lets presume they found a way to make them. - AJ Halliwell 12:20, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I assumed Voyager integrated alien "torpedos" (obtained from weapons brokers like Kovin in "Retrospect"). --Mrinsuperable 02:33, 6 May 2007 (UTC)
I tend to consider Voyager to be a special case in that they needed to come up with a way to do it. I also think that Voyager came up with a way to manufacture shuttles, as they went through them like nobodies business. Besides, we saw them make the Delta Flyer. These are capabilities out of necessity, since they had no starbases to back them up. --OuroborosCobra talk 13:18, 29 January 2007 (UTC)
I believe that the lines "no way to replace them once they are gone" and the subsequent "how many torpedoes do we have left" concerns originate from the writer's guide for the first season, that pre-dates the lines and states that Voyager does not originally carry any spare raw material for torpedo casings, and needs to find it on planets, so that new torps can be fabricated. So it's not a matter of the internal mechanics, or the antimatter or the warheads etc, it's just about the "terminium" or maybe even the "yttrium" polymer used for antiradiation coating possibly on the type-6 torpedoes too, like in the quantum torpedoes according to DS9 tech manual, who knows. It would remove the need to think this is an inconsistency or the speculations that they might have bought alien torpedoes along the way. --Pseudohuman 09:46, 24 April 2008 (UTC)
I believe they can be produced aboard a starship, it just takes time and you'll need to acquire some resources. When you exhaust all the torpedoes during a fight that is it. However, after the battle you can start to produce new ones, which may take hours or even day, but you can make as many as you want as long as you have the resources. Voyager just traded for resources and then build their own torpedoes during the days, weeks, sometimes even months that passed between fights. Whether anti-matter can be produced I don't know, though it is certainly possible, they just don't do it to get fuel is because that would be pointless because of energy-considerations: it would require more energy to produce the anti-matter than you would ever get out of it, so it's a stupid idea to produce anti-matter aboard a starship for fuel, but maybe not so much for torpedoes. 14:19, September 26, 2010 (UTC)

Torpedo Glow

What causes the glow of the torpedoes? Do they have shields of some sort? --Skyler 15:35, 27 January 2007 (UTC)

no actual explanation was given in universe for the glow, but sheilds would explain it well, and would help explain how photon torps can be set to specific frequencies (like in generations), how they can survive the heat of a stars core (as seen in TNG), and why the glow seems to brighten over time after launch. but without a in universe statement, it's still just speculation. - Mithril 19:52, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
Remeber too they also have small impulse engines on them, which could be a contributing factor (and also help distinguish the color of the glow).--CaptainCaca 04:33, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Most photon torpedoes are black in colour, which is hard to distinguish from the blackness of space, only the impulse engines are visible. – Wormulon 15:22, December 13, 2009 (UTC)
Not buying it. The torpedoes glow from all angles. --OuroborosCobra talk 20:25, December 13, 2009 (UTC)
Also, torpedoes don't have impulse engines according to any canon or non-canon source. They have sustainer engine coils that vent plasma exhaust from the back of the torpedo. My money is on the illumination burst capability, for the glow of the torpedoes, seen modified in a few episodes, and that the standard glow is just the normal setting of that capability and is used for the same purpose as tracer rounds on guns. but that's speculation too until we get canonical confirmation. :) --Pseudohuman 16:44, December 14, 2009 (UTC)
It seems highly unlikely that shields are the cause of the glow, as the glow continues to be present even in places where shields shouldn't work, such as in the Mutara Nebula during TWoK. Not to mention that if it was because of shields, then every ship with shields raised should have a similar glow. However, even when ship's shields are being affected by something else, making them visible, they still do not have a similar glow. Additionally, IIRC, the only time torpedoes are said to have shields is in the TNG episode "Half a Life," but those torpedoes are also modified, so it's entirely possible that those shields are part of the modifications. So it seems to me that the question of whether or not torpedoes even have shields (standard) is still up for debate. --NME 17:47, May 17, 2010 (UTC)
To tell you the truth, I always assumed torpedoes glow because the launchers use an electromagnetic accelerator, and it leaves a residual electromagnetic charge on the casing. But of course, that's pure speculation. -Angry Future Romulan 17:58, May 17, 2010 (UTC)
Vented plasma could emit photons (no pun intended) and thus light up, the torpedo itself is much smaller than the cloud of plasma behind it so you would only see the glow and you would see it from all directions. What I'm wondering is what a photon torpedo actually is once it exits the tube. Is it still that black missile we see being loaded in the tube or is the casing cast off after the torpedo exits the tube and is the actual torpedo that hits the target just a forcefield with some matter and anti-matter in it? The first option would give the torpedo tracking abilities (it has an engine), but make it vulnerable to point defense systems, the second option could make the torpedo invulnerable to point defense systems (which we indeed never see being used), but it would be easy to dodge. We saw actual Krenim and Dominion missiles stuck inside a ships's hull, so would that imply photon torpedoes are missiles as well and if so, then why the hell don't starships use point defense systems? 14:31, September 26, 2010 (UTC)
For the sake of my own sanity I've reconciled the fact that there's no point defense in any Star Trek episode with the fact that such systems were mentioned in the original series: the small distances at which starships engage each other make point defense for the most part not useful, though phasers can still be set to point defense mode to destroy torpedoes that initially missed their target and are turning around. This also explains why distances are so small (in addition to it being more fun for the viewer): ships armed with torpedoes will find an advantage in fighting at close range (because then torpedoes will sometimes hit, as opposed to being intercepted 100% of the time by phasers with 24th century targeting computers). Well, that's enough fanwanking for today. 16:23, October 24, 2010 (UTC)
Point defense is not used because of the photonic shockwave phenomenon. Torpedoes are fired at slow speeds at short range usually because the warhead requires a second or so to arm after exiting the tube according to TNGTM. Torpedoes are still casings after they are fired, they are just glowing casings. As far as i know all sources support this, as they have active shields, guidance systems, telemetry, subspace detonators etc. components working during flight. --Pseudohuman 14:16, October 25, 2010 (UTC)
The photonic shockwave effect was mentioned as a tricky procedure: if you don't intend for it to happen it probably won't, unless you are very unfortunate. We've never seen it used during the massive fleet engagements of the Dominion War for example where it would've been a very useful tactic, indicating it's probably just to damn hard to pull off unless you're a hologram or an android. So when outgunned by an enemy ship with a lot of torpedoes I'd take my chances and just shoot the damn things before they hit my shields. Also, they never use point-defense, not even against plasma torpedoes, quantum torpedoes, gravimetric torpedoes, and whatever the Jem'Hadar and Breen use for torpedoes, can those all produce photonic shockwaves and do so even when hit by things other than phasers, like disruptors, plasma cannons or rail guns? Now it's probably just a case of "The producers only came up with the "photonic shockwave" in 2001, and stupidly forgot about point defense after it was mentioned in TOS, so that's why!", but I think as an in-universe explanation the photonic shockwave fails miserably. 18:10, October 26, 2010 (UTC)
I think that glow is caused by shields; we have two episodes of TNG where photon torpedoes do feats (sitting inside core of star for minutes and digging into planetary crust) that can only be explained by shields. Also, it is only explanation that makes sense - why else glow? It produces energy so torpedoes are easier to track by energy-detection sensors, not to mention that it makes torpedoes, well, "glow". Which means that, if torpedoes were not shielded, it would just make them easier to shoot down. As for Mutara Nebula, I think it is just beacouse torpedoes were small enough to maintain shields in spite of nebula's effects. Glow was wierd, thought. Picard345 09:42, December 17, 2010 (UTC)

janeways apparent death

should we put in that in the episode coda captain janeway thought she had died? The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk).


I have noticed on this page that it stated that a photon torpedos warhead was filled ith 1.5 KG of antideuterium but that fact stated in numerous episodes states that a warhead was filled with antimatter not antidueterium– Livi 17:56, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Anti-deuterium IS anti-matter. It is the anti-matter counterpart to deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen containing one neutron. --OuroborosCobra talk 18:12, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Penetration and damage

Do photon torpedoes penetrate before detonating?

I was thinking, if they're 64 megatons, one should thoroughly destroy any commonly sized ship pretty much. On the other hand, think about the Project Orion (in the real world) craft that was supposed to be propelled by nukes. If the nuke goes off right next to a hull, most of the energy would go into radiation. You'd have radiation, heating, and explosive effects from the heating, but it might not be very efficient or do much damage relatively speaking.

So, do they penetrate before exploding? Of course, given their size, I think 500 pounds might be a bit light for an armor-piercing design, and it's not the right shape either. I don't know how much physical armor ships have.

Although, on my thoughts that PTs should demolish a ship, there are some numbers that indicate Star Trek ships are really heavily built. Voyager is 700,000 tonnes, which is 7 supercarriers, and it's not as big as 7 supercarriers. (I guess you wouldn't expect it to float like a ship though). I also recall the Bird of Prey being really really dense, from something I read somewhere.

I don't recall well enough, what has happened historically on the shows and movies when torpedos hit a ship with shields down. Do they always destroy a ship? --Howdybob 17:52, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

In Star Trek III the Enterprise got hit by PTs with her shields down it blew massive holes through the hull but didn't destroy it, however the Grissom was destroyed in a single shot. In several TOS movie they mention 'defensive fields' in addition to shields, i assume they are the same as the hull polarization used in ENT or just increased power to the structural integrity fields, maybe the Enterprise had this activated in ST:III even when its shields were down. -takane2 11:19, December 18, 2007 (EST)
In the case of Star Trek III, Kruge specifically ordered to disable the Enterprise and knocked out her automation center only with the torpedoes. As photon torpedoes are variable yield weapons, it's safe to assume the difference in damage is due to that. Grissom was totally destroyed by the incompetent gunner because he didn't get it that Kruge wanted to capture the crew. --Pseudohuman 02:27, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

An Alternate Viewpoint

An alternative viewpoint: I never heard photon torpedoes were anti-matter based weapons. In the TOS episode "Obsession" Kirk fired photon torpedoes at the gas creature with no effect. Then when they used a weapons they never used before, a rigged up matter-antimatter bomb, were they able to kill it. Personally, I always assumed that they used the same technology as PHASERS since they shared the same nomenclature of "photons."

I removed this as it's very speculative and non-canon --Morder 01:24, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

I have no idea why someone would want to add their own viewpoint, this is an encyclopedia not a forum. Especially a viewpoint with a glaring mistake: photon torpedoes were repeatedly stated, in canon, to be matter/anti-matter weapons. So there goes that. --From Andoria with Love 01:26, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

"I have no idea why someone would want to add their own viewpoint, this is an encyclopedia not a forum." --Without it being stated on screen, everything else is just a viewpoint, or opinion, anyway.

"photon torpedoes were repeatedly stated, in canon, to be matter/anti-matter weapons. So there goes that." --I'm just asking where that can be found.

TNG "The Samaritan Snare" VOY "Dreadnought" links canonically torps to antimatter and all official reference materials dating back to 1968 confirm it. TOS "Obsession" doesn't confirm they are not antimatter weapons. Cloud creature may have "dodged" the explosions in space, but not the one on the planet as they made sure the creature was distacted into feeding just as the explosion was initiated. --Pseudohuman 08:43, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Without it being stated on screen, everything else is just a viewpoint, or opinion, anyway. Even if that is the case you shouldn't post it on this site then as this is an encyclopedia and not a place for view points. --Morder 09:36, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks to Shran you can find references to matter/antimatter in the episode "Good Shepherd" and "The Loss".
Yet another confirmation comes from Star Trek Generations. Scotty: "An anti-matter discharge directly ahead... it might disrupt the field long enough for us to break away." Kirk: "A photon torpedo?" Scotty: "Aye." --Pseudohuman 16:04, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Phasers are not composed of photons, instead nadions are used in the weapon, so the analogy between phasers and photon torpedoes is incorrect. Wormulon 13:23, November 21, 2009 (UTC)

Photon Torpedoes in Nu-Trek

I'm not aware of any reference to those blue pulses the Kelvin fires being torpedoes. If this is sheer speculation, it probably should moved to the "Background" section of the article.

On that same note, the image of what is supposed to be the Enterprise's torpedo bay should probably be modified as well since it is not stated in the film that the canisters we see being loaded are torpedoes. I admit, that is probably what the producer's had in mind, but they don't look anything like the photon torpedoes we've seen in the past. Actually, they look more like the phaser power cells we've seen in DS9.

-Mister Atoz

Not speculation. Both are named as such in the script. Items not named on-screen but named in reference materials such as the script of a film can be used to name things in-universe. Such is our canon policy on this matter. --Pseudohuman 19:00, September 29, 2010 (UTC)

spread of torpedoes

What is a "full" spread of torpedoes? In "TNG", the Enterprise seemed to fire a pattern of torpedoes that split into three seperate torpedoes in a single volley. In "The Survivors", with something called "rapid fire sequence" (never mentioned again BTW), they seemed to fire six torpedoes. In "The Best of Both Worlds", they fired at least six torpedoes. But in "Voyager" a "full spread" of torpedoes seemed to be at most, four individual torpedoes. Anyone have an idea what a "full spread" of torpedoes is? 19:34, January 30, 2013 (UTC)

When torpedoes are fired simultaneously and then spread out into different directions is called a "dispersal pattern" in "Yesterday's Enterprise" for example. My interpretation from all the episodes is that arming and firing a "full spread" means to arm as many torpedoes that can be simultaneously armed and firing them from the launcher before reloading the launcher with new armed torpedoes. Different ships presumably have different types of launcher systems, so the amount of torpedoes in a full spread varies from ship to ship. --Pseudohuman (talk) 23:37, January 30, 2013 (UTC)
Sort of analogous to a broadside. --Pseudohuman (talk) 23:57, January 30, 2013 (UTC)


Remove? The comment is out of place when discussing the yield of a torpedo

"It might be inconsistent that the crew of Voyager resorted to an alternative warhead in "The Omega Directive" to provide an explosion of 80 isotons, when a standard photon warhead would provide more than twice that destructive force."

A) Omega is unstable. Blowing it up more may be bad. B) Omega needed some treknobabble thing where it needed to be neutralized - so that maybe it required a different type of reaction (chemical, thermal, nuclear), other than just M/A annihilation. C) To quote Teal'c : "I do not understand why everything in this script must inevitably explode." - a reaction occurred, but was it solely a f(x) of the "destructive force"? D) It seems to be viol:nitpick, so maybe it should be removed.

Kassorlae (talk) 04:33, February 4, 2013 (UTC)

I agree and removed it. --Pseudohuman (talk) 14:31, February 4, 2013 (UTC)

Thank you! Kassorlae (talk) 15:48, February 4, 2013 (UTC)

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