By definition, torpedoes are highly destructive weapons used in the heat of war.
Shaped similar to a cigar, torpedoes are usually underwater missiles that are launched from a ship, submarine, or dropped from an aircraft. These projectiles then explode upon contact with their target.
Torpedoes have been an important part of the various wars that have occurred on Earth over the centuries, and there is no doubt that they have been an integral part of the intergalactic universes of Star Wars and Star Trek.
There are two types of torpedoes used in these universes; they are the Photon and Proton torpedoes.
But what exactly are these? What makes them different? Which is more powerful? These are all brilliant questions that will be answered during the course of this article, so keep reading.
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What is a Photon Torpedo?
Star Trek’s Photon Torpedoes were highly explosive missiles, capable of traveling at warp speed. These were typically matter and antimatter-based weapons that were situated on starships and starbases.
The torpedo was outfitted with a photon warhead and was housed in an elongated case known as a “photon tube.” The photon tube housed a designated chamber that was filled with antimatter.
Once detonated, the resultant explosion was a matter-antimatter explosion, followed by the expected succession of ion radiation.
Photon Torpedoes were often the weapon of choice for the warriors of the Star Trek world, especially when a ship was traveling at warp speed. This is because, as we mentioned before, the torpedo is capable of traveling at warp speed as well.
Ergo, Photon Torpedoes aren’t bound by the speed of light. which is a problem that the ships’ phasers customarily had.
What is a Proton Torpedo?
In the world of Star Wars, the Proton Torpedo was an explosive weapon of mass destruction that was used all throughout the galaxy.
Similar to the Photon Torpedo, the Proton Torpedo has a warhead where the fuel responsible for its explosivity is stored. This is known as the proton warhead.
As soon as the torpedo makes contact with its target, a concentrated explosion, filled with clouds of high-speed proton particles, is released. Additionally, Proton Torpedoes had extra features that made them incredibly impressive weapons.
For starters, the Proton Torpedoes had outstanding maneuverability. This is particularly seen when it was shown that the missile could make a 90-degree turn with a one-mile turning radius. What makes these weapons even more intriguing is that they were capable of bypassing ray shields.
However, as awesome as they were, there were faults with the torpedoes. Such as their being stopped by particle shields.
Of course, not all torpedoes are created equal, and different projectiles have different strengths. For instance, the higher-yielding Proton Torpedoes could be used in Base Delta Zero type assaults.
Photon Torpedo vs. Proton Torpedo
As many have claimed that Star Wars is the successor to Star Trek, it’s only natural to compare the two. In particular, their skills, fighting styles, and weapons have been placed under a magnifying glass time and time again.
Here we will be comparing the Photon Torpedo to the Proton Torpedo to determine which one is more powerful.
Now, as we covered in the basic introduction of both missiles, they are generally akin. Even so, comparing them may be a tad unfair, as they are both amazing in their own right.
To begin with, the Photon Torpedo is much larger, and with that size comes a far more powerful weapon. One caveat to this larger size is the lack of maneuverability.
This isn’t as big of a problem as it would seem because these torpedoes were meant to be delivered by ships and other warcrafts.
On the other hand, the Proton Torpedo has a much better turning radius and is easily maneuverable. This is on account of the smaller size.
There is a possibility that this was done intentionally because these missiles were meant to be hand-delivered by soldiers in lieu of the vessel-based delivery of the Photon Torpedo.
Another significant difference between the two is that the Photon Torpedoes are matter-antimatter weapons, whereas Proton Torpedoes are essentially mini, concentrated nukes.
What this means is that it may be theoretically easier to increase the yield of a Proton Torpedo. This is because it simply has to be packed with more fuel to undergo more substantial nuclear fission or fusion.
On the flip side of this, to increase the yield of the Photon Torpedo, the antimatter must be increased, which may be a bit more difficult to do.
Which torpedo is more powerful?
In terms of which is more powerful, the answer isn’t simply black and white.
If we’re talking about sheer ability to destroy the target in one strike, then the Photon Torpedo would win by a landslide. This weapon is approximately 64.4 megatons’ worth of explosive power.
Ergo, if this torpedo was to be detonated inside a ship, that vessel would basically be obliterated. Conversely, if a Proton Torpedo was to be detonated inside that same ship, it would only have enough power to blow a small hole in the side of said craft.
From a practical standpoint, the Proton Torpedo would win. Due to its smaller size, easy mobility, and relatively easy yield increase; the Proton Torpedo is also comparatively easier to use. What’s more, we established that these weapons are deployed by the human hand instead of by ship.
Therefore, it is possible that soldiers can be loaded up with multiple Proton Torpedoes and be sent onto the battlefield. With this, they can possibly do the same amount of, if not more, damage with continued attacks of the Proton Torpedo than could be done with a single Photon Torpedo.
Overall, it can be argued that the Photon Torpedo is more powerful if we are comparing solely the destructive capabilities of one torpedo.
Star Wars and Star Trek are very similar franchises as they both deal with the concept of an alternate universe where there are different takes on everything we have here on earth.
Even so, they do have differences that separate them from each other. One specific difference we looked at was the Photon and Proton torpedoes.
Although both devices essentially do the same thing, (that is, destroy their target with an explosion) they are more dissimilar than anything else.
Star Trek established their torpedoes as being the most powerful weapons in their universe. On the other hand, torpedoes in Star Wars were more commonly used as precision weapons, while lightsabers and Force techniques were more highly regarded.
That said, comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges, as they serve different purposes in their respective franchises.
Still, if both weapons are taken at face value and are measured by the sheer ability of one single torpedo to cause maximum destruction, then the Photon Torpedo would come out on top.