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World War II Site Torpedo Factory Arts Center

On November 12, 1918 the U.S. Navy began construction on the original building, which became the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station. When fully operational, it was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of torpedoes for the next five years. Work stopped and the facility served as a munitions storage area until World War II. Production on the Mark XIV, a submarine borne torpedo, and the Mark III aircraft torpedo then resumed at an intense rate. Gradually as space was needed, ten additional buildings were added to the complex. The green torpedo currently displayed in the main hall was actually made here in 1945. This Mark XIV torpedo is painted bright green so that the Navy could find it in the water when it was tested. Its log book in the exhibit case tells its history. When peace was declared in June of 1945, the furious activity at the torpedo factory came to a grinding halt. Eventually, the U.S. government decided to use the buildings for storage space: the Smithsonian stored art objects and valuable dinosaur bones; Congress stored documents; the military kept German war films and records in sealed vaults.