George Reaben’s ‘Torpedo Crossbow’ Seems Problematic
It's not clear what he meant it for
In November 1919 George Birkley Reaben of New York filed a patent for an explosive torpedo that could be fired from a crossbow.
Reaben’s patent describes “an arrow which is provided with means for exploding a torpedo upon the arrow striking end foremost the target.” The explosives detonated by way of a plunger system in the tip of the “arrow” visible in figure four, below.
The arrow included “a whistle which is arranged so that, as the arrow passes through the air, it will produce a shrill sound.” It’s not clear why.
U.S. #1328967, G.B. Reaben, Jan. 27, 1920. Source
Reaben’s patent explains that his arrow or torpedo can also be adapted to be fired from a gun, as shown in figure three. The bow in the patent has a limb made of flat steel springs with an enclosed “barrel” from which the torpedo fires.
It’s unclear from the patent description exactly what Reaben imagined the arrow torpedo was good for. Its patent dates might suggest he meant it to arm troops fighting in World War I. The government granted his patent in January 1920.