Applying a gendered lens to the torpedo boat's adoption (ca. 1860–1900) in the United States and Britain, this article explores the cultural dynamics of military innovation. In the nineteenth century, armored or "ironclad" warships disrupted the ideals of elite "naval manhood": an emphasis inherited from preindustrial officers on physical bravery, seamanship, and endurance. In response, a group of Anglo-American officials, artists, and authors repurposed the torpedo boat to prop up masculine heroism under threat from technical shifts. Ironically, it was a radical technology that preserved old values. This nostalgic effort explains how, in under a generation, the torpedo morphed from an "unchivalrous" weapon into an attractive investment. By refashioning cultural representations of the torpedo boat, advocates both insulated elite "naval manhood" from industrialization and upended modern naval force structures. The adoption of the torpedo boat was as much a gendered reaction to the ironclad revolution as a tactical calculation.