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ANTONY PRESTON, JOHN BATCHELOR
THE SUBMARINE SINCE 1919

British M3. Submarines were forbidden to have guns larger than 8 in by the terms of the Washington Disarmament Treaty, so the "M" Class were disarmed and converted. M2 was converted to enable her to launch a Parnall Peto seaplane, while M3 became a minelayer. By stowing her mines inside a large free-flooding casing outside the main hull, she was able to use normal mines, which were laid over her stern by means of a chain-conveyor gear. She paved the way for the highly successful Porpoise Class, and was scrapped in 1932

Submarine Building 1921-1936

Submarine Building 1921-1936
Programme Britain USA France Italy Japan Russia
1921 1 3
1922 9 4
1923 3 1 10 9
1924 2 4
1925 2 9 8
1926 6 11 3
1927 6 9 6 1 3
1928 6 7 4
1929 6 1 11 7 25
1930 3 11 12 4
1931 3 2 5 9 6
1932 3 4 12
1933 3 4 5
1934 3 6 2 10 4 20
1935 3 6 20 25
1936 8 6 2 11 26
3 cancelled from each programme
These programmes were subsequently spread over later years

Swedish Sjölejonet. The Sjölejonet Class were ordered in 1934, and were the first fully Swedish design of submarine. They had an unusual arrangement of torpedo-tubes, with three in the bow (two over, one under), and one internal tube and an external pair of revolving tubes aft. They also mounted two short-barrelled 40-mm Bofors guns on disappearing mountings, as a defense against aircraft. Displacement: 650 tons (surfaced) 760 tons (submerged). Speed: 16 knots (surfaced), 9 knots (submerged)

An interesting feature of French submarine of this period was their external torpedo-tubes, fitted in training mounts in the casing and capable of being trained over a wide arc. The purpose of this fitting was to assist the submarine in sinking merchant ships, and the idea was extended by the provision of 15·7-in (400-mm) light short-range torpedoes for use against "soft-skinned" targets. Unfortunately this torpedo proved a total failure, and even the 24V 21·7-in (550-mm) proved unreliable on gyro-angling runs, although good on a straight run.

Two notable French classes of submarine were built between the wars. The six Saphir Class minelayers were of moderate dimensions, and had their mines in vertical wells in the saddle tanks. Although this was officially known as the Normand-Fenaux system it was actually a later version of the British system introduced in the "E" Class in 1915. The Rubis operated with great success under the Free French flag during the Second World War, and notched up a high score of victims. Thirty-one large ocean-going boats of the so-called "1500-tonne" type were laid down in batches each year under the 1924-30 programmes, and proved successful; two travelled over 14,000 miles from Toulon to Saigon in 1935 without mishap.

The most famous of the class was the Casabianca, which was the only vessel to escape the holocaust which ensued when the Germans tried to capture Toulon by treachery in 1942. She joined the Allies in North Africa and sank three enemy ships during the invasion of Corsica a year later. The next class of large submarines had only, just been started when their hulls were scuttled to prevent them from falling into German hands in June 1940, and a similar fate befell their 2nd Class contemporaries.

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