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ANTONY PRESTON, JOHN BATCHELOR
The "P" and "R" Classes were generally similar to the "O" Class but slightly larger. In 1929 a new design for a "fleet" submarine was produced, the "River" type with the unusually high surface speed of 22 knots. To accommodate a pair of 10-cylinder diesels the stern torpedo-tubes had to be omitted, and although the design proved successful in service it was soon realised that the concept was wrong. The speed of surface warships had risen since 1915, when the fleet submarine requirement had been put forward, and the only use for 22 knots' speed was in a campaign against commerce in the Pacific or the Indian Ocean.
Russian "Shch" Class. This class took its name from the initial letters of the prototype Shchuka ("Pike"), and was a medium-sized patrol type begun in 1932. By 1941 nearly a hundred had been built, and they continued in production until 1942. From what can be pieced together it seems that some thirty were sunk during the Second World War
As the result of the success of the M3, six submarine minelayers were built between 1930 and 1938, the famous Porpoise Class.
These 270-ft boats displaced. 1,520 tons on the surface and had a capacity of 50 standard Mk XVI mines in a full-length deck outside the pressure hull. The need for specialised submarine minelayers lapsed when the Royal Navy produced a mine which could be laid from a 21-in torpedo-tube, but the minelayers proved even more successful when used as supply submarines to run precious cargoes to Malta in 1941/42. Their capacious mine-decks were filled with such assorted items as machine-gun ammunition, glycol coolant for Spitfires, and food.
Under the 1929 Estimates a new type of medium patrol submarine was introduced, the 640-ton "S" Class. They were a breakaway from the large "O", "P" and "R" type, and were meant for work in European and Mediterranean waters which were too confined for large submarines. The result was a great success, and the "S" Class eventually ran to some 60 units, the largest single class built for the Royal Nayy. By positioning all fuel tanks inside the pressure hull they cured the worst fault of their predecessors, and had a good diving time. They were too small for overseas work, however, and had to he complemented by the equally famous "T" Class, which were 70 ft longer, and displaced just over 1,000 tons. Whereas the "S" Class had six bow tubes only, the "Ts" had eight bow tubes, including two in a bulbous how. casing, and an extra pair of tubes in the casing amidships, giving them the phenomenal bow salvo of ten tubes.
Nothing has been said so far of German developments, for of course Germany was not allowed to have U-Boats under the Treaty of Versailles. As we have seen, the German Navy made sure that it kept abreast of submarine developments: by financing design work in other countries. Thus when Hitler and his National Socialist government repudiated the Versailles Treaty and began rebuilding the armed forces in 1934. there was a great deal of expertise available.
French Casabianca. Thirty-one "1500-tonne" 1st Class submarines were built between 1924 and 1939 for overseas work. Most were scuttled, either at Brest in 1940 or at Toulon in 1942, but the Casabianca was able to make her escape from Toulon to join the Allies in North Africa. Later she distinguished herself in the liberation of Corsica by sinking a sub-chaser and damaging another. Displacement: 1,570 tons (surfaced) 2,084 tons (submerged). Length: 302 ft 9 in. Beam: 27 ft. Armament: Nine 21·7-in torpedo-tubes (4 forward, 3 and 2 aft); two 15·7-in torpedo-tubes (external aft); one 3·9-in gun; two 13·2-mm AA guns. Speed: 19 knots (surfaced), 10 knots (submerged)
Five basic types were considered; seagoing types of 500-750 tons, ocean-going boats of 1,000 tons, U-cruisers of 1,500 tons, and coastal submarines and minelayers of 250-500 tons. The sea-going type was based on the Turkish Gür which had been built in Spain to a pre-1934 German design, but the first coastal type was based on the UBII Type of the First World War. The ocean-going boats of Type IXA were based on the U117 or UEII Type of the First World War, particularly in having a much increased number of reload torpedoes.