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ANTONY PRESTON, JOHN BATCHELOR
British Tireless. The early "T" Class had riveted hulls, and therefore they could not be fully modernised. The later ones, like Tireless, were given a form of "guppy" conversion in 1951-56, being lengthened and streamlined to give greater speed and endurance. Displacement 1,280 tons (surfaced). Armament: Six 21-in torpedo-tubes (guns and after tubes removed). Speed: 15 knots (surfaced), 15 knots (submerged)
Every wartime idea was tried and developed, including oilers and supply submarines. In 1948/49 the Carbonero and Cusk were fitted to operate the "Loon" guided weapon system, an improved version of the German V1 "doodlebug", launched from a catapult abaft the conning tower. From these experiments came the Regulus I missile, an air-breathing anti-ship missile with a 500-mile range, and the Tunny and Barbero were fitted with cylindrical hangars to house two missiles.
British Alaric. The "A" Class were given a modernisation on the same lines as the "T" Class, involving a complete rebuilding of the forward and after sections of the hull, lengthening and streamlining. The two external tubes forward and the two aft were removed, leaving them a total of six tubes, and no gun armament
The Regulus II missile which followed was 57 ft long, compared with only 32 ft for Regulus I, so it demanded a much bigger submarine. The Grayback and Growler, built in 1952-58, were fitted during construction with enormous twin cylinders faired into the forward casing. The nuclear Halibut was designed in 1956 to fire Regulus II as well, but after five years in service it was announced that the Regulus II programme was to be abandoned; she and the two conventionally powered Regulus-armed boats were disarmed. However, their massive missile compartments made them useful for other purposes, and Grayback is currently serving as an amphibious transport, while Halibut is acting as a "mother ship" for the Deep Submergence Research Vehicle programme.
Russian "G" Class. This was an improved version of the Z-V Class, with three ballistic missiles. The 22 boats of this class now have the 650-mile range Serb (SS-N-5) missile in place of the older Sark, and an additional unit of the class was built in China
During the Cold War period the United States was preoccupied with the threat of Russian air attack with nuclear weapons, and put great faith in a seaward early- warning radar "picket line". Most of the pickets were surface warships fitted with elaborate radar and communications, but several submarines were fitted out as radar pickets to provide more flexibility. This led to the construction of an enormous nuclear radar picket submarine, the Triton. She was the largest submarine ever built at the time (1959) and had two nuclear reactors; this power enabled her to circumnavigate the world submerged in 1960, a 41,500-mile voyage at an average speed of 18 knots.
Russian Z-V Type. Between 1958 and 1961 seven of the conventional "Z" Class were rebuilt to fire two ballistic missiles. This was part of a crash programme to counter the US Navy's sudden breakthrough in perfecting the Polaris system, but unlike the American boats these Russian conversions had to launch their missiles on the surface. None are now operational