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British submarine data - corrections

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#1 Charles Markuss

Charles Markuss


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Posted 05 July 2008 - 05:15 AM

Although GQ3 must to some extent rely on generic ship capabilities, some of the information on the submarine data sheets is incorrect or too sweeping. Where similar criticisms can be levelled at the submarines of other nations, that pertaining to British submarines will be included in a subsequent post. What follows is unique to British-built submarines in RN and allied service.1.Radar fit. British submarines began to be fitted with radar from 1941 onwards and used it for both surface and aerial search, yet none of the charts give radar capability. Although many commanders suspected that radar pulses would betray their submarine in narrow waters it was certainly used in the Pacific in the same manner as US submarine radar. This point needs addressing in the rules and charts.2.Sonar fit. Similarly, British submarines only get medium sonar. Why? Britain pioneered sonar. I have read virtually everything published on RN, US, German, Japanese and Italian submarines in the war and cannot understand why the Gato and Balao classes alone get + sonar. Is this national bias creeping in?3.British submarine classes were not all homogeneous from a technical standpoint. Note that British submarines measured depth from the surface water-line, not the keel. The following figures have been adjusted to reflect this. The safe depth of the first group of the RN S class was only 210.25’, not 310.5’ (shown as 300’ on the charts), which was the design depth. Ben Bryant, commander of Sealion observed that he would take the boat to almost 300’ (310.5’) when hunted, “but she did not like it much and groaned alarmingly”. Group 1 comprised Sturgeon, Swordfish, Seahorse, Starfish; Sealion, Shark, Salmon, Snapper, Seawolf, Spearfish, Sunfish and Sterlet.4.Most of Group 2 had a safe depth of 310.5’ and had an external stern torpedo tube in Sahib, Saracen, Satyr, Sceptre, Seadog, Sibyl, Sea Rover, Seraph, Shakespeare, Sea Nymph, Sickle, Simoom, Sirdar, Spiteful, Splendid, Sportsman, Stoic, Stonehenge, Storm, Stratagem, Spark, Stubborn, Surf, Syrtis, Shalimar, Spirit, Statesman, Sturdy, Stygian, and Subtle. Safari and P-222 had no stern tube. Strongbow had the external stern tube for a while only.The rest carried a 4”, not 3”, gun for service in the Pacific. These all lacked the stern torpedo tube and all except Scythian had a thicker pressure hull for a safe depth of 361.5’. They were Scotsman, Sea Devil, Sea Scout, Selene, Seneschal, Sentinel, Sidon, Sleuth, Solent, Spearhead, Springer, Supreme, Saga, Sanguine, Scorcher and Spur. Bryant routinely took Safari down to 461’ when hunted. 5.The greatest changes needed are to the T class. Group 1 had a safe depth of 314.75’ and had 6 bow tubes, 2 external bow tubes above these, and two more external tubes mounted below the conning tower to fire forward. In some boats a single stern external tube was added later. The two external bow tubes were later removed from Thunderbolt (formerly the ill-fated Thetis) and Triumph. Surviving boats later had the two conning tower external tubes (but not the external bow tubes) re-sited to fire astern with a third tube added in Trident, Tribune, Taku, Tigris, Truant, Torbay, and Tuna. The other boats in this group were lost before this work could be done - Triton, Tarpon, Thistle, Triad, Talisman and Tetrarch. The following boats had two external bow tubes and three external stern tubes as built, Tempest, Thorn, Thrasher, Traveller, Trooper, Trusty, Turbulent, P-311 (ex-Tutankhamen), Tactician, Tally-Ho, Tantulus, Tantivy, Taurus, Templar, Trespasser, Truculent, Tudor, Thule, Token, Tireless, Talent, Telemachus, Terrapin, Thorough, Tradewind, and Trenchant.6.The last group of T class boats had the same torpedo tube arrangement as above, but thicker pressure hulls gave a safe depth of 364.75’, though many were tested below 414.75’. These were Tiptoe, Totem, Trump, Truncheon, Tabard, Taciturn, Tapir, Tarn, Tasman, Teredo, Thermopylae and Turpin. 7.The first three U class boats Undine, Unity and Ursula has two external bow tubes. Of these, only Ursula had a deck gun and to compensate had only two reload torpedoes instead of four. The external tubes were removed from Ursula during a 1942 refit. The casings for external bow tubes were fitted to Unique, Upholder, Upright and Utmost but the tubes were not mounted. Safe depth was 212.75’.8.The later V class boats were like the U class but had stronger pressure hulls and were safe to 312.75’; these all had V-named boats but note that Vox, Vandal, Vitality, Varangian and Varn, were U class boats in all but name with only a 212.7’ safe depth.

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