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Cruiser submarine

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Cruiser submarine

A cruiser submarine is a very large submarine designed to remain at sea for extended periods in areas distant from base facilities. Cruiser submarines were successful for a brief period of World War I; but were less successful than smaller submarines during World War II. Large submarines remained vulnerable to damage from Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships, were slow to dive if found by aircraft, offered a large sonar echo surface, and were less able to defensively maneuver during depth charge attacks.[1]

Surcouf had the largest guns of any cruiser submarine.

History

The cruiser submarine concept originated during the unrestricted submarine warfare campaign of 1917. Three German Type U 139 submarines and seven former merchant submarines, each armed with two 15-centimetre (5.9 in) guns, patrolled areas distant from their North Sea bases to sink Allied merchant shipping as part of an effort to end World War I by starving the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. These distant patrols enjoyed unique immunity to the defensive convoy measures which limited successful submarine attacks in the vicinity of the British Isles.[2]

The first world war combat experience of these submarines encouraged all major navies to build submarine cruiser prototypes between the world wars, but their cost discouraged most from further production. Japan developed the widest variety, including the A, B and J types. Germany decided against building projected 3,140-ton type XI U-boats with an aircraft hangar and four 5-inch (13 cm) guns.[3] Long-range submarines with less impressive deck guns, including Type IXD2 U-boats and United States Navy fleet submarines, were sometimes identified as cruiser submarines.[1]

Examples

Name Nation Surface displacement Submerged displacement Speed Guns Torpedo tubes Crew Year Reference
Surcouf  France 3,250 tons 4,304 tons 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) 2 × 203mm (8in) 50 caliber 10[4] 118 1934 [5]
Narwhal-class  USA 2,730 tons 4,050 tons 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) 2 × 6"/53 caliber 6 90 1928 [6]
Type U-139  Germany 1,930 tons 2,483 tons 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph) 2 × 15 cm (5.9 in) 6 62 1916 [7]
Type U-151  Germany 1,512 tons 1,875 tons 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) 2 × 15 cm (5.9 in) 6 56 1917 [7]
Type J1  Japan 2,135 tons 2,791 tons 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) 2 × 14 cm (5.5 in)/40 caliber 6 80 1926 [8]
Type B1  Japan 2,584 tons 3,654 tons 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) 1 × 14 cm (5.5 in)/40 caliber 6 100 1940 [9]
Type AM  Japan 3,603 tons 4,762 tons 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) 1 × 14 cm (5.5 in)/40 caliber 6 100 1944 [10]
HMS X1  Royal Navy 2,780 tons 3,600 tons 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) 4 × 5.2 in (13 cm) 6 110 1923 [11]
Kaidai class  Japan 1,833 tons 2,602 tons 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) 1 × 12 cm (4.7 in) 6 80 1930 [12]
K-class  Soviet Union 1,490 tons 2,104 tons 22.5 knots (41.7 km/h; 25.9 mph) 2 × 10 cm (3.9 in) 10 67 1939 [13]
Type IXD2  Germany 1,616 tons 1,804 tons 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) 1 × 10.5 cm (4.1 in) 6 57 1938 [13]
Cagni class  Italy 1,461 tons 2,136 tons 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) 2 × 10 cm (3.9 in) 14 85 1940 [14]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Blair, p.501
  2. ^ Tarrant, pp.44-60
  3. ^ Lenton, pp.198&199
  4. ^ SucoufAvalanch Press page on says 8 external tubes (2x4), apparently one each 55cm & 40cm (1x4 each), but not how many in the hull.
  5. ^ le Masson, p.157
  6. ^ Silverstone, p.186
  7. ^ a b Gray, p.227
  8. ^ Watts, p.167
  9. ^ Watts, p.185
  10. ^ Watts, p.200
  11. ^ Lenton & Colledge, p.136
  12. ^ Watts, p.188
  13. ^ a b Taylor, p.104
  14. ^ Kafka & Pepperburg, p.790

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