R Class (1918) SSK

Mainly as a result of the losses in merchant shipping by U-boats in 1915. The R Class submarine was conceived as an anti-submarine boat.

They had a small engine for power on the surface but two large electric motors to give a higher submerged speed than surface speed. Which would allow underwater pursuit of target submarines.

As the main emphasis of their design was on underwater performance they were the direct ancestor of later nuclear powered hunter-killer submarines.

The streamlined hull only gave room for one propeller shaft. But some were equipped with hydrophones to track targets underwater.

Unfortunately the small diesel engine was not able to charge the boats batteries, which had to be done while alongside in harbour.

They were also difficult to manoeuvre on the surface.

They entered service too late in WW1 to influence the war against the U-boat. Only one, R4 was retained until 1934. The rest were paid off by 1923.  


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This page last edited - 18 June, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.