Monday, March 2, 2015

Soviet ships 1941 - Overview

The extremely fast G5 torpedo boat was ultimately derived from a series of designs by a team under the leadership of the noted aircraft designer A. l. Tupolev. Nearly 300 were built, with 73 being lost during the war, and dozens remained in commission after 1945.

The Soviet navy was small compared with other Allied navies. It had three battleships and some 50 destroyers, as well as a large submarine force of more than 200 boats. Coastal craft were important, and the Soviet fleet had about 300 torpedo boats. Generally speaking, however, Soviet naval forces did not play a major role in the war.

Numerically, at the outbreak of World War II, the Soviet Union had the world’s largest submarine fleet. But the boats were poorly commanded and inadequately crewed, most of the best officers having been purged by Joseph Stalin in 1937. The Soviet submarine fleet was also poorly armed, the Soviet navy never having developed a reliable torpedo. For this reason, the submarine fleet was used almost exclusively for defensive purposes. It is believed that the Soviet fleet lost one submarine for every enemy ship sunk. K Class. This was the most important class of Soviet submarine. It displaced 2,095 tons submerged and could cruise at 18 knots surfaced and nine knots underwater. Armament consisted of six bow torpedo tubes and four stern torpedo tubes. These submarines had good endurance but were never deployed far from home because they were almost exclusively confined to defensive duty.

The only truly distinctive vessels of the Soviet navy in World War II were the coastal craft, of which the most important and innovative was the G5 torpedo boat. Designed by famed aircraft designer A. N. Tupolev, the G5s were built in a quantity of nearly 300, of which 73 were lost in action. They displaced 16 tons and were 62.66 feet in length, with a beam of 11.15 feet and a draft of 3.28 feet. Two gasoline engines developed 2,000 bhp for a very fast top speed of 48 knots. The boats were armed with two 21-inch torpedoes and a pair of half-inch machine guns. The complement was seven officers and men.

Further reading: Breyer, Siegfried. Soviet Warship Development. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1993; McLaughlin, Stephen. Russian and Soviet Battleships. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2003; Polmar, Norman, and Jurrien Noot. Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies, 1718–1990. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1991.

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