British military shipbuilding has centuries-old experience of development and combat use of the most advanced designs and technologies. On the eve of the Second world war-the British squadrons were surface ships: battleships, battlecruisers and aircraft carriers. Therefore underwater vessels by the Admiralty was not honored. However, the attack on Gunter Prina 15 Oct 1939 in Scapa Flow, when he crept into a German submarine sank the battleship right into the main base of the British Navy, put squarely the question of creating subversive underwater vehicles.

In late 1939 began development of a British midget submarine. But the initiator was not the Admiralty and the war office, by order which began its design for use on rivers. Soon the order came under the jurisdiction of the Admiralty, and finally to assess the possibility of underwater boat.
As a result of long experiments and adjustment is almost ready samples of the British in 1942 still built prototype boats of the class X.
The boat was created by the classical scheme of “large” submarines: diesel Gardner for surface running and electric motor with batteries for underwater.
For easy transportation of boats were collected from three blocks of simplified geometric shapes, connecting bolts. Three transverse bulkheads divided the durable casing into four compartments.
In the first compartment were instruments of control and navigation equipment, tank main ballast no 1, towing and mooring device. The second compartment was used as a lock chamber, in its hold, was a main ballast tank No. 2. The third compartment was intended for the battery control, main ballast tank No. 3 tank quick dip, combat and navigation periscopes. In the middle of the hull on the port side were installed swivel tube for air intake. On the surface it is attached to the negotiation tube. In the aft part of the superstructure was kept diving equipment and tools needed in crossing the anti-submarine nets. In the fourth compartment housed diesel power of 42 HP and an electric motor, fuel tank, compressor, feed differenta tank.
The crew consisted of three people – the commander, the mechanic and the steering. Each of them could carry out diving and demolitions.
The arms consisted of two detachable side containers, each of which was placed an explosive charge weight of 1620 kg and a detonator with a clockwork mechanism. The containers were dumped under the bottom of an enemy ship releasing the gripper from the inside of the boat.
After testing of the prototype and addressing of gaps the company “Vickers-Armstrong” built a series of 12 boats of type X. Six of them (X5 – X10). entered service in January 1943, six (X20 – X25).- at the end of this year.
Submarine X second series (X20, - X25)
Submarine second X series (X20, – X25)
Serial boats also had four compartments, but their arrangement has changed. So, the gateway is placed between the control modules and battery, allowing you to open and close the entrance to it from the control compartment and on the upper deck there is a special holder for crew members outside the ship.
In the first compartment housed the battery, the supply of fresh water and provisions and beds, tanks: fuel and differentia. The second compartment remained unchanged. In the Central post was mounted controls, navigation, main ballast tank No. 3 tank quick dip. Behind the cockpit was added an access hatch. In the fourth compartment housed diesel, motor, fuel tank, oil, high pressure compressor.
The crew increased to four people due to the introduction of a full-time diver.
The main weapon was discharged two charge to 1993 kg each side in metal containers. They are separated using a special device controlled from the pressure hull. The undermining of the charges made Fuze with a clockwork mechanism, the inclusion of which was carried out from inside the boat.
To the place of operation of the midget boats was transported on a tow “conventional” submarines of the classes T or S at a speed of about 10.5 KTS. Compared with the prototype of the serial boats had increased from 60 to 95 metres, the working depth of the dive.
X5, X6, X7, X8, X9 and X10 in September 1943, he participated in operations against the German battleships Tirpitz and other ships in Alten fjord. The rest of the boats of type X was used for landing operations in Normandy as a designator for amphibious vessels. Х22 was killed in a collision with the British submarine Syris off the coast of Scotland. All boats of this series have written off in 1945.
Attack in Alten fjord
In September 1943, six midget submarines X series was sent to the coast of Norway with the purpose to sink or at least severely damage German battleships – crew X5, X6 and X7 were to attack the 40,000-ton Tirpitz, X9 and X10 – the 26,000-ton Scharnhorst, and X8 – 12 000-ton Lützow.
Ahead of them was eight days and nights towing. Ran the boat at this stage, the marching crews. Two out of three had to wear the watch during greater part of day and to conduct technical maintenance: air cylinders and batteries had to be recharged, as well as to test the insulation of all electric circuits.
The first night X6 nearly collided with the trawler, but apart from this incident, the transition within the first four days was, surprisingly, calm. The weather was favorable. Three or four times a day and the boat floated to the surface, to spend a fifteen-minute ventilation, and the remaining twenty three hours and advanced to a depth of 12 -15 m. the Combat crews were at this time on Board the “large” submarines, resting and doing tactical training.
On the sixth day of transition, 4:00 broken tow rope X8. After 5 minutes, the boat surfaced and the commander – Lieutenant Jack Smart was to examine the horizon. However, near was no sign leading boats Sea Nymph. On-Board fact of the broken wire was discovered about two hours later, when she had to surface to ventilate. The commander of the Sea Nymph turned the sub 180° and increased speed, went the route traveled in the past hours. The search lasted almost fourteen hours. And only at eight o’clock in the evening the boat was again in tow. Smart and his men changed the combat crew, the movement on the tow continued.
At 9:00 am on 16 September, the submarine gave a prearranged sign for underwater alarm – threw three hand grenades to cause on the surface a small boat X9, but it is not surfaced. At 9:20 chose tow rope and found that it burst. Syrtis turned to reverse course and conducted a thorough search, but X9 was never found. Boat and camp crew are still missing.
The next day: due to depressurization of the charges of containers from failed X8, it had to drown.
Weather on 17 and 18 September was rainy, but by nightfall of the 18th, she began to improve, and Godfrey place was replaced by bill Huitema and camp crew on Board the X7. The rest of the submarine-Trasher with X5, X6 and Truculent Sceptre with X10 – changed Hiking crews on combat until midnight the next day. All boats successfully made the approach and settled in their sectors. Stubborn, also arrested in the incident with the search and fuss with X8, approached the shore, towing X7. Sea Nymph, flooding X8, patrolled approximately sixty miles West of Altenfjord.
The evening of 20 September, four small boats (X5, X6, X7, XI0) began self-breakthrough in the Strait of Eresund. While the X10 was a defect in an electric hoist the periscope and leaking seals. X6 have the right of charging the container was flooded on the first day of towing, but the shifting of cargo to the crew managed to achieve a working balance of the boat.
After the war, four boats of the class X under personal names Shrimp, Stickleback, Minnow and Sprat (
After the war, four boats of the class X under personal names Shrimp, Stickleback, Minnow and Sprat (“Shrimp”, “Stickleback”, “Gudgeon” and “Sprat”) served in the British Navy until the beginning of 1950-ies
X6, and X7, successfully kept together. Night boats conducted among a group of Islands in Bratholm. The next morning began the crossing of COFORD. X7 has reached the leeward Islands Bratholm shortly after midnight, X-6 followed an hour later. During the next hours place successfully carried his boat through anti-submarine nets at the entrance to the fjord. 7:05 am X6 also passed the anti-submarine net and was on the distance to the target. But then it failed, departing from the patrol boat boat became entangled in the meshes. But soon she managed to break free and move across the fjord towards its goal.
7:10 place took the decision of overcoming the anti-submarine nets Tirpitz. X7 dove under the net and, unfortunately, ran aground on the Northern shore inside the barrier. Because the depth was too small, it was impossible to move away from the shoal, not rising to the surface. The water was very calm and Tirpitz get noticed and reported as “a long black object, like a submarine”. With the passage of instance, this information was delayed for several minutes because there was doubt that it was a Dolphin. Five minutes later the boat was again across a reef and again was forced to rise to the surface in eighty yards from the battleship. Although the boat and immediately went under water, but this time the Germans clearly saw and correctly identified.
Five minutes later and X6 re-stumbled upon some sort of barrier, and emerged at the left cheekbone Tirpitz. With the deck on it opened fire from small arms. Boat captain don Cameron realized that salvation is not, and has written X6 to Board the battleship under a gun mount. There he disconnected the charges are set so that they exploded in an hour, and took the boat. It was 7:15 in the morning. The crew of the X6 captured the guard-boat Tirpitz.
Aboard the battleship raised the alarm. The order was given to raise steam and put to sea. However, the order was complied with only when closed all the airtight doors, and raised divers. And it happened only twenty minutes later after the crew lifted X6 on Board. All four of them – Cameron, Lori-Mer, Goddard and sublieutenant dick porter held together.
Submarine ХЕ9 on tests after build
Submarine ХЕ9 testing after construction
At this time X7 tried to get out of the network, and when finally released, surfaced right near the buoys. The crew of the X7 I saw right ahead, no further than 20 metres and the boat gave a “full speed ahead”. Hit the side of the battleship approximately opposite the gun turret “In”, she gently slid under the keel. There were dropped right charge. Then left the charge was dropped about 45 – 50 m closer to the stern. After that X7 tried to move away, but again found entangled in and damaged by the explosion. The crew had no other option than to abandon ship and surrender.
The British pre-interviewed and were treated to hot coffee and schnapps. All then recalled how they were worried, as the time neared 8:15, and they stole glances at the clock. Charges in 8:12 worked.
“On Board the Tirpitz after the explosion of our shells began to panic – wrote Kendall after returning from Germany. German gun crews fired God knows how many of its own tankers and small boats, as well as due to indiscriminate shots came from building their own gun mounts. It seemed that everyone was waving a gun, threatening us, trying to figure out how the dwarf submarines were involved in the attack.”
At 8:43 about five hundred yards outside of the network were seen the third of the dwarf boat. Tirpitz opened fire and sank her. Most likely, it was the X5, commanded H. Henti-Kira. Anything about her is unknown, but the crew escaped no one.
The overall result of the attack was satisfactory. Tirpitz subsequently never failed to go in the military campaign…
Six surviving members of the crews of the dwarf submarines were sent from Norway to Germany, to a camp for prisoners of war sailors.
Training boats HT
In 1943 – 1944 the firm “Vickers” built 6 training midget submarines of the series XT. Orders for a further 12 such boats (ХТ7 – ХТ19 without ХТ13) was cancelled. Boat HT in the fighting did not participate.
The third series
At the end of 1943, construction began on the third series of the dwarf submarines (ХЕ1 – ХЕ10, ХЕ12; order ХЕ11 was cancelled).
Boats of the third series was larger than the previous. Changes mainly touched upon the management and environmental conditions. Boat received a new navigation device, radio telephone service, refrigerator and air conditioning. With this equipment, the boats of the type XE can be used for operations in tropical waters.
The first two sections on equipment and the volume remained virtually unchanged, except for the installation of the window in the aft bulkhead of the second chamber to monitor the crew members passing sluicing. In the third compartment housed the Central control with control and measuring devices. In podolece compartment had a window for visual control of the time of the passage of a submarine underneath an attacked ship. In the fourth compartment housed diesel, electric motor, compressor and cylinders of high pressure air, and air-conditioning in the aft fairing of the hull – differentia tank.
In the middle of the boat on the port side added mine RDP, sabaliauskas by the actuator of the pressure hull. Speed RDP was 6 knots.
The main armament consisted of two resettable charge and 6 portable magnetic mines, which were installed by a diver.
Pacific boats differed HEZ – with the help of their explosive charges 31.7.1945 sank the Japanese heavy cruiser Takao. ХЕ8 sank in 1945 when towing in the district of Portsmouth. ХЕ11 6.3.1945 sank after colliding with side barrier.
The remaining boats of this series were written off in 1952.
Submarines Welman
In parallel with the creation of boats of type X in 1942, the engineer-Colonel John Dolphin (John Dolphin) has developed a boat type Craft Welman. They were intended to attack enemy ships in ports, as well as for the exploration of the coast before a landing.
The first two boats built in the summer of 1942. Commercially Welman boats were built from November 1942.. About the number of submarines of this type are published contradictory – from 20 to 100. All they did in the “Special fleet” since the summer of 1943
Assault boats Housing
In November 1942, the firm Inter Services Research Bureau started designing a midget submarine to deliver combat swimmers, sabotage and other charges of the goods. For this project in 1944 – 1945 the firm of Shelvoke & Drewry Ltd has built about 40 boats.
Originally intended to use them in the area of the Adriatic coast with the aim of providing the Albanian and Yugoslav partisans. But the fighting in this theatre of hostilities ended before the first boat Housing was ready for practical application. Several such boats sent to the far East to provide ammunition to Filipino guerrillas. But here, the practical use is not reached.
After the war, all boats type of Housing was scrapped. Only one of them was turned into a Museum exhibit of the Royal Navy submarine in Gosport.
The performance characteristics of the British midget submarines
The performance characteristics of the British midget submarines

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