British Submarines In Two World Wars

From an established naval historian, the definitive book on British submarines in two World Wars. The Germans may have received the prominence in naval history for submarines, but the British had the largest fleet with the USN deploying the largest wolf packs – Most Strongly Highly Recommended.

NAME: British Submarines In Two World Wars
FILE: R2963
AUTHOR: Norman Friedman
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword, Seaforth Publishing
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £50.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War I, World War 1, First World War,  The Great War, 
WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, submarines, anti submarine 
warfare, commerce raiding, torpedo, surface action, submersible torpedo boats, 
Holland boats

ISBN: 978-1-5267-3816-5

IMAGE: B2963.jpg
DESCRIPTION: From an established naval historian, the definitive book on British 
submarines in two World Wars. The Germans may have received the prominence 
in naval history for submarines, but the British had the largest fleet with the 
USN deploying the largest wolf packs  –   Most Strongly Highly Recommended.

The submarine was long a hoped for weapon but the first tentative attempts proved 
that a very different power source was required to make submarines viable as vessels,
 never mind as weapons systems. The demonstration of an oared submarine on the 
17th Century River Thames showed that it was possible to make a controlled 
navigation underwater but not that it was a practical weapon system. American 
Fenians, with the Turtle and Nautilus, showed that submarines could be employed in 
war but with little prospect of success. Even in the American Civil War, the CSS 
Huntley did not prove a viable weapon with most of its crew having to turn the crank 
shaft to produce modest motive power. Even the first viable petrol/electric Holland 
was not a truly viable weapons system but it was at least a viable vessel that could 
achieve reasonable speed on the surface with its combustion engine and underwater 
with electric power. It could carry torpedoes and it did provide a fairly reliable 
training platform to develop tactics, train crews and provide information for future 
submarine development.

One thing all these early craft had in common was that their inventors were 
attempting to produce a small, stealthy weapon that could attack large warships, 
particularly British warships. This goes some way to understanding the Royal Navy's 
love/hate relationship with the submarine. Potentially it rendered the largest 
armoured warship vulnerable to surprise attack and the navy with the largest number 
of the largest and most sophisticated warships was the Royal Navy. Therefore the 
Royal Navy had most to lose, and the least to gain, from the entry of the submarine
 into warfare. However there were enough naval officers keen to exploit every viable 
weapons technology, for the Royal Navy to adopt the US Holland design for its first 
submarines and to then build up the largest submarine fleet to its own designs from 
this initial experience. British shipyards also benefited in building submarines for 
other navies. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of a large submarine fleet was that 
the RN was able to learn from their submariners to produce the first effective anti-
submarine capability and this was to save the British Merchant Fleet in Two World 

This new book is very important and follows an equally effective history that was 
published in the 1950s and is long out of print. This new book recreates the depth 
of information, covers a slightly longer period and has been beautifully produced by 
a leading naval history publisher. The quality of illustration in fine line drawings and 
photographs is outstanding and, although this is a large format book, multiple fold 
out pages.

Titling books is always a challenge and this book does concentrate on British 
submarines in two World Wars, but it does much more. It begins with the Holland 
boats built for service in 1901 and continues the story through the World Wars and 
inter-war period to 1945 and beyond, with submarines that came into service at the 
end of WWII and served on into the 1950s, contributing to designs beyond that.

Britain was not only the major submarine power in 1914, but continued to innovate 
in submarine design and tactics and in the development of effective counters to the 
submarine threat to its own naval and merchant marine assets. It also went down a 
few blind alleys and missed opportunity on one highly advanced development 
through a lack of will to commit to development of the break through.

The blind alleys came from a desire to see the submarine as an integral part of the 
surface fleet. Tactically, this was forward thinking but came up against the 
fundamental lack of critical technology. Until the final days of WWII, as the 
Germans introduced The Type 21 and Type 23 U-Boats, submarines were really 
submersible torpedo boats with limited duration underwater and very poor 
performance. The hulls were designed to perform better on the surface with a deck 
gun to use as a surface weapon and anti-aircraft guns to protect against the increasing 
threat from the air. These weapons reduced poor performance even more underwater 
and slowed diving time because the weapons and ammunition had to be secured and 
the crews brought inside, before the hatches were closed and the boat could 
submerge. The Type 21 U-Boat changed much, because its increased battery capacity
 and snort mast meant the vessel could operate almost entirely underwater and its 
hull was optimised for submerged operation, producing a speed to match its surfaced 
speed, being more than four times faster underwater than the U-Boats of 1940. It was
 also considerably quieter and dived deeper. However, the British had reached that 
position before the end of WWI when work began on a small clean submarine 
optimised for underwater operation as an anti-submarine submarine with a speed of 
15knots submerged.

The blind alleys resulted from a desire to see the submarine mimicking the surface 
fleet and being able to keep up with it. This resulted in the controversial K Class 
steam-powered submarines that could achieve high sustained surface speeds but 
were slow to prepared for diving and unbearably hot because of the steam boiler 
system that could be secured for diving but not rapidly cooled. The boats experienced 
many problems including collisions. The X Class was an attempt to produce a 
submarine cruiser with four guns in two turrets. X-1 suffered a number of major 
problems and the class was abandoned. M1 was an attempt to produce a battleship 
submarine with a big gun. This was also a project filled with problems and M2 was 
completed as a submarine aircraft carrier and sank because the hanger doors were 
not correctly secured for diving.

The fleet submarine continued but it was really more a long range submarine 
recognizing the lengthy sea routes of Empire than a submarine to operate closely 
with the fleet. Larger submarines were also used with some success as mine-layers.

The blind alleys were sound concepts ahead of their time. Nuclear power, methods 
of purifying air during very long submerged voyages and huge steps in electronics 
development have produced submarines that really do operate almost exclusively 
underwater, achieve higher speed than surface warships and can operate with a 
battle group to protect it from enemy submarines. The author has done an excellent 
job of relating the British use of submarines and counter submarine systems through 
two World Wars