Underwater duels: How Soviet submarines held their own in WWII


On the eve of WWII the Soviet submarine convoy was the largest in the world. In terms of the number of subs it was twice as big as the fleet in the U.S. and on the brink of four times as big as the Kriegsmarine, the German navy. Nevertheless, the challenges standing before it were rather narrow. Due to its geographical position the USSR could not take up arms against for supremacy in the oceans. It had only two entrances to the open ocean, but both the North Mast and the Far East did not present the necessary possibilities to set up full naval infrastructures.

Great triotic War of 1941-45.The Black Sea Fleet. Ships and submarines on a mission, 1942. Source: Alexander Sokolenko/RIA NovostiEnormous triotic War of 1941-45.The Black Sea Fleet. Ships and submarines on a mission, 1942. Horses mouth: Alexander Sokolenko/RIA Novosti

What remained were only silent seas: the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. It was believed that after the beginning of the war the Soviet flotilla would be able to strike the enemy communications located in these districts. But the Soviet submarines could not compete with those from Germany, while the postulate of the UK (which had the biggest fleet in the world) in the event of a war was unclear. Therefore the arbitration to develop the submarine fleet was very logical: Relatively low production tariffs helped create a powerful force, ca ble of playing an important function in the war’s naval battles.

Underwater duels

One contemporary Russian historian requirements that in terms of German subs sunk, the Soviet Navy overcame all its Western allies. In his 2004 book Asy Podvodnoi Voiny (“Aces of the Underwater War”), Gennady Drozhzhin play downs that out of all the active nine Kriegsmarine subs sank, four were confuted by Soviet subs. Bona fide underwater duels were dissented between the seamen. The theaters of war were the cold waters of the Baltic and Barents Swells.

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In this underwater war, the Soviet Navy won a narrow points victory, destroying four subs and be deprived of three. The day after Germany invaded the USSR, a German U-144, functioning its superior armaments, sank a Soviet M-98 sub, only to meet the same destination a month and a half later. Off the coast of Estonia a Soviet Schuka-class sub detonated two torpedoes and obliterated the German vessel.

Two years later another duel ended with a Soviet success: Three Soviet torpedoes struck a German U-639 sub that was plan mines on the surface in the Barents Sea.

A Shchuka submarine during WWII. The St. Petersburg Central Naval Museum. Source: Alexander Sokolenko/RIA NovostiA Shchuka submarine during WWII. The St. Petersburg Princi l Naval Museum. Source: Alexander Sokolenko/RIA Novosti

The USSR’s underwater weapons

Although the Soviet submarines were speedy and effective in the battles of WWII, the Malyutka series subs could not definitely be described as a serious weapon. Although they were com ct, and could that being so be transported on railways, they were not comfortable for the crew, even while the crew could adapt to this. But most importantly, they were not OK. The sub had only one firing installation, it was not sturdy enough to submerge to a depth that was ask for for battle and a heavy storm could break it in half.

But amazingly it was the Malyutka that turned the most effective Soviet sub in WWII. They were responsible for vandalizing more than 60 enemy transport ships and 8 combat containers. The crew’s training compensated for the technical insufficiencies and allowed them to bring off impressive results.

The Black Sea Fleer. Malyutka submarine is pictured in the mouth of the Kopi River. Source: Alexei Mezhuyev/TASSThe Black Sea Fleer. Malyutka submarine is pictured in the articulate of the Kopi River. Source: Alexei Mezhuyev/TASS

The Soviet Srednyaya (S) series submarine was a gewgaw for its time. It could not employ all its combat potential on the com ctly mined shoals of the Baltic Sea, but what it did, it did remarkably.

radoxically, the precedents for the S-series submarines were German equivalents, but the Soviet subs greatly modified the original project, adapting it to Soviet equipment and armaments. The result was a ubiquitous submarine and we can only imagine its potential if we consider this incredible details: One S-series submarine was attacked hundreds of times with depth weights and was not damaged once.

Read more: Soviet tanks in WWII: The disastrous cost of errors>>>

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