British R-class submarines were diesel-electric submarines built for the Royal Navy during World War One in dockyards across the country, and first launched in 1918.
The R-class was considered the forerunner of the modern attack submarine, having been specifically designed to attack and sink enemy submarines. Design features included a large battery capacity and a hull shape that was specifically optimised for a better underwater performance. In fact, the sub’s underwater speed could reach 14 knots, which was an underwater speed record not broken until 1938.
While the submarines that had come before often suffered at least one or two significant flaws, the R-class represented a new era of submarines, boasting streamlining, no external ballast tanks and a lightened conning tower. The R-class was also the first Royal Navy submarine to be fitted with six bow torpedo tubes However, this impressive performance did mean control underwater wasn’t easy, particularly at high speeds.
Although the R-class submarines weren’t commissioned until towards the end of World War One, they still saw action in 1918. Once the war was over, all but two were sold for scrap, with the two remaining vessels used for anti-submarine warfare training.
See the table below for more information on the characteristics of the R-class submarines:
R-class submarines statistics:
|Number completed before 1919||10|
|Number completed after 1919||0|
|Lost in action||0|
|Surface speed||9.5 knots|
|Submerged speed||15 knots|
|Torpedo tubes||18 inches|
|Number of torpedoes tubes||6|
|Guns||1 x 4 inches|
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