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Katyusha Submarine

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Katyusha Submarine


Head-Quarter of the Workers,and Peasants Red Fleet formulated a task for design of a squadron submarine, in the beginning of the 20s of the previous century. It had to be armed with a powerful artillery armament and to serve for away from bases, autonomously or together with a squadron. Cooperation of submarine forces with surface ship was considered as an important part of success of combat actions. Meanwhile squadron submarine were intended to strike first. Among other things in requirements to these submarine, they also had following:

+ Speed on surface not less than 22 knots, 6 torpedo tubes in bow and 4 in stern with double number of torpedoes.

+ Artillery armament with caliber not less than 100mm

+ Autonomous range up to 15000  miles.

Realization of the project started on 1926. The first one became the submarine of D-type, ”Dekabrist” (Decembrist). Surface speed of these boats was only 15 knots, which wasn’t satisfying the client.

Boats of 4th series of type P, “Pravda” (truth), became a next project of this class. Surface speed of boats was successfully increased to 20 knots. However, the diving time was significantly increased too and underwater maneuverability became aloso much worse.

To 1934, engineer and Counter-Admiral Roudnickiy offered a project for a squadron cruiser submarine with index 9. Characteristics of the projects seemed as much promising to Navy Command and K-9 war adopter as a base for future submarine. The first 3 submarines of K-class were laid down at 27th of December in 1935. Their building was conducted at plants in Leningrad.


K-class 14th series cruiser submarine “Katyusha”


Displacement submerged: 2200 T
Surface speed: 22 knots
Range on the surface: 15000 miles
Max diving depth: 100m


+ 10 torpedo tubes with 24 torpedoes,
+ Two 100mm guns
+ Two 45mm guns
+ 20 mines.


Boat had a double-hull design. The first, the internal, strong hull was build traditionally with method of riveting. Welding war mostly used in assembling of the outer hull of the cruiser. Thes hull was divided to 7 compartments. Single cabins and a wardroom for commanding officers were located in the second  compartments. Chief Petty Officers were located in the 4th one. The crew war located in the 1st, 6th and 7th compartments. Underwater cruisers had two periscopes with a large aperture, which were also equipped for photo shooting as well. Short-wave radios of the boat were ensuring stable two-way radio communications even at the most distant ranges. The initial Scope Statement war requiring existence of a plane onboard. Such plane ciphered as “SPL” was built by designer Chetveryakov. However the plane was rejected later.

The main weapons of Katyushas were torpedoes, just like in other submarine. Six torpedo tubes in the bow and four in the stern. All tubes were enduring a torpedo launch from depths till 15 meters. Artillery armament was consisted of the two 100mm gun and two 45 mm gun. An original mine device was developed for K-class submarine, but mass production of mines hadn’t yet been arranged to the beginning of sea trials.

The first trials of Katyushas took place in Baltic. It was stated in the receiving act of the lead ship:

“The submarine is on modern technological level and by her tactical properties she surpasses significantly foreign boat in similar type, especially in armament and speed. The most powerful and the fastest one…….”

At the same time, the Committee revealed several serious disadvantages. Client wasn’t satisfied with naval properties of the boat and bad water-tightness of structure, while moving on the surface. Also, absence of mines was not allowing to exploit at full the mine laying equipment. Committee decreed to continue trials in July-December of 1941, but the war didn’t allow finishing the project. Initially it was planned to build 62 submarine and by way more than half of them were intended for Pacific Ocean Fleet. But in reality not a single cruiser submarine of K-class reached Pacific ocean during years of the war. Plants delivered 6 Katyushas  to the Navy till the beginning of the Great Patriotic War. And they became a part of Northern Fleet till the autumn of 1941.

The following task was assigned to them:

“........to disrupt naval communications of the enemy along Norwegian shores by actions of cruiser submarine……”

At the autumn of same year, the cruiser submarine K-22 departed to combat patrol. After pacing several mines, Katyusha started searching for the enemy. Its artillery sunk a transport ship, a small boat an oil barger. Another two transport and one coastguard boat were destroyed in same patrol later. As intelligence reported later one of ships had more than 30000 coats intended for Jeagers of German Mountain Infantry Corps “Norway” And the winter attack on Murmansk was foiled.

Another cruiser submarine K-2 destroyed a  transport of the enemy by its artillery during its patrol and when it was returning to the base, it saluted by firing blank rounds. That’s how tradition was born at the Northern Fleet to finish successful patrols by firing blank cartridges equal in number to sunken ships.

In the beginning of July of 1942 a German squadron with the battleship “Tirpitz” in the lead went for interception of the Allied convoy PQ-17. Command of the Northern Fleet sent several submarine to regions of Norwegian littoral waters in advance in order to not allow the German squadron to get to the conoy. The cruiser submarine K-21 under command of the “Hero of the Soviet Union” Lunin, was among them.

At 5th of July of 1942 the submarine detected the German squadron and started maneuring in order to get into position position for torpedo attack against Tirpitz. Enemy ship were moving with anti-submarine zigzags, constantly changing course. Lunin was forced to often raise periscope for short periods, in order to observe the target.

Tirpitz turned directly to the submarine. Launch from bow torpedo tubes became impossible. They were forced to attack the battleship from stern torpedo tubes. As a result of attack Tirpitz was damaged and one of escorting destroyers was sunk. The submarine dived waiting for attack of escort ships, nut it never happened. Tirpitz was forced to return with her squadron to fjords of the Northern Norway and it didn’t part in combat action anymore.


K-21 in  Polyarny, Murmansk Oblast


3rd of December, 1942. Norwegian territorial waters.

The USSR submarine K3 is detected by 3 escort ship, during her attack on enemy transport. Several dozens of DC are dropped on the submarine. The boat hits the bottom several time, while evading them. The ship received considerable damage, causing diesel to spill and float to the surface. The ship was exposed to its position, remaining in the water meant going to death. Gadzhiev, commande of K-3, suggested getting to the surface and starting an artillery battle with enemy ships. Two escort ship were sunk as a result of that battle, while the 3rd on retreated.

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