July 21, 2019 at 12:40 pm #165418
Another mini model but very versatile.
Pre WW II the RN had no interest in midget submarines.
Some differing prototypes are built to test if the design was sound. The first operational craft was X 3, launched in March 1942. Training was not begun before September and the next craft was ready in October. I winter a total of six crafts was available.
With 6,5 kts surfaced and one less diving it was no runner. A single shaft Diesel engine of London bus company design was used surfaced and the batteries gave it a range of 82 nautical miles submerged at 2 kts. Theoretical range surfaced was 600 nautical miles. That was increased by towing the craft into the action area by another submarine. A transfer crew was used because the living condition had been awful at best. 14 days (some 1200 nmiles) was thought to be the limit. Then the attack crew would come by dinghy from the big brother. Following the attack the two should rendezvous for return home.
The test depth was 300 ft but under operational conditions half was more than enogh for the small submarine.
The original crew was 3 men (Commander, Pilotand engineer) but later a diver was added. His main job was to cut a way through anti submarine nets. For that a wet and dry room was added so that he could go in and out submerged.
2 loads of 4.400 ib amatol in containers at the side are the designed raison d’être. Detonated by a time fuze they should be laid under the target.
Over 16 m length made the X Ctaft a big midget submarine. On paper it was a good weapon system, in action it showed that it needed brave men to use it.
The first and most famous operation was “Source” in September 43. Six X-Crafts got sent against the Tirpitz. Two became disconnected on tow to Norway, one suffered mechanical failure and was scuttled, and another sank after being attacked. Only X6 and X7, could attack.
The charges damaged the Tirpitz enough to keep it in harbor until being finished of by Lancaster bombers.
The lost boats were replaced in spring 1944 with X20 to X25 and six training-only craft. Training was done at HMS Varbel , a hotel at Port Bannatyne on Isle of Bute.
X20 – X 25 got selected for another trip to Norway to destroy a floating dock at Bergen. X 22 was rammed in training and sank with all hands.X 24 made it into Bergen harbor and laid the charges. Not noticing that the dark shade above was not the dock but 7.500 GRT merchant Bärenfels alongside the dock. It was sunk but the dock was only slightly damaged. In a second attack X 24 destroyed the dock.
In the months before D-Day X 20 made charts of the approaches and two divers collected material from the beaches in condoms. Benzedrine kept the men working.
At the actual landing day X 20 and X 23 served as navigational beacons.
The series ended in1954 with X 51.
In Far East some crafts of revised XE type got used. XE 4 destroyed the cables from Saigon to Hong Kong and XE 5 the Hong Kong – Singapore one. XE 1 and 3 are sent to lay charges under Japanese cruisers Takao and Myoko in Singapore. Both attacked the Takao and it was sunk. But the already damaged Takao was not seaworthy before she was sunk, so the net result was not big. The two VC s given to the crews are well deserved for bravery, not net result.
As stated the design had some flaws. The periscope was too short, so it was easy to see the boat. The escape hatch situation was deadly, so two men of X 7 died unable to escape. The low silhouette caused some accidents by colliding with friendly vessels.
So losses had been high. X 3 was lost in training accident but the crew survived.. X 5 – X 10 are all lost in training or action. And X 22 was lost with all hands in training following collision XE 11 sank in March 45.
The model dimensions are correct for 1/300 but the “tower” look too broad compared to contemporary pics. May be the paintwork make it look bigger.
Well, a gaming model……. . It’s interesting to see that the 16 + m vessel was longer than most old pics seem to indicate.
Compared to the MTB its small but to the German Biber is was a giant.
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