Submarine X-1

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This article is about the 1969 movie. For the US Navy midget submarine, see X-1 Submarine.
Submarine X-1
Original film poster
Directed by William Graham
Produced by John C. Champion
Screenplay by Donald S. Sanford[1]
Guy Elmes
Story by John C. Champion
Edmund North
Starring James Caan
David Sumner
Norman Bowler
Music by Ron Goodwin
Cinematography Paul Beeson
Edited by John S. Smith
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • June 23, 1969 (1969-06-23)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Submarine X-1 is a 1969 British World War II war film loosely based on the Operation Source attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in 1943. In the film James Caan stars as Lt. Commander Richard Bolton, a Canadian, who must lead a group of midget submarines in an attack on a German battleship.


The film begins with Commander Bolton and a few surviving crew members of his 50-man submarine Gauntlet swimming ashore after unsuccessfully attacking German battleship Lindendorf. After a review, Captain Bolton is cleared of any wrongdoing and placed in charge of a small group of experimental X class submarines. His mission is to quickly train crews to man the submarines and sink the Lindendorf while it is hidden away in a Norwegian fiord.

The film progresses with Commander Bolton training the crews of the three submarines. He must overcome tensions with some of his former crew members, while keeping their activities hidden from outsiders and German airplanes. The crews successfully fend off an attack by German commandos, who discover their base. Bolton is forced to make hasty preparations for his attack before their submarine base can be destroyed.

Two of the submarines are lost while attempting to cut through submarine nets at the entrance to the fiord. One submarine crew is captured and taken to the German battleship for interrogation. The surviving submarine penetrates the submarine nets in the fiord and places explosives under the German battleship. The submarine then manages to escape as the battleship explodes. The film concludes as the battleship sinks.

Equipment errors[edit]

The film's frogmen's equipment was very wrong and anachronistic. The breathing sets shown were open-circuit and were merely a very fat cylinder crosswise across the belly, with a black single-hose second-stage regulator such as was not invented until the 1960s. Also shown were ordinary sport scuba weight belts and ordinary eyes-and-nose diving masks with elliptical windows. The frogmen in the real war operation mostly used Sladen suits and an early type of Siebe Gorman rebreather.[original research?][citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Midway' writer Donald S. Sanford dies at 92". Variety Magazine. 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 

External links[edit]