Soviet M-class submarine
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The M-class submarines, also Malyutka-class (Russian: Малютка; baby or little one), were a class of small, single-, or 1½-hulled submarines built in the Soviet Union and used during World War II. The submarines were built in sections so they could easily be transported by rail. The production was centered in the Gorky Shipyard on the Volga River, after which the sections were transported by railway to Leningrad for assembly and fitting out. This was the first use of welding on Soviet submarines.
1930s to 40s
Submarines of this class were in four series: VI, VI-bis, XII, XV. The number of VI and VI-bis series boats were almost equal. Series XII was a re-developed project with equivalent tactical characteristics. The first series were powered by one diesel engine and one electric motor. Series XV had developed separately with improved characteristics, including the main ballast in light hull and two shafts. These vessels were mainly used by the Black Sea Fleet and the Baltic Fleet.
Although the design was satisfactory, only limited results were obtained and losses were heavy with 33 submarines sunk between 1941 and 1945. Seven submarines were lost in the Black Sea, 4 depth-charged and sunk by Romanian warships (M-31 by destroyer Mărășești, M-58 by the destroyer Regina Maria, M-59 by the destroyer Regele Ferdinand and M-118 by the Romanian gunboats Ghiculescu and Stihi) and 3 were sunk in minefields laid by the Romanian minelayers Amiral Murgescu, Dacia and Regele Carol I. By 1945, some 111 M-class submarines had been completed, with another 30 XV-series completed between 1945 and 1947.
Two submarines of the early series of this class, along with two Soviet S-class submarines, (S-52 and S-53) and two Shchuka-class submarines (under lease, S-121 and S-123) were sold to the People's Republic of China in June 1954 as the foundation of the People's Liberation Army Navy Submarine Force. Both the M- and S-class submarines were sold to China, and two more M-XV series of this class (M-278 and M-279) were sold to China a few years later. Those purchased by China were renamed, but the two leased Shchuka-class submarines were not. The four M-class submarines bought by China were renamed National Defense # 21, 22, 23 (ex M-278) and 24 (ex M-279) respectively.
An M-class submarine was discovered near Tallinn in May 2012. The submarine is located in the Tallinn Bay between the islands of Aegna and Naissaar, at an approximate depth of 65 to 66 meters. It's believed to be the M-216, which was intentionally sunk in the area in 1962 for training purposes. Divers have confirmed that many components, including the periscope, are missing. It's also believed that the training exercise may have been ordered as a result of several deadly submarine accidents in the 1950s. One such accident happened near Paldiski, where the entire crew died during a failed rescue operation.
Another M-class (series XII) submarine was found in July 2015 by divers from Aquarius Dive Center Constanta, in front of Costinesti, at an approximate depth of 40 meters. It is believed to be either M-34 or M-58, both being lost to Romanian mine fields. The submarine is buried in the sand up to the deck level, and also completely filled with sand, making any further identification almost impossible. The upper part of the hull shows a pretty high level of damage - many ribs are exposed. The aft hatch was partially opened (probably when it exploded). The hull is in one piece, conning tower and deck gun intact.
- Series VI
- 30 submarines constructed between 1932 and 1934
- Series VI-bis
- 19 submarines built in four sections between 1934 and 1936) were 37.5 m long and displaced 202 tons submerged (161 tons surfaced).
- M-71 (lost on 24 Jun 1941)
- M-74 (lost on 23 Sep 1941)
- M-78 (lost on 23 Jun 1941)
- M-80 (lost on 24 Jun 1941)
- M-81 (lost on 1 Jul 1941)
- M-83 (lost on 27 Jun 1941)
- Series XII
- 45 submarines built in six sections between 1936 and 1941 were 44.5 m long, and displaced 258 tons submerged (206 tons surfaced).
- M-31 (lost on 17 Dec 1942)
- M-33 (lost on 22 Aug 1942)
- M-34 (lost on 3 Nov 1941)
- M-36 (lost on 4 Jan 1944)
- M-57 (lost on Aug 1941)
- M-58 (lost on Oct 1941)
- M-59 (lost on Nov 1941)
- M-60 (lost on Sep 1942)
- M-63 (lost on Aug 1941)
- M-94 (lost on 21 Jul 1941)
- M-95 (lost on Jun 1942)
- M-96 (lost on 8 Sep 1944)
- M-97 (lost on 15 Aug 1942)
- M-98 (lost on 14 Nov 1941)
- M-99 (lost on 27 Jun 1941)
- M-103 (lost on Aug 1941)
- M-106 (lost on 5 Jul 1943)
- M-108 (lost on 28 Feb 1944)
- M-118 (lost on 1 Oct 1942)
- M-121 (lost on Nov 1942)
- M-122 (lost on 14 May 1943)
- M-172 (lost on Oct 1943)
- M-173 (lost on Aug 1942)
- M-174 (lost on Oct 1943)
- M-176 (lost on Jul 1942)
- M-175 (lost on 10 Jan 1942)
- Series XV
- 4 submarines built in seven sections during World War II while other 11 built after it, until 1953 were 53.0 m long, and displaced 420 tons submerged (350 tons surfaced).
- M-200 (lost on 21 Nov 1956)
Completed after World War II:
Both series VI and VI-bis were constructed by A. N. Asafov. Series XII was made by P. I. Serdyuk and series XV was created by F. F. Polushkin.
- M. J. Whitley, Destroyers of World War Two, p. 224
- John Smillie, World War II Sea War, Vol 4: Germany Sends Russia to the Allies, p. 389
- Donald A Bertke, Gordon Smith, Don Kindell, World War II Sea War, Volume 5: Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This Is Not a Drill, p. 63
- Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935-1953, p. 266
- Mikhail Monakov, Jurgen Rohwer, Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet: Soviet Naval Strategy and Shipbuilding Programs 1935-1953, pp. 265 and 266
- In Estonian: The submarine in the bay of Tallinn is of the Malyutka class.
- "M (Malyutka) class - Allied Warships of WWII". Uboat.net. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
- Erminio Bagnasco, Submarines of World War II, Cassell & Co, London. 1977 ISBN 1-85409-532-3