Talk:Balao-class submarine

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Funny, it doesn't look like a submarine. Very busy, not at all streamlined. Did World War II sub operating doctrine have them operating on the surface much of the time? -Toptomcat 00:49, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Good eye. Up until the Type XXI, subs were more like submersible torpedo boats, which is the doctrine Dönitz developed. That led to the GUPPY boats & the Albacore hull. Trekphiler 22:24, 20 October 2006 (UTC)
All boats other than nuclear and the recent Air-Independent Propulsion boats (such as the German Type 212 submarine) have to spend most of their time surfaced or snorkeling, due to limited battery capacity. The "busy" superstructure came about in WWI, due to the need to move and fight on the surface much of the time, especially as the snorkel didn't exist until WWII. Accommodating guns and providing grab rails to reduce the number of crewmen lost overboard resulted in this. US S-boats and later boats thru WWII were built with this concept; the S-boats were based on studies of WWI U-boats. RobDuch (talk) 05:42, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

General characteristics[edit]

I rewrote to this:

  • -- General characteristics --
  • Displacement: 1526 tons surfaced, 2424 tons submerged
  • Length: 307ft (93.6m) waterline, 311ft 9in (95m) overall
  • Beam: 27 ft 3in (8.31m)
  • Draft: 15 ft 3in (4.65m)
  • Test depth: 400 ft (122m) (except SS361-364, 300ft {91.4m})
  • Speed: 20.25 knots (37.5 km/h) surfaced, 8.75 knots (16 km/h) submerged
  • Armament: 10 x 21 in (53cm) torpedo tubes (6 forward, 4 aft, 24 torpedoes); 1 x 3 in (76 mm)/50 caliber AA gun (in SS.361-364), 1x4in (102mm)/50 cal deck gun (in SS.285-291), or 5in (12.7cm)/25 cal (in rest), 1 x 40mm AA cannon (except in SS.361-364), 1x20mm AA cannon (SS.313-360 & SS.365-416 only), 2x0.5" (12.7mm) MG (except SS.361-364 0.3" {7.62mm} MG)
  • Crew: 80 – 85 officers and men
  • Powerplant: 4 x 1350 hp (1 MW) 16cyl General Motors 278A diesel engines (except SS292-312 and SS381-416 10cyl Fairbanks-Morse 38D-1/8), 2 x 1370 hp (1020kW) General Electric electric motors (except SS292-312 and SS381-416 Elliot Motor)
  • Range: 11,800 nautical miles (21,900 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced

I base that on Lenton, American Submarines. The 4x6500hp diesel is such an obvious mistake I can only conclude somebody didn't notice there were 2 engines on each shaft & that was a total hp. The "4x" electric motors is wrong, too. There were 2 motors, 1 on each shaft. The original 1800t surfaced tonnage doesn't agree with any published figure I've ever seen, either, & it's well above the published numbers for Gato & Tench, which it should be close to, since the design didn't change significantly til after the Tenches were completed. I should also mention, parenthetically, Gato, Balao, & Tench had a design capacity of 26 torpedoes (with the additional bow tube, according to Beach); by my count, it's 30, but... Trekphiler 22:29, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

I added the battery makers, again from Lenton. BTW, can anybody say how it's pronounced? Trekphiler 21:02, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

That's deep[edit]

Can somebody confirm Balao used higher-yield steel? From what Beach & Blair imply, they had heavier frames & thicker skins, not better steel. I don't have Alden in front of me, so I can't say... Trekphiler 20:45, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

O'Kane's first book says the pressure hull steel was both thicker and stronger due to better alloy. He even gives the thickness but I don't have the book in front of me right now. I'm a bit skeptical, as thicker steel would change the weight and require other changes. Rees11 (talk) 20:32, 5 January 2009 (UTC)
I can't find this in O'Kane's book but it's also in Red Scorpion, so I've added it. Rees11 (talk) 17:53, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
See Friedman pp. 208-209 for use of High-Tensile Steel (HTS). RobDuch (talk) 05:45, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

The (SS-310) Batfish[edit]

I have had the pleasure of joining the crew that maintains the SS-310 Batfish and have recently camped out on its deck. We're replacing the rotted deck with an Egyptian teak currently. Sleeping in the crew quarters is a very good night sleep, as it is dead quiet. The deck is just as comfortable in a sleeping bag, I had the fortune to pull up some sleeping real estate on the deck where the AA gun is mounted.

My experience with the Batfish was incredible. I am happy to join the crew and continue to restore and maintain this wonderful piece of human history. Sitting in the mess I couldn't beleive that this kind of structure was built during a time when we didn't have computers or microwaves or any of the modern technologies that would have made this scale of a vessel tangible.

I was in awe of the entire experience and will continue to make a 2.5 hour drive there several times a year to lend a hand. We also perform re-enactments on the boat and have rigged up a boat-wide sound system that makes the entire length of the boat come alive with ambient audio, alert sirens, torpedo launch sounds...all bounced off the hull it is very real sounding. Makes for a great tourist experience and takes visitors back in time with us.

Anyone near the Batfish should come see this piece of our history. She won't dissapoint you.

Two motors on battery?[edit]

I don't believe the part about running only one motor per side on battery. If you check the Operation Manual it says nothing about this, and the wiring diagram seems to indicate both motors on a side are always connected. Rees11 (talk) 20:39, 5 January 2009 (UTC)

I took this out. The Fleet Sub Manual says:

The starter levers have three series positions and two parallel positions. The motors are always in series with each other when the starters are in any of the series positions, the voltage of the line being divided between each of the motors. When the starters are in either parallel position, the motors are in parallel, each motor receiving the full line voltage. The SER. 3 and PAR. 2 positions are the only running positions of the starter levers.

So it seems pretty clear that the two operating positions use both motors on each side. Rees11 (talk) 01:59, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Enlisted men[edit]

An anonymous editor changed "enlisted" to "men." I get the point, "enlisted" is an adjective, and is used only informally in the Navy as a noun. But "men" is ambiguous. It could be interpreted to mean a total of 70 men, of whom 10 are officers and the other 60 are enlisted. So I made it 10 officers and 70 "enlisted men," which I think is clear and correct. Rees11 (talk) 12:19, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

It seems clear with or without men after enlisted in the Infobox, though omitting it is informal. -Fnlayson (talk) 18:04, 5 September 2009 (UTC)


Since ex-Tusk (USS Tusk (SS-426)) is still in service, shouldn't the infobox list the number of active subs as "1" instead of "0"? Or do we only count subs in active service with the US Navy? Rees11 (talk) 16:53, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Fixed issue, 2 active as of 2013. RobDuch (talk) 05:47, 20 May 2016 (UTC)

Isn't the USS Blueback (SS-326) a Balao class submarine? It's open to the public at the OMSI museum in Portland, Oregon. So that would make a total of nine Balao-class submarines open to public viewing? JHR —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:33, 3 May 2010 (UTC)

Wrong Blueback. (talk) 01:21, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Picture to use[edit]

It's already on Wikimedia, it's great resolution. Would be nice to have in the article. (talk) 08:11, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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" Ships in the class " section / list[edit]

Hello everybody ,

I found out this article , unlike others like Fletcher-class destroyers , didn't have " Ships in class " section / list.

So I'd like to make a list for it. I may need someone to provide me information if it's needed as well since I don't have any material in my place.

Who's gonna have the same thought or now making in progress , please respond. Otherwise , I will do it when I have time.

Thank you. -- Comrade John (talk) 09:47, 19 October 2017 (UTC)

I have the "Register of Ships of the United States Navy 1775-1990" and I will be assisting Comrade John in preparing the list as a separate article. RobDuch (talk) 04:09, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
Along with creating class list articles, I am proposing to restructure the Gato/Balao/Tench information in accordance with the "Register of Ships of the United States Navy 1775-1990" by Bauer & Roberts. The existing information is largely derived from Lenton, whose main problem is an assumption that all submarines SS-417 and later were or would have been Tench-class. Bauer & Roberts break out the situation in more detail. Also, SS-361-364 were initially ordered as Balao-class, but were completed as Gato-class due to Manitowoc not receiving the Balao plans from Electric Boat in time. This is detailed in Friedman. Lenton lists these with the Balaos, although noting their 300-foot test depth, same as the Gatos. RobDuch (talk) 23:35, 30 November 2017 (UTC)
Based on input from Parsecboy at WP:SHIPS (, once I'm finished with the Balao-class list I'm thinking of changing the stub articles for cancelled subs that were never laid down to redirects to the class article. These apparently were given stub articles because they have small DANFS articles, such as this one. I plan to retain the stub articles for those subs that were laid down, and of course for the two that served as test hulks postwar. RobDuch (talk) 19:08, 24 December 2017 (UTC)
Conversion of stub articles to redirects completed. Decided not to retain stub articles for ships that were laid down but broken up before launching. RobDuch (talk) 22:02, 15 April 2018 (UTC)