Experimental Submarines

R Class

Experimental Anti-Submarine Submarine

  • R Class Submarine
  • R2
  • R3
  • R4
  • R10
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The R class submarine was brilliant in its conception, far ahead of its time. Since 1915 British submarines quite often encountered U-boats transiting on the surface, but only rarely close enough for attack. During the second half of the war, ASW had become the British submarines' primary mission, but despite several hundred sightings there were only thirteen successful attacks during 1917-1918.

Unfortunately the R class anti-submarine submarines were built too late to prove their merits or otherwise in the war, only one boat had occasion to fire a full six-torpedo salvo against an enemy U-boat and missed.

At the time of the armistice R1 and R2 were in the 14th Flotilla at Blyth while R7, R8, R11 and R12 were based Killybegs, Donegal.

Most of the boats were sold for scrap a few years after the war. The surviving R4 was employed in the 6th Flotilla at Portland for work with the A/S school. Known as the 'Slug' R4 had a reputation for being a boat 'to which things happened.'

This class of submarine was designed with the intention of giving a greater submerged than surface speed. Consequently they were built with one small diesel engine but were given two large electric motors. These were arranged one behind the other in order to work on the single propeller shaft, they were also fitted with the 'J' class boats batteries.

These boats proved difficult to steer whilst on the surface due to the small engine which also proved inadequate to recharge the batteries, this task was carried out on returning to harbour and using the shore supply.

10 Built

R1 - R4

H.M. Dockyard, Chatham.
1917 - 1919

R7, R8
Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness
1917 - 1918

R9, R10
Armstrong Whitworth, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
1917 - 1919

R11, R12
Cammell Laird, Birkenhead.
1917 - 1918


Technical Information

415 sf
503 sm

Length (ft):
163.75 oa

Breadth (ft):
15.54 oa

Draught/Height (ft):

1 x 8 cylinder diesel engine.
240 bhp at 380 rpm.
2 x Electric motors.
1200 bhp at 600 rpm.
1 x Auxiliary motor.
25 bhp.

Speed (kts):
9.5 kts sf
14.4 kts sm

Oil Supply (tons):
13.25 tons

6 x 18 inch tubes.
12 reloads.

2000 nm at 9 kts sf.
15 nm at full power.
240 nm at 4 kts on auxiliary motor.

2 officers, 20 ratings.