L Class

Group One

Overseas Submarine

  • L Class Submarine
  • L1
  • L3
  • L4
  • L4 and others Hong Kong
  • L Class Boats 1933 at Gosport
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The 'L' class signalled the Admiralty's return to the saddle-tank type of submarine. They were originally intended to be a larger and much improved design of the 'E' class.

The scale of improvement prompted the Admiralty to designate them a class of their own. The class is more or less divided into the three groups shown above. Group One were armed with four 18 inch bow tubes and two beam tubes. Group Two were armed with four 21 inch bow tubes and two 18 inch beam tubes. Some of this group were configured as minelayers and were also fitted with four 21 inch bow tubes.

This class was also fitted with a gun forward of the conning tower. L1 to L8 were fitted with a 3 inch high-angle anti-aircraft gun, eventually all were fitted with a 4 inch gun.

The 'L' class formed the backbone of the British submarine flotillas during the 1920's. They served from the Home waters to the China Station. The first 'L' boats were despatched to China in 1919, twelve boats of the class served in the China Station.

By 1929 there were only 30 boats remaining in service, ten of these held in reserve in Home waters. By 1939 only three were left in existence, these saw some operational employment during 1940 otherwise they were used for training purposes.

In 1944 the boats were sent to Canada where they finished their days giving anti-submarine training to convoy escort groups.

8 Built

L1 - L4
Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness.
1916 - 1918

Swan Hunter, Wallsend.
1916 - 1918

Beardmore, Dalmuir.
1916 - 1918

L7, L8
Cammell Laird, Birkenhead.
1916 - 1918

Technical Information

891 sf
1,074 sm

Length (ft):

Breadth (ft):

Draught/Height (ft):

2 x 12 cylinder solid injection Vickers type diesels
2400 bhp.
4 x electric motors
1600 bhp
1 x 20 hp aux motor for slow running.
Twin screws.

Speed (kts):
17 sf
10.5 sm

Oil Supply (tons):
76 tons.

1 x 3 inch gun, later replaced by 4 inch.
4 x 18 inch bow tubes, 2 x 18 inch beam tubes.

3,80nm at 10kt sf.
200nm at 2kt sm.

L1 - L33: 38 officers and ratings.
L50's: 44 officers and ratings.