Midget submarine
Overview
 
A midget submarine is any submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 under 150 tons, typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 8, with little or no on-board living accommodation. Midget submarines normally work with mother ships, from which they are launched and recovered, and which provide living accommodation for the crew and other support staff.

Both military and civilian midget submarines have been built.
Encyclopedia
A midget submarine is any submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 under 150 tons, typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 8, with little or no on-board living accommodation. Midget submarines normally work with mother ships, from which they are launched and recovered, and which provide living accommodation for the crew and other support staff.

Both military and civilian midget submarines have been built. Military types work with surface ships and other submarines as mother ships. Civilian and non-combatant military types are generally called submersible
Submersible
A submersible is a small vehicle designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vehicles known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is...

s, and normally work with surface ships.

Most early submarines, such as the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

's USS Holland (SS-1)
USS Holland (SS-1)
USS Holland was the United States Navy's first commissioned submarine, named for her Irish-American inventor, John Philip Holland, although not the first submarine of the US Navy, which was the 1862...

 and the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

's Holland 1, would now be considered midget submarines.

Uses

The best known role for midget submarines is probably harbor penetration, although only two World War Two boats, the British X-craft and the unsuccessful Welman submarine
Welman submarine
The Welman submarine was a Second World War one-man British midget submarine developed by the Special Operations Executive. It only saw action once and was never particularly successful.-Design:...

 were specifically designed with this in mind. Japan's Ko-hyoteki class submarine
Ko-hyoteki class submarine
The class was a class of Japanese midget submarines used during World War II. They had hull numbers but no names. For simplicity, they are most often referred to by the hull number of the mother submarine...

s were originally designed to take part in decisive fleet actions. However, as circumstances changed, they ended up tasked with harbour penetration. Germany’s various World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 designs were mostly designed to attack Allied shipping off landing beaches and harbours, although the Seehund
Seehund
The Seehund , also known as Type XXVII, was a successful series of German midget submarines created during World War II...

 had a great enough range to attack shipping off the Thames estuary.

Midget submarines have also seen some use in support roles. X-craft were used for reconnaissance, and the Seehund was used to carry supplies. A number of modern midget submarines have also been built for submarine rescue.

Armament

Midget submarines are commonly armed with torpedoes and mines. Alternatively, they may carry timed explosive charges.

China, People's Republic

  • Type 7103 DSRV
    Type 7103 DSRV
    The Type 7103 Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle is a submarine rescue submersible of the People's Liberation Army Navy of the People's Republic of China .-Origin:...

    s
  • Osprey class submersible
    Osprey class submersible
    Osprey class submersible is a class of submersible of the People's Liberation Army Navy specially designed to perform torpedo retrieving missions at test ranges...

    s
  • Sea Pole class bathyscaphe
    Sea Pole class bathyscaphe
    The Sea Pole class bathyscaphe is a class of little known bathyscaphe of the People's Republic of China , capable of diving up to 7,000 metres, covering 99.8% of the oceanic floor of the world...

  • Dragon class bathyscaphe
  • Harmony class bathyscaphe
  • Mobile diving bell
  • QSZ-II submersible

China, Republic (Taiwan)

  • 2 Italian COS.MO.S CE2F/X100 post-war torpedo chariots
  • 2 Italian COS.MO.S SX-404 midget submarines: S-1 Haijiao (海蛟), S-2 Hailong (海龍), in service from October 8, 1969 to November 1, 1973.

France

  • FNRS-4 second generation research submersible
  • Nautile
    Nautile
    The Nautile is a manned submersible owned by Ifremer, the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea. Commissioned in 1984, the submersible can be operated at depths of up to ....

     research submersible to depth of 6 kilometers


France also acquired a number of German midget submarines at the end of WW2.

Germany

Most German midget submarines were developed late in World War II in an attempt to stop the Allied invasion of Europe and used later to disrupt its supply lines. As a result, the submarines mostly engaged in open water attacks rather than harbour penetration.
  • Biber (324 built by AG Weser of Bremen)
  • Delphin
    Delphin
    The Delphin was a German midget submarine created during World War II. Designed in 1944, only three prototypes were created by the Kriegsmarine by the end of the war, all of which were destroyed...

     (2 built) 2-man 5-ton torpedo with top speed of 20 knots (39.2 km/h) and submerged radius of 30 nautical miles (55.6 km) at 3 knots (5.9 km/h).
  • Hai (midget submarine)
    Hai (midget submarine)
    The Hai was an advanced model of the Marder-class midget submarines created in Germany during World War II and operated by the K-Verband. Its prototype performed poorly during test runs and therefore no other boats were produced....

      prototype of improved Marder.
  • Hecht
    Hecht (submarine)
    The Hecht , also known as Type XXVIIA, was a two-man all-electric German midget submarine created during World War II.-History:...

     type XXVIIA 2-man 12 ton submarine with 1 mine or 1 torpedo carried outboard to a range of 38 miles at 4 knots.
  • Marder
    Marder (midget submarine)
    The Marder was a German miniature submarine developed from the Neger. The craft was 8.3 metres long and unlike the Neger included a flooding tank in the nose allowing it to dive. Another improvement was the dome through which the pilot viewed the outside world that also served as the craft’s...

     (~300 built) similar to Neger with breathing apparatus to allow submerged operation.
  • Molch
    Molch
    The Molch was an unsuccessful, one-man series of German midget submarines created during World War II...

     Completely electric motordriven WWII (1944–1945) Midget submarine. Total 393 built.
  • Neger
    Neger
    Neger was a German torpedo-carrying craft generally described as a human torpedo which could not submerge, but was difficult to see during night operations. The vessel was used by the Kriegsmarine between 1943 and 1945...

     (~200 built) 1-man 5-ton torpedo with underslung G7E torpedo. Top speed 20 knots and range of 30 miles at 3 knots.
  • Orca class post-war swimmer delivery vehicle
  • Seehund
    Seehund
    The Seehund , also known as Type XXVII, was a successful series of German midget submarines created during World War II...

     type XXVIIB Most successful midget submarine in the Kriegsmarine. Operational deployment was between January 1945 – April 1945.
  • V.80 4-man 76-ton prototype completed in 1940 to test Walther geared turbine propulsion system. Range was 50 nautical miles (92.6 km) at 28 knots (54.9 km/h).

Italy

  • Siluro a Lenta Corsa (SLC), also known as "Maiale
    Maiale
    The word maiale is:*Italian for "pig".*An Italian word for a manned torpedo....

    " (pig), a low speed torpedo chariot
  • Bathyscaphe Trieste
    Bathyscaphe Trieste
    The Trieste is a Swiss-designed, Italian-built deep-diving research bathyscaphe with a crew of two, which reached a record maximum depth of about , in the deepest known part of the Earth's oceans, the Challenger Deep, in the Mariana Trench near Guam, on January 23, 1960, crewed by Jacques Piccard ...

     was first to explore the Challenger Deep
    Challenger Deep
    The Challenger Deep is the deepest known point in the oceans, with a depth of to by direct measurement from submersibles, and slightly more by sonar bathymetry . It is located at the southern end of the Mariana Trench near the Mariana Islands group...

     of the Mariana Trench
    Mariana Trench
    The Mariana Trench or Marianas Trench is the deepest part of the world's oceans. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. The trench is about long but has a mean width of only...

  • CA type
    CA class midget submarine
    The CA class were a group of midget submarines built for the Italian Navy during World War II.-Design:These submarines were designed by the Caproni Company and built in great secrecy...

     First series was a 2 man midget submarine the second series carried a crew of three.
  • CB type 45 ton 4 man design first introduced in 1941
  • CE2F/X100 post-war torpedo chariot
  • SX-404 a 70 ton submarine design. 4 were sold to Columbia and 2 to Taiwan in the 1970s.

Japan

  • Ko-hyoteki-class midget submarines were used in the 1942 Attack on Sydney Harbour
    Attack on Sydney Harbour
    In late May and early June 1942, during World War II, submarines belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy made a series of attacks on the cities of Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia...

    , Attack on Diego Suarez Harbor
    Battle of Madagascar
    The Battle of Madagascar was the Allied campaign to capture Vichy-French-controlled Madagascar during World War II. It began on 5 May 1942. Fighting did not cease until 6 November.-Geo-political:...

     and the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor
    Attack on Pearl Harbor
    The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

    , in which the type 97 torpedo
    Type 97 torpedo
    The Type 97 was a diameter torpedo used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Intended for use with Japan's Ko-hyoteki class midget submarines, the torpedo was based on the Type 93 "Long Lance" used by larger Japanese submarines, but redesigned to meet the smaller physical dimensions...

     was used operationally. The wreckage of one of the submarines sunk at Pearl was located by NOAA's Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) in August 2002. Photographic analysis conducted by the United States Naval Institute
    United States Naval Institute
    The United States Naval Institute , based at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, is a private, non-profit, professional military association that seeks to offer independent, nonpartisan forums for debate of national defense issues...

     in 1999 indicates one of the five Ko-hyoteki-class submarines managed to enter Pearl Harbor, and successfully fired a torpedo into the USS West Virginia
    USS West Virginia (BB-48)
    USS West Virginia , a , was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 35th state.Her keel was laid down on 12 April 1920 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Newport News, Virginia. She was launched on 17 November 1921 sponsored by Miss Alice Wright Mann,...

    . On 29 May 1942, two midget submarines, one of which managed to enter the Diego Suarez harbor and fired two torpedoes. One torpedo seriously damaged battleship
    Battleship
    A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

     HMS Ramillies
    HMS Ramillies (07)
    HMS Ramillies was a Revenge-class battleship of the Royal Navy, named after the Battle of Ramillies. The ship is notable for having served in both the First and Second World Wars...

    , while the second sank the oil tanker British Loyalty (6,993 tons).

  • Type B Midget Ha 45 prototype built 1942 to test Type A improvements.
  • Type C Midget Ha 62–76 similar to Type A with crew of 3 and radius increased to 350 nautical miles (648.2 km) at 6 knots (11.8 km/h) surfaced or 120 nautical miles (222.2 km) at 4 knots (7.8 km/h) submerged.
  • Type D Koryu (115 completed) improved Type C with crew of 5 and radius increased to 1000 miles at 8 knots surfaced and 320 miles at 16 knots submerged.
  • Kairyu class submarine
    Kairyu class submarine
    The was a class of midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy, designed in 1943–1944, and produced from the beginning of 1945. These submarines were meant to meet the invading American naval forces upon their anticipated approach of Tokyo.-History:...

  • Kaiten Submarine suicide torpedo.
  • DSV Shinkai
    DSV Shinkai
    The Shinkai 6500 is a manned research submersible that can dive up to a depth of 6,500 m. It was completed in 1990 and has the greatest depth range of any manned research vehicle in the world. The only manned expedition to have gone deeper was the dive of the Trieste bathyscaphe in 1960. However,...

     research submersible to a depth of 6.5 kilometers.

North Korea

  • Yugo class submarine
    Yugo class submarine
    The Yugo class submarine is a class of four midget submarines used primarily for infiltration and espionage by North Korea. The class is so named because it was built to plans supplied to North Korea by Yugoslavia in 1965. This class is actually a family of midget submarines for that not all are...

  • Yono class submarine
    Yono class submarine
    The Yono class submarine is a class of North Korean miniature submarines, produced for domestic use as well as for export. Also referred to as Yeono class vessels, these submarines displace 130 tons, significantly less than North Korea's larger 1,800-ton Romeo class submarines...

     (see also ROKS Cheonan sinking
    ROKS Cheonan sinking
    The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen...

    )

Romania

  • CB class
    CB class midget submarine
    The CB class was a group of midget submarines built for the Italian Navy during World War II.-Design:The boats were designed as coast defence units with diesel electric propulsion. There was a mini conning tower to aid navigation...

    , during World War II, Romania owned five midget submarines.

Russia

  • In the late 19th century Russia built a class of treadle powered submarines 4.5 meters in length designed by Stefan Drzewiecki
    Stefan Drzewiecki
    Stefan Drzewiecki was a Polish scientist, journalist, engineer, constructor and inventor, working in Russia and France....

     they were withdrawn from service in 1886.
  • Losos class submarine
    Losos class submarine
    Project 865 Piranha is a type of Russian midget submarine. The NATO reporting name for the class is Losos, which means "salmon" in the Russian language....


United Kingdom

The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 has used a number of midget submarines. Most were developed during WW2. The decommissioning of the Stickleback class marked the end of Midget submarines designed for combat in the Royal Navy.
  • Sleeping Beauty
    Sleeping Beauty (canoe)
    The Motorised Submersible Canoe , nicknamed Sleeping Beauty, was built by British Special Operations Executive during World War II as an underwater vehicle for a single frogman to perform clandestine reconnaissance or attacks against enemy vessels.-Design:The MSC was designed by Major Hugh Quentin...

     Motorised Submersible Canoe (MSC) developed by Special Operations Executive
    Special Operations Executive
    The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

     during WW2.
  • Stickleback class
    Stickleback class submarine
    The Stickleback class submarines were midget submarines of the Royal Navy initially ordered as improved versions of the older XE class submarines...

     A post World War Two development of the XE class.
  • X class
    X class submarine
    The X class was a World War II midget submarine class built for the Royal Navy during 1943–44.Known individually as X-Craft, the vessels were designed to be towed to their intended area of operations by a full-size 'mother' submarine - - with a passage crew on board, the operational crew...

     were used to attack German
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     warships in the North of Norway
    Norway
    Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

    . One notable target of a successful attack was the battleship
    Battleship
    A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

     Tirpitz
    German battleship Tirpitz
    Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

    . The submarines had a crew of three (plus a diver) and carried two large mine
    Naval mine
    A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

    s containing Amatol
    Amatol
    Amatol is a highly explosive material made from a mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate. Its name originates from the words ammonium and toluene...

     – one on each side. Their strategy was to lay mines on the sea bottom beneath the target, set a time fuse
    Fuse (explosives)
    In an explosive, pyrotechnic device or military munition, a fuse is the part of the device that initiates function. In common usage, the word fuse is used indiscriminately...

    , and exit.
  • XE class
    XE class submarine
    Six XE-class midget submarines were built for the Royal Navy during 1944. They were an improved version of the X Class midgets used in the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz....

     were used in the Far East
    Far East
    The Far East is an English term mostly describing East Asia and Southeast Asia, with South Asia sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.The term came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 19th century,...

    , where they carried out a number of attacks and special missions
    Allied submarines in the Pacific War
    Allied submarines were used extensively during the Pacific War and were a key contributor to the defeat of the Empire of Japan. During the war, submarines of the United States Navy were responsible for 55% of Japan's merchant marine losses; other Allied navies added to the toll. The war against...

    .
  • Welman submarine
    Welman submarine
    The Welman submarine was a Second World War one-man British midget submarine developed by the Special Operations Executive. It only saw action once and was never particularly successful.-Design:...

     was a single person submersible widely considered a failure.

United States

  • Aluminaut
    Aluminaut
    Aluminaut was built in 1964 and was the world's first aluminum submarine. The 80-ton, 51 foot manned deep-ocean research submersible was built by Reynolds Metals Company, which was seeking to advertise the utility of aluminum...

  • DSV Alvin
    DSV Alvin
    Alvin is a manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The vehicle was built by General Mills' Electronics Group in the same factory used to manufacture breakfast cereal-producing...

     (DSV-2)
  • DSRV-2 Avalon
    DSRV-2 Avalon
    DSRV-2 Avalon is a Mystic class Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle that is rated to dive up to 5000 feet . The submarine was acquired in response to the loss of the so that the Navy would have a way to rescue submarine crews trapped far beneath the ocean surface.Avalon was launched in 1971...

  • DSRV-1 Mystic
    DSRV-1 Mystic
    DSRV-1 Mystic is a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle that is rated to dive up to 1500 metres. DSRV1 was built by Lockheed for the U.S. Navy and launched 24 January 1970....

  • Nemo (DSV-5)
  • DSV Sea Cliff
    DSV Sea Cliff
    DSV-4 is a 25-ton, manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy. It is sister to DSV-3 Turtle, Alvin , and also an Alvin class Deep Submergence Vehicle. The Sea Cliff was retired from active service in 1998. Per the Naval Vessel Register , DSV-4 was returned to active...

     (DSV-4) of the Alvin class
  • Bathyscaphe Trieste II
    Bathyscaphe Trieste II
    Trieste II ' was the successor to Trieste — the United States Navy's first bathyscaphe purchased from its Swiss designers. The original Trieste design was heavily modified by the Naval Electronics Laboratory in San Diego, California and built at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard...

     (DSV-1)
  • DSV Turtle
    DSV Turtle
    Turtle is a 16-ton, manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy. It is sister to Alvin , and also an Alvin class Deep Submergence Vehicle. The Turtle was retired from active service in 1998. It now resides at the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, ConnecticutThe Turtle is...

     (DSV-3) of the Alvin class
  • X-1 Submarine
    X-1 Submarine
    X-1 was the United States Navy's only midget submarine , laid down on 8 June 1954, at Deer Park, Long Island, New York, by the Engine Division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, launched on 7 September 1955, at Oyster Bay, Long Island, by Jakobson Shipyard; delivered to the Navy on 6...


Yugoslavia

  • Una class. After the Yugoslav Wars
    Yugoslav wars
    The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

    , both Croatia and FR Yugoslavia held examples.

Indonesia

The Indonesian Navy shows some interest on having a new Midget Class Submarine, built by local shipyards, not for open water patrol but for coastal patrol. The design was done many years ago by a retired Indonesian NAVY, Submariner Officer, Colonel (Ret) Ir. R. Dradjat Budiyanto, Msc. for the Indonesian Navy. The Midget experiment project with designation MIDGET IM X −1, will be about 150 – 250 tonnes, with a tubular frame design, 24 – 30 meters long, with 4 torpedo tubes and equipped with equipment that is used in a modern submarine. The subs will have minimum of 8 – 10 crew members including officers. It will be equipped with a 40 km range non hull-penetration optronic mast for the attack periscope and also a 20 km range navigation periscope.

The Indonesian Department of Defense Ministry Mr. Purnomo Yusgiantoro showed interest on this Midget submarine design. The Indonesian Navy should have the new submarine built by Indonesian shipyard PT.PAL INDONESIA by late 2011. The Midget Submarine project will take 3 – 4 years for construction. If the vessel starts by end of 2011, The Indonesian Navy expects will be commissioning the first Midget Class submarine by 2014.

See also

  • Submersible
    Submersible
    A submersible is a small vehicle designed to operate underwater. The term submersible is often used to differentiate from other underwater vehicles known as submarines, in that a submarine is a fully autonomous craft, capable of renewing its own power and breathing air, whereas a submersible is...

  • Human torpedo
    Human torpedo
    Human torpedoes or manned torpedoes are a type of rideable submarine used as secret naval weapons in World War II. The basic design is still in use today; they are a type of diver propulsion vehicle....

  • Royal Navy Submarine Museum
    Royal Navy Submarine Museum
    The Royal Navy Submarine Museum at Gosport is a museum tracing the international history of submarine development from the age of Alexander the Great to the present day, and particularly the history of the Submarine Service from the tiny Holland 1 to the nuclear powered Vanguard class submarine...

  • Wet sub
    Wet sub
    A wet sub is a type of underwater vehicle that does not provide a dry environment for its occupants. Usually, wet suited scuba divers will ride upon the device , although it can be designed to fully enclose its occupant to provide lower drag...

  • Narco submarine
    Narco submarine
    A narco-submarine is a type of custom-made ocean-going self-propelled submersible vessel built by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs. They are especially known to be used by Colombian drug cartel members to export cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, which is often then transported overland to the...

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