Interwar: Development of Submarines

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How did submarines change between the World Wars?

Despite various naval treaties attempting to constrain the power of submarines after World War One, the Royal Navy still recognized the importance of further developing these vessels' potential.

The propulsion system of submarines during this period used diesel engines for surface running and electric motors when submerged. Most boats carried torpedoes and a small bore gun for engaging surface targets. These submarines had a good range, but to achieve tactical mobility, they had to surface in order to keep up with surface ship targets. Submarines got progressively larger, with improved endurance, radio equipment and armament. Submarine warfare now had the potential to operate in the world's oceans, rather than just the sea area around northern Europe.

Crew of HMS Triton seen through porthole of depot ship, 1930s (RNSM)
Crew of HMS Triton seen through porthole of depot ship, 1930s (RNSM)

Follow the links to find more about...

Attempts to ban submarines

Improvements in submarine design

Preparations for war

HMS Oberon

Submarine disasters

Developments in submarine escape


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