Author Topic: HM Submarine R4 (1918 - 1934)  (Read 26 times)

stuartwaters

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Re: HM Submarine R4 (1918 - 1934)
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2019, 11:05:24 AM »
Yes, you're right. The Royal Navy had yet to work out an overall strategy for how to use their submarines, the entire naval strategy for the Great War was based around the fleet of battleships. The Royal Navy was expecting there to be some huge battle between the two fleets. When the battle did occur, at the Battle of Jutland, it was not the knockout blow the British thought it would be. The problem was that Germany is pretty much a landlocked nation and didn't have a vast merchant marine vital to the survival of the nation like Britain. The Royal Navy's submarine fleet saw a lot more action in the Second World War.
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Smiffy

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Re: HM Submarine R4 (1918 - 1934)
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2019, 11:35:59 PM »
It's interesting how uneventful the service lives of most of these subs were.

stuartwaters

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HM Submarine R4 (1918 - 1934)
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2019, 01:29:51 PM »
HMS R4 was a member of a class of submarine which was truly ground-breaking in the overall history of submarine development. This is because they were the first attempt by anyone to design a submarine whose intended purpose was to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines, the so called 'Hunter-Killer' submarine. Unfortunately, the design was not entirely successful because the technology was about 40 years behind the concept and it would take the advent of nuclear power before the first truly effective Hunter-Killer submarines could be built. They were designed to be faster submerged than they were on the surface. They could manage 14 knots dived versus only 9 knots on the surface. Their hulls had no external ballast tanks, no deck guns, no external casing and a bulbous bow. Their hull was spindle-shaped, tapering sharply to towards the stern and they only had a single propeller. The lightweight conning tower was also well streamlined.

The boat was the last Great War-designed submarine to be built at the Chatham Royal Dockyard.

A radio-controlled model of an R Class submarine under way:



A Drawing of the R Class submarine:



The R Class were fitted with 6 bow torpedo tubes as the number of torpedoes which could be fired in a salvo was considered to be more important than the range of the torpedo or the size of warhead when it came to attacking other submarines. Their bulbous bows also contained hydrophones for the detection of enemy submarines.The main deficiencies of the design were that they had two large and powerful electric motors to drive their single shaft coupled to a large battery. Their single diesel engine was however, nowhere near up to the job of charging the batteries in an acceptable time and would take a full day to charge the batteries from flat and that was when there was no other draw on power. R Class boats in service generally charged their batteries from a shore supply or from specially fitted barges before they went to sea. The boats, although fast, were difficult to control properly when submerged and when running on the surface, they were slow and much like a modern submarine, their seakeeping was poor. Had the technology worked better they would have been a major leap forward in the development of the modern submarine, but as things turned out, they were completed too late to be able to prove themselves in combat and ended up for the most part, being short-lived curiosities.

HMS R4 was laid down on No 7 slip on 4th March 1917, alongside her sister-boats HMS R1, R2 and R3. She was launched into the Medway on the 8th June 1918 by Mrs Maginness, on the same day as her sister-boat HMS R3. After fitting out, she commissioned at Chatham on the 23rd August 1919. On completion, she was 163 feet long and 16 feet wide across the beam. She was armed with 6 18" torpedo tubes, all  in the bow. She displaced 420 tons on the surface and 500 tons dived. She was manned by a crew of 22. After commissioning, she joined the 14th Submarine Flotilla at Blyth, attached to HMS Vulcan.

HMS R4 on the surface:





Nicknamed 'The Slug' by her crews, HMS R4 was the only one of the class to survive into the 1930s. During her career, modifications were made to her bows which were intended to improve her seakeeping on the surface, but which reduced her submerged speed to 13 knots. After the Great War, HMS R4 was assigned to the Anti-submarine School at Portland, where her high underwater speed allowed her to literally run rings around the anti-submarine vessels supposedly hunting her.

HMS R4 was finally decommissioned in early 1934 and was sold for scrapping in May of that year.


"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.