:: L CLASS (1917-1919) ::

L class attack submarine (1917-1919) High resolution picture

The L class was a series of attack submarines built for the Royal Navy between 1917 and 1919, based in the well tested E class. The new class featured heavier armament in both torpedoes and artillery and had excellent maneuverability. External wing fuel tanks were used for the first time in British submarines to increase their operational range. Several of the units belonging to the Group 2 were adapted as minelayers carrying sixteen mines; for this their transversal torpedo tubes had to be removed. The L class represents the evolutive pinnacle of the British attack submarine during the First World War, but they arrived too late to be a significant contribution in the conflict. The illustration shows the L-52 from the Group 3.

The L2 was accidentally sunk in the early 1918 by depth charges launched from three American destroyers. The L12 torpedoed and sank the German submarine UB-90 in October 1918. That same month the L10 torpedoed and sank the German destroyer S33 but was sunk by accompanying destroyers. After the war the surviving L-class submarines served throughout the 1920s and the majority were scrapped during the 1930s. Three remained operational as training boats during the Second World War and were scrapped in 1946 after long distinguished service.

But perhaps the most notorius unit was the L55. She was sunk in June 1919 by Bolshevik Russian destroyers while taking part on the British naval intervention in occassion of the Russian Civil War. But in 1928 the Soviets retrieved the wreck and after a costly repair the vessel was recommissioned in the Soviet Navy with her original service number, to be later renamed as Bezbozhnik (Atheist). She was used for training until the early 1941, when she was damaged in an accident. The costly retrieval of this vessel was well amortized for she served as the base for the Soviet L class of minelaying submarines. The L55 was finally scrapped sometime between 1953 and 1960.

L class: 34 units (L1 to L12, L14 to L27, L33, L52 to L56, L69, L71)

Type: Attack submarine

Length: 67.7 meters (L1 to L8); 69.5 meters (L9 to L12, L14 to L27, L33); 70.3 meters (L52 to L56, L69, L71)

Beam: 7.2 meters

Draught: 3.4 meters

Displacement (surfaced): 904 tonnes (L1 to L12, L14 to L27, L33); 975 tonnes (L52 to L56, L69, L71)

Displacement (submerged): 1091 tonnes (L1 to L12, L14 to L27, L33); 1168 tonnes (L52 to L56, L69, L71)

Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x Diesel engine Vickers 1200 horsepower, 2 x electric motor 600 horsepower

Speed (surfaced): 17.3 knots (32 kilometers/hour) L1 to L8; 17.3 knots (31.5 kilometers/hour) L9 to L12, L14 to L27, L33; 17.5 knots (32.4 kilometers/hour) L52 to L56, L69, L71

Speed (submerged): 10.5 knots (19.4 kilometers/hour)

Range (surfaced): 2800 nautical miles (5185 kilometers) at 10 knots (L1 to L12, L14 to L27, L33); 4800 nautical miles (8890 kilometers) at 8 knots (L1 to L12, L14 to L27, L33)

Range (submerged): 65 nautical miles (120 kilometers) at 5 knots

Test depth: 50 meters

Complement: 35 (L1 to L8); 38 (L9 to L12, L14 to L27, L33); 44 (L52 to L56, L69, L71)

Armament (L1 to L8): 6 x 457-millimeter torpedo tube (4 at prow, 2 in transverse), 10 x torpedo reload, 1 x 102-millimeter deck cannon

Armament (L9 to L12, L14 to L27, L33): 4 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube (at prow), 2 x 457-millimeter torpedo tube (in transverse), 4 x 533-millimeter torpedo reload, 1 x 102-millimeter deck cannon, 16 x mine (L11, L12, L14, L17, L25)

Armament (L52 to L56, L69, L71): 6 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube (at prow), 8 x torpedo reload, 2 x 102-millimeter deck cannon

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