Weapons of World War Two
When the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany in the summer of 1941, the situation of its Navy was not the most pleasing. In the time of the October Revolution, the elite of the revolutionary soldiers had been constituted exactly by mariners. The rutless repression in the revolt of Kronstadt, happened in 1921 by action of the commander of the 7th Army, Tukachevski, had not nullified the interest of the new regime for the weapon that during centuries had been the preferred one of the Tsars. The Russian rulers had tried since ever to empower the then Imperial Navy, and they had achieved to raise it to a good level, but after the clamorous defeat in Tsushima in 1905, the First World War and the October Revolution, what remained in the hands of the bolsheviks was little thing.
Because of that it was immediately launched a plan for reconstruction and empowerment, but in 1941 the largest part of the units were old or, apart from a small number of modern units, built following rules dictated by really outdated canons. The situation improved only in respect of light vessels or torpedo boats, very important for Russia, which had to control and police along a truly impressive coastal surface (in both external and internal waters). The Russian fast boats were in part integrated in several flotillas and in part placed under the command of the main fleets.
So, some units formed part of the fleets in the Baltic, the North Sea, the Pacific, the Black Sea and the Caspian, whereas others were integrated in the flotillas operating in the lakes Peipus, Ilmen, Ladoga, Onega, Segozero (Seesjarvi), Pyaozero (Paasyarvi) and in the rivers Voljov, northern Dvina, Dnieper, Yuzhny Bug, Danube, Volga and Amur. Also were the units assigned to the flotilla of Pinsk, city bathed by the waters of the Dnieper, Vistula and Niemen. Some of these units (there were a total of 269 in that fatidic 22nd June, which at the end of the war had increased to 459) were of foreign construction, others were derivatives of these and others were of national project.
Among these achieved good results the ones of the G5 class (depicted in the illustration). This class was developed in several models which gave origin to five series: the 7th, the 8th, the 9th, the 10th and the 11th. The units served in the fleets on the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Pacific, and albeit in small number, also in the flotilla of the Danube. Some units were sent to Spain in 1938 in occasion of the Spanish Civil War.
The hull was built in one piece and totally made of duralumin. This technical approach, if very good from a certain standpoint, was harmful from another, because the problems of corrosion that appeared in many units used in marine waters were such that forced to retire a good number of units even before the end of the war. The engines were initially GAM 34 of gasoline, of Russian manufacture, this is, Isotta Fraschini built under Italian licence. Soon it was used the American engine Packard 4M, obtained from the Lend and Lease Law.
The offensive armament comprised one or two torpedo tubes, plus a certain number of depth charges or mines. The defensive armament was based in two or three antiaircraft machine guns. The torpedo launchers were of axial type and rear expulsion. In this system the torpedo was launched through a port astern, in such a way that when falling on the sea, the torpedo followed by its own means the route in the direction that the course of the boat had marked.
Production: 295 exemplars built in the shipyards Rybinsk and Zelyenodolsk in the Volga, and in the shipyards Marti and Sudomerk in Leningrad
Displacement: 14.03 tonnes
Length: 19.10 meters
Beam: 3.33 meters
Draught: 0.65 meters
Propulsion: Two gasoline engines GAM 34 of 675 horsepower each
Maximum speed: 45 knots
Operational range: 330 kilometers at cruising speed; 460 kilometers at reduced speed
Armament: Two 12.7 millimeters DShK machine guns plus one 7.62-millimeter machine gun plus two 533-millimeter torpedo tubes /or/ one 533-millimeter torpedo tube plus twelve 36-kilogram depth charges /or/ twenty-four 36-kilogram depth charges /or/ four seabed mines
Complement: 6 or 7, depending on armament
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