PREDATOR: Royal Navy T(3)-class Submarines
Posted by Matty on October 9, 2012, 7:54:22, in reply to "PREDATOR: Royal Navy T(3)-class Submarines"
Edited by board administrator February 16, 2013, 20:46:04
--Originally Posted 10/8/12-- |
Stubbornly remaining well beyond childhood has been my habit of catching a compulsion - lasting for decades, indeed throughout my life subsequently, to build a particular subject - all sparked by a single, brilliant picture:
This shot of the two RN subs Totem and Tapir - published with very little annotation except the aforementioned names, and location as Fremantle, Australia - I first encountered in the very last days of 1999, while in that very town; at the Australian Maritime Museum bookshop, inside a publication (see below) which of course I bought immediately.
In a nutshell, to me the above says "PREDATOR" - clearer and more eloquently than any submarine picture I've ever seen, before or since. At right (presumably Tapir), with its open pair of upper torpedo tube-doors, starkly evokes the visage of an owl, or similar raptor. While at left (presumably Totem), especially with diving planes rigged-in (i.e., folded-up) against the back of the "head", looks like another (though mythical still very Britannic) raptor: the Griffon. In both cases, the teeth-like rows of limber-holes under the "eyes", only accentuate the look.
Note in reality the "head" is the bow casing - a relatively light-gauge, free-flooding housing for the top-most pair of torpedo tubes - themselves apparently pre-loaded, one-shot affairs, inaccessible from the crew spaces beneath, in the straight tube of the pressure hull. Travelling back along the hull one catches a glimpse of distinctly bulging saddle tanks, jutting abruptly from the sides - and the casing likewise continues to flare uniquely, widening behind the sail to house another pair of external tubes (not visible), one each angled off to port- and starboard quarters (see below).
These are T(3)-class boats - for which I found the following (regrettably low-resolution) inboard drawings:
They were the last and most refined of the three very distinct variants of the T-class, which together comprised the closest thing to a fleet-type sub design produced by the Brits during WWII, and immediately preceding.
Another great look at the Fremantle T(3)s is provided by the above book's cover, a pic memorable in its own right:
Click on Image to EnlargeSome roughly 55 years after the fact, in a broiling Western Australian summer (December, 1999 - itself embedded in a multi-year, severe drought), I gaze at this and the prior photo, above, and to this day can feel the burning heat of the chalky/faded, salt-streaked "black-iron" of these hulls, baking in the roads at Fremantle (or "Free-O", in the local parlance). Note again, on the quartet of boats in the foreground, all the T(3) features described above - particularly their casings, flaring both up-and-down, and in-and-out.
Note also the other types of subs present (full-res insets at bottom): underway in the channel (at left) a smaller, RN S-class sub, and in the background (right) a nest of USN (Gato-, Balao- and/or Tench-class) fleet boats. These are just a fraction of all the different types of subs - their nationalities including RN, RAN, USN and Dutch - deployed at one time or another during WWII at "Free-O" (as well as further north, from "The Pot-Shot" at Cape Range - where I also visited in '99 - and further south, at Albany, Western Australia), as detailed in the book. All of these kept super-secret at the time, and for years afterward.
In addition to being the coolest-looking of all the above subs (my opinion), the T(3) boats also racked up some of the greatest individual wartime exploits of all the Western Australia boats - including the 6/8/45 sinking of the IJN heavy cruiser Ashigara, fully underway off Sumatra in the northern entrance to Bangka Straits, by the Fremantle-based Trenchant:
At top, seen from astern - giving a good look at features hidden in the earlier pics, above - Trenchant is seen 2/5/44 at Rosyth, Scotland a year-and-a-third before her historic 6th war patrol, on which she sank Ashigara, above. Note the aft-pointing external torpedo tubes - including yet a fifth one, on the centerline right aft - and the sail, looking very much like a Type-VII U-boat, but with a large forward extension (including a rotating platform) housing the deck gun(s). At bottom, Trenchant is seen 6/20/45, reputedly flying the Jolly Roger, upon her return from the above patrol - some sources say to Trincomalee, others say to Subic Bay (by then recaptured - at any rate, the Land's End in the background does not look particularly like Fremantle, as best I recall it). Neither does this poor-resolution pic enable a firm determination of whether she may in fact have been wearing a wavy, disruptive-type camouflage pattern on (at least) her casing and sail, at that time. (If anyone has a better copy, let us know!)
Clearly, I am presently leaning towards building Trenchant - as fitted when she vanquished the mighty Ashigara, off Sumatra - but in any case, the RN T(3)-class subs have irrevocably got the hook in me!