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The X-Class Submarine was build for the Royal Navy in 1943 and 1944. And individual Sub was referred to as X-Craft. Before this period developments on the midgets sub took place, the first operational craft was the HM S/M X.3 or X3 which was launched on March 15 in 1942. Training began in September and the X4 arrived in October. Royal Navy shore establishment HMS Varbel at Port Bannatyne on the Isle of Bute was the base of operation for these training exercises. British shipyards built and developed until they reached the X25, after this they built the XE version from HMS XE1 to XE6 which were used in the Far East. Beside these two types they built the XT version, the ‘T’ indicates these are training submarines.
Employing the X-Class Submarine
The mini submarines were towed by a normal sized submarine until they reached the designated area, the crew of 4 then entered a dingy and rowed towards the midget submarine and sailed to their target. After the mission the midget submarine met up with the towing submarine who took the X-Class back to port. The midget submarines did not carry torpedo’s like their German counterparts, they carried explosives which they would place underneath a target, they let the explosive sink towards the bottom and when in save waters it would explode under the chosen object.
The C-Class submarines were put to use on D-Day, on the attack on the floating dock at Bergen an on the assault on the Tirpitz. On their D-Day mission they two divers left the sub and gathered soil samples in condoms during the night, reconnaissance was their job during the day. In September 1943 six X-Class submarines joined in the attack on the Tirpitz in Norway. Only two submarines laid charges the others were lost or returned to base. The Tirpitz was badly damaged during this raid and was out of action until April 1944.
The craft was 15,5 meters long and had a maximum diameter of 1,68 meters. For propulsion it was powered by a four cylinder diesel engine with 42 horse power and a 30 horsepower electric motor. Its speed was 12 Kilometres an hour surfaced and 10 submerged. It active range was about 920 kilometres surfaced and 150 kilometres submerged but then the average speed should not exceed 2 kilometres an hour.
On the beach at Aberlady lay two XT-Class submarines, towed here in 1946 and moored to a concrete block. They were used as target practice for aircraft. These training submarines are, together with one in the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, the only ones left of the X-Class type crafts.
The two midget submarines are free to visit, remember they lay on the beach and the tides can prevent you from visiting them.
We had a pretty hard bargain with Phil Wood, the provider of these great photo’s. For Phil always makes sure that his bike, Defender or VW camper is on his pictures, on every picture. We begged him to take photo’s for the LandmarkScout page were we all can enjoy those great object without interference on our view. Dear Phil had a hard time making this collection without his bike, the Fattie as he named it, I guess it grieved him to his heart. So these photos are a big thank you Phil, for his hard work in the field.