Soviet G5 Torpedo Boat

The extremely fast G5 torpedo boat was ultimately derived from a series of designs by a team under the leadership of the noted aircraft designer A.N. Tupolev. Nearly over 300 were built, with 73 being lost during the war, and dozens remained in commission after 1945.

There were strong influences working on the post-revolutionary Soviet navy to develop a powerful and effective force of coastal craft. The fleet itself had been relegated to the status of a means of guaranteeing the seaward flanks of the primary service, the army. These seaward flanks were all of shallow and sheltered water, and distances involved were small. Further, the successful attacks by British CMBs in 1919 had shown the potential of even a few such boats in the right hands, and a couple of unserviceable and damaged Thornycroft 55-footers were available as exemplars, From these beginnings the Soviets had produced by 1928 a reasonably successful 18-m (59.06-ft) craft known as an S4. The indifferent Soviet technology of the time required the incorporation of American petrol engines, but the reliability of these and the sound hull shape made for a very high trials speed, approaching 50 kts, though considerably diminished by a load of two 457- mm (18-in) torpedoes or anything but calm conditions. About 60 S4s were built, giving the Soviets considerable experience,

The Tsarist navy had been known for its innovation and readiness to adopt ideas, and this policy continued with the purchase of technology in hull design and machinery from France, Germany and Italy as available. With this as a baseline the Soviets produced a 19-m (62.3-ft) G5 type, which was still heavily influenced by the British CMB in having a stepped hull and two troughs aft for the stern launching of torpedoes that had been increased in size to 533 mm (21 in), For this craft the Soviets built a successful petrol engine that was tolerably reliable and capable of being upgraded. The fault with the G5 was its early use of aluminium alloy for both shell and frames, so that it was plagued with corrosion problems. For this reason, the follow-on 21.6-m (70.9-ft) D3 craft were wooden-built, differing further in having side launching gear for their torpedoes.

Numerous G5 and D3 types served during the war, supplemented by over 200 boats from the USA and UK. Also produced in large numbers were armoured craft of many types, comparatively slow but armed with guns and cannon in tank turrets. They proved formidable craft both offshore and up rivers.

Soviet torpedo boats [MTBs] were developed from ‘experience with their own Type Sch4 (an earlier Russian design–itself based on British First World War CMBs), Italian plans, and new Soviet design ideas. The majority of all Soviet high-speed motor torpedo boats of World War II were of this type, called G-5.

Interesting features of Type G-5 were the light aluminium hulls and the change to the more powerful 21 inch torpedo (earlier Soviet attempts to develop MTBs used the 18 inch torpedo). Type G-5 was built from 1930 to 1939 to various specifications as Series 7, 8, 9,10, and 11, with the last named series being produced in 1939, fitted with two GAM 34 BSF engines which called for more robust hulls, and one boat was reportedly able to attain a speed of 62 knots unladen.’

Some 329 boats were built to this design from 1934-1944, divided into five basic series. In 1942, following the successful use of home-made Katyusha 88mm rocket-launchers from boats of this type, the naval authorities ordered 82mm and 132mm army rocket-launchers to be adapted for naval use (242 had been ordered by 1945). Some of the G5-class boats completed from 1943 to 1944 had torpedo wells plated out, and missile-launchers mounted above the conning tower.

Vihuri was a Soviet G-5 type torpedo boat captured by the Finns— they captured three of them during the war, although they only made use of two (all had to be returned to the Soviets in 1944 as part of the armistice provisions.  The Finns would also eventually turn over to the Russians coast defense vessel Vainamoinen, the biggest ship in the Finnish Navy).  The metal-hulled G-5 boats (59 feet long, 17 tons), designed by the aircraft designer Tupolev, were extremely fast, capable of making 53 knots, and carried two 21-inch (533mm) torpedoes plus a 12.7mm machinegun.  Both the Russian G-5 and the Finnish Syoksy-class boats used an unusual torpedo launching system.  The torpedoes were not fired from tubes, nor suspended outboard and dropped, but mounted on rails aft, and were ejected tail-first behind the boat, which then had to get out of their way (a safety device ensured a delay before the torpedo started running, to give the boat a head start on evasive action).

Altogether 321 “G-5” boats were produced. They were actively used in all the theatres of war, except in the North.

“G-5” was one of the most high-speed boats in the world and was armed very well for her displacement. She was suited for daring attacks on the still water. Foreign boats of the same displacement were usually armed with less powerful torpedoes of 450 – 457-mm caliber. But the advantages of the boats were accompanied by disadvantages. The redan that allowed attaining high speed also was the reason for the high yawing and loss of speed on the waves. In heavy seas at full speed the boat was beaten by the waves. Heavy splashing hampered the work of the crew and observation. This in turn decreased the accuracy of torpedo and machine-gun firing.

 

G-5 series VII, factory №194.
The most numerous series of G-5 boats. It was originally armed with the kwim DA machine guns that were lately replaced by the single DShK.
 Displacement  14,98 tons
 Length  19,08 m
 Width  3,33 m
 Draught  1,2 m
 Machinery  2 х 850 h.p. GAM-34BS
 Full speed  51 kts
 Economical speed  31 kts
 Radius at full speed  160 miles
 Radius at economical speed  200 miles
 Armament  2 TA х 533mm, 1 х 12,7mm DSHK

 

G-5 series XI, factory №194.
The last prewar series. On some of the boats of the series two DShK machine guns were installed and the durability of the hull was increased.
 Displacement  17,84 tons
 Length  19,08 m
 Width  3,33 m
 Draught  1,02 m
 Machinery  2 х 850 h.p. GAM-34BS
 Full speed  51 kts
 Economical speed  31 kts
 Radius at full speed  160 miles
 Radius at economical speed  200 miles
 Armament  2 TA х 533mm, 1 х 12,7mm DSHK

 

G-5 series XI-mod., factory №532.
The Black Sea boats, they were manufactured in Kerch. Just as boats of X series they were armed with the more powerful modification of the GAM engine.
 Displacement  17,17 tons
 Length  19,08 m
 Width  3,33 m
 Draught  1,22 m
 Machinery  2 х 1000 h.p. GAM-34F
 Full speed  54 kts
 Economical speed  36 kts
 Radius at full speed  156 miles
 Radius at economical speed  255 miles
 Armament  2 TA х 533mm, 1 х 12,7mm DSHK

 

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