Soviet MTBs


G-5-class motor torpedo boat.


Soviet SM-4 MTB


D-3, lead boat of her class and also the only of them active in Black Sea.


Soviet MTB SM-3 Black Sea Fleet

The Soviets used G-5, D-3 MTBs along with MO-4 gunboats against the Finns. Aside from the SM-3 and one D-3, all the MTBs in the Black Sea were G-5s.

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.’ Its specifications are:

Length: 19 meters (roughly 60 feet)

Beam: 3.3 meters (about 17 feet)

Draft: 1.5 meters (almost 5 feet)

Displacement: 14.84 tons

Speed: 48 knots loaded, 53 knots stripped

Machinery: Two 850 hp. GAM gasoline engines

Armament: 1 12.7mm (.50 cal) machine gun, 2 53.3 (21 inch) torpedoes in stern troughs

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.



No 7K412 from 23 February 1944

Funds to complete No. 106 were raised by public subscription so, in addition to her number, she bore the name commemorating the donors (Moscow artisans). She participated in landings on Kerch in November 1943 and in the Crimea in April 1944. From April 1945 she served with the Danube Flotilla.


Since the mid-1930s the Soviet Navy had run an experimental programme with a view to producing large, seaworthy motor torpedo-boats. Following trials of the G5- derived boats of various sizes, the stern-launching system was abandoned in favour of deck torpedo-launching racks. Soon two types of wooden- and steel-hulled boats of this kind were selected for further evaluation. The general performance of the larger, wooden-hulled boat was found to be satisfactory and series production began in 1939 under the designation D3 class. Because of engine shortages fifty-six hulls were completed as subchasers and it was only when Packard engines became available that the construction programme reached its peak. A total of 119 boats, (torpedo-boats or subchasers) had been built by 1944.

Displacement 32.1 tonnes full load

Dimensions 21.6m overall length x 3.9m beam x 1.35m max draught

Armament two 533mm torpedo tubes/launching gears, two 12.7mm MG. eight depth-charges

Electronics Tsefej-type hydrophones

Machinery 3-sbaft GAM-34F petrol engines, 3,150bhp

Speed 37kts

Endurance 550nm at 8kts

Complement 2 officers and 6 – 8 men

Soviet Warship Building and Actions

The Soviets built a large number of MTBs during the war and were definitely able to replace them. Between 1941 and 1945 Soviets built:

31 – Komsomolets class

5 – Yunga class

38 – D-3 class

71 – G-5 class

1 – STK DD class

The Soviet Navy saw little action in WWII, so any history of the actions of the surface fleet will be hard to find. Combined, the Soviet battleships, cruisers, destroyers, gunboats, and minesweepers failed to sink a single Axis ship, either merchant or warship. The subs and MTBs had some success, but suffered very high losses in comparison. Most of the larger ships were used as floating batteries while the bulk of their crews served ashore.

Jurg Meister credits the MTBs with sinking 1 Finnish minesweeper, 4 German minesweepers, 1 German torpedo boat, approximately six small German auxiliary minesweepers or patrol craft, and approximately four large and 10 very small German merchant ships, fishing boats, or other small craft, plus two Japanese merchant ships.

In WWII following ships were sunk by Russian surface warships:

Transport “Tania” – Jan, 20 1943 by DL “Baku”

Submarine “U-585” – March, 30 1942 by DD “Gremyaschiy”

Submarine “U-286” – Apr, 22 1945 by DD “Karl Liebkhnecht”

Submarine “U-334” – Aug, 22 1944 by DD “Derzkii”

Submarine “U-387” – Dec, 9 1944 by DD “Zhivuchii”

Submarine “U-2342” – Dec, 26 1944 by sub chaser “MO-113”

Submarine “U-679” – Jan, 9 1945 by sub chaser “MO-113”

MTB “Rau” – May, 5 1943 by sub chaser “MO-114”

Submarine “U-250” – July, 30 1944 by sub chaser “MO-313”

Submarine “U-362” – Sept, 5 1944 by minesweeper “T-116″

While obviously not a stellar success, they did sink some ships. MTBs and submarines were even more successful.

That’s the Finnish Raju, a Nuoli class boat.

There was exactly one ship to ship action involving Soviet ships DD an above. It happened in June or July 1941 near Irben Straights in the Baltic when 2 Gnevny class DDs engaged what they reported to be an auxiliary cruiser and 2 TBs, but were probably a sub base escorted by 2 patrol ships, but due to bad visibility there was no results.

However Soviet light forces were active on all of the theaters and Soviet heavy ships were instrumental in supporting Soviet army. Supplying Sevastopol was a hard and as dangerous as supplying Malta and Soviet ships were actively providing gunfire support to Odessa, Sevastopol and during the Feodossia-Kerch landing operations. The only reason, why the navy didn’t really oppose German evacuation from Sevastopol, was because after the sinking of 3 Soviet DDs during the sortie at sea by German aircraft, Stalin forbade Soviet heavy ships from leaving port.

It is generally accepted that one of the reasons why Leningrad didn’t fall was because of the Soviet Baltic Fleet. One interesting note, that there was another small beach head near Leningrad that was never occupied by the Germans. It was about 30 kilometers west of Leningrad, and was exactly 24 km in radius centered on the coast defence fort of Krasnaya Gorka and was exactly the radius of the forts 8×12” guns’ range. It is hard to fault Soviet heavy ships staying at home in the Baltic as the Gulf of Finland was the most heavily mined area of sea in the world and even after the war and after heavy minesweeping by 1949 there were over 700 mine incidents reported there.

In the North Soviet navy was very weak and Soviet ships there were generally not designed for work in the open ocean, but there they were very active with local patrols and local raids on the occupied Norway coast.

Soviet submarines were active, but in the Baltic they had to run a gauntlet of mines and anti-submarine nets. Germans actually closed the whole Gulf of Finland with anti-submarine nets. That lead to heavy loses and virtually stopping of operations in 1942-43 (it was also because in Leningrad during blockade there was no fuel of food for naval operations). In the Black sea and North Sea sub operations were active and were fairly successful (especially in the north). Soviets have long claimed that K-21 had torpedoed Tirpitz during its PQ-17 sortie, but it seems that it wasn’t true; however it did attack it and might have been one of the reasons why it turned around…

I think that the largest ship lost to Soviet Navy in WWII was Finnish Illmarinen sunk by the soviet mine in 1940. But overall Soviet mines cost more to the Soviets that they did to the Germans, since 3 Soviet DDs in the Black sea were sunk by Soviet minefields.

Overall Soviet navy was active in WWII, but not in the conventional sense due to the strategic situation, but none the less they were instrumental in many Russian operations. (Soviet navy was even involved in capture of Berlin with large number of riverine craft).


Illmarinen went down in 1941 while supporting the invasion of Some Russian held islands in the Baltic. A Russian Dreadnought and destroyers where in the area but did not attack for some reason. It sunk on 13 September 1941 during invasion of Dago Island in the Moonzund archipelago. I really doubt that any heavy Russian warships were in the area, since all of the Russian heavy ships were withdrawn from Tallinn to Leningrad in the end of August if 1941 with heavy loses and it would very be doubtful that they would let any battleships to get back out in such dangerous waters. And from the information I have both Russian BBs spent the whole war in the Kronshtadt-Leningrad area.


Lost two Soviet DDs to their own Mines in the Baltic, and in one hour had 3 brand new ones sunk in a Swedish Minefield that the Naval Command knew about but forgot to tell their Ships about …

1 thought on “Soviet MTBs

  1. Pingback: Soviet Coastal MTBs | Weapons and Warfare

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