Midget submarine

Some 80 Japanese Type C ("Koryu") Midget Submarines in a dry dock at Kure, October 19, 1945

A midget submarine (also called a mini submarine) is any submarine under 150 tons.[1] Typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 9, with little or no on-board living accommodation, they normally work with mother ships, from which they are launched and recovered, and which provide living accommodation for the crew and other support staff.

Both military and civilian midget submarines have been built. Military types work with surface ships and other submarines as mother ships. Civilian and non-combatant military types are generally called submersibles, and normally work with surface ships.

Most early submarines, such as the United States Navy's Holland and the British Royal Navy's Holland 1, would now be considered midget submarines.

Military submarines


Crew of a British X-class midget submarine, part of the British Pacific Submarine Fleet

Midget submarines are best known for harbor penetration, although only two World War II boats, the British X-craft and the unsuccessful Welman submarine, were specifically designed with this in mind. Japan's Ko-hyoteki-class submarines were originally designed to take part in decisive fleet actions. However, as circumstances changed, they ended up given the task of harbor penetration. Germany’s various World War II designs were mostly designed to attack Allied shipping off landing beaches and harbors, although the Seehund had a great enough range to attack shipping off the Thames estuary.

Midget submarines have also seen some use in support roles. X-craft were used for reconnaissance, and the Seehund was used to carry supplies. A number of modern midget submarines have also been built for submarine rescue.


Midget submarines are commonly armed with torpedoes and mines in the form of, for example, detachable side loads and nose sections. Alternatively they may function as swimmer delivery vehicles to deliver frogmen to the vicinity of their targets, which are then attacked with limpet mines.


In civilian use, midget submarines are generally called submersibles; commercial submersibles are used in, for example, underwater maintenance, exploration, archaeology, and scientific research. Other commercially available submersibles are marketed as novelty tourist attractions and as specialised tenders for wealthy yacht owners. Also, a growing number of amateur submariners homebuild submersibles as a hobby.

Types by nation


China, People's Republic

Republic of China (Taiwan)




France also acquired a number of German midget submarines at the end of WW2.


German midget submarine Seehund, with a torpedo

Most German midget submarines were developed late in World War II in an attempt to stop the Allied invasion of Europe and used later to disrupt its supply lines. As a result, the submarines mostly engaged in open water attacks rather than harbour penetration.[15][16]


The Indian Navy is planning to acquire two midget submarines at an estimated cost of ₹2000 Crores for use as swimmer delivery vehicles.[22] These submarines will be used for conducting underwater special operations by MARCOS.[23] Both submarines will be constructed by Hindustan Shipyard Limited.[22]


The Indonesian Navy has shown some interest in having a new Midget Class submarine, built by local shipyards, for coastal rather than open water patrol. The submarine was designed a number of years ago by a retired Indonesian Navy submariner officer, Colonel (Ret) Ir. R. Dradjat Budiyanto, Msc. The midget experiment project involves the construction of a submarine, designated MIDGET IM X −1, which will weigh about 150 – 250 tonnes, with a tubular frame design 24 – 30 meters long, and four torpedo tubes. The submarines will have minimum of 8 – 10 crew members including officers. They will have a 40 km range non-hull-penetrating optronic mast as the attack periscope, and a 20 km range navigation periscope.

Indonesian defence minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro has backed the project. Construction should commence at the Indonesian PT.PAL INDONESIA shipyard by late 2011, and will take about three or four years to complete. If this schedule is met, the Indonesian Navy expects to be commissioning the first Midget Class submarine in 2014.



An Italian CB-class submarine


Japanese Type A Midget Submarine recovered in 1960 off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DSV Shinkai

North Korea

North Korea's Sang-O-class submarine

South Korea






Foca I (SA-41) and Foca II (SA-42) at Cartagena



The Turkish navy has evaluated two midget submarine designs from German firm ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Type 200 and Type 300 classes:

United Kingdom

X24 a British X class submarine on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum

The Royal Navy has used a number of midget submarines. Most were developed during the Second World War. The decommissioning of the Stickleback class marked the end of midget submarines designed for combat in the Royal Navy.

United States

The US X-1 at sea


See also


  1. Is the U.S. Prepared to Face Midget Subs?
  2. Zhang Wu-Yi Shipyard (武汉张五一船舶厂)
  3. 1085. "Aurora class one-person midget submarine". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  4. 1 2 "Aurora midget subs". Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  5. "Aurora class two-people midget submarine". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  6. Aurora class two-people midget sub
  7. "Tao Xiangli class midget submarine". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  8. "Tao Xiangli midget submarine". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  9. Construction of Tao Xiangli midget sub
  10. Tao Xiangli class midget sub
  11. Tao Xiangli midget sub
  12. "Tao Xiangli midget subs". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  13. Kemp, Paul (1996). Underwater Warriors. Arms & Armour Press. pp. 225–228. ISBN 1-85409-228-6.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 6 naval institute guide to combat fleets of the world 15th edition. Retrieved 2007. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 http://www.uboat.net/types/midget.htm.
  16. Midget submarine operations
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 Lenton, H.T. GERMAN WARSHIPS of the Second World War Arco Publishing (1976) pp. 285–286
  18. Taylor, J.C. German Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1967) p. 109
  19. Taylor, J.C. German Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1967) p.110
  20. Lenton, H.T. GERMAN WARSHIPS of the Second World War Arco Publishing (1976) p.212
  21. 1 2 Watts, Anthony J (2001). "Submarines". Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 2001-02 edition. IHS Inc (formally Jane's Information Group Inc. ISBN 978-0710623331. Retrieved 2001. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  22. 1 2 "'Midgets' on navy mind".
  23. "6 Made-in-India Submarines for Navy for 53,000 Crores".
  24. 1 2 Kemp, Paul (1996). Underwater Warriors. Arms & Armour Press. pp. 55–57. ISBN 1-85409-228-6.
  25. 1 2 "By sea & stealth: maritime special forces tend to arrive in hostile territory by sea and by stealth, but where once they would be delivered by rubber dinghies from a submarine now they are using Special Delivery Vehicles (SDV) and even midget submarines.". Retrieved December 1, 2005.
  26. Hearst Magazines (May 1942). "Jap Sub Had Guard to Cut Net in Harbor". Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. pp. 71–. ISSN 0032-4558. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  27. "NOAA's Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL)". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  28. 1 2 Watts, Anthony J. Japanese Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1967) p.213
  29. Watts, Anthony J. Japanese Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1967) p.216
  30. 10 lucruri de ştiut despre ... Submarinele româneşti. Historia.ro. (in Romanian)
  31. Preston, Antony (2001). The Royal Navy Submarine Service A Centennial History. Conway Maritime Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-85177-891-7.
  32. "Project APL. Deepstorm.ru". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  33. 1 2 "Spanish Foca & Tiburón midget subs". Retrieved 2013. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  34. "Sea Dagger midget sub". Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  35. "UVS-1300 Malen". Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  36. 1 2 Funnell, Clifford (2009). "Submarines". Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 2009-10 edition. IHS Inc (formally Jane's Information Group Inc. ISBN 978-0710629029. Retrieved 2010. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  37. Hobson, Robert (2004). Chariots of War. Ulric Publishing, pp. 61 & 62. ISBN 0-9541997-1-5
  38. Kemp, Paul (1996). Underwater Warriors. Arms & Armour Press. p. 158. ISBN 1-85409-228-6.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Midget submarines.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/28/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.