The design of the first Soviet TC was entrusted to TsAGI. The fleet demanded only torpedo armament and staggering speed, while the range of action, etc., was of little interest to the command. A part of the future "mosquito fleet" was supposed to be loaded onto large ships, which would simply release their piranhas to the hunt at the right time. Under the leadership of Tupolev, an experimental ANT-3 “Firstborn” was created, which, in tests in 1927, showed the speed of 56 nodes that impressed customers. After some improvements, the ANT-4 was born. He had time to launch the series, but 450-mm torpedoes did not suit the customer. Therefore, ANT-5 with 533-mm torpedo armament soon appeared. He became the father of the serial G-5.
Loading crews on boats in Novorossiysk
The G-5 was a planing boat with a duralumin hull divided into 5 compartments. Equipped with two boats aviation engines of either foreign or domestic production, allowing at a critical time to develop a speed of 51 knots for a short time. In the center of the boat was the wheelhouse, which, after the first tests, was made closed. The crew consisted of 6 people, dressed like pilots in leather uniforms, flight helmets and goggles - speed, wild wind and spray made themselves felt.
The main armament were two torpedoes in the flute torpedo tubes, which were located after cutting. It was also possible to place in them both depth charges BB-1 (BM-1) and sea mines, the number of which depended on the type of mines. But during the fighting at the Malaya Zemlya bridgehead for the gutters preferred a different method of application.
Also initially, on the G-5, they installed two paired DA machine guns (an aviation version of the DP) or one ShKAS - both of them for the 7,62 rifle cartridge. Naturally, against sea and air targets, these machine guns were ineffective. But after the start of the war, much more powerful DShK machine guns began to be installed on boats.
Feed TK. Clearly visible torpedoes in grooves.
By the beginning of the war G-5 already outdated. But the very method of applying a torpedo attack from a groove apparatus seemed archaic, if it did not smell like an attempt at suicide. The attack was to be carried out only at certain speeds, so that the torpedo would not turn the torpedo boat itself. This imposed additional restrictions on the application under certain weather conditions. Seaworthiness and cruising range were generally extremely low.
So, in June, the 43 th torpedo boats ТКА-46 and ТКА-66 at dawn after a night raid off the coast of Anapa returned to the base. Suddenly flown north-ost, instantly raising a wave of 1,5 meters, lowered the speed of boats below the minimum. In the daylight, they became easy prey for aviation. Fighters of the Gelendzhik airfield could not take to the air to the rescue due to low clouds. The NP of our troops remained only with fierce anger and helplessness to observe how two tiny TKs, firing the entire ammunition and fighting the rolling waves, were riddled by the Germans, caught fire and exploded.
However, with all its flaws, the G-5 were overwhelmingly the most massive TK of our fleet. In the Novorossiysk region, the 1-I and 2-I brigade of torpedo boats operated. The 1 Brigade was officially formed in June 1940 of the year and carried out patrol service off the coast of Sevastopol. Despite the fact that the composition of the boats of the brigade was not uniform, the core was the TC G-5. For the courage and bravery of the crews in the 44 brigade will be awarded the honorary title of "Sevastopol."
Boats G-5 in a single system from the Little Earth
The 2 TK brigade was also formed in 1940, but in September. The 2-I BTKA was also mainly equipped with the G-5, but was based in Ochakov. After fierce battles and the tragic loss of the Crimea, the brigade eventually became subordinate to the Novorossiysk naval base. For the heroism shown in the battles near Malaya Zemlya, the 2-I BTKA began to be called “Novorossiysk” with honor from the 1943 year. She bore the brunt of escorts to Myskhako convoys.
Naturally, each of these brigades, which showed not only courage, but also ingenuity, being armed with obsolete TK, is worth a separate mention, but not within the framework of this cycle. But what did the torpedoes on the Black Sea encounter, given the low seaworthiness and autonomy of the TK G-5 (the boats didn’t have a galley, but even a latrine), and also what are the peculiarities of combat operations in the Little Earth region?
First, in the framework of the cycle “Sea carriers”, the question immediately arises - were the G-5 involved directly in the landing operations and supply of bridgeheads? Of course, yes. Despite the disgusting habitability and low carrying capacity, these TCs had an undoubted advantage - an unsurpassed speed. Taking advantage of this, the sailors realized that at certain speeds they could pass the minefield either completely without breaks, or leave the fountains of water far behind the stern. Therefore, there is practically no TC in the area of Novorossiysk, which hit a mine.
For logging TC detachment of paratroopers
Thus, for the safe landing of a group of fighters with TK torpedoes were removed. The paratroopers of the 20 man, wrapped in canvas under the top of the crown, climbed into the freed canals - traveling by boat on the Black Sea in those conditions is still a pleasure. The boat began its rapid acceleration, literally flying over the water area. The last 200-400 meters to the shore of the TK ran either by inertia with the engine off, or by turning on the reverse, so that the “mooring” went more smoothly. Also delivered and cargo, and sabotage groups. In addition, it is worth noting, when part of Novorossiysk in the autumn of 1942 was abandoned, evacuating the detached troops of the still-defensive soldiers took just G-5.
But this trick was quickly bought by the Nazis. And the losses were so heavy that the boatmen were called suicide bombers. Over half of the TK at the time of the final assault on Novorossiysk were destroyed. Because the mines didn’t really scare the torpedoes, and on a fine day the aircraft didn’t create problems, our sailors died from the German artillery. Most often during the direct landing or landing on the coast of the TK, the Hitlerite artillerymen covered with fire the whole square in which the boats were located, since high-speed G-5 were not such an easy target.
In addition to all these very specific tasks for the torpedo boat, the G-5, of course, was set to guard convoys and not only. So on the supply line of the bridgehead and NBMB from Sochi-Tuapse to Gelendzhik, besides the famous sea (small) hunters, numerous shopping centers also worked. They carried out preventive bombing in order to prevent enemy submarines from attacking our convoys.
Also, when Hitler's submariners got into the habit of firing on our ground vehicles from deck guns, which were running close to the sea, the brisk G-5, taking advantage of speed, simply dispersed the enemy submarines with the fire of the DShK and the very threat of a torpedo attack. Arrogant representatives of the kriegsmarine did not want to get a torpedo from an outdated tiny boat at all.
Combat use gave impetus to the modification of the existing in the ranks of the G-5. The use of boats in the supply and protection of communications bridgehead "Small Earth", also influenced the rethinking of the use and development of the TC of this type. Pure landing craft appeared with torpedoes removed and various devices to alleviate the landing conditions - they were recruits, saboteurs and scouts. Part of the TK was converted into artillery boats with the designation AKA-5. Their machine-gun armament increased, and installations for firing the famous PCs were mounted directly on the wheelhouse or in front of it. Boats repeatedly made successful raids in the area of Anapa - there was a German airfield, from which the Nazis inflicted air strikes on our parts, as well as the place of temporary parking of the BDB and shnellbots.
The TCs themselves were also exploited to mine enemy naval communications. So, the crews of the 2-nd BTM NBMB not only made artillery and torpedo attacks on the port of the same Anapa, which was in the hands of the enemy, but also regularly conducted mine setups at the exit from the occupied port. After such performances, a day later, other our planes, which made reconnaissance flights over the coast of the Caucasus and Taman, respectively over Anapa, sometimes recorded freshly drowned BDB and enemy Schnellboots in the area of our mine settings.
Despite all these facts, as well as participation in the landing in the port of Novorossiysk just before the storming of the city, many authors sneezed the G-5 in vain. In my humble opinion, unfair. The work done by the G-5 is difficult to overestimate, and without them it would be much more difficult for the Black Sea people. And it is completely unfair to consider the data of the TC as a mistake of Tupolev, who strictly followed the performance characteristics stated by the customer. Yes, G-5 were not so nautical and autonomous, could not make long raids, as the German "Schnellboats", but they were not designed for this. Especially since they were the first Soviet TK, which, unlike conventional wisdom, wrote quite a few heroic pages in the annals of our fleet.
To be continued ...