Deadborns. Soviet diesel missile submarines
An unpleasant fact for us, but by the mid-50s we were losing the Cold War. And it was not about the warheads, we produced them no worse than the Americans, but about the delivery of these same charges to the United States.
The Tu-4A aircraft is outdated. Tu-16 did not reach the range. The famous "Bears" - Tu-95 - began to operate only in 1956, and they were few, extremely few, and given the need to break through the powerful US air defense, the idea was almost hopeless.
The R-5, of course, is a good car and even, one might say, epoch-making, but with a range of only 1200 km. In Europe it is good, in the USA it is not.
But the enemy had order - firstly, a huge fleet of strategic bombers, and secondly, the development of Jupiters, which in the late 50s would appear at the borders of the USSR, and Polaris for submarines was underway. Developed "Atlases" (in service since 1958) and "Torah". In a word, they could get us, but we could only strike at the European allies of the United States. An answer was needed, and it was found in the form of submarines.
If the missiles are not capable of reaching the target, they can be brought to the spot, since there were some studies. As many as two - firstly, the R-11 ballistic missile with a range of 260 km, and secondly, the P-5 cruise missile with a range of 500 km. With the second, everything was longer, but the first went quickly.
In January 1954, a meeting of designers was held, and already in June 1956, the first converted submarine of the B611 project entered service. The result was ambiguous - two R-11FM ballistic missiles with a range of 150 km and a warhead of 10 kilotons were perched on the initially torpedo boat. Launch preparation - two hours, then surfacing and launching missiles on the surface. All this, of course, is very bad, but a chance. Theoretically, such a boat could break through to the coast of the United States and, again, theoretically, strike at coastal cities.
Theoretically - because the range was not enough, which, however, can be solved in peacetime. There was no particular choice. And a slightly improved project for rebuilding submarines 611 into missile carriers - AB611 was launched.
In total, in 1957-1958, 5 submarines of this type were refitted. The project was frankly no, and in 1966 the missile armament was dismantled. The first pancake came out rather lumpy, but gave experience and at least a theoretical chance to hit a previously unattainable enemy.
In the meantime, while our Zulu were making the first launches, the development of the ballistic missile carriers went in two directions - nuclear and diesel submarines.
Everything was sad with atomic, I will write about them next time. And with diesels, the process began - the new project 629, of course, did not boggle the imagination. All the same surface launch, however, the R-13 missile was being finalized with a range of 600 km, but with the same problems - liquid fuel and 4 minutes to launch on the surface. However, the first three missile carriers received R-11FM, industry and science did not keep pace.
The development of a ballistic missile with an underwater launch was in full swing, the future R-21 promised many benefits, but a nuclear argument was needed here and now. And in 1957, construction began on a series of 24 missile carriers. It turned out controversial, at least before the rearmament on the P-21, but three arguments of one megaton on each ship gave confidence and held back the overseas enemy.
The last "Golf" entered service in 1962, when nuclear missile carriers were already in full swing. Two years later, nuclear submarines of project 667A will go into series, and by the end of the 60s, the new missile carriers will be hopelessly outdated and unnecessary. Although even earlier, by the time of the Cuban missile crisis, the USSR would stockpile the Tu-95, the R-7 ICBMs will appear, and more serious missiles will be developed ...
But the "Golfs" will remain in the ranks, however, where it is quieter - in the Pacific Ocean, and since the 70s - in the Baltic: it was believed that it was they who would guarantee a retaliatory strike against the European NATO countries.
As for me, it was stupid to write off the new ships, there were too many of them for experiments and tests, so they served ... Even one missile carrier in the "Commander of the Happy Pike" was removed.
Now it is difficult to judge whether such a rush with the construction of a huge number of boats was justified, but during the Cuban missile crisis, all the hope was on them. During the entire period of operation, one ship was lost - "K-129" in 1968, the same ship, the nose of which the Americans will raise from a depth of 4 km as part of Operation Jennifer. One submarine was transferred to China, becoming its first and for a long time the only missile carrier. She, too, died, according to rumors and gossip, when she collided with the Soviet nuclear submarine.
Our second chance to reach the United States was strategic cruise missiles.
In 1959, the P-5 rocket of Academician Chelomey was put into service with a range of up to 500 km and a warhead of 200 kilotons. At that time, this rocket in terms of characteristics was not much and worse than the R-13 and had the same drawback - a surface launch, which unmasked the submarines.
Immediately, the construction of nuclear submarines began and the re-equipment of medium diesel boats of project 613 for a new one weapon... There were two alterations - projects 644 and 665, six units of each project. The rework career turned out to be even shorter than that of the Golfs - by the mid-60s it turned out that the US air defense was intercepting the P-5 KR lightweight, and they were transferred to the Baltic and the Black Sea, where there were still chances to work on targets, and after a decade it was quiet cut. But for a short time, which fell during the Cuban missile crisis, these ships and missiles became an argument capable of attacking NATO naval bases.
But this is not the end stories.
On the basis of the P-5, the P-6 anti-ship missile system was developed and, in its own way, a unique project 651 boat, nicknamed by the Americans "Juliet", which was supposed to carry 4 P-6s. The uniqueness was that by the end of the 50s they still realized that a conventional diesel submarine as a carrier of missile weapons was extremely vulnerable. And the "Juliet" was planned to be equipped with a new storage battery - silver-zinc, which allowed the submarine to go under water for 810 miles. But something went wrong. And the quarrel with China, where the silver for the battery came from, turned these ships into ordinary mediocrity.
Surface launch of missiles, low speed, relatively high noise level, two control systems (initially the boats counted on the use of P-5 and P-6), abandonment of low-magnetic hull steel ... Nevertheless, 16 ships were built, putting the latter into operation fleet already in 1968. Built in order to think - what to do with them. A small-sized reactor (Dollezhal's egg) was even developed for them, but this project did not take off within a reasonable time. As a result, the boats ended up at the end of their careers, mainly in the Baltic and the Black Sea Fleet, a kind of graveyard of unsuccessful projects.
To summarize, the USSR built 39 diesel-electric submarines with ballistic and cruise missiles and refurbished, not counting experimental samples, another 17 ships of other projects. As a result, there were 56 diesel missile carriers. All with surface missile launch, all extremely vulnerable and outdated, almost on the stocks.
Is it correct?
Of course, right.
Unlike the United States, which could work for us from Europe, we could only reach their territory by sea. Even the appearance of the R-7 ICBM did not change much - the long preparation on the open launch pad made the missile extremely vulnerable to the first strike.
There are situations when they do badly out of lack of mind, but there are situations when it will not work out otherwise. And the diesel-powered missile carrier fleet is exactly the case. Well, with the exception of Juliet, which had to be removed from construction from the fifth building. But inertia worked there. The rest is exactly the argument that tipped the balance in favor of peace, not war. In 1962, the United States had to take into account 69 P-13 and 20 P-5s capable of hitting their shores. And in this sense, everything was done correctly, no matter how paradoxical the idea of building diesel missile carriers sounded.
Another question - why not refurbished later?
But here, too, not everything is so simple - it is expensive. The history of the late XIX - early XX centuries was somewhat repeated, when ships became obsolete on the stocks, and attempts to outrun time gave rise to freaks.
It is about freaks and mistakes - in the next article about Soviet nuclear submarines of the first generation.
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