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Soviet K-class submarine
Class overview
Operators:  Soviet Navy
In service: 1939 - 1959
In commission: - 1959
Completed: 12
Lost: 5
Retired: 7
General characteristics
Displacement: 1490 tons surfaced
2600 tons submerged
Length: 97.65 m
Beam: 7.4
Draught: 4.51
Propulsion: 2-shaft diesel electric, 8400-hp diesel, 2400-hp electric
Speed: surface - up to 22,5 knots
submerged - 10 knots
Range: 14,000 nm at 11 knots
Test depth: 230 ft (70 m)
Complement: 67 (10 officers)
Armament: 6 × bow torpedo tubes
2 × stern torpedo tubes
2 x external stern torpedo tubes(24 torpedoes)
2 × 100 mm guns, 2 - 45mm guns, 20 mines

The K class were the largest submarines built for the Soviet Navy in the World War II era.


K class submarine profile

The design was approved in 1936 as a long range "cruiser submarine" with a heavy torpedo and gun armament. The boats could operate as "fleet submarine" working with the battle fleet or as long range commerce raiders

They were a significantly improved version of the Pravda class and overcame most of their shortcomings (Conway's Fighting Ships). The double hull was divided into seven compartments. It was originally planned to carry a small floatplane for scouting but this concept was abandoned when the planned aircraft proved too flimsy.

Yakubov and Worth state that these were the most successful Soviet submarines of the World War II era, with high speed and good seakeeping. The hull provided spacious accommodation and diving time was 60 seconds. American naval constructors inspected K-21 in 1944 and thought the design to be workmanlike but technically inferior to contemporary American boats[citation needed] such as the Gato class submarines

An improved design the KU class which was to be of welded construction was in planning in 1941. A total of 24 KU boats were planned but none were started.


All ships were built by Marti Yard / Ordzhinikidze Yard, Leningrad

A total of twelve boats were built in the Baltic for the Soviet Northern Fleet. K1 to K23 were transferred prior to the German Invasion. K51 to K56 were trapped in Leningrad during the Blockade and were completed after the war and transferred to the Arctic

  • K 1 -
Laid down 27 December 1936
Launched 4 May 1938,
Commissioned 26 May 1940
Lost October 1943 , Mined in the Kara Sea
  • K 2
Laid down 27 December 1936
Launched 4 May 1938,
Commissioned 26 May 1940
Lost August/September 1942
  • K 3
Laid down 27 December 1936
Launched 1938,
Commissioned 19 December 1940
Sunk 21 March 1943 by German anti-submarine vessels near Båtsfjord, Norway
  • K 21
Laid down 10 December 1937
Launched 16 August 1939
Commissioned 3 February 1941
made an unsuccessful attack on the Tirpitz, during the PQ-17 convoy when she was commanded by Nikolai Lunin, stationary training ship 1959, saved as memorial
  • K 22
Laid down 5 January 1938
Launched 3 November 1938,
Commissioned 7 August 1940
Sunk 7 February 1943 by mines
  • K 23
Laid down 5 February 1938
Launched 28 April 1939
Commissioned 25 October 1940
Sunk 12 May 1942 by German anti-submarine vessels commanded by Wolfgang Kaden near Olesa Fjord, Norway, the boat was commanded by Magomet Gadzhiyev
  • K 51
Launched 1939,
decommissioned in 1955, scrapped
  • K 52
Launched 1939,
decommissioned in 1955, scrapped
  • K 53
Launched 1939,
decommissioned in 1954, scrapped
  • K 54
Launched 1941,
not commissioned, scrapped
  • K 55
Launched 1941,
decommissioned in 1954, scrapped
  • K 56
Launched 1940,
sunk in 1957 at nuclear trials


  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946
  • Vladimir Yakubov and Richard Worth, Raising the Red Banner -2008 Spellmount ISBN 978-1-86227-450-1

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