The E class was a long series of attack submarines launched between 1912 and 1917 for the Royal Navy. These units served throughout
the First World War as the backbone of the British submarine fleet, being eventually replaced by the newer submarines of the L class.
All of the units of the E class were retired from service by 1922. They were possibly the best British submarines deployed during the
war, and also the first British submarines which had transverse bulkheads. These divided the inner space into three compartments,
increasing survivability in the event of flooding.
Following the capture of the wrecked German minelayer UC-2 in 1915, six units of the E class were fitted as minelayers, with eight
vertical mine chutes placed in each of the two ballast tanks, containing two mines each, for a total of 32 mines. The armament was
increased after the first ten units built, by adding a deck cannon and an additional torpedo tube in the prow. The transverse - or
beam - torpedo tubes were removed in the minelaying units, and over time their presence would be discontinued in subsequent classes
of British submarines, because they were deemed as irrelevant.
The history of these submarines is bound to the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara. During 1915 a number of units managed to cross the
dangerous strait, sown with mines and crossed by strong currents, and arrive to the inner sea. But also the German submarine UB-15 had
managed to cross the strait, and the 30th October she managed to sink the E20. Meanwhile, the diverse units of the class started to be
equipped with deck cannon mountings to be used against small surface units, saving so the valuable torpedoes. Thanks to these cannons
it was also possible to damage the railway going from Istambul to Gallipoli, for that one had been built next to the coast.
Another theater of operations in which the units of the E class were of vital importance was the Baltic Sea, then very dangerous for
submarine navigation because of the low depths, the very numerous minefields and the continuous surveillance from German ships and
aircraft. The only advantage was the presence of the Russian ally and its bases, from which operations could be carried out. In the Baltic Sea several units of
the E class, along with several Russian units, sank numerous merchant ships and four German cruisers. But after the Russian Revolution
in 1917, and the consequent peace treaty between the future Soviet Union and the Central Powers, the British submarines would have to
leave the Baltic waters to avoid being imprisoned.
E class: 58 units (E1 to E27, E29 to E56, AE1 and AE2 for the Royal Australian Navy)
Type: Attack submarine
Length: 54 meters (E1 to E8, AE1 and AE2); 55 meters (E9 to E27, E29 to E56)
Beam: 4.6 meters
Draught: 4.6 meters
Displacement (surfaced): 665 tonnes (E1 to E8); 664 tonnes (AE1 and AE2); 667 tonnes (E9 to E20); 662 tonnes (E21 to E27, E29 to E56)
Displacement (submerged): 796 tonnes (E1 to E8); 780 tonnes (AE1 and AE2); 807 tonnes (E9 to E27, E29 to E56)
Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 2 x Diesel engine Vickers 800 horsepower, 2 x electric motor 600 horsepower (E1 to E8, AE1 and AE2) or
2 x electric motor 840 horsepower (E9 to E27, E29 to E56)
Speed (surfaced): 15 knots (28 kilometers/hour) E1 to E8, AE1 and AE2, E21 to E27, E29 to E56; 15.25 knots (28.24 kilometers/hour) E9 to E20
Speed (submerged): 9.5 knots (17.6 kilometers/hour) E1 to E8; 10 knots (18.5 kilometers/hour) AE1 and AE2, E21 to E27, E29 to E56;
10.25 knots (19 kilometers/hour) E9 to E20
Range (surfaced): 3000 nautical miles (5555 kilometers) at 10 knots
Range (submerged): 65 nautical miles (120 kilometers) at 5 knots
Fuel: 46 tonnes of petrol
Test depth: 60 meters
Armament (E1 to E8, AE1 and AE2): 4 x 457-millimeter torpedo tube (1 at prow, 2 in transverse, 1 astern), 8 x torpedo
Armament (E9 to E27, E29 to E56): 5 x 457-millimeter torpedo tube (2 at prow, 2 in transverse, 1 astern), 10 x torpedo,
1 x 76-millimeter deck cannon