The U.S. SUBMARINE WAR
  in the PACIFIC  1941 - 1945


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GATO, BALAO and
TENCH CLASS SUBMARINES

WWII U.S. Submarine Warfare - Pacific Theater 1941 to 1945

World War II specifications, design details and boat lists for the
U.S. Navy Gato, Balao and Tench Class submarines


 

Gato Balao Tench Class submarines

 

 

Just prior to the start of the war in the Pacific, the United States Navy in 1940 was once again in the process of upgrading its' fleet submarines. An ambitious plan called for the construction of 73 Gato class boats.

Using the Tambor Class submarine as the model standard, the Gatos had incorporated numerous improvements which increased its' overall patrolling and combat capabilities. The modifications made to the diesel engines and batteries increased the Gato's patrol duration over that of the T-Class subs and internal alterations provided more amenities for the crew. The Balao and Corsair - Tench Classes were virtually identical to the Gatos, with just slight internal differences. The Balaos were the first of the "thick skinned" subs. Higher strength steel used in the pressure hull increased their test depth to 400 feet.  

As the war progressed, modifications to the tower and equipment were commonplace. Removing much of the plating on the periscope shears and near the cigarette decks reduced the boat's silhouette and decreased the time it took to submerge. Due to the many alterations at the different shipyards, no two boats looked alike at the wars' end.  Hull colors changed during 1943 (?). In an effort to reduce their detection from both surface ships and aircraft, the original "lamp black" color was changed to "ghost gray" (submarines at periscope depth were often visible from the air in a black hulled boat). Even the periscope tips were painted "pink", many believing that this color took on the hue of surrounding area.

 

SS 306 WW II Gato Class submarine

 

World War II Gato Class Submarines

Displacement: (in tons) 1526 surfaced, 2424 submerged
Length 311' 9"
Beam 27' 4"
Draft 15'
Test Depth 300'
Speed: (in knots) 20.75 knots surfaced
8.75 knots submerged
Torpedo Tubes 6 - 21" forward, 4 aft 
Torpedoes 24
Deck Guns 1 - 3" 50 cal, (1943)
1 - 4" 50 cal (1943-1945)
1 or 2 - 5" 25 cal (1944-1945)
Anti-Aircraft Armament 1 or 2 - 40 mm single (1943-1945)
1 or 2 - 20 mm single (1943-1945)
2 - .50 Cal machine guns (1943- 1945)
2 - .30 Cal machine guns (1943-1945)
Crew 85
Power 4 Diesel engines/4 electric motors
Max Horsepower 6500 surfaced, 2740 submerged
Range 11,800 at 10 kts surfaced
Fuel 97,140 gallons

 

BALAO CLASS

Displacement: (in tons) 1826 surfaced, 2391 submerged
Length 312'
Beam 27'
Draft 15'
Test Depth 400'
Speed: (in knots) 20.75 surfaced, 8.75 submerged
Guns 1 - 3" 50 cal,  2 - 40 mm AA
Tubes 6 - 21" fwd 4 aft 
Crew 75 - 80
Power 4 Diesel engines/4 electric motors
 Max HP 6500 surfaced, 2740 submerged
Range 11,800 at 10 kts surfaced

 

TENCH CLASS

Displacement: (in tons) 1826 surfaced, 2391 submerged
Length 312'
Beam 27'
Draft 15'
Test Depth 400'
Speed: (in knots) 20.75 surfaced, 8.75 submerged
Guns 1 - 5" 25 cal,  2 - 40 mm AA
Tubes 6 - 21" fwd 4 aft 
Crew 75 - 80
Power 4 Diesel engines/4 electric motors
 Max HP 6500 surfaced, 2740 submerged
Range 12,000 at 10 kts surfaced

 

 

Click here for the list of boats

 

 

USS Rasher Gato Class sub

(USS Rasher) Gato Class

 

USS Bowfin Balao Class submarine)

USS Bowfin (Balao Class)

 

USS Argonaut Tench Class submarine

USS Argonaut (Tench Class)

 

 

 

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RESOURCE NOTES:


Product photo
United States Submarine Operations in World War II
By Theodore Roscoe
United States Naval Institute
George Banta Company Inc Copyright 1949
Product photo Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan
By Clay Blair
J.B. Lippincott Company
Copyright 1975
Product photo Subs Against the Rising Sun:
U.S. Submarines in the Pacific

By Keith H. Milton
Yucca Free Press
Copyright 2000
Book Cover U. S. Submarines in World War II:
An Illustrated History of the Pacific

By Larry Kimmett & Margaret Regis
Navigator Publishing
Copyright 191996

 
   

 


 
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