B-class (USA) Gas-Electric Attack Submarine
The American B-class of military submarines consisted of three boats - the Viper, Cuttlefish and Tarantula.Entry last updated on 8/15/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
If the A-class of submarines were the beginnings of the submariner program for the United States Navy then the B-class could serve as the turning point in USN submarine design. Appearing more akin to the serviceable submarines of World War 1 and World War 2 (as opposed to the early awkward appearances of some submarines), the B-class fit the bill with its smooth dolphin-like profile. The B-class stemmed form the original Holland-class that, itself, began with the Holland design appearing at the turn of the century - this leading directly to the preceding A-class of underwater warships.
The B-class was made up of the three submarines, each designated "USS Viper", "USS Cuttlefish" and "USS Tarantula". All three set about to open sea as a crew trainers and patrol craft in both local and international waters, eventually being put to rest as target vessels by the end of their useful operational lives. Power for the class was derived from a single gasoline engine developing 250 horsepower. An electric motor of 50 horsepower serviced the vessel when submerged, requiring surface air to charge. Surfaced and submarged speeds were quite similar across all three vessels and primary armament consisted of 2 x 457mm forward-facing torpedo tubes with four reloads. Crew accommodation for the series amounted to 10 personnel (the A-class fitted nine). As can be expected on these ealry submarines, conditions aboard the B-class were decidedly cramped though relatively improved over that as on the smaller Holland and A-class submarines. To go along with its identifiable shape, the B-class also sported a periscope in its conning tower. A second one was to be added later in its life but the stage was set for submarine design in the United States for years to come.
The definitive B-class designs went on to offer much of what was to come in terms of USN submarine design for the next few decades. By this time, the submarine would now come into its own in the inventory of the USN and other navies worldwide. The USN eventually set the vessel class apart from its "Torpedo Fleet" and formed its submarines into a new "Submarine Flotilla" group.