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Factory No. 112 Tank builder shipyard

Nataliya Murushkina
Spokesperson of the Krasnoye Sormovo factory

Ability of sormovo area residents to master new fields of activity helped in 1941 to hurl all efforts and resources of the enterprise into production of legenndary combat vehicles - tanks T-34
Building of ships was completely stopped. Although, very soon the Krasnoye Sormovo factory became one of the main suppliers of even more advanced subsurface ships.

While production of the thirty-fours was gaining momentum at the Sormovo factory, now the factory number 112, submarines of prewar projects preserved previously in the boat yards of the Volga and the Caspian went to the front line during the first days of war: “Schukas” (“Pikes”), “Malyutkas” (“Babies”) and “eskas”, undergone fitting-out at the Baltic, Black Sea and Caspian commissioning trial bases of the factory. They were delivered there in specially designed transport docks, built at the shipyard. Most of these submarines have heroic destiny.

The legendary and lucky ones

The Krasnoye Sormovo factory was building the submarines of “Schuka” series for eight years, mostly during the prewar period. (We wrote about production of them in the previous issue of the magazine.) Submarines of these type were worthy fighters and did their duty to motherland to the full. Out of eleven Sormovo “Schukas”, eight have perished in the sea battles. Three (Sch-310, Sch-323 and Sch-421) have become decorated with the Order of the Red Banner, and two (Sch-309 and Sch-422) have been awarded with the title of guard submarines. The very first of them, diesel-electric Sch-304 submarine Komsomolets of series III with surface/underwater displacement of 572/705 t, had to serve in a training division in the Baltics. But the war ordered otherwise. The submarine started its first combat trip in June, 1942. The submarine performed 10 torpedo attacks during two combat trips. After attempt to founder the depot ship of minesweepers MRS-12, it came under unprecedented for the Soviet undersea fleet multiple attacks by ships and airplanes of submarine defence of the enemy.

Upon return to the harbour of Lavensari island, thirty-eight crew members were awarded with orders and medals. From the second campaign started in autumn of 1942 Komsomolets never returned. For a long time, the submarine was considered to have gone missing in action. One of the versions states that it lost by Nashorn antisubmarine barrier mine in the western part of Finnish Bay.

Contruction technology of ‘eskas’ was plain and simple. The hulls were laid and assembeled in a so- called vessel pit which was separated from the boat yard of Volga with partition. During spring flood, when the water level in Volga was sufficient, the partition was blown up, the laid hulls came up to the surface and were brought out of the vessel pit for outfitting afloat. After docking trial, the boats were sent to the factory delivery base in Kronstadt

The first homeland submarine to go by the Northern Passage from west to east was the Sormovo “Schuka”, Sch-423, as well. Before the voyage, it was equipped with special “fur coat” for moving in slob ice. By that moment, it was considered an important technological advantage.

The first homeland submarine to go by the Northern Passage from west to east was the Sormovo “Schuka”, Sch-423, as well. Before the voyage, it was equipped with special “fur coat” for moving in slob ice. By that moment, it was considered an important technological advantage.

Feature film called “Commander of Lucky Schuka” was shot about the legendary submarine Sch-421, which made six combat voyages during the war. The ship was really lucky. In 1942, Sch-421 during patrol under command of captain- lieutenant Fyodor Vidyayev near North Cape, it tripped an antisubmarine antenna mine and became completely dead in the water, without possibility to submerge. The solution for saving the boat was unusual: by proposal of captain- lieutenant Alexandr Kautsky, they sewed together a sail from two tarpaulins of diesels and hoisted it on periscope. Each time the aircraft appeared, they lowered the sail. The captain requested for help from the base. Submarines K-2 and K- 22 arrived but were not able to tow the Sch-421 submarine, therefore it was blown by torpedo right after evacuation of the crew. Vidyayev was transferred to Sch-422, and it was lucky, too. In one situation, it managed to escape from three hundred and fifty-six depth bombs and return to the base. Out of “Schukas” participated in the warfare, 23 units (52%) were successful, which is a rather good achievement for such limited sea warfare zones as ours, whereas there were no considerable targets of the enemy – no supeships - during the larger part of the war. Approximately same percentage of success belongs to the more advanced submarines of “S” series.

With German drawings

The Soviet Union entered the Second World War with the biggest amount of submarines among all the world powers. According to “Encyclopaedia of Soviet submarines, 1941-1945”, there were 211. The USA was on the second place, followed by Great Britain and France, which were superior by this parameter to Germany. By the moment the theatre of war shifted to the east, Germany greatly increased production of submarines. Like the other countries, it concentrated on production of medium submarines intended for operation at considerable distance from their bases and in the ocean. The German submarines of type VII became the largest production series of one type not only in Germany but in the whole world.

The Soviet designers were given a task to create a medium submarine already in 1934. But it was decided to acquire the project abroad. The German submarine E-1 became prototype of the first “eskas”.

Soviet Union bought its drawings from the German firm DeSchiMAG. The first boats with imported filling were laid in 1936 and were designated as type “N” (German), or series IX. Afterwards they were renamed as “S” (medium). The undersea boatmen used also another name – Stalinists. All in all, three boats of series IX were built at the Baltic Shipyard. They proved their efficiency during Finnish war. Later the project was corrected for the domestic equipment, having first of all replaced the main engines. In this way series IX-bis emerged, and included the absolute majority of submarines manufactured in the country during the war.

Building of this type of submarines began at the Krasnoye Sormovo factory in 1936. The first ones to depart for the combat voyages were S-7 and S-8, another six submarines of series IX-bis were manufactured in 1941 by the Kronstadt base of the factory. To the Soviet equipment altogether the submarines were switched by TsKB-18, now “Rubin” Design Bureau, already after evacuation from Leningrad to Gorky. Updated diesel-electric submarines with displacement of 837/1075 t of series IX-bis the Sormovo workers floated out in 1942. For this purpose, the special shipbuilding department was recreated at the shipyard, which had been used for production of tanks T-34 already for one year before that. Although production of tanks distracted considerable part of resources, this neighbourhood had its pluses as well: the best tank production elements were actively integrated into production of submarines (e.g. torsional actuator of entrance hatches).


A task to create a medium submarine was set already in 1934. But it was decided to acquire the project abroad. The German submarine e-1 became prototype of the first “eskas”


Unlike the outdated “Schukas”, “eskas” had better manoeuvrability and controllability performance. The armament consisted of 530-millimeter vapour/gas-driven torpedoes. Firing range rate of the vapour/gas-driven torpedoes of type 53-39 was 400-4000 m for the speed mode of 51 knots and 400-8000 m for the speed mode of 39 knots. The most wide-spread torpedoes of 53-38 type had the range rate 400-4000 m and 400-8000 m for the speed modes of 34.5 and 44.5 knots respectively. The submarines of “S” type had versatile artillery mounts – two guns with calibre of 100 and 45 mm. The submarine of seven sections were equipped with four-stroke compressorless reversible diesel engines with power up to 2000 hp, operating for two propeller shafts, and two main double-armature 550-hp electric engines providing speed of 16 km/h under water. The maximum depth of submersion was one hundred meters. Amount of crew members was up to 45-46 people. And though the “eskas” were inferior to German submarines of series VII in certain parameters, they completely corresponded to the level of that time and were nearly as efficient as “Schukas”.

The Baltic legend

The greatest success was achieved by the “S” series submarines in the Baltics: twelve kills (55,313 GRT) and six damaged vessels (23,187 GRT). Difficulties of the underwater war were caused by peculiarities of the sea: small depth, uneven relief of the bottom, a lot of sandbanks, as well as concentration of considerable surface fleet forces of the enemy, who had closed all the ways of the Soviet submarine fleet with mine fields and launched convoys along the shore. The submarines of that time had no advanced acoustic systems, and passage through the mine fields was practically blindfold. At the same time, German aircraft were waiting for our submarines in the air, and submarine hunters – in the sea. Without exaggeration, each underwater voyage in conditions of the Baltics of the Great Patriotic War period can be considered a heroic feat.

Out of eleven “eskas” fighting in the Baltic sea, only one, Sormovo S-13 survived the war – perhaps the most famous submarine of that time. It was lowered from the staples of Krasnoye Sormovo factory in 1939, and became a member of the Baltic fleet in 1941. It distinguished itself by sinking the auxiliary cruiser ship of Kriegsmarine, Wilhelm Gustloff, with displacement of 25,484 t. It was one of the greatest catastrophes of the last century (by assessment of Soviet historians, about 6,600 people perished). S-13 under command of Marinesko damaged and sent to the bottom two enemy transport ships with total displacement of 40,000 t – a record number for the Soviet fleet of that time. All in all, during the tour of duty the submarine sank four and damaged two vessels. In 1945 S-13 was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner. Title of Hero of the Soviet Union was given to Alexander Marinesko posthumously only, in 1990.


Out of almost 27 submarines handed over by the factory to navy during the years of war 21 belonged to “s” series 30 “eskas” built by all the factories of the country scuppered 20 transport ships (more than 70,000 grt) and six surface ships during the war, and also damaged eight transport ships of the enemy two submarines of this series were awarded guard ranks, and six received the order of the red banner. S-56 built at Andre Marty factory won both awards


Another two Sormovo submarines which served in the Northern Fleet were decorated with the Order of the Red Banner, S-101 and S-104. S-101 performed twelve military campaigns and the same amount of torpedo attacks. The great victories of this submarine were sunken German steam ship Aiax (GRT 2,297) and German submarine U-639 (769 t). The great victories of S-104 were destruction of hunter Uj-1209 (type KUJ) and steam ship Lumme (GRT 1730).

Excellent combat results were also achieved by submarine S-7 headed by commander Sergey Lisin. During its combat trip it killed and damaged five transport ships with total displacement of 11,000 GRT, taking with the hostile servicemen and secret documents with maps of German mine fields. This battle became one of the most efficient during all the years of war. And the trip of submarine S-12 under command of Vasily Turayev is considered the longest lasting one. During 62 days, S-12 went through plenty of mine fields, covered 4,860 miles (including 1,774 under water), was seriously damaged, but managed to return to the base in full force. The commander of the submarine is the only submariner of the Great Patriotic War who was awarded Order of Wartime Red Banner five times. Two times he was awarded already as a commander of S-104 in the Northern Fleet.