Sweden's ATOMIC Submarine
hello and welcome to another
submarineshow this one's going to be about
sweden's nuclear powered
submarineprogram today the a26 class
submarinewhich is what you see here is among the most innovative and modern
submarines under construction anywhere in the world and is a really interesting design in its own right in general swedish
submarinedesigners have always done their own thing and it makes their designs particularly interesting i think worthy of a lot more videos than you you find i'm going to talk about a much older project though but encompasses the same sort of innovation and forward thinking the nuclear-powered
swedenlike my other talks this is going to be unscripted that's really obvious already also don't have a great microphone not apologizing for that but just to save you the effort of writing comments about it it is what it is you're here for the content anyway um so let's get on with it nuclear-powered
submarines started in 1950s with the us navy's uss nautilus and this really revolutionized
submarinecapabilities also in the 1950s the russians started to follow suit and build nuclear power
submarines after that it was the british in the 1960s who were next with the nucleophile
submarinebut in the meantime other countries also looked to nuclear power
submarines in fact it was the logical thing that all
submarines were going to become nuclear power it was so much better from a propulsion perspective in...
terms of the endurance and the ability to remain submerged and the speed that it gave
submarines among these for
swedenadditionally at the same time the swedish navy enjoyed a really strong connection to the u.s navy much stronger than people realize i think the u.s navy was also experimenting with the shape of
submarines not just the propulsion but also the shape and us's albacore scene here which was launched in in the early 50s again revolutionized
submarinedesign it's the first
submarinewith the modern generic prototypical shape of a
submarineif you get a if you get a five-year-old to draw a
submarineit looks like this and all
submarines since then pretty much look a lot like this
swedenhad access to this research and if the the relationship between the swedish navy and the american navy cannot be underestimated it was massive and it meant that the swedish
submarinedesigns the designers had access to insights that were really cutting edge on the world stage perhaps more so than anyone other than maybe britain and and of course america so
swedenstarted to design their own nuclear
submarinein the 1950s and it looked like a combination of the albacore class with its uh sort of teardrop or alcohol hull and nuclear propulsion and the design was really out there and you can see from this official image from the time this sketch they were really forward thinking i think it looks super cool the first blueprints that i can find are from 1956. i have to say at this...
point that this uh video and the research behind it would not have been possible without frederick granholm who was a swedish
submariner and research and historian and i owe everything to him really for this unfortunately he's no longer with us but i'm going to share the material he shared with me this design um some blueprints from 1956 you can see that i don't have the complete picture i had to fill in the gaps in some places but straight away it's obvious that this is a really forward thinking design it's really bold for 1950s it's essentially fish shaped um the hull is a different diameter all the way along it's super efficient another really interesting feature not perhaps not obvious at first but a big deal is that it doesn't have normal rudders and hydroplanes in the back it doesn't have the control surfaces you see on every other
submarineinstead it has a very large variable pitch screw or propeller and they would vary the pitch of this propeller to act a bit like frustrating really forward-thinking time another feature that's quite interesting is that at the back of the the sail or the uh the the fin or coding pair is a small rudder so there's a rudder on the sail instead of being at the back that's actually borrowed from uss albecos one of the things that they experimented with on on the avocado so it really shows how closely connected the swedish designers were to the u.s research almost in real time another...
interesting feature are the forward hydroplanes these are almost like wings and they're really big and they're angle side down i think it aesthetically it looks awesome there were some designs a little bit like this i can see some precursors especially in japanese
submarineside but this was really forward thinking this is going to be a highly agile
submarinealmost flying underwater so it's starting to become a real project and one of the big questions was how they're going to power this new
submarinethey came up with three ideas and they started to develop these in parallel with each other the first was an
atomicor nuclear powered
submarinethe a11a the a11b would be diesel electric that was also new at the time diesel
submarines had been around a long time but in the 50s they started to use the diesel engines to power generate electricity for an electric motor and not power the propeller directly so that was quite forward thinking um uk america doing that and then the a11c was going to be air independent propulsion again there's a lot of research in their independent propulsion in 1950s i'm going to cover all three of these but in particular the
atomicor or a model the a11 is just the sequential number for the design currently we're on the 826 a11 is just 11 swedish
submarinedesign since they started using that number system so you started doing test this is hydrodynamic model um really interesting a lot of serious research the first design...
that i have the blueprints for this sort of detailed as it were is 1957 nuclear version and this
submarineis really interesting in a lot of ways i did a cutaway of it um but before i just look at the stats a bit it's less than a thousand tons less than 50 meters long which is about 160 foot thereabouts it makes it really small much smaller than other nuclear powered
submarines and its crew was also really small only 20 people but his speed would have been really incredible for the time over 25 knots um that was crazy speed at the time not the fastest so i'd say you know obviously the u.s navy had much bigger nuclear-powered
submarines and quickly russian and american
submarines were getting up to 30 knots and beyond but this is uh really really fast also really interesting armament i'll come to that so this is my cutaway of it this is available on my website with for annotations hsn.com i'll put a link in the description of course um the first interesting thing about this
submarineis the weapons instead of having a normal torpedo room it actually had a rotary as in rotating the magazine of torpedoes external to the hull in the in the flooded uh ballast tank essentially and these were smaller 400 millimeter tall wheelers it had 20 of them and so that's the yellow objects going around the outside also had six fixed topics for heavyweight torpedoes in the center these did not have any reloads which was pretty typical thinking at the time and then still is...
an option reloading torpedoes takes time so if you can have more in ready to use tubes the better they were able to bring a torpedo out of the tube to be for maintenance but they couldn't store any torpedoes inside the
submarinethey were all assaulting the torpedo duty i have to say at this point also that as well as being nuclear powered it was going to be nuclear armed i don't have much details on this at all but knew that
swedenhad a nuclear power nuclear weapons program there's no doubt about that and it's a working assumption of everyone who has awareness of this project that these torpedoes at some point would be a nuclear arm don't have anything specific on that the nuclear propulsion is also interesting you can see the spherical um uh protective shielded uh vessel in the middle that's the reactor vessel we know quite a lot about this reactor because surprisingly perhaps it was not classified this was actually a civilian government project to develop a general purpose nuclear propulsion primarily for ships
swedenhad a massive shipbuilding industry at time merchant vessels that sort of thing and with the nuclear honeymoon everyone thought that pretty much all ships would become nuclear power that wasn't an unreasonable guess and
swedenstarted to develop a nuclear propulsion system for that and then that same system would be used on
submarines so this so the nuclear propulsion wasn't classified we got a lot of drawings of it it's...
called project neptune interesting so right i don't know much about nuclear i'll leave it at that by 1958 the design was evolving quite a bit it's overall quite similar but if in detail if you look really closely you see lots of differences the main ones to point out instead of having the variable pitch screw at the back it's got a much more smaller and simple regular propeller about this time they really figured out that all the advantages of the variable pitch screw you know the kitchen scene and the ability to use it for steering were outweighed by the complexity and weight basically they started to have a normal screw the um the rudders are dif redesigned i think the lower rudder being a different shape like that implies that some room is designed to sit on the bottom that's an interesting prospect for nuclear power
submarines at this time but we don't know that for sure that design was smaller still it's getting to less than 150 foot long 43 meters still less than 700 tons got quite a small power plant only 400 horsepower but same weapons six heavyweight torpedoes plus 20 lightweight top units incredible weapons loads of the time and especially such a small
submarineby 1962 the design was evolving again you can see the knowledge being gained in america and the uk being shared with
swedenparticularly america of course the
submarineis now looking more of a sausage shape more cylindrical with rounded ends essentially they've elongated it...
versus the more shark-like um or fish-like hull earlier they'd figured out that the the gains of having a single hull diameter for most of the
submarineis much easier to build and it doesn't lose very much in terms of speed whereas the
submarines before had been a different hull diameter all the way along more or less and that would make them harder to build the nuclear power plant is more or less the same the main difference here is going to be in the weapons but if we look at the stats it's much bigger
submarinewe're now going to over a thousand times still tiny compared to a regular
submarinea nuclear powered one that is um but much smaller and still got a tiny crew only 21 people now if you say that to a u.s navy or a royal navy
submariner we're gonna have a nuclear power
submarineand we're gonna uh you know attack
submarinewith only 21 crew that think you're crazy but
swedendoes have a history of really small crews for their
submarines automation is really high their combat efficiency you know there's a lot of context there and the the missions would be much shorter of course in the baltic what's interesting at this time the us navy was experimenting with having a single person drive the
submarinethat's what you have today but u.s navy never adopted it the swedes did they took that research from us albacore and actually applied it in real
submarines in the 60s the armament is a bit different um i say essentially it's...
gone from these rotary launchers to a much more conventional torpedo tube and torpedo room arrangement you still have a mix of heavyweight and lightweight torpedoes which is particularly swedish thing at the time there's a few issues with the rotary launcher they did actually try those rotary launchers on real
submarines and they found a set of problems the first was that because the torpedoes are surrounded by water all times they need a lot more maintenance so that's a pain additionally they had a lot of electrical problems with those torpedoes because they're in water all the time the electric circuits to connect to and things like that um again have maintenance problems the last one was more a future problem the rotary launchers wouldn't have allowed for wire guided torpedoes because the the launch is moving it rotates so it would break the line of the um the wire guidance so from a future point perspective it's much better to have regular torpedo tubes and that's what they did here other than that the design becoming more sensible let's say more typical but not particularly different or noteworthy really nuclear power also had a problem then the main one from a build perspective is that it's incredibly expensive and it was much more complicated and expensive to build nuclear power
swedenhad realized in the 50s the second one and i don't know how big a factor this was but in the 60s and onwards nuclear power became quite...
unpopular nuclear weapons became unpopular this is a protest in stockholm in 1960 i believe i'm i understand that this had an influence on the decision not to build a nuclear-powered
submarinebut i don't know exactly how much so of the three designs we start to see problems with the
atomicthe nuclear powered one let's talk a bit about the aip one this was actually the main design as i understand it the nuclear was never the primary choice it was a bit too adventurous instead they were going to build an aip something that means air independent propulsion key thing here is to use some sort of motor that can drive underwater without needing oxygen from the air to to run which is what diesel engines need of course so they were going to do it with a combination of liquid oxygen and alcohol as a fuel then run essential alcohol driven engine here's the liquid oxygen it's a massive tank built into the structure of
submarineand the liq the alcohol was stored in really interesting tubular flasks running around the outside of the
submarinethat's a really interesting i can see some connections with certain italian designs and things it's quite cool if you're into
submarinedesign um but the problem was that this was quite noisy about that time people were realizing that
submarines needed to be stealthy and the noise produced by
submarinewas going to be their main achilles heel this was more u.s and british observation being shared with the swedes...
russia took much longer to really appreciate the importance of this as we know if you know your cold war
submarinehistory but as an alternative to the noisy alcohol and liquid oxygen fuels uh aip a company called acer um started to propose an advanced fuel cell design fuel cells are what power aip
submarines today in many countries not in
swedenthey used early engines but um in many countries so this is really advanced thinking to think in 1950s and 60s people in
swedenwere looking at fuel cells the company acer i don't know if they still exist i don't actually know if i'm saying it right the they built a full-scale working prototype really impressive and they were quite keen to promote this the bad news was that that full-scale prototype caught fire literally a day before it's going to be demonstrated um fire is a really bad thing in
submarineessentially the technology wasn't ready at a time and still too dangerous that can be said for a lot of technologies for culture
submarines so what are we left with the
atomicor nuclear-powered one is too expensive a nuclear is becoming unpopular the aip one was too noisy and then subsequently too dangerous so we left with a diesel electric and that is what we got um the a11 class as it was actually eventually built was a really innovative really forward thinking conventional
submarinewith diesel electric propulsion so not nuclear not aip that would have the weight the irp this
submarinewas really interesting...
a few ways you can still see the direct influence of the uss albacore at the time it was built it was the first operational