G-5 Torpedo Boat: A Soviet Marvel of World War II

The G-5 is a motor torpedo boat that stands as a testament to the ingenuity of the Soviet Union before World War II. Designed in 1933 by the renowned aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev, this marvel of naval engineering served from 1934 to the late 1950s, leaving a lasting impact on maritime history. With over 300 ships produced, including 152 7-9 series boats in 1934-36, 20 ships in 1937, 76 10 series in 1938-39, 5 10 series in 1939-40, and 39 11 series in 1941, the G-5 boats played a crucial role in various fleets.

The outbreak of the Great Patriotic War saw 254 G-5s allocated to the Baltic Fleet (60 ships), the Black Sea Fleet (92 ships), the Pacific Fleet (135 ships), and the Caspian Sea Fleet (6 ships). Though 73 ships were destroyed in the war and 31 scrapped after World War II, a resilient fleet of 164 ships continued to serve, with 24 in the Baltic Fleet, 134 in the Pacific Fleet, and 6 in the Caspian Sea Fleet.

The Unique Design of the G-5 Torpedo Boat

G-5 Torpedo Boat: A Soviet Marvel of World War II

The G-5 torpedo boat boasts an improved and enlarged design, deriving its origins from the SH-4 torpedo boat. Powered by two 1000-horsepower Isotta Fraschini engines imported from Italy, the boat displayed impressive capabilities during its Black Sea trial voyage in 1933, reaching a high speed of 63.5 knots without carrying weapons and fuel.

One of the most striking features of the G-5 is its whale hull paddle design, crafted to reduce weight and enhance speed. The hull predominantly consists of duralumin, which, while advantageous in terms of weight, leads to galvanic corrosion in seawater.

Therefore, the boat requires periodic anti-corrosion maintenance after launching to maintain optimal conditions. Additionally, the hull is equipped with two transverse bulkheads, and the superstructure’s low height means that crew members cannot stand up in the cockpit.

Evolution of the G-5 Torpedo Boat

As the G-5’s production progressed, certain upgrades were implemented. The Isotta Fraschini engines were replaced with two 675 hp Mikulin GAM-34 engines, causing a reduction in speed to 45 knots. Subsequently, the boats underwent further enhancements, with the installation of 850 hp Mikulin GAM-34BS engines, resulting in an increased speed of 53 knots.

The later models, Series 11, featured 1000 hp Mikulin GAM-34BSF engines, achieving an impressive maximum speed of 56 knots. Moreover, these boats introduced various armaments, including 7.62mm and 12.7mm DShK machine guns, 533mm torpedoes, ROFS-82 82mm rocket launchers, and ROFS-132 132mm rocket launchers.

Global Presence of the G-5 Torpedo Boat

The impact of the G-5 extended beyond the borders of the Soviet Union. During the Spanish Civil War, four ships were exported to the Spanish Republic Navy, two of which continued to serve post-war. Additionally, North Korea received four boats in 1946, while Finland acquired some through capture during raids on Soviet ships. Nevertheless, the captured boats were returned after the Soviet-Finnish armistice in 1944.

G-5 Torpedo Boat in Action

The G-5 boats earned their place in history through remarkable actions during World War II. In the Baltic Sea, TK-94 sank an Axis ship in Lahti, Finland. In another instance, G-5S successfully sank the German M37 minesweeper in the Baltic Sea. On the night of April 27, 1944, three G-5S boats launched an attack near Sevastopol, Crimea, severely damaging the German submarine hunter UJ-104. Though one of their own was lost, the G-5 boats proved their versatility by serving as torpedo boats and as landing craft, gunboats, and transport ships.

G-5 Torpedo Boat

Technical Specifications of the G-5 Torpedo Boat

  • Displacement: standard 16.26 tons
  • Length: 18.85-19.1 meters
  • Width: 3.5 meters
  • Draft: 0.82 meters
  • Power: Series 11 – 2 Mikulin GAM-34BSF gasoline engines with 1000 hp
  • Maximum speed: Series 11 – 56 knots
  • Fuel capacity: 1.6 tons
  • Crew: 6-7 people
  • Armament: Series 11 – 2 12.7mm DShK machine guns, 2 533mm torpedoes

Model Variants of the G-5 Torpedo Boat

  • Series 7: Standard displacement – 14.03 tons, length – 18.85 meters, draft – 0.6 meters. Armament includes a 7.62mm machine gun, sometimes with an additional 12.7mm DShK machine gun.
  • Series 8: Equipped with one 12.7mm DShK machine gun.
  • Series 9: Standard displacement increased to 14.85 tons, draft – 0.65 meters, length – 18.85-19.08 meters. Replaced with an 800-horsepower GAM-34B engine, reaching a maximum speed of 49 knots.
  • Series 10: Standard displacement further increased to 16.26 tons, featuring the GAM-34BS engine with 850 horsepower, achieving a maximum speed of 53 knots.