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Soviet Fleet Shipbuilding
Third Five-Year Plan (1938-41)

The sharpening contradictions between the major capitalist states, and their common hostility to the Soviet Union and overt preparations for the Second World War led to the mid 1930s a sharp increase in the arms race, and in particular the increase in the fleets of those nations. More than half the total tonnage of warships under construction United States, Britain, Germany, Japan and Italy, accounted for new battleships and cruisers.

Given the increasing threat of war, the Party Central Committee and Soviet Government should consider the wide deployment during the Third Five-Year Construction the sea and ocean of the Soviet navy. The XVIII Congress reiterated the need for a comprehensive strengthening of the combat power of the Red Army and the Navy.

The program included the construction of naval shipbuilding in the early years of the Third Five-Year Plan Soviet battleships, exceeding the strength of its battleships were being built while in the capitalist states, heavy cruisers, a large number of cruisers, destroyers and other surface warships, as well as the widespread construction of submarines. However, in this program, in contrast to the shipbuilding program of the Second Five-Year Plan, emphasis was placed on the construction of the surface fleet for the Baltic, Black and Barents Seas.

Building big gun ships determined the increase of attention to the construction of such ships by likely opponents, who continued to regard them as the core of the fleet and the main striking force in the fight at sea. However, it is at this stage of the development of naval aviation was fast approaching the level, making her the main role as the strike force in almost all types of combat operations at sea.

The first and second five-year plans created metallurgy, machine building, instrument-making, energy, chemical and other industries, as well as the development of the economy as a whole provides the implementation plan of military shipbuilding Third Five-Year Plan. One of the most important requirements was the strategic importance of reducing the duration of construction of each of the warships. Gain in time gave a gain in combat power, as the ship was built longer maintain the tactical advantage provided by modernization projects. The results of the program during 1939-1940 demonstrated that the Soviet shipbuilding industry can successfully meet this requirement. On the size of the volume of shipbuilding in the Third Five-Year Plan can be judged by the following indicators: if the end of the Second Five-Year Plan Soviet Union occupied the sixth position on the issue of shipbuilding output, then in 1942-1943 the USSR took one of the top places in the world.

The Development Program for the Navy during the Third Five-Year Plan called for fleet aircraft with new equipment and a significant increase in the number of aircraft parks of each of the fleets. The scale and pace of implementation increased the construction of coastal defense structures and systems-based fleets. As a result of the constant concern of the Communist Party and Soviet government on strengthening the defense of the country's disparate forces of the Navy during the years 1929-1940 been considerably strengthened and almost fully renovated.

On August 6, 1939, the People's Commissar of the Navy N.G. Kuznetsov presented to the Council of People's Commissars a revised "Ten-Year Plan for the Construction of Navy Ships" (for 1938-1947), including the construction of 15 A-class battleships, 16 heavy and 32 light cruisers (icluding Six types of "Kirov"). The plan was to be carried out in two stages: the five-year plan for shipbuilding (1938-1942) and the five-year program (1943-1947). Within the five-year shipbuilding plan, eight battleships, five heavy and 16 light cruisers were to be laid down. The final version of the "Decade Plan for the Construction of Navy Ships" was to have by 1946: 15 battleships of Project 23 (type "Soviet Union").

The attack of Hitler's Germany canceled the plans for the creation of the "Great Fleet". By a government decree of July 10, 1941, the construction of battleships was stopped.

By the beginning of World War II Soviet Navy had 3 battleships, 7 cruisers (including 4 new types of "Kirov"), 61 and leader of a destroyer, 269 torpedo boats, 218 submarines, 22 patrol boats, 80 minesweepers. Fleet naval aviation consisted of 2,581 various types of machines.

To the greatest extent the increase in ship structure was characteristic of the Baltic Fleet. Warships built in the prewar years, especially during the second five-year plan, in its quality as built in the same period of the ships of foreign navies, and on some tactical and technical characteristics superior to them. Thus, the type of cruiser "Kirov", being the most fastest ships of this class, had at the same time the most powerful artillery (nine 180-mm artillery shells). However, these cruisers had weak armor (50 mm). Leaders and destroyers, having a very high rate of speed, positioning and heavy artillery and torpedo armament. Submarines type "C" and "K" is the most modern boats of the period.

A significant drawback of the pre-war shipbuilding program was imbalance in classes of warships, which was expressed in the limited number of units destined to perform support tasks. For example, there were not enough number of minesweepers scheduled a special construction.

Naval Academy and the Military Council of the Baltic Fleet at the time paid attention to this lack of programs. But the proposals which were in the prewar years, Professor, Vice-Admiral L. Goncharov and Rear-Admiral Yuri F. Rall, the need to have on the Baltic Sea up to 200 modern trawlers, unfortunately, were not accepted. Meanwhile, the core loss of the Baltic Fleet in combat and auxiliary ships from enemy mines in the war years were a direct consequence of the shortage of minesweepers.

A major shortcoming caused by underestimation of another serious danger - submarines, was limited building anti-submarine ships and boats. They were built a few dozen, but hundreds were needed.

Finally, at the beginning of the war fleet had no landing craft, as well as the landing craft of special construction.

Of course, all these shortcomings were not accidental, and the question of the elimination of their raised repeatedly. But even more to the time the possibility of the industry and economy of the Soviet state were not limitless, and the need to continue to grow.

The the material part of aviation in general, including naval aviation, was not sufficiently modern. Unfortunately, due to a number of reasons re aviation new types of aircraft began belatedly. By the spring of 1941 87.5% of naval aviation aircraft were older types. Only 23.8% of the aircraft fleet aircraft were bombers or torpedo. The backlog naval strike aircraft was determined, on the one hand, by quality defects, rather structural obsolescence of the main types of aircraft, and on the other - by a quantitative mismatch of available aircraft combat aircraft fleets of the Air Force tasks on the main maritime theaters. So, a third of bombers and torpedo were located in the Pacific theater, while the Northern Fleet aircraft had a total of 11 such aircraft. Dive bombers in naval aviation were almost absent; Aircraft type Pe-2 began to arrive in the navy after the war began.

Simultaneously with the construction of ships, aviation, coastal defense and development system based Navy conducted intensive work to create the most perfect specimens of weapons and military equipment fleet. The development of naval artillery in the Soviet Union before the war mostly gone in the following directions:

  • The growth of power tools by switching to a more powerful gunpowder long barrel guns, increasing the pressure in the barrel, the increase of the initial velocity, the weight of shells, used in the production of tools to enhance their survivability of high-alloy steels;
  • The creation of new types of weapons of the main, auxiliary and, especially, anti-aircraft gauges, as well as universal, stabilized and multilateral settings;
  • Improving fire control instruments with gyroscopes, new optical and electro-optical (teplopelengator) monitoring tools.

From 1937 to 1941, naval artillery was enriched with several new weapons and equipment. Thus, for example, came into service: 180/57 mm gun - in three-gun turrets; 130/50 mm deck installations B-13; 100/56 mm universal deck installations B-34.

Along with the growth of the fleet of combat and the development of its military equipment in the second half of the 1920s and during the 1930s, special attention paid to the quality of the training of all categories of personnel.

In 1939, the premature construction of large ships became evident and the Defense Committee under the SNK of the USSR decided to sharply reduce the number of battleships and heavy cruisers under construction (with the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, their construction was discontinued altogether). The main efforts were directed towards the creation of light forces of the fleet. During the years 1939-1940. Shipbuilding capacity increased three-fold. In 1939, the fleet received 112 surface ships, and in 1940, another 168. Particular attention was paid to the construction of submarines. The prewar shipbuilding program was largely curtailed. The funds intended for it had to be directed to the deployment of production of other types of weapons. A number of shipbuilding plants were switched to the production of tanks and artillery. Some shipbuilding centers were lost in connection with the Red Army retreat.


Accepted September 1, 1939 the law "On universal military duty" to extend the length of service in the Navy for one year, which contributed to the increase of combat training privates and petty officers of military service. Of particular importance was the provision of enlistees naval exercise that provides the fleet needs highly qualified specialists. The Red Banner Baltic, Black Sea, Northern and Pacific fleets in the second half of the 30s has a well-organized system of schools and educational groups who prepared sailors specialists and foremen in all specialties. Because of this common and petty officers of the fleet it was well prepared.

Naval school, special courses commanders and Naval Academy provided the Navy well-trained commanders and political personnel in all specialties and categories.

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Page last modified: 04-11-2018 17:41:29 ZULU