The AKULA; It is seemingly the same as the ALFA only the AKULA appears to be twice as large in displaceme~t. Its sleek, low-slung sail, well ~aired to the main deck and without sail planes, promises a high degree of hydrodynamic stability in high speed radical maneuvers. This sailcon~iguration should reduce generated vortices which would normally increase boundary layer separation — producing destabilizing forces and increasing drag (causing loss o~ depth, snap roll, settling by the stern and loss o~ speed). A similar sail design is observable on an earlierproduced ALFA submarine, reported to have made 43+ knots in high speed maneuvers. Its pod on the stern cannot logically be considered to be a towed array system. Its shape is consistent with a Soviet MHO propulsor while the whiteness of its sur~ace after underway operations would indicate a use o~ cryogenics inside the pod. The raised longitudinal pipings on either extreme side of the 1 ~ain deck are evidently not safety tracks (the~, would only hazard a man trying to so use them). Rather they seem to be raised piping to pour 101 ~ pressure air laterally across the main deck i 0 order to decrease the turbulence drag (on the ver y well designed low drag hull) and possibly form a bubble shield against a surface warship’s small _ warhead weapons — like hedgehogs which attac ;k vertically downward. The arrangements o~ limbe ar holes suggest the use o~ syntactic ~oam and ha· rd tanks between outer and inner hulls, except whe re gear between the hulls should be responsive to changes in sea pressure with changes in dept .b~ The white painted door edges near the bow wol tld indicate that the space inside the door is u: sed ~or some manned underwater activity. Like salv: age fittings, a man returning to a submerged submar 1ne would have to know where the doors open — in order to stay clear of them during their opening.The AKULA rides so high in its pictures that over 35~ reserve buoyancy apparently exists.
The OSCAR: Its faired, low-slung long sail (without sailplanes) indicates a good hydrodynamic stability in high speed maneuvers. The plimsoll marks on the after part of the sail suggest an expected use of the OSCAR in an exposed-sail type of operation. Acting as an AEGIS ship for surface forces? Or an anti-air picket? A peeled-off tile shows a thickness consistent with the rubber-like tile acting as a compliant coating — in addition to the tile’s acting as an anechoic surface over the submarine’s outer hull. The tiles are reportedly of four inches or more in thickness and are seemingly attached to the hull with what seem to be piping for fluid transfer? The huge hatch, on a raised deck just aft of the sail, seems to represent a stowage area below the main deck for something big like amphibious gear, boats, small submersibles, or 28 cells for vertically-launched anti-air missiles. (The hatch seems too big for housing just communications buoys.) The handrail at the base of the sail, compared to the raised longitudinal piping on the main deck, illustrates the fallacy in ascribing a safety track function to the piping. The lack of limber holes suggests that most of the spaces between the outer and inner hulls is filled with syntactic foam or its equivalent, and that void spaces are flooded through doors in the bow. The widely separated positions of the masts in the sail indicate a reduction in their mutual interference and reinforcing signatures — reducing their detectability from mainly airborne sensors. Do they indicate a secondary control center? And possibly non-penetrating masts? The gear on the top of the rudder is evidently for a towed array. The OSCAR’s surfaced aspect suggests over 35~ reserve buoyancy.
The TYPHOON: The bow planes are longitudinally striated and the tips have holes like an air craft’s wing to minimize vortex formation at the tip — thus reducing boundary layer separation. The four holes down the stern of the conning tower below the sail appear to be vortex controllers. The conning tower — a CIC-type structure? indicates a function for the TYPHOON which would be more than its strategic use of nuclear ballistic missiles would require. The two vertical slots at the after part of the sail appear to be suction holes to reduce vortex formation off the sail. The two large hatches aft of the sail and on the main deck are about 6 meters by 4 meters in size and have white painted batch edges for submerged use by humans — similar to submerged use of salvage fittings. The volume suggested below the main deck is inconsistent with communication buoys and is more likely used for manned small submersibles, etc. The excessive size of the TYPHOON suggests functions which are not being credited to this 40,000 ton submarine — beyond the strategic nuclear function. (Its dimensions indicate this displacement, not the 25,000 tons credited to it.) This huge submarine is possibly the “battleship” of the Soviet Fleet — a submarine which can operate world-wide and which can threaten carrier battle groups in war, whether conventional or nuclear. The fins sticking up on either side of the hull, just forward of the rudder appear to be means for vortex control, to increase the efficiency of the propulsion system. The two scoop-like protuberancies which seemingly would increase the drag of this submarine only slightly and may possibly be used to gobble up vortices produced by the sail and increase propulsion efficiency. Note that they face the hatches — like the DELTA IVa, only the DELTA IV have these protuberancies forward of the hatches. Thus they may be used to observe (by TV?) submerged activity. The TYPHOON has no limber holes, (perhaps there are limber holes with covers?) despite the probability that there is a great amount of space between the outer and inner hulls (up to 4 meters by estimates). And, the surfaced aspect of the TYPHOON indicates considerable reserve buoyancy — over 40~ of displacement. The staggered small holes down the after part of the main deck appear to be so spaced as to reduce lateral formation of vortices which would reduce propulsion efficiency and increase drag.
The ALFA: The bow planes in the bow are unusually low — probably for increased control or stability in high speed operations.
The SIERRA: The white coating observed on the top of the pod on the stern would indicate the use of cryogenics inside of the pod. The considerable number of limber holes indicate a use of this submarine involving a good deal of surfacing and submerging during a war patrol. Their activity is probably different than a VICTOR III’s. since the VICTOR III has virtually no limber holes. while still being credited with attack submarine functions.
The VICIOR III: The coke bottle shape of the outer hull indicates a very good laminar flow. A difference in the color of the paint on the outer hull indicates some sort of polymer stain for changing boundary layer flow conditions.
W. J. Rube
(The above observations were made from mainly photos in the annual SOVIET MILITARY POWER. Other sources are JANE’s Publications, newspaper pictures, etc.)