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The Royal Navy's Monitor class submarines were constructed as WW1 was drawing to a close. These submarines were designed to carry a 60 ton 12 in gun in front of the conning towers. Guns of this size were normally the main armament of battleships and could fire a 1 ton shell over 10 miles. The attack strategy was to search for an enemy ship at a periscope depth of 30 feet and with a suitable target in view, line up on the target with the gun trained at the appropriate angle. With only the last 6 feet of the barrel showing above the surface, the gun was fired and the submarine would dive to a 'safe' depth. These submarines can be seen as precursors to the missile launching trident/polaris submarines of todayThe M1 was sunk in an exercise after the war following a collision with a surface vessel which knocked the gun from its mount flooding it with water.
The M2, was converted to a submarine aircraft carrier following the removal of its gun with the construction of a watertight hanger which housed a two-seater biplane. The small, single prop Parnall Peto seaplane had specially designed folding wings in order to squeeze into the hanger, and was launched by a compressed air catapult along a short length of track. The theory was that the plane would fly around looking for enemy ships, note their position, and then land (on floats) as near to the submarine as possible. A winch attached to the top of the hanger would haul it back onto its rails where it was then slid back in and two sets of watertight doors closed behind it. The submarine would then dive on a course to meet said ships and finish the job with its torpedoes. It was during exercises in the English Channel on the morning of January 26th 1932 that she dived and never came up again. She was found 8 days later sitting upright and intact by Navy hardhat divers who reported that both hanger doors were open as well as the 21-inch hatch that connected the hanger to the submarine. Entangled in the wreckage of the plane which had crumpled and been pushed to the back of the hanger by tons of incoming water were the bodies of aircraft technician Leslie Gregory and Leading Seaman Albert Jacobs. The rest of the 58 crew had drowned inside where their remains rest to this day.
It is thought that in trying to improve their launch speed record, the hanger doors were opened a few seconds too early in anticipation of breaking the surface. If the access hatch had been closed after the two crewmen preparing the plane for launching had entered the hanger, the remaining crew would have survived.