The W class submarines were built for the Royal Navy as experimental boats. They were based on a French Schneider-Laubeuf design. The design for W3 and W4 was heavily modified to meet Royal Navy requirements, overcoming some of the deficiencies of the 'off the shelf' design. In particular, the drop-collars were removed in the later boats.
Only 4 W class were built from 1913 to 1916. The first 2 boats took 15 and 17 months to build which at the time was a remarkable feat compared to other building times.
The W class had a very good performance with excellent diving control and efficient venting and flooding systems. The W class did have problems with habitability but other than that, they were good submarines.
All 4 of the W class submarine were transferred to the Italian Navy in August 1916, where they retained their numbering.
- HMS W1 launched 19 November 1914
- HMS W2 launched 15 February 1915
- HMS W3 launched 1 April 1915
- HMS W4 launched 26 November 1915
- The Royal Navy Submarine Service, A centennial History, by Antony Preston.
- Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal; Budzbon, Przemysław (1985). Conway's All the world's fighting ships, 1906–1921. Conway. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
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