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X.1: The Royal Navy's Mystery Submarine [Hardcover]

Roger Branfill-Cook
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 22.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

17 Jan 2013
The 'X' stood for experimental, but it might equally have meant extraordinary, exotic or extravagant, as this giant submarine attracted superlatives - the world's largest, most heavily armed, and deepest diving submersible of the day. X.1 was a controversial project conceived behind the backs of the politicians, and would remain an unwanted stepchild. As British diplomats at the Washington naval conference were trying to outlaw the use of submarines as commerce raiders, the Admiralty was designing and building the world's most powerful corsair submarine, to destroy single-handed entire convoys of merchant ships. This book explores the historical background to submarine cruisers, the personalities involved in X.1's design and service, the spy drama surrounding her launch, the treason trial of a leading RN submarine commander, the ship's chequered career, and her political demise. Despite real technical successes, she would finally fall foul of 'black propaganda', aimed at persuading foreign naval powers that the cruiser submarine did not work; even today uninformed opinion repeats the myth of her failure. However, it was completely ignored by other navies, who went on building submarine cruisers of their own, some larger than, but none so sophisticated as, X.1. The book analyses in detail the submarine cruisers built by the US Navy, the French and the Japanese, plus the projected German copy of X.1, the Type XI U-Boat, paying belated tribute to the real importance of the mysterious X.1.

Frequently Bought Together

X.1: The Royal Navy's Mystery Submarine + Monitors of the Royal Navy: How the Fleet Brought the Big Guns to Bear + The Battleship Builders: Constructing and Arming British Capital Ships
Price For All Three: 57.09

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Seaforth Publishing (17 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848321619
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848321618
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 19.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 397,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


As the author so able demonstrates, at the time of her completion X.1 was the worlds largest, most heavily armed and deepest-diving submersible of its day' Marine News

About the Author

ROGER BRANFILL-COOK is a professional translator from French into English specialising in historical and military works, and a qualified battlefield guide. He has written numerous articles for specialist magazines and is both a novelist and an author of non-fiction books.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Ships' names are often re-used. In one instance, for example, I confused a British WW2 Tribal class destroyer (HMS Maori) with an earlier ship of the same name and class from WW1. I mention this to explain that the subject of this book (HM Submarine X1) has no similarity to or connection whatsoever with the X-Craft which famously attacked the German battleship Tirpitz in 1943. Whereas those X-Craft displaced 270 tons, this much earlier X1 displaced a much larger 2,700 tons. In a technical though fascinating work which is occasionally hard-going as a read, I learned a great deal not only about HMS X1 but also about many of the topics on the periphery of which I already had some knowledge. I did not previously know, for example, that David Beatty achieved Flag rank (i.e. two star admiral) at the age of 39 and was the youngest officer to gain such early promotion since Nelson - but I digress!

HMS X1 was an experimental submarine (hence the `X'). Launched in 1923 and commissioned in 1925, she was dogged by bad luck and mechanical misfortune throughout her career which, author and historian Roger Branfill-Cook aptly describes at one point as a `Litany of failures.' Indeed, she was so prone to anything and everything going wrong that when she finally capsized in dry dock in 1931, the event was viewed as a very good reason to ceasxe all spending on the boat. She was finally scrapped in 1936. All of which might have lead to a very boring read about a very uninspiring boat (all submarines being boats - not ships) - but not so. Instead, what we learn is the existence of a vessel which was many years ahead of its time. Both the concept and the design of this a very large submarine sporting four 5.2 in. guns - arranged in two turrets, in addition to six forward-facing 21 in.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, apart from wreck information 16 Nov 2013
By Elinvar
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I didn't know much about X-1 before reading this book, so I have no way of knowing whether all details are correct. I do, however, know a bit about shipwrecks, and I am afraid the author is badly confused when he writes "The wreck of the M1 was discovered off Portland in 1999...". By the submarine discovered "off Portland" the author must mean the M2, which actually lies in Lyme Bay, and way discovered in 1932; the same year that she sank. The wreck was dived by sports divers well before 1999. The wreck of the M1 lies in much deeper water south of Bolt Tail in Devon. It was discovered by Innes McCarney in 1999.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A little too Technical in Places, Difficult to follow, Drawings too small and feint to pick out detail, Possibly would have benefited from the technical aspect being separate from the General History,
I would have liked to have read the general History/Story of the Sub and Crew and be able to refer to the Technical side,
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars history of submarine cruisers 3 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, with its historical interest in submarine cruisers and in particular the X.1, was exactly what I was looking for as part of my study into submarine history, together with both the treason and political dramas that were played out over this particular platform.
The drawings and photographs certainly bring the book to life.

For me, a very rewarding read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 28 July 2014
By Mike
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent near technical document.
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