A midget submarine also called a mini submarine is any submarine under tons,  typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 9, with little or no on-board living accommodation. They normally work with mother ships, from which they are launched and recovered and which provide living accommodation for the crew and support staff. Both military and civilian midget submarines have been built. Military types work with surface ships and other submarines as mother ships. Civilian and non-combatant military types are generally called submersibles and normally work with surface ships.
NOVA - Official Website | Killer Subs in Pearl Harbor
At a. Uttrick peered through his binoculars from the deck of the minesweeper U. Hours before swarms of enemy aircraft descended out of the blue in a sneak attack upon the United States naval base on Oahu, five Japanese midget submarines were already lurking beneath the ocean surface to join in the assault on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese navy considered the foot-long miniature submarines to be their secret weapon. Carrying two men and two torpedoes that had double the explosive charge of those borne by Japanese bombers, the battery-powered midget submarines could glide at 19 knots and operate in the waters of Pearl Harbor that were too shallow for conventional submarines. Flight commander Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the air assault, believed the mini-submarines to be an unnecessary risk that could only endanger the secrecy of the entire operation if they were spotted by the Americans before the bombers arrived. Pearl Harbor could only succeed if it was a complete bolt out of the blue.
Naval History and Heritage Command
Contributor: David Stubblebine. By definition, a midget submarine is less than tons, has a crew of no more than eight, has no on-board living accommodation, and operates in conjunction with a mother ship to provide the living accommodations and other support. The Japanese Navy built at least midgets in 7 classes, but only a fraction had any noticeable impact on the war. Their intended purpose initially was to be deployed in front of enemy fleets, but their actual use would be in harbor attacks and coastal defense.
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