Model Submarines and Their Full-Size Counterparts 


You can buy model submarines in kits that you put together yourself and they also come fully assembled. They range in type from very simple plastic models with snap together pieces to museum-quality models constructed from hand-carved mahogany. Obviously, there’s a lot to choose from. 

Some scale models are quite sophisticated. They may be battery-powered and operated by remote control. The better ones stay on the surface until enough thrust is generated to push them under the surface. This type is popular for hobbyists. Organized races and other events are held on a regular basis by remote-controlled submarine clubs. 

U.S. Navy classes-German- U-boats-Japanese-Subs

Submarine in portSubmarine in port

Many different styles and types are popular including a variety of U.S. Navy classes, multiple types of German U-boats and several classes of Japanese subs used during World War II. Designs from World War I are not quite as popular, although the real World War I submarines made a big difference in the outcome of the war.

Plungers, including the USS Plunger are an exception. You can find kits and completed models of the Plunger style, which was in use as early as 1902. The Plunger class was later renamed the A-class.

The earliest submarine of the US Navy was called the Alligator and was used during the Civil War to provide extra protection for wooden ships against ironclads. Some  submarines of the Alligator type are available, although they are not the easiest to find. 

Holland Class

Just before the A-class Plungers were introduced, a design called the Holland was used by the U.S. Navy, but only 6 were produced and only 1 was officially commissioned by the Navy. The Holland was only in use for about 4 years. Seven Plungers were commissioned beginning in 1900, the last year that the Holland was used.

Distinguishing Letters between Classes

After the Plunger, the U.S. Navy officially stopped naming submarines prior to World I and used only letters to distinguish between the different classes. The practice of naming the underwater ships began again after World War I. The class that is currently in use is called Virginia. The first ship in the Virginia Class was the USS Virginia SSN-774.

It can be sometimes be confusing when you are comparing model submarines based on the name or the class and you are looking for a specific ship. For example, the D-class submarine introduced in 1908 was originally known as the Narwhal class. The new design made it possible for the sub to survive even if one compartment flooded.

However, Narwhal was also the name of a class the Navy began using in 1927. The USS Nautilus SS-168 was a Narwhal. Then there was the Nautilus class that came into use during the 1950s.  

The best advice for comparing model submarines is to look closely at the picture. If you have a photo or a schematic of the original, you can compare that to the photo of the model. Internet merchants typically have excellent photos. Often they are images of what the actual models look like when they are completed.

Famous Model Submarines - German U Boats 

Geram U Boat U995. Author DarkoneGeram U Boat U995. Author Darkone

The German U-boats had numbers and classes. Companies selling model submarines of the U-boat type are not consistent in how they categorize them. Some companies organize them by type based on the year they were in use. Other companies use the letter/number combination such as U2 or U23. All of the U -boats were fairly similar in design, especially to the “non-expert”.

Models of the World War II Japanese subs are also collected. One of the most popular models is the I-58, the sub responsible for sinking the USS Indianapolis. Some collectors of model submarines also collect ship models. There is at least one collection out there with scale models of both the Indianapolis and the I-58. On top of everything else, they make great conversation pieces.

An excellent place to visit and  to learn all about submarines is the Royal Naval Submarine Museum Gosport in Hampshire U.K. you can follow the history of submarine development from the historic period of Alexander the Great to the current day. You'll be able to then visit the Holland 1, the Royal Navy's first submarine . You can then have a look at the X24 and LR3. There are torpedoes, heavy weapons* and missiles to see.

HMS Alliance, the submarine you can go on board, was commissioned in 1947 and gives  you experience of life on board a submarine. You will be able to look through the periscopes of HMS Conqueror towards Portsmouth Harbour. There is even an chance to be a Captain in the trainer control room. There are galleries telling the history of the submarines and how nuclear physics drives today's submarines.

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