China’s first nuclear powered submarine designed from reverse engineering toy submarines

Huang Xuhua, China’s chief submarine designer, has told Shenzhen Satellite Television that China’s Type 091 Han-Class nuclear-powered submarine was designed and developed based on two toys from the United States.

After Huang took over the position as chief designer of the Type 091 submarine from Peng Shilu in 1983, he argued that the linear-shape design is no longer suitable for nuclear-powered submarines which operate at high speeds and at depths of up to 300 meters. Since each tangent plane of the hull is round in a streamlined water-drop shape, Huang believes the boat will be subject to minimum friction or drag while maintaining stability at great depths.

The 4,500/5,500-ton Type 091 was the first nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) class deployed by the China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy.

The Han-class have gone through major upgrades and numerous refits since their commissionings. Their initial design and weapons appear to be inadequate for confronting modern warships.It is believed that long refits have often meant that these submarines have spent more time in port than out at sea, greatly affecting their operational capacity. The boats have six 533 mm torpedo tubes and carry 20 torpedoes. Alternatively, they can carry 36 mines in their tubes. The Han class is capable of firing sub-launched variants of the C-801 anti-ship missile as well as a range of indigenous and Russian torpedoes or mines.

Changzheng 6, China’s only Type 092 nuclear-powered and water-drop shaped submarine

China blocked from US and USSR technology in 1980s

The United States had taken three steps to develop its own water-drop shaped nuclear-powered submarine.

1. they installed a nuclear reactor into linear-shape submarines
2. the American designed a conventional submarine with a water-drop shape
3. put a nuclear reactor into the water-drop shaped submarine.

China brought two US-made toy submarines. With those two toy submarines in different sizes, the Chinese researchers were able to learn the design of American water-drop shaped submarine through disassembling them. Huang said this is the reason why China was able to design its first water-drop shaped submarine.

SOURCES – WantChinaTimes, Wikipedia