In 1926 the Soviet Union was embarked in the NEP, New Economic Program. It was an effort to inject a degree of free enterprise into the centralized Soviet Economy. At that time the Soviet Navy was at rock bottom. What ships that had not been scrapped in 1922 were showing their age, through lack of funds for maintenance and operations. As part of the NEP it was decided to start rebuilding the Soviet Navy, starting with smaller, less expensive, combatants. The Soviet submarine force was to be given emphasis.
In World War One Imperial Russia had developed an effective submarine with the Bars Class. Using that as a starting point and assisted by discoveries of British practices through examination of one of their submarines, the L-55, the purchase of plans from the Italian company of Cantieri dellí Adriatico and the ideas of Soviet chief engineer, M. Malinin, the Soviet Navy designed a new class of medium submarine, called the Dekabrist Class. Six boats were laid down in this first of many classes of Soviet submarines. All six were given names commemorating revolutionary groups. However, finances were still irregular and the construction tempo extremely slow.
In 1929 the Soviet Union was under the control of Iosef Stalin. Out was the NEP, in was the first of the Five Year Plans. Through the command economy finances were directed to the Soviet Navy to finish the construction Dekabrist Class of submarines. In 1930 the six boats of the class lost their names and were given numbers with Dekabrist, the first boat, being named D-1. This first class of Soviet submarine was called the D Class, because that was the first letter of the name of the first boat, Dekabrist.
The D Class featured double hulls with eight compartments. It turned out to be a poor design and suffered significant operational constraints. It had two very significant problems. One was the very nasty tendency for the quick dive tanks to fill after the submarine had reached the designated submerged cruising level. The loss of D-1 Ex-Dekabrist in an accident in the Barents Sea on November 30, 1940 is believed to have been caused by this event. The quick dive tanks filled after the submarine was already submerged, sending her beyond her crush depth. The second problem was the long length of time that the boat required to submerge. The crash dive is the time it takes for a submarine to transition from cruising on the surface with open conning tower hatch to being completely submerged. It initially took the D Class an agonizingly slow three minutes to make this transition. Later improvements reduced this dive time to 150 seconds, which was still very slow, about three to five times longer than other comparable foreign designs. As a consequence of their slow diving times, they were exposed to enemy air and surface attack far longer than other designs. Of the five boats in the class in June 1941, three were lost during the war. The D-3 Ex-Krasnogvardets disappeared June 10, 1942 off of the coast of Norway and was assumed to have struck a mine. The D-6 Ex-Yakobinets was damaged through air attack at Sevastopol and destroyed on 26 June 1942 because she could not evacuate the city. The D-4 Ex-Revolyutsioner was destroyed by German subchasers UJ102 and UJ103 on 4 December 1943. D-5 Ex- Spartakovets managed to survive the war and was not scrapped until 1956 (Submarines of World War Two by Ermino Bagnasco states that the D-5 was lost in 1943)
Narodovoletswas the second of the Dekabrist Class. She, along with Dekabrist and Krasnogvardets were laid down at the Baltiskyi Shipyard in Leningrad in March 1927. In 1930 she was renamed D-2. Her original name of Narodovolets honored a 19th Century Russian Revolutionary Group called the Narodnaya Volya (People's Will). The organization appeared in 1879 with about 500 active members. Its main purpose was the destruction of the tsarist regime in favor of a parliamentary republic. Their main instrument was terror. In 1881 they killed Tsar Alexander II. Naturally, the Imperial government took a dim view of the assassination of the Emperor. The Narodovolets, as members of the organization were called, were ruthlessly stamped out and the organization finally disappeared in the end of 1890's. It is ironic that the Imperial Russian Navy named a battleship after the assassinated Imperator Aleksandr II (click for review of the Combrig Imperator Aleksandr II) and the following Soviet Navy named one of their first warships after the group that assassinated that same Tsar.
Narodovolets (D-2)was laid down March 5, 1927 and launched May 19, 1929. Although the second of the class, D-2, on September 6, 1931 was the last of the six to enter service. She served in the Red Baltic Fleet, then the Red Northern Fleet before going back to the Baltic prior to World War Two. D-2 was one of three of the class (D-1, D-2 & D-3) of the Northern Fleet that was refitted in 1939. The other three, assigned to the Black Sea, did not receive the modification. The most noticeable change was to the conning tower. Originally all six boats had a 4-Inch (102mm) B-2 surface fire gun mounted at the forward edge of the conning tower with a 37mm AA gun at the rear. The refit changed the shape of the conning tower, removed the B-2, 4-Inch gun and 37mm gun, mounted a new 4-Inch (100mm) B-24 DP gun on the deck in front of the conning tower with a 45mm 21-K AA gun on top of the conning tower. D-2 was still in the Baltic when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. From June 1941 to May 1945 the D-2 had only one commander, Captain 2nd Rank Roman Vladimirovitch Lindberg. In August 1941, during a supply mission, D-2 was damaged by German aircraft. In 1942 she sank the German tanker Jacobus Fritzen, 4,090 tons. D-2 survived the war and hung around until 1958 when she was disarmed. She then became a museum ship in Leningrad/St. Petersburg where she still can be seen and visited today. (History from Submarines of World War Two by Ermino Bagnasco; Kombat No. 3; Submarines of the Soviet Navy in the Great Patriotic War; Volume 1: Red Baltic Fleet by MiroslavMorozov: and La Marine du 1er Plan Quinquennal 1929-1933 by Frederic Stahl in Navires & Histoire #13)
Combrig, in their effort to completely cover the submarines of the Soviet Union has just released a resin kit of the Narodovolets (D-2). In keeping with their release of the L Class (Click for Review of the Combrig Soviet L Class Medium Submarine) and M Class (Click for Review of the Combrig Soviet M Class Coastal Submarine), the D-2 comes with a one-piece full hull and also a waterline hull. You have the option of which version to build. With the small number of parts, it is an easy build. Thanks to Combrig the submarine service of the Soviet Union during World War Two has far greater coverage in 1:700 scale models, than any other submarine service.