Sen-taka Class, Japanese Submarines

Photograph of Sen-taka class submarine
Naval Historical Center. Via



1070 tons standard
1291 tons surfaced
1450 tons submerged


257'6" by 19'0" by 17'11"
78.49m by 5.79m by 5.46m

Maximum speed      

15.8 knots (surfaced)
19 knots (submerged)
Dive to 360 feet (110 meters)
Complement 31


2 25mm/60 machine gun
4 21" torpedo tubes (10 torpedoes)
2-shaft diesel (2750 hp) or electric (5000 hp)
Range 5,800 nautical miles (10,700 km) at 14 knots surfaced or snorkeling
135 nautical miles (250 km) at 3 knots fully submerged
17 nautical miles (31 km) at 19 knots fully submerged
135 nautical miles (250 km) at 3 knots submerged
Modifications 1945: I-53 modified to carry 6 Kaiten.

The Sen-takas were similar to the GermanType XXI U-boats, optimized for underwater speed and equipped with a snorkel. They had the fastest underwater speed of any submarine of World War II. Their high speed was achieved through extensive streamlining, powerful electric motors, and a large battery with a very high discharge rate. The hulls were fully welded and the boats were equipped with snorkels.  The boats could run at 19 knots underwater for 55 minutes, after which they could run for another twelve hours at 3 knots.

Notwithstanding their sophistication, the boats were designed for mass production, with extensive prefabrication, and at one point there was talk of ordering one hundred units. However, only eight were laid down, of which three were launched but not completed and two more were laid down but never launched. Another fifteen were ordered but never laid down. The incomplete units were broken up to free their ways for construction of kaiten. All completed or partially completed units were surrendered at the end of the war.

Units in the Pacific:


Completed 1945-2-2 (Kure)      

I-202 Completed 1945-2-12 (Kure)      
I-203 Completed 1945-5-29 (Kure)      


Boyd and Yoshida (1995)

Carpenter and Polmar (1986) (accessed 2007-4-9)

Jentschura, Jung, and Mickel (1977)

Worth (2001)

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