I highly recommend that you find a copy of Norman Friedman’s “U. S. Submarines Through 1945” (Naval Institute Press, 1995). Friedman’s modern U.S. Navy design histories are considered the gold standard for these kinds of books and have a superb reputation. Chapters 4 and 5 cover the boats you are interested in. The book includes inboard and outboard profiles for most of the boats, and Friedman gives you a very nice account of how the Navy designed its ships in the 20th century in his Introduction. Unfortunately the author does not provide much in the way of officer/crew accounts on the operations of these early submarines.
I wish you luck in your research project.
Thanks for the kind reply. I have Dr. Friedman's book and concur, for the most part, with your assessment ... it is a undoubtedly a great work. That said there are some contradictions in some of the data presented and I would love to resolve the ambiguities.
Dear Mr. Hendren,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Alphabetical Series of Ship Engineering Drawings, 1789 - 1967 in the Records of the Bureau of Ships (Record Group 19) that] includes the file Plans for H-class Submarines as well as plans for each of the individual H-class submarines. We also located a total of 230 files in this series for various types of submarines, some of which include digitized material and are available online using the Catalog. To view digitized content, please view the file unit level description and then look under the “Details” heading to see if there is an “Includes” field. This field may contain a hyperlink to item descriptions. Some of the item descriptions have images of the record attached. We also located Microfilm of Ship Engineering Drawings, 1945 - 1955 in Record Group 19 that includes records relating to individual C-class; D-class; E-class; F-class; G-class; and H-class submarines. Additionally, we located Ship Design and Construction Drawings, 1862 - 1909 in Record Group 19 that includes 7 files relating to early submarines. For more information about non-digitized ship plans, please contact National Archives at College Park - Cartographic (RDSC) at email@example.com.
Next, we located General Correspondence, 1911 - 1922 in Record Group 19. This series is indexed by Indexes to Correspondence, 1911 - 1922. Some of these index cards have been digitized and are available online. We searched the index and located 101 results for submarines. We also located General Correspondence, 1898 - 1910; Correspondence Concerning Ships, 1896 - 1915; Correspondence Concerning Ships, 1915 - 1925; Specifications and Related Records, 1914 - 1939; and Reference Data, 1887 - 1935 in Record Group 19. These series all have indexes, but those indexes are not available online. Plus, we located Indexes to Correspondence, 1885 - 1914 and Index to Correspondence, 1914 - 1926 in the Records of the Bureau of Ordnance (Record Group 74), as well as Index to the General Files, 7/1897 - 8/1926 in the General Records of the Department of the Navy (Record Group 80) which serve as finding aids to additional correspondence series in these record groups. In addition, we located Logbooks of U.S. Navy Ships, 1801 - 1940 in the Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel (Record Group 24) that include the deck logs for submarines of this time period, and War Diaries, 1919 - 1927 (documenting 4/1917 - 3/1927) in the Naval Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library (Record Group 45) that includes some war diaries for submarines of this time period. There may be additional record series in these records groups with information relevant to your research, however the ones listed above are the best to begin with. For more information about these textual records, please email the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at Archives1reference@nara.gov.
Photographs of various U.S. Navy activities are in the custody of the National Archives at College Park - Still Picture (RDSS). Please contact RDSS via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a search for photographs of specific submarines.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDSC, RDT1, and RDSS. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.
If you have not done so already, we suggest that you contact the Naval History and Heritage Command and the Submarine Force Library And Archives
We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!
[Some information provided by Nate Patch, Subject Matter Expert]
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Dear Mr Hendren,
In addition to the other NARA resources, you will probably want to consider the US Navy Submarine Force Museum’s archive as another resource. In particular they will have “boat books” for every basically ever single sub along with likely boat books covering those classes. In addition to this they should have a separate set of Electric Boat company material which should be relevant. Depending on the extent of your research, this would include at least a couple accounts of Electric Boat employees conducting test dives with submarines in that class range. https://ussnautilus.org/library-and-archive-use/