Typhoon is a submarine built for nuclear war. Named after sharks, this could devastate up to two hundred targets with warheads six times as powerful as those that exploded over Hiroshima. The Akula-class submarines, also known as Typhoon-class, were some of the most terrifying weapons ever created.
- Russia’s Typhoon-class submarines were true Cold War leviathans.
- The missile-firing submarines were designed to operate in the Arctic under pack ice.
- A typical Typhoon was more than 1.5 times longer than a football field and three times as tall as the average American house.
Each u-boat stretched to nearly 600 feet long and was wider than the average American house-and almost three times as tall, to boot.
In the 1970s, the Soviet Union embarked upon a new nuclear weapons program (code name:Typhoon) to develop a new missile-firing submarine and nuclear missiles. The subs (code name: Akula) were designed to be 566 feet long, 76 feet wide, and nearly 38 feet tall.
The Typhon-class submarines displaced 23,200 tons in order to accommodate a payload of 20 RSM-52 ballistic missiles. Although most subs are relatively spartan in amenities, the sheer size of the Typhoons made it possible for engineers at St. Petersburg’s Rubin Design Bureau to squeeze in such unprecedented perks as a solarium, swimming pool, and sauna.
The first submarine in the Typhoon class, Dmitri Donskoy (TK-208), entered service in 1981. Russia built five Typhoons in total, but today, only Donskoy remains in service. Donskoy has served as a trials submarine for the development of the new 3M14 Bulava missile. The sub has spent its post-Cold War as a test bed for a new generation of Russian submarine technologies and missiles, and was instrumental in testing the buggy Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile.
The Typhoon sub looks so menacing because its sail (also known as the coming tower) is located behind the missile silos instead of in front of them, meaning the missiles are always included in any picture of the sub.
The titular Red October was supposed to be a fictional super-variant of the Typhoon class equipped with six more RSM-52 missiles, for a total of 52,000 kilotons of nuclear firepower. (The atomic bomb exploded at Hiroshima, by comparison, had a yield of 16 kilotons.)
The Red October came packed with a magnetohydrodynamic drive (MHD) system, a real-life propulsion system that supposedly gave the ship a first strike capability. In both The Hunt for Red October and the novel on which it was based, the sub was designed to use its near-silent MHD propulsion to sneak to a position off the eastern seaboard of the U.S. launching its missiles in a surprise attack.