Submarine HMAS AE1 & AE2 – Model Submarine Kit

Submarine HMAS AE1 & AE2 – Model Submarine Kit
Submarine HMAS AE1 & AE2 – Model Submarine Kit
July 18, 2018

HMAS AE1 & HMAS AE2 Hold a Significant Place in Australian Maritime History. Modelers Central is excited to introduce a Wooden Model Submarine Kit of the HMAS AE1 & AE2.

HMAS AE1 & AE2 (originally known as AE1 & AE2) were an E-class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The two submarines were ordered for the fledgling navy and were built by Vickers Armstrong in England and commissioned into the RAN in 1913. Both submarines then sailed to Australia in what was, at the time, the longest voyage ever undertaken by a submarine.

After the start of World War I, AE1 & AE2 were sent to German New Guinea with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force. Both boats took part in the operations leading to the occupation of the German territory, including the surrender of Rabaul on 13 September 1914.

The AE1 departed Blanche Bay, Rabaul 07:00 on 14 September, to patrol off Cape Gazelle with HMAS Parramatta. When she had not returned by 20:00, several ships were dispatched to search for her. No trace of the submarine was ever found, and she was listed as lost with all hands.

It is probable that she was wrecked on a reef or other submerged object. As well as Lieutenant Commander Thomas Besant, 2 other officers and 32 sailors were lost in this disaster. The disappearance was the first major loss for Australia in the World War.

In recent years a number of searches have been carried-out to locate the AE1 - all without success. The mystery of the AE1's loss continues to this day. The AE2 was assigned to the Dardanelles Campaign in January 1915. At 02:30 on the 25 April 1915 - the day of the Gallipoli Landings - the AE2 successfully penetrated the Narrows of the Dardanelles and entered the Sea of Marmara. With orders to "run amok" inside Turkish territory, AE2 operated for five days before mechanical faults forced her to the surface, where she was damaged by the torpedo boat Sultanhisar. The submarine was scuttled by her crew, all of whom were captured.

AE2 was the only RAN vessel lost to enemy action during World War I. The Rahmi M. Ko Museum began searching for the AE2 wreck in 1995, and found it in 1998. After another expedition in 2008, the Australian and Turkish Governments decided to leave the boat in place. The AE2 is the last tangible relic of that conflict.

The model of the AE Class submarine was scratch built by Gary Renshaw and is unique in its construction being plank on bulkhead rather than a preformed resin or plastic hull. This is a unique and important model to Australian naval and maritime history.

At one point the submarine was so close to the shore that a Turkish soldier’s hand obscured Stoker’s view from the periscope.

Despite the challenging environment, the AE2 managed to succeed in its mission, surfacing to confront the Turkish battleship Barbarossa, which had been shelling Allied ships during the landing. The Turkish vessel promptly upped anchor and fled into the Black Sea.

According to Smith, were it not for a message from the AE2 claiming it had destroyed a Turkish gunboat, the land campaign at Gallipoli may have been called off in the evening of April 25. Instead, it lasted for another eight months.

Thing turned sour, however, when the AE2 surfaced on April 30 to rendezvous with a British sub which had also managed to slip through the Narrows.

‘Unfortunately, when they came to the surface that morning, Turkish gunboats captured the AE2 on the surface and fired shells into its engine room,’ says Smith. ‘They crash dived, were almost lost on a couple of occasions, raced back up to the surface and they had to abandon ship and were taken as prisoners of war for the remainder of the war, getting out in 1919.’

‘None were lost but they had quite a harrowing time in Turkish prisoner of war camps and they were actually building the tunnels for the Berlin to Baghdad railway system, so it was a precursor to the World War Two Thai-Burma Railway incident.’

Today the AE2 still lies exactly where it sank 99 years ago, 74 metres below the surface of the Sea of Marmara. It was discovered by a Turkish archaeological team in 1998, a perfect time capsule of the Gallipoli campaign. Smith has taken part in several collaborative archaeological expeditions with Turkish archaeologists over the last 17 years and has been invited to the navy commemorations.

In recent years a number of searches have been carried-out to locate the AE1 - all without success. Until in December 2017 the wreck of the AE1 was discovered - a truly historic event in Australian Naval history.

The exact location of the wreck will be kept under wraps for now, with the Australian Government working with the Papua New Guinea Government to preserve the underwater site and to form a plan for a lasting commemoration.

The wooden model submarine kit of the AE Class submarine is unique in its construction being plank on bulkhead rather than a preformed resin or plastic hull. The submarine model kit comes complete with all parts and fittings, limewood planking and laser cut keel and bulkheads as well as highly detailed written building instructions with large colour photos.

The model submarine kit comes with two name plates so the model can be presented as either the AE1 or AE2.

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