XT-class-midget-submarine-aberlady (All images by Urban Ghosts)

Aberlady Bay, about a half hour drive from the Scottish capital Edinburgh, is a beauty spot teeming with wildlife and popular with walkers, golfers and birdwatchers. But before becoming the UK’s first Local Nature Reserve in 1952, the beach was the used as a military firing range and is home to various shipwrecks, including two intriguing XT class midget submarines.

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Built by Vickers-Armstrong during 1943-44, these training variants of the operational X class sub carried a crew of four within their cramped, 51 foot long hulls, propelled by a 4-cylinder Gardner 42 hp diesel engine – adapted from the type used in a traditional London bus.

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During their time in service, the midget submarines helped train those who took part in a daring mission to sink the Third Reich’s most feared battleship, the Tirpitz (read full feature here). In 1946, their job done, the XT class subs were moored to a large concrete block near the low tide mark of Aberlady Bay and used for target practice. Their wrecks are still present today, and can be seen in the slideshow below.

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