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U-36 file photo [7856]

Type VII-class Submarine



This article refers to the entire Type VII-class; it is not about an individual vessel.

ww2dbaseFollowing the near defeat of Great Britain by starvation during World War I the Germans were prohibited under the terms of the Peace Treaty from building submarines (U-boats).

ww2dbaseIn order to keep their design teams together the German Navy, between the wars, adopted a number of devious ways to circumvent the restrictions. These included the setting-up of design bureaus abroad to undertake design tasks for friendly "client" states. Thus, what might be termed the "father" of the later U-Boat, as used in Adolf Hitler's war, was the so-called Project CV707 - a single-hulled design, with saddle tanks for the Finnish submarine Vetehinen. This design, began before the expiry of the Versailles Treaty, was later "stretched" to become the basic Type VII (note that Type IV to VI were abandoned as designs) which would ultimately become the workhorse of Karl Dönitz's submarine fleet, with over 650 being completed before construction ceased in 1944. During the 1914-18 war German submarines had used a double hull design - the single hull with saddle tanks, as incorporated in Second World War U-boats accelerated and simplified construction but conversely made the boats more vulnerable to depth charge attacks.

ww2dbaseThe first ten units, U-27 through U-36 (designated Type VIIA) of the class were completed in 1936-37. Just 64.5 metres in length, they displaced 745 tons submerged, and carried 11 torpedoes. With a surface range was 4,300 nautical miles at 12 knots these boats were really only capable of conducting patrols in the eastern Atlantic. These first submarines were quickly developed further; through the VIIB, built between 1936 and 1940, which was slightly faster than the VIIA, and had two rudders for greater agility, to the VIIC which differed only in the addition of an active sonar and a few minor mechanical improvements, making it 2 feet longer and 8 tons heavier. Speed and range of all were essentially the same. These later boats which now carried fourteen torpedoes (some externally) had a good percentage of reserve buoyancy which when matched to the effective layout of their air-tanks allowed the boat to become submerged in less than 30 seconds. In 1944, many of the surviving boats were retrospectively fitted with a snorkel device in 1944 which allowed the use of their diesel engines whilst submerged.

ww2dbaseIn 1939 Admiral Dönitz, Hitler's flag officer of U-boats, had only 26 submarines capable of operating in the North Atlantic, of which just one-third could normally be kept on station at the same time. The remainder were either on passage out (or home) or refitting in Germany. Just eighteen boats were of the Type VII design, ten of them the slightly larger VIIB, but neither Hitler nor Dönitz had any intention of abiding by a convention that Germany had signed in 1936 which said that submarine captains should ensure, before a merchant ship was sunk, that the safety of its crew must be safeguarded. Within hours of the declaration of war the Donaldson liner Athenia was attacked by U-30, 200 miles west of the Hebrides, and sunk with the loss of 112 lives, 28 of them American citizens. Whilst it is fair to say that the Captain of U-30 exceeded his instructions in sinking this ship, it was by no means an isolated incident. During September 1939 German submarines sank 26 British merchant ships without bothering overmuch, or at all, to ensure the safety of their crews.

ww2dbaseThe British response was to set up two "Hunting Groups" each consisting of an aircraft-carrier and four destroyers, but on 14 September the carrier HMS Ark Royal only narrowly avoided being torpedoed by U-39 (which the escorting destroyers counterattacked, sank, and captured her crew). It had been a close shave. Three days later the Second Hunting Group was less lucky. The aircraft-carrier Courageous was sighted by U-29, which torpedoed and sank her with the loss of 519 lives, and successfully escaped. The Royal Navy now decided that aircraft-carriers were too valuable an asset to risk on anti-submarine patrols and Ark Royal was quickly withdrawn to take her proper place again with the Home Fleet. In October Lieutenant-Commander GĂĽnther Prien took U-47 into the supposedly safe waters of Scapa Flow and there sank the Royal Navy battleship Royal Oak. Despite these setbacks, however, by the end of 1939 the loss figures were fairly encouraging. U-boats had sunk 114 ships with a tonnage of 421,156 but at the price of no less than nine U-boats lost. Considering the weak state of British escort forces at the time these figures were thought satisfactory although the Admiralty were well aware that the Germans had embarked on a very substantial programme of submarine construction.

ww2dbaseThe "First Happy Time" for the U-boats occurred from late 1940 to May 1941, Germany had declared, on 15 February 1940, that all British merchant ships would be treated as warships and over the following months the U-boats wreaked havoc on the weakly protected Atlantic convoys and their under equipped and inexperienced escorts. But by the summer of 1941 the increasing strength of the escorts, coupled with a wider spread of air cover, began forcing the U-boat "Wolf-Packs" to probe further afield in order to find less well protected targets.

ww2dbaseIn September 1941 a German submarine attacked the American destroyer Greer, south of Iceland. In October, while assisting a British convoy, USS Kearny dropped depth charges on attacking German submarines; returning fire, U-568 struck Kearny with a torpedo, killing 11 men, who would become the US Navy's first casualties in the Atlantic War. Angrily, for America was not yet at war, President Franklin Roosevelt authorised the US Navy to counter-attack. The entry of the United States into the war provided a tempting new source of virtually unprotected victims, and during a "Second Happy Time" for the U-boats they again sank thousands of tons of Allied shipping with near impunity. But the American entry into the war also meant that the convoy system would eventually be extended right across the Atlantic, and by May 1942 a combination of new warships and long range patrol aircraft drove the U-boats away from America's east coast, back once more, into mid-Atlantic where suitable targets would be less well defended.

ww2dbaseThe climax of the battle had come. Dönitz desperately needed to break the new, tight convoy system in order to force the British into surrender before Allied air cover could be completely extended across the entire ocean. From July 1942 to May 1943 the battle was fought out. It ended in decisive defeat for the U-boats, whose offensive equipment had failed to keep pace with new effective escort defensive capabilities such as Centimetric Radar and improved depth charge weapons.

ww2dbaseSeveral sub-variants should also be mentioned: The lightweight Type VIIC/41 (91 built) had a strengthened hull permitting a deeper depth to be reached, and the proposed stronger-hulled VIIC/42. It was fortunate for the Allies that the VIIC/42 never entered production; for its bunker capacity was increased by nearly 60 per cent and with the likelihood that it would have been able to descend to a depth of 300 metres, would have made it nearly impossible for ASDIC to detect. In addition six type VII U-boats were built as minelayers (VIID) and four as resupply vessels (VIIF). Only one of each type survived the war.

Battle of the Atlantic (Purnell's History of the World Wars Special, Phoebus Publishing, 1975)
Mark Arnold Forster, The World at War (Fontana / Collins, 1973/76)
Jane's Warships of World War II (Harper Collins, 1996)
Jane's Fighting ships of World War II (Studia Publishing, 2001)

Last Major Revision: Jul 2013

Type VII-class Submarine Interactive Map


German Type II and Type VII submarines with their tender, Kiel, Germany, 1936Launching ceremony of a German Type VIIB submarine, possibly at Slip V, Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft, Kiel, Germany, circa late 1930s or early 1940s
See all 3 photographs of Type VII-class Submarine

Type VII-class Submarine Operational Timeline

1 Apr 1935 The construction for U-27 was ordered.
11 Nov 1935 The keel of U-27 was laid down by AG Weser in Bremen, Germany.
2 Mar 1936 U-36 was launched.
24 Jun 1936 U-27 was launched at Bremen, Germany.
12 Aug 1936 U-27 was commissioned into service with Korvettenkapitän Hans Ibbeken in command; the submarine was assigned to 2nd Flotilla.
4 Nov 1936 U-36 was commissioned into service.
16 Dec 1936 U-36 was commissioned into service.
5 Oct 1937 Korvettenkapitän Johannes Franz was named the commanding officer of U-27, replacing Korvettenkapitän Hans Ibbeken.
17 Dec 1938 U-47 was commissioned into service.
1 Feb 1939 Lieutenant Commander Wilhelm Fröhlich took command of U-36.
4 Feb 1939 U-52 was commissioned into service.
6 Jun 1939 Korvettenkapitän Hans-Georg von Friedeburg was named the commanding officer of U-27, replacing Korvettenkapitän Johannes Franz.
8 Jul 1939 Korvettenkapitän Johannes Franz was named the commanding officer of U-27, replacing Korvettenkapitän Hans-Georg von Friedeburg.
13 Aug 1939 U-36 departed Kiel, Germany.
23 Aug 1939 U-27 departed Wilhelmshaven, Germany for her first and only war patrol.
13 Sep 1939 U-27 sank British trawler Davara 39 kilometers (24 miles or 21 nautical miles) northwest of Tory Island, Ireland at 0255 hours. The 12 survivors were rescued by merchant ship Willowpool.
16 Sep 1939 U-27 attacked British trawler Rudyard Kipling 190 kilometers (120 miles or 100 nautical miles) west of Ireland at 0353 hours. The crew of U-27 boarded Rudyard Kipling and destroyed the ship with scuttling charges. U-27 rescued the survivors, gave them food and warm clothing, and sent them off in lifeboats.
20 Sep 1939 U-27 was sunk by British destroyers HMS Fortune and HMS Faulknor west of Scotland, United Kingdom.
14 Oct 1939 German submarine U-47 penetrated defenses and entered Scapa Flow in Scotland, United Kingdom and sank British battleship HMS Royal Oak, killing 833 out of a crew of 1,257.
17 Nov 1939 U-36 set sail for Basis Nord, a secret base on the Kola Peninsula in northern Russia provided by the Soviet Union.
4 Dec 1939 En route to Basis Nord in northern Russia, U-36 was sunk by British submarine HMS Salmon with the loss of all hands.
8 Dec 1939 German submarine U-48 sank the ship Brandon of Allied convoy OB-48 in the Celtic Sea at 1155 hours. Master Richard Black Chisholm and other survivors were picked up by the Belgian trawlers Marie Jose Rosette and Tritten and landed at Milford Haven, Wales, United Kingdom. U-48 misidentified her victim as the Navasota, but this ship had been sunk by submarine U-47 three days earlier.
28 Dec 1939 German submarine U-30 sank British submarine trawler HMS Barbara Robertson in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, United Kingdom at 0400 hours, killing 1; the German submarine radioed Swedish merchant ship Hispania to pick up the survivors. Later on the same day, at 1545 hours, she spotted and damaged British battleship HMS Barham with one torpedo, killing 4; she was chased off by destroyers HMS Isis and HMS Nubian.
14 Feb 1940 German submarine U-48 sank British merchant ship Sultan Star 200 miles west of Land's End, southwestern England at 1700 hours, killing 1 man. Destroyers Whitshed, Vesper, and Acasta retaliated with 22 depth charges but they did not hit U-48. 72 survivors were rescued by Whitshed and delivered to Plymouth, England on the next day.
25 Mar 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Danish steamer Britta 30 miles north of Scotland at 0540 hours, killing 13. 5 survivors were rescued by Danish steamer Nancy.
14 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Balmoralwood southwest of Ireland; the crew of 41 would later be rescued.
16 Jun 1940 At 1302 hours the 13,212-ton unescorted British motor merchant ship Wellington Star was hit in the bow by a G7a torpedo from German submarine U-101 about 300 miles west of Cape Finisterre, Spain. After the crew abandoned ship in four lifeboats, the submarine fired three coups de grâce at her, all three hit, but only one detonated, underneath the bridge. The U-101, commanded by Fritz Frauenheim, surfaced, questioned the survivors then sank the ship with 31 rounds from the deck gun at 1645 hours.
20 Jun 1940 At 1730 hours, 7,493-ton Dutch motor tanker Moordrecht was hit in the engine room by a torpedo from German submarine U-48, commanded by Korvettenkapitän Hans Rudolf Rösing. Moordrecht exploded and sank by the stern within two minutes. The master and 24 crew members were lost. The ship had been in convoy HX-49 until 18 Jun 1940 when it was then ordered to proceed alone to her destination port. Four survivors eventually made it to a lifeboat.
20 Jun 1940 At 1533 hours, German submarine U-51 (Kapitänleutnant Dietrich Knorr) attacked the 4,876-ton British merchant steamer Otterpool of convoy HG-34F, carrying 8,180 tons of iron ore; the attack missed the target.
20 Jun 1940 German submarine U-30 (Kapitänleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp) attacked Allied convoy HG-34F, but all torpedoes missed. At 2142 hours, a second attack by U-30 succeeded, hitting the 4,876-ton British merchant steamer Otterpool with one stern torpedo. Otterpool sank about 130 miles west of the French island of Ushant. The master, 21 crew members and one gunner were lost. 16 crew members were picked up by British sloop HMS Scarborough (L 25) and landed at Liverpool, England, United Kingdom.
21 Jun 1940 At 0846 hours, HMS Cape Howe (X 02), a Special Service Vessel, disguised as the Prunella, was hit on the starboard side near the bridge by one of two torpedoes fired by German submarine U-28 about 100 miles west of the Isles of Scilly at the southwestern tip of Britain. The explosion blew open the hatches of No. 1 hold, put the Asdic and steering gear out of order and mortally injured two crewmen. The panic party abandoned the now slowly circling ship in two lifeboats but the submarine did not surface but fired a coup de grâce after about an hour that hit on port side amidships, causing her to slowly settle by the bow until sinking with a list to port at 1230 hours. 54 became missing and would be never found; 40 would be rescued.
21 Jun 1940 At 0411 hours the 1,144-ton unescorted Finnish freighter Hilda was hit by one torpedo from German submarine U-52 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Salman and sank in a few minutes in the Bay of Biscay, killing 5. The master and ten crew members survived aboard a lifeboat.
21 Jun 1940 At 2007 hours, German submarine U-47 under command of Kapitänleutnant GĂĽnther Prien fired a torpedo at a tanker in the middle of Allied convoy HX-49 in a position 50 miles south-southwest of Cape Clear in the southwestern tip of Ireland. The tanker was the 13,056-ton British San Fernando which was carrying 13,500 tons of crude oil and 4,200 tons of fuel oil, and she was hit and came to a stop. Prien then fired two more torpedoes but did not observe the result as he had to submerge rapidly to avoid being seen by a nearby steamer. The damaged San Fernando was taken under tow by two tugs.
22 Jun 1940 The 9,026-ton Norwegian motor tanker Eli Knudsen had been in Allied convoy HX-49, which was dispersed approximately 100 miles southwest of Cape Clear, Ireland after German submarine U-47 had torpedoed the San Fernando in the middle of convoy at 2007 hours on 21 Jun 1940. At 0336 hours German submarine U-32 torpedoed the Eli Knudsen, one of the slowest ships in convoy. All crew members abandoned ship in lifeboats and were picked up a few hours later by the sloop HMS Sandwich and taken to Liverpool, England, United Kingdom. The tanker remained afloat, although she would not survive the incident.
22 Jun 1940 At 0158 hours the 3,999-ton unescorted Norwegian steam merchant ship Randsfjord, dispersed from Allied convoy HX-49, was hit by one G7a torpedo from German submarine U-30 about 80 miles south-southwest of Queenstown, Ireland. The torpedo struck on the port side in the foreship and caused the tanker to sink after three minutes. The master and three crew members were lost. Two men were crushed and injured between the starboard lifeboat and the side of the ship when they lost their grip while lowering themselves down to the boat. Some men jumped overboard and were later picked up by the boat. The submarine surfaced and the Germans questioned the survivors, handed them a bottle of brandy before leaving the area at full speed after two destroyers were spotted.
24 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Panamanian ship Cathrine with the deck gun about 300 miles west of Land's End in southwestern England. As the entire crew of 19 escaped to lifeboats, they were given food and red wine by the crew of U-47 before being set adrift for their eventual rescue.
25 Jun 1940 German submarine U-51 attacked Allied convoy OA-172 about 370 miles west of Land's End in southwestern England between 1545 and 1930 hours, sinking British steamer Windsorwood (all 40 survived) and British tanker Saranac (4 killed, 39 survived).
25 Jun 1940 German submarine U-51 hit 12,049-ton British steam tanker Saranac in Allied convoy OA-172 with one torpedo about 270 miles west-southwest of Lands End at the southwestern tip of Britain at 1551 hours. The ships' crew immediately abandoned the ship. At 1737 hours, the submarine surfaced and failed to sink the tanker by gunfire. At 1915 hours, another torpedo was fired, finally sinking Saranac. Four crew members were lost in this sinking. 31 survivors, including the master Vernon Horace Alcock, were picked up by British destroyer HMS Hurricane (H 06) commanded by Lieutenant Commander H. C. Simms, RN and landed at Plymouth in southern Britain. 9 survivors were picked up by British trawler Caliph and landed at Berehaven, County Cork, Ireland.
27 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 shelled Norwegian merchant ship Lenda off southwest Ireland at 0400 hours; 1 was killed and 27 survived. At 1700 hours, U-47 shelled Dutch tanker Leticia in the same area; 25 of the crew took to lifeboats, while the other 3 who dove into the water were rescued by U-47 and brought to the lifeboats; the crew of U-47 offered the survivors first aid material, sausages, and wine before leaving.
29 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 torpedoed and sank British ship Empire Toucan southwest of Ireland, which broke in half; 3 were killed and 31 were rescued. Destroyer HMS Hurricane scuttled the aft portion of the ship which remained afloat.
30 Jun 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Greek ship Georgios Kyriakides west of Ireland; all 30 crew members survived.
2 Jul 1940 German submarine U-47 sank the British liner Arandora Star off the coast of Ireland; the liner was carrying 1,500 Italian and German prisoners of war to Canada.
12 Jul 1940 German submarine U-99 sank Greek ship Ia in the Atlantic Ocean 160 miles southwest of Ireland at 0200 hours; 3 were killed and 27 were later rescued. At 2300 hours, U-99 struck again and fired a torpedo at Estonian ship Merisaar, but missed; with shots from the deck gun, she stopped the Estonian ship and forced her to sail into the German-occupied French port of Bordeaux (before reaching Bordeaux, however, a German aircraft would sink her on 15 Jul).
15 Jul 1940 German submarine U-34 sank neutral Greek ship Evdoxia with a G7a torpedo amidships 40 miles southwest of Ireland at 0321 hours; 1 was killed and 22 survived. The torpedo used was the last torpedo aboard U-34. The survivors were later landed at Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom.
17 Jul 1940 German submarine U-34 sank 3,531-ton Greek cargo ship Naftilos (built in 1904 and owned by D. J. Goulandris; en route from San Nicolas for Dublin, Ireland with 5,801 tons of grain) with gunfire south of Ireland at 0110 hours. All 28 abandoned the ship, but 1 of them would later die of wounds suffered during this attack.
29 Jul 1940 German submarine U-99 spotted the 7,336-ton British steam merchant ship Clan Menzies west of Ireland. Clan Menzies was originally built by Greenock Dockyard Company for Clan Line Steamers Limited of Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. She was on a Sydney-Melbourne-Panama-Liverpool route. She was sailing alone following a zigzag course when a torpedo from U-99 hit on the starboard side near the engine room where the engineers on duty were killed. The explosion damaged the starboard lifeboats beyond use and made the radio equipment inoperable so that no distress message could be sent. The crew of 88 abandoned ship at about 0215 hours in the remaining lifeboats, 52 survivors in one boat and 36 in the other. The Master was required to give information to the Germans, and they were ordered not to show lights. The Master, Captain Hughes, navigated his boat into the port of Enniscrone whilst a passing Irish vessel, the Kyleclare, picked up the lifeboat with 52 survivors off Mayo Coast on the 30 Jul 1940. All told, 6 were killed.
1 Aug 1940 U-576 was laid down by the firm Blohm und Voss in Hamburg, Germany.
4 Aug 1940 German submarine U-52 sank three transports in convoy HX-60 in the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles northwest of Ireland, Geraldine Mary (3 killed, 48 survived), Gogovale (all 37 survived), and King Alfred (7 killed, 34 survived); U-52 was depth charged by Royal Navy escort vessels, causing significant damage, but she was able to escape and sail to Kiel, Germany for repairs; she would be out of action until 17 Nov 1940.
10 Aug 1940 The keel of U-132 was laid down at the Bremer Vulkan shipyard in Bremen, Germany.
2 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Belgian ship Ville de Mons with four torpedoes 200 miles west of Isle of Lewis, Scotland at 1900 hours. All 54 aboard survived.
4 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Titan of Allied convoy OA-207 250 miles northwest of Ireland at 0128 hours, killing 6. 89 survivors were rescued by escorting destroyer HMCS St. Laurent.
5 Sep 1940 Matrosenobergefreiter Heinrich Mantyk fell overboard from German submarine U-47 300 miles northwest of Ireland while operating the deck gun. He was lost.
7 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Neptunian (killing all 36), British ship JosĂ© de Larrinaga (killing all 40), and Norwegian ship Gro (killing 11; 21 survived) 300 miles northwest of Ireland between 0400 and 0533 hours.
9 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 sank Greek ship Possidon of Allied convoy SC-2 70 miles north of Ireland at 0024 hours; 17 were killed.
21 Sep 1940 German submarine U-47 detected Allied convoy HX-72 400 miles west of Ireland. With only one torpedo left and seeing so many potential targets (the convoy contained 41 merchant ships and had only 4 destroyers, 1 sloop, and 2 corvettes in escort), commanding officer of U-47 GĂĽnther Prien radioed the finding to eight other German submarines. Between 0312 and 0447 hours, German submarine U-99 sank British tanker Invershannon (16 killed, 32 survived), British ship Baron Blythswood (entire crew of 34 killed), and British ship Elmbank (2 killed, 54 survived). At 0614 hours, German submarine U-48 sank British ship Blairangus (6 killed, 28 survived). At 2310 hours, German submarine U-100 sank British ship Canonesa (1 killed, 62 survived), British ship Dalcairn (entire crew of 48 survived), and British tanker Torinia (entire crew of 55 survived). At 2338 hours, U-48 struck again, damaging British ship Broompark (1 killed).
1 Oct 1940 German submarine U-32 sank Dutch ship Haulerwijk 400 miles west of Ireland; 4 were killed and 27 survived.
11 Oct 1940 German submarine U-48 attacked Allied convoy HX-77 250 miles northwest of Ireland in the evening; at 2150 hours, Norwegian ship Brandanger was sunk (6 killed, 24 survived); at 2209 hours, British ship Port Gisborne was sunk (26 killed when lifeboat capsized, 38 survived).
19 Oct 1940 German submarines U-38, U-46, U-47, and two others attacked Allied convoy HX-79 200 miles west of Ireland, sinking 5 ships and damaging tanker Shirak.
19 Oct 1940 German submarines U-99, U-100, U-101, and U-123 continued to attack Allied convoy SC-7 100 miles northwest of Ireland. U-123 sank British ship Shekatika as Shekatika received her fifth torpedo hit. U-99 sank Norwegian ship Snefjeld; the entire crew of 21 survived.
20 Oct 1940 German submarines U-46, U-47, and U-100 attacked Allied convoy HX-79 50 miles northwest of Ireland, sinking 7 and damaging 1 between 0000 and 0720 hours. U-100 sank British ship Loch Lomond; 1 was killed and 111 survived.
2 Dec 1940 German submarine U-99 attacked British armed merchant cruiser HMS Forfar with five torpedoes between 0546 and 0657 hours, sinking her; 172 were killed, 21 survived. Shortly after, German submarines U-47, U-52, U-94, U-99, and U-101 attacked Allied convoy HX-90 unescorted 300 miles west of Ireland between 0400 and 0730 hours; her ocean escorts had departed on the previous day, and her coastal escorts failed to arrive due to poor weather. 5 ships were sunk (totaling 22,868 tons), while 2 were damaged; 119 were killed. After the coastal escorts finally arrived, U-94 pressed one further attack after dark, sinking two more ships, killing 5.
20 Jan 1941 The order for U-821 was issued.
20 Jan 1941 The order for the construction of U-822 was issued.
26 Feb 1941 German submarine U-47 attacked Allied convoy OB-290 190 miles northwest of Ireland before dawn, sinking 3 merchant ships (5,254-ton Belgian vessel Kasongo, 3,636-ton Norwegian vessel Borgland, and 3,197-ton Swedish vessel Rydboholm) and damage 1 (8,106-ton British vessel Diala). U-47 was attacked by depth charges, which called for assistance in the form of Fw 200 bombers of I. Gruppe KG 40 based in Bordeaux, France. The aircraft attacked from three different directions from 0900 to 1845 hours, sinking 7 ships without losing any aircraft. The victims of the Fw 200 bombers were 4,328-ton British vessel Swinburne (all survived), 7,181-ton British vessel Mahanada (3 killed), 4,966-ton British vessel Llanwern (27 killed), 8,156-ton Dutch merchant steamer Amstelland (1 killed), 4,328-ton Dutch merchant steamer Beursplein (21 killed), 4,340-ton Greek merchant steamer Kyriekoula (all survived), and 2,580-ton Norwegian merchant steamer Solferino (3 killed).
27 Feb 1941 German submarine U-47 sank British ship Holmelea west of Ireland overnight; 27 were killed, 11 survived.
28 Feb 1941 The 4,223-ton British merchant steamer Holmelea, owned by Morrison & Son, Cliffside Shipping Co Ltd, was en route from Rosario, Argentina for hull with a cargo of 7,000 tons of grain, linseed and maize when she was attacked by gunfire from German submarine U-47 (Kapitänleutnant GĂĽnther Prien) and then sunk by torpedo southwest of Rockall, a granite islet in the North Atlantic. The master, John Robert Potts and 26 crew members were lost from a total crew of 39.
7 Mar 1941 German submarines U-47, U-70, U-90, and U-A attacked Allied convoy OB-293 320 miles northwest of Scotland, United Kingdom. British whaling factory ship Terje Viken (largest in the world) and British tanker Athelbeach were sunk, while two others were damaged. U-47 was lost with all 48 on board to unknown causes on the same day. U-70 was rammed by Dutch tanker Mijdrecht, then suffered a four-hour depth charging by corvettes HMS Camellia and HMS Arbutus, killing 20; the 25 survivors eventually surrendered.
10 Apr 1941 U-132 was launched at the Bremer Vulkan shipyard in Bremen, Germany.
30 Apr 1941 U-576 was launched at Hamburg, Germany.
15 May 1941 Graph was commissioned into service.
29 May 1941 U-132 was commissioned into service with Kapitänleutnant Ernst Vogelsang in command, and was assigned to the 3rd Submarine Flotilla.
20 Jun 1941 In the early hours, lookouts on German submarine U-202, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walter Kell, spotted the lifeboat containing the survivors of British motor merchant Cathrine, which was sunk by U-43 west of Cape Clear, Ireland three days earlier. The survivors asked for water but were told that they would not give water to Britishers. Seven of the ten men would soon die from starvation and exposure. In the subsequent days, a convoy passed close by, but the last three men were too weak to get any attention.
25 Jun 1941 German submarine U-77 (Oberleutnant zur See Heinrich Schonder) sank 4,603-ton Greek merchant steamer Anna Bulgaris in the North Atlantic Ocean at 2136 hours, hitting her in the aft with one torpedo. The Germans reported that the crew of 35 abandoned ship before the Anna Bulgaris sank but they were never seen again.
25 Jun 1941 The 1,967-ton Dutch merchant steamer Schie was hit at the stern by a torpedo from German submarine U-75 whilst in the North Atlantic Ocean on her way to Curaçao. The ship sank within four minutes. None of the crew survived.
26 Jun 1941 U-576 was commissioned into service under the command of Kapitänleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinicke. She was assigned to the 7th Submarine Flotilla.
25 Aug 1941 The order to build U-1059 was issued.
27 Aug 1941 German submarine U-570 surfaced at 1050 hours in the Atlantic Ocean and was spotted by a British Hudson aircraft, which attacked the submarine with four 250-pound depth charges and returned for strafing. U-570 eventually surrendered; while awaiting the British to send a capture party, confidential papers and the cipher machine were dumped overboard.
27 Aug 1941 German submarine U-202 sank British trawler Ladylove off Iceland at 1435 hours, killing the entire crew of 14.
7 Sep 1941 U-132 departed Tronheim, Norway for her first war patrol.
2 Oct 1941 The keel of U-821 was laid down by Oderwerke in Stettin, Germany.Pommern,
6 Oct 1941 U-576 began her first war patrol.
18 Oct 1941 German submarine U-132 sank Soviet ship Argun in the Barents Sea 5 miles off the Russian coast at 1320 hours; all aboard survived. At 2017 hours, U-132 struck again, sinking trawler RT-8 Seld; all aboard were killed.
21 Oct 1941 U-132 arrived at Kirkenes, Norway, completing her first war patrol.
29 Oct 1941 The keel of U-822 was laid down by Oderwerke in Stettin, Germany.
5 Nov 1941 U-576 completed her first war patrol.
30 Nov 1941 German submarine U-206 became missing in the Bay of Biscay, possibly lost in a British minefield just west of Saint-Nazaire, France. All 46 men aboard were lost.
30 Nov 1941 Whitley bombers of No. 502 Squadron RAF based in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom attacked German submarines U-71 and U-563 with depth charges in the Atlantic Ocean, damaging U-71. This attack marked the first successful use of air-to-surface vessel radar.
30 Nov 1941 German submarine U-96 dove to evade attacks by a British Swordfish aircraft in the Strait of Gibraltar at 2235 hours.
1 Dec 1941 German submarine U-575 (Kapitänleutnant GĂĽnther Heydemann) spotted the unescorted and unarmed 7,542-ton steam tanker Astral at 1700 hours. Astral was carrying 78,200 barrels of gasoline and kerosene. U-575 tracked Astral until 2057 hours when Heydemann discovered a painted American flag on the side of the tanker. Heydemann did not realize that fellow submarine captain Wolfgang LĂĽth of U-43 had also been tracking the same American tanker.
11 Dec 1941 U-576 began her second war patrol.
23 Dec 1941 U-576 arrived at Saint-Nazaire, France, ending her second war patrol.
15 Jan 1942 Alpino Bagnolini sighted a submarine in the Atlantic Ocean at 0829 hours. She readied two torpedoes, but did not fire as the unidentified target could possibly be German submarine U-373. She lost contact with the target after the target had submerged.
20 Jan 1942 U-576 departed Saint-Nazaire, France, starting her third war patrol.
24 Jan 1942 U-333 sank Norwegian ship Ringstad in the Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland at 1525 hours.
29 Jan 1942 The US Coast Guard Cutter Alexander Hamilton was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-132 whilst on patrol off the Iceland coast.
8 Feb 1942 U-132 arrived at La Pallice, La Rochelle, France, completing her second war patrol.
14 Feb 1942 German submarine U-576 sank British catapult armed merchant (CAM) ship Empire Spring southeast of Nova Scotia, Canada at 0337 hours, killing all 53 aboard.
28 Feb 1942 U-576 arrived at Saint-Nazaire, France, ending her third war patrol.
23 Mar 1942 In the afternoon, U-754 sank British tanker British Prudence 50 miles south of Newfoundland at 1531 hours; 3 were killed, 47 survived.
23 Mar 1942 The construction for U-1011 was ordered.
29 Mar 1942 U-576 departed Saint-Nazaire, France, starting her fourth war patrol.
21 Apr 1942 German submarine U-576 sank US freighter Pipestone County 450 kilometers east of Virginia, United States at 1854 hours; all 35 aboard survived and were rescued by US Coast Guard cutter Calypso.
30 Apr 1942 U-576 sank Norwegian ship Taborfjell about 95 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, United States at 0737 hours; 17 were killed, 3 survived.
16 May 1942 U-576 arrived at Saint-Nazaire, France, ending her fourth war patrol.
4 Jun 1942 The keel of U-1059 was laid down at the Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, Germany.
10 Jun 1942 U-132 departed La Pallice, La Rochelle, France for her third war patrol.
12 Jun 1942 U-132 joined wolfpack Endrass.
13 Jun 1942 German submarine U-202 landed 4 saboteurs at Amagansett, Long Island, New York, United States in Operation Pastorius.
16 Jun 1942 U-576 departed Saint-Nazaire, France, starting her fifth war patrol.
17 Jun 1942 U-132 left wolfpack Endrass.
3 Jul 1942 German submarine U-132 arrived in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence off Quebec, Canada.
6 Jul 1942 German submarine U-132 attacked Allied convoy QS-15 at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Canada, sinking Belgian ship Hainaut (at 0521 hours; 1 was killed, 44 survived), sinking Greek ship Anastassios Pateras (at 0521 hours; 3 were killed, 26 survived), and fatally damaging British ship Dinaric (at 0646 hours; 4 were killed); Canadian minesweeper HMCS Drummondville rammed (and missed) U-132 and dropped depth charges, causing minor damage to U-132.
13 Jul 1942 Kapitänleutnant Hans-Dieter Heinicke of U-576 sent a radio message back to base, noting that his submarine sustained light damage and would soon head back to Saint-Nazaire, France.
15 Jul 1942 At 2025 hours, U-576 attacked Allied convoy KS-520 with four torpedoes 30 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, United States, sinking Nicaraguan ship Bluefields, damaging US ship Chilore, and damaging Panamanian ship J. A. Mowinckel; two US Navy Kingfisher aircraft counterattacked with depth charges as well as motor vessel Unicoi with deck guns, sinking U-576, killing all 45 aboard.
20 Jul 1942 German submarine U-132 damaged transport Frederika Lensen of Allied convoy QS-19 off Anticosti Island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence in Canada at 1839 hours; 4 were killed, 36 survived. Frederika Lensen would be beached to prevent sinking although she would ultimately be declared a total loss due to extensive damage.
30 Jul 1942 German submarine U-132 attacked Allied convoy ON-113 100 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada at 0110 hours, sinking British ship Pacific Pioneer; all 71 aboard survived.
13 Aug 1942 German submarine U-752 sank US ship Cripple Creek 400 miles southwest of Freetown, British West Africa at 0740 hours; 1 was killed, 51 survived.
16 Aug 1942 U-132 arrived at La Pallice, France, completing her third war patrol.
6 Oct 1942 U-132 departed La Pallice, France for her fourth war patrol.
13 Oct 1942 U-132 joined wolfpack Panther.
19 Oct 1942 U-132 left wolfpack Panther.
20 Oct 1942 U-132 joined wolfpack Veilchen.
4 Nov 1942 U-132 spotted Allied convoy SC-107 in the North Atlantic Ocean and attacked together with members of her wolfpack. She sank British ship Empire Lynx and Dutch ship Hobbema, and damaged British ammunition ship Hatimura. As Hatimura exploded, falling pieces of debris fatally damaged U-132, leading to her loss with all 47 aboard lost, including her commanding officer Ernst Vogelsang.
2 Jan 1943 The construction for U-1133 was ordered.
12 Mar 1943 U-1059 was launched by the Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, Germany.
12 Mar 1943 The keel of U-1011 was laid down at the Blohm und Voss yard in Hamburg, Germany.
27 Apr 1943 The keel of U-1133 was laid down at the Howaldtswerke shipyard in Kiel, Germany.
1 May 1943 U-1059 was commissioned into service with Oberleutnant zur See Herbert BrĂĽninghaus in command. She was assigned to 5th Submarine Flotilla for training.
6 May 1943 U-977 was commissioned into service.
26 Jun 1943 U-821 was launched by Oderwerke in Stettin, Germany.
25 Jul 1943 109 USAAF bombers attacked Hamburg, Germany in the afternoon as a follow up to the night raid by British bombers on the previous day; 15 bombers were lost. German passenger ship Weissesee was sunk in the harbor, the incomplete passenger liner Vaterland was heavily damaged at the Blohm und Voss shipyard, and the incomplete submarine U-1011 was also damaged at the Blohm und Voss shipyard.
30 Sep 1943 The construction for U-1133 was suspended.
1 Oct 1943 U-52 was decommissioned from service.
1 Oct 1943 Oberleutnant zur See GĂĽnter Leupold was made the commanding officer of U-1059, replacing Herbert BrĂĽninghaus.
11 Oct 1943 U-821 was commissioned into service with Ludwig Fabricius in command; she was assigned to the 4th Submarine Flotilla.
12 Oct 1943 Lt(jg) Letson “Sam” Balliett piloting a TBF Avenger flying from USS Card attacked a refueling operation between German submarines U-488 (“Milchkau”) and U-402 in the mid-Atlantic using one Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo. Although this attack claimed one sinking, both submarines escaped with only minimal or no damage. Later, another TBF Avenger from Card flown by Lt(jg) Doty attacked and damaged U-731.
13 Oct 1943 TBF Avengers flying from USS Card attacked and sank German Type VIIC submarine U-402 in the mid-Atlantic using the Mark 24 FIDO acoustic homing torpedo.
1 Nov 1943 U-821 was assigned to the 24th Submarine Flotilla.
2 Dec 1943 Ernst Fischer was named the commanding officer of U-821, relieving Ludwig Fabricius.
1 Jan 1944 U-1059 was transferred to 12th Submarine Flotilla.
1 Jan 1944 U-821 was assigned to the 4th Submarine Flotilla; Ulrich Knackfuss was named her commanding officer, relieving Ernst Fischer.
1 Feb 1944 Graph was decommissioned from service.
12 Feb 1944 U-1059 departed Europe with torpedoes and other supplies on board for German submarines operating in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.
20 Feb 1944 U-822 was launched by Oderwerke in Stettin, Germany.
1 Mar 1944 U-821 was assigned to the 1st Submarine Flotilla.
19 Mar 1944 U-1059 was sunk by depth charges dropped by a US Navy Avenger aircraft (Lieutenant (jg) N. T. Dowty of VC-6 squadron, USS Block Island) in the Atlantic Ocean about 960 kilometers or about 600 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands at 0726 hours. Her gunners were able to hit the Avenger aircraft on its second attack run, killing the pilot and one of the crew.
19 Mar 1944 U-821 departed Bergen, Norway for her first war patrol.
12 Apr 1944 U-821 completed her first war patrol.
6 Jun 1944 U-821 departed Brest, France for her second war patrol.
10 Jun 1944 U-821 was sunk by aircraft off Ushant, France.
1 Jul 1944 U-822 was commissioned into service with Oberleutnant zur See Josef Elsinghorst in command.
22 Jul 1944 The construction for U-1133 was canceled.
22 Jul 1944 The repair work for U-1011 was canceled.
2 May 1945 U-977 departed Kristiansand, Norway on her first and only war patrol.
5 May 1945 Oberleutnant Heinz Schäffer of U-977 decided to head for Argentina instead of returning home per President Karl Dönitz's orders.
5 May 1945 U-822 was scuttled in WesermĂĽnde, Germany.
10 May 1945 U-977 surfaced near Holsenöy Island, Bergen, Norway to release 16 of the crewmen who wished to return home to their families. She then headed for Argentina.
17 Aug 1945 U-977 arrived at Mar del Plata, Argentina and surrendered to the Argentine Navy.
13 Nov 1945 U-977 arrived at Boston, Massachusetts, United States by tow.
21 Oct 2014 The wreck of a German submarine found 30 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, United States was announced to be U-576.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
21 May 2011 01:30:18 PM


The German Type XXI Submarine was an advanced
development over the older Type VII boats,but
arrived too late to take part in submarine operations during WWII.
It did revolutionized post-war submarine development. After WWII, the United States, U.S.S.R, France and Britain gained experience
from its design and influenced submarine design.


Streamlined in design with no clutter on the deck. All periscopes, antenna and schnorchel
retracted into the sail or conning tower, even the two turrets for 20mm cnnons were mounted in the sail or conning tower for a clean design running underwater, and was
difficult to detect underwater with a crush depth of 280 meters or 919 feet it was the most advanced sub in the world at that time.

Living conditions improved for the crew as well, equipped with air-conditioning, freezer
and galley facilities for food, equipped w/ a shower and three toilets and improved lighting.
The torpedos were loaded by hydraulic loader
and reload system. The boat carried six torpedo tubes and could fire 18 torpedos in
less than 20 minutes, with a warload of 23
torpedos or 17 torpedos w/12 sea mines.
The boat could run submerged at 5 knots for
two or three days before recharging the batteries.


Germany was running out of time, and was only able to manufacture 118 boats, by the time of Germany's surrender only one boat was operational, with the Allies bombing the shipyards and mining the Baltic Sea with the loss of several boats on training missions, the Type XXI was another wonderwaffen that arrived too little, too late.

Powered by 2xMan diesel engines of 2500hp,
2xElectric motors of 2500hp, 2xCreep Motors
of 323hp and three batteries to supply the electric power for under water running.



The German Type XXI influenced US Navy sub
design, the WWII diesel subs were modernized
from tests, and experience learned from
operating captured type XXI subs after WWII
US Boats were rebuilt w/ all clutter removed
from the decks for a clean design, this led to the program of (GUPPY) Greater Underwater
Propulsion Power Program.
Later US nuclear powered boats maintained the smooth hull design with a class designed as hunter-killer and the other class that was designed as nuclear carrying missile subs.


The British tested the Type XXI and were also
influenced in its design, this led to the
development of it own post-war subs, the later nuclear boats were of British design
and also had a class that carried American Polaris nuclear missiles.


The Russians captured four Type XXI Boats at
the end of the war. Operational experience
with the boats led to the development of the
Zulu and Whiskey Class Boats the German influence can be seen in the post-war designs. These boats operated from the 1950s
through the mid-1980s.
Like the Americans, the USSR also had a fleet
of hunter-killer and missile carrying submarines.


The French operated one Type XXI sub and like the US, Britain and the USSR gained
experience in its design that led the way for advanced Frence designs. France also has
missile carrying boats with French designed
nuclear missiles.


One Type XXI is on display today at the
Technical Museum in Bremerhaven, Germany the
Wilhelm Bauer was salvaged and put back into commission by the W. German Bundsmarine in 1960.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
7 Feb 2012 07:58:12 PM


Between 1943 to 1945 over 10,000 POWs,Forced Labor and Concentration Camp Prisoners built the boats, how many died in the construction of the boats? we may never know.
At the end of WWII both the Allies and the Soviets raced to capture as much German wartime technology as possible. The Soviets received four Type XXI boats However, the Russians may have had in service many more
shipyards that were over run by the Russians and now were under their control were able to salvage hulls, machinery, components and build the prefabricated sections into subs post-war development continued and led to the building of the Cold War era(Whiskey Class Boats)

Had the Type XXI Boats entered the Battle of the Atlantic two years earlier, the Germans could have created a stalemate.
However the Allies could have counted this threat with its own development of improved underwater detection equipment or a new type
of hunter-killer submarines.

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» U-684
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» U-746
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» U-77
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» U-928
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» U-93
» U-930
» U-931
» U-932
» U-94
» U-95
» U-96
» U-97
» U-977
» U-98
» U-99

Type VII-class Submarine Photo Gallery
German Type II and Type VII submarines with their tender, Kiel, Germany, 1936Launching ceremony of a German Type VIIB submarine, possibly at Slip V, Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft, Kiel, Germany, circa late 1930s or early 1940s
See all 3 photographs of Type VII-class Submarine

Famous WW2 Quote
"Since peace is now beyond hope, we can but fight to the end."

Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937

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