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    Posted: January 27 2007 at 3:54am

Type XXI Elektroboat U-Boat

Type%20XXI%20Elektroboat

The Type XXI reached the battlefield too late to have a profound effect on the course of the war, but it was one of those weapon systems which had completely revolutionize the face of submarine warfare. Had she been launched two years earlier, it would have caused considerable problems to the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Before the Type XXI, submarines would have been more accurately termed as submersible boats, as they were surface vessels with the special capability to submerge when threatened. Underwater, they were slow and un-maneuverable and could remain submerged only for limited periods of time. They had to surface to run their diesel engines in order to recharge their batteries and replenish their compressed air supplies.
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Type%20XXI%20U-boat

The Type XXI however, was designed from the beginning as a true submarine, whose natural habitat was in the depths. Almost everything about the submarine was new and out of all proportions, achieved unconventional underwater performance far beyond the capabilities of any submarine then either in service or under development. She was designed to have a faster speed submerged than when running on the surface. Equipped with air-conditioning, she was designed to spend most of her time underwater and could remain submerged for up to 11 days at a time, briefly surfacing for only 3 to 5 hours to recharge her batteries. For this, the Type XXI had a full streamlined outer hull and complete absence of clutter on the deck. The forward hydroplane retracted when not in use, there were no deck guns, the twin 20mm AA flak were mounted in streamlined housings, and all extending devices such as schnorchel, antenna, and DF loop retracted into the superstructure when not in use. Instead of the traditional open conning tower, there were three small openings at the top of the bridge, one for the watch officer and the other two for lookouts. Internally, the cross section of the pressure hull was a figure of eight, with the upper section being of greater diameter than the lower. The batteries were housed in the lower section. She had three times the battery capacity and with her new creep motor, the Type XXI was very silent when running underwater. By comparison, the Type XXI at 15 knots emitted the same noise as a US Navy Balao class boat at 8 knots. Her pressure hull was fabricated from 1 inch thick steel aluminum alloy, which allowed a maximum crush depth of 280 meters (919 feet); the deepest of any military submarine at that time. The streamlined hull also offered a much smaller sonar signature and with her silent running capability, and high underwater speed, she was a much more difficult boat for enemy ASW vessels to find or detect. Equipped with a sophisticated echo chamber, which could identify, track and target multiple vessels, the Type XXI could fire blind from up a depth of 160 feet. Her firepower was also increased significantly. With a new rapid reloading hydraulic system, the Type XXI could launch three six torpedo salvos or eighteen torpedoes in just under 20 minutes; whereas it took over ten minutes to reload just one tube on the Type VIIC. This meant that the Type XXI could attack more vessels in a single engagement. The increased space also allowed more torpedoes to be carried – 23 instead of 14 on the Type VIIC.

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The new Type XXI. Note the streamlined hull and complete absence of clutter on the deck. All external mountings retracted into the superstructure when not in use
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The Germans had made a quantum leap in submarine design and development, but as with all new technology, teething problems were encountered. Due to the desperate situation at sea, the Type XXI was given the highest priority with orders for all other types cancelled. To speed up production, the submarine was constructed on a modular basis, with different modules built by different shipyards. The prime reason for this was to utilize shipyard resources to the maximum, and to present the strategic Allied bombings with many smaller scattered targets. In order to spur the scarce manpower to greater endeavors, tight deadlines were set with production forecasts set to be deliberately over optimistic. As a result of this, tremendous strain was placed on the production line and so great was the urgency, that in an attempt to meet the schedule, improperly constructed modules were often sent forth, even when they had not been thoroughly fabricated. These modules often did not meet the fine tolerances required to be assembled by the next link in the chain, causing further confusion and delays to the process. Constant allied bombings, logistical headaches and shortages of material and labor added to the problem. On numerous occasions, politics had also influenced the program with the more prominent occasion being that the first Type XXI was to be launched in time for Hitler’s birthday. Although this was achieved, but the ill completed submarine had to be kept afloat by buoyancy bags and immediately towed to the dry dock after the presentation. The outcome of all the pressure and trimming of corners meant that the completed boats had to be returned to dock to be reworked and repaired, resulting in further delays in attaining full service status.

By 1945, the situation grew hopelessly worse for the Type XXI program. Massive allied bombings resulted not only in the destruction of shipyards and construction facilities, but also of completed submarines while fitting out or in some cases while undergoing trials. Seventeen completed Type XXIs were destroyed while in harbor between December 1944 and May 1945.

The reality was that Germany could not afford to undertake such an ambitious project in such a short space of time. Too much was demanded of those involved, that the system ultimately collapsed under its own strain. The reasons were diverse, but in part it was due to the fact that Germany did not have much time left. With every passing day, the U-boat force was being defeated on the Battle of the Atlantic – and something had to be done, anything – to prevent defeat.

Of the 120 submarines built, only two had entered operational status. Given their limited deployment, the new submarines were quite successful, and would have caused the allies serious problems. However it was a case of too late and there were never enough of these new boats to make any real difference. After the war, the design of the Type XXI continued to influence modern submarine development in many countries, including the Soviet Union who based their W-Class on the Type XXI.

Combat Service

Only two war patrols were carried out in the Type XXI.

KK%20Adalbert%20Schnee Type%20XXI%20Elektroboat
Adalbert Schnee - one of two skippers who took a Type XXI into combat. Donitz had pinned his hopes on the Type XXI to restore the technical balance to the U-boat force.

April 30 1945, the situation at sea was nearly hopeless for most U-boat captains. But for KK (Korvettan Kapitan) Adalbert Schnee, his situation was different. Of the two new operational Type XXIs, he was in command of one of them – U-2511. Schnee was under orders to sail from Bergen, Norway, and to make his way to the Carribbean. His orders were not to attack any ships on his outbound journey, but the boat was detected by an anti-submarine patrol group. Traveling faster underwater than the escorts could on the surface, he easily outran the escorts. He was in command of a new boat, one which would make hunting as easy as it had been during the “Happy Time”. Then on May 3 1945, the unthinkable, but inevitable happened. A message from BdU: Germany had surrendered. All U-boats were ordered to cease hostilities and were to sail to the nearest allied port under a black flag. Nevertheless, U-2511 had the British cruiser HMS Suffolk in its sights. Schnee carefully evaded the heavy escort screen, closed in to 600 meters of the cruiser, and raised the periscope. The torpedoes were primed, and he ordered the tube doors opened. As the British cruiser crossed the targeting crosshair on his periscope - instead of giving the order to fire, he simply cursed, lowered the scope, dived under the target and made off for Norway, unknown to those sailing above him.

The other Type XXI, Kptlt. Helmut Manseck of U-3008 had just sailed from Wilhelmshaven on May 3, 1945. Shortly after departing, the message of Germany’s surrender was received, Manseck spotted a British convoy and carried out a dummy attack. He slipped away undetected and returned to port.

Technical Specification

Type XXI Elektroboat
Role Long Range
Attack Submarine
Displacement
Surfaced
Submerged

1,621 tons
1,819 tons
Dimensions
Length
Beam
Draught

251.6ft (76.7m)
21.6ft (6.6m)
20.7ft (6.3m)
Top speed
Surfaced
Submerged

15.7 knots
17.2 knots
Maximum range
Surfaced at 12kt
Submerged at 6kt

11,150nm
285nm
Crush depth 919ft (280m)
Engines
Diesel
Electric
Creep motor
Battery

Two MAN M6V 40/46; 2,200hp
Two SSW 2 GU 365/30; 2,500hp
Two SSW GW323/28; 323hp
Three 124 cell batteries
Weapons
Bow tubes
Stern tubes
Torpedo capacity
Mines
Guns

Six 21 inch
None
23
TMC mines
2 x 20mm Twin Flak
Crew 57
Total built 120 (2 operational)
First launch April 19, 1944
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Electroboot
Note the figure-eight cross section of this Type XXI's pressure hull. Designers initially built the lower section for storage of hydrogen peroxide for a Walter powerplant, but it became instead the compartment for the enlarged battery capacity that gave these boats the nickname "Electroboot."

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U-3008, one of only two Type XXI U-boats to make a wartime patrol. It was brief: The war ended while the boat was en route.
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Type%20XXI%20and%20Type%20XXIII%20submarines
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For some, the war ended too soon. With more hope than sense, Germany had more than 1,900 Type XXI and Type XXIII submarines under construction or on order on the last day of the European war.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote White Rhino Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2007 at 9:23am
Hey I can see the pictures again! must have done some good to Defrag my computer. I think?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote allan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2007 at 12:35pm
so thats whats patrollin around hoadies lakes.mate impressive stuff...dunno about watchin them race though..thats just downright creepy!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hatchetman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2007 at 2:59pm
The type XXI, what a revolutionary concept in submarine warfare.

Thankfully for the allies they wernt ready in time for the war, you could only guess what effect they would have had.

The type XXI was so different to what was out there at the time, and pretty much every military submarine since has been baised on the blueprint set out by the type XXI.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote allan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2007 at 3:03pm

revolutionary like the kursk...oops.

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Type XXI U-boat

Type XXI U-boats, also known as the "Elektroboots," were the first submarines designed to operate entirely submerged, rather than as surface ships that could submerge as a temporary, awkward mode of operation.

Type XXIs had much better facilities than previous classes, with a freezer for foodstuffs and minor conveniences for the crew such as a shower and wash basin. They were much quieter, and enjoyed a hydraulic torpedo reload system that allowed all six torpedo tubes to be reloaded faster than a Type VIIC could reload a single tube. Improvements in battery design yielded a storage capacity roughly three times that of a Type VIIC, giving these boats enormous underwater range. They could travel submerged at about five knots for two or three days before recharging the batteries, which took less than five hours on the snorkel.

Between 1943 and 1945, 118 boats of this type were built by Blohm and Voss of Hamburg, AG Weser of Bremen, and F.Schichau of Danzig.

U-2501 - U-2502 - U-2503 - U-2504 - U-2505 - U-2506 - U-2507 - U-2508 - U-2509 - U-2510 - U-2511 - U-2512 - U-2513 - U-2514 - U-2515 - U-2516 - U-2517 - U-2518 - U-2519 - U-2520 - U-2521 - U-2522 - U-2523 - U-2524 - U-2525 - U-2526 - U-2527 - U-2528 - U-2529 - U-2530 - U-2531 - U-2533 - U-2534 - U-2535 - U-2536 - U-2538 - U-2539 - U-2540 - U-2541 - U-2542 - U-2543 - U-2544 - U-2545 - U-2546 - U-2548 - U-2551 - U-2552 - U-3001 - U-3002 - U-3003 - U-3004 - U-3005 - U-3006 - U-3007 - U-3008 - U-3009 - U-3010 - U-3011 - U-3012 - U-3013 - U-3014 - U-3015 - U-3016 - U-3017 - U-3018 - U-3019 - U-3020 - U-3021 - U-3022 - U-3023 - U-3024 - U-3025 - U-3026 - U-3027 - U-3028 - U-3029 - U-3030 - U-3031 - U-3032 - U-3033 - U-3034 - U-3035 - U-3037 - U-3038 - U-3039 - U-3040 - U-3041 - U-3044 - U-3501 - U-3502 - U-3503 - U-3504 - U-3505 - U-3506 - U-3507 - U-3508 - U-3509 - U-3510 - U-3511 - U-3512 - U-3513 - U-3514 - U-3515 - U-3516 - U-3517 - U-3518 - U-3519 - U-3520 - U-3521 - U-3522 - U-3523 - U-3524 - U-3525 - U-3526 - U-3527 - U-3528 - U-3529 - U-3530

General Characteristics

Type XXIII U-boat

The Type XXIII U-boat was designed to operated in the shallow littorals of the North Sea, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea, where the larger Type XXI Elektro boats would be at risk. They were so small that they could carry only two torpedoes, which had to be loaded externally.

The first Type XXIII, U-2321, was launched from Deutsche Werft in Hamburg on April 17, 1944. She was one of six XXIIIs that went on operational patrol around the British Isles in early 1945. Forty-eight others followed from Deutsche Werft and thirteen from Germaniawerft of Kiel. U-4712 was the last one launched, on April 19, 1945.

The first patrol by a Type XXIII began when U-2324 put to sea on January 29, 1945. U-2336 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Klusmeier sank the last ships lost in World War II on May 7 when he torpedoed two British freighters inside the Firth of Forth.

None of the six operational Type XXIIIs -- U-2321, U-2322, U-2324, U-2326, U-2329, and U-2336 -- was sunk by the Allies during World War II. These boats sank or damaged five ships for a total of 14,601 tons.

Seven Type XXIIIs were lost to various causes.

  • U-2323 was sunk by a naval mine on July 26, 1944.
  • U-2331 was lost in a training accident on October 10, 1944.
  • U-2338 was the only XXIII to be sunk by the enemy. British Beaufighter aircraft killed 12 crewmen and sank the boat east-northeast of Frederika on May 4, 1945, before she ever went on combat patrol.
  • U-2342 was sunk by a naval mine on December 26, 1944.
  • U-2344 was rammed and sunk by U-2336 on February 18, 1945.
  • U-2351 was paid off in April 1945 after bomb damages.
  • U-2367 was rammed and sunk by an unidentified U-boat on May 5, 1945.

In early May 1945, 31 XXIIIs were scuttled by their crews. Twenty surrendered to the Allies and were sunk in Operation Deadlight. Only three -- U-2326 (later British submarine N-35), U-2353 (later British submarine N-37), and U-4706 (later Norwegian submarine Knerten) -- survived the war.

U-2321 - U-2322 - U-2323 - U-2324 - U-2325 - U-2326 - U-2327 - U-2328 - U-2329 - U-2330 - U-2331 - U-2332 - U-2333 - U-2334 - U-2335 - U-2336 - U-2337 - U-2338 - U-2339 - U-2340 - U-2341 - U-2342 - U-2343 - U-2344 - U-2345 - U-2346 - U-2347 - U-2348 - U-2349 - U-2350 - U-2351 - U-2352 - U-2353 - U-2354 - U-2355 - U-2356 - U-2357 - U-2358 - U-2359 - U-2360 - U-2361 - U-2362 - U-2363 - U-2364 - U-2365 - U-2366 - U-2367 - U-2368 - U-2369 - U-2371 - U-4701 - U-4702 - U-4703 - U-4704 - U-4705 - U-4706 - U-4707 - U-4709 - U-4710 - U-4711 - U-4712

General Characteristics

submerged

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U-2540
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