Type XXI U-boat

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Type XXI U-boat U 3008, postwar photo
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Type XXI U-boat U 3008, postwar photo

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 (9 km/h) 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 + Voss of Hamburg, AG Weser of Bremen, and F. Schichau of Danzig, but only one, U 2511, had begun a combat patrol by the end of World War II. Most were scrapped or scuttled after the war, but eight were taken by the Allies for evaluation and trials. The United States received U 2513 and U 3008, which were commissioned into the United States Navy. U 3017 was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS N 41, and U 2518 became French submarine Roland Morillot. U 3515, U 2529, U 3035, and U 3041 were commissioned into the Soviet Navy as B 27, B 28, B 29, and B 30 respectively. Those boats influenced new Soviet submarine classes known by the NATO reporting names Zulu and Whiskey, although they were not copies of a Type XXI, Whiskey class being smaller and less sophisticated.

A ninth XXI also saw service after the war: U 2540, which had been scuttled at the end of the war, was raised in 1957 to become the research vessel Wilhelm Bauer of the Bundesmarine.

Ships

Specifications

  • Displacement: 1621 t/1819 t, 2100 t full load
  • Length: 76.7 m oa, pressure hull 60.5 m
  • Beam: 5.3 m pressure hull, 8 m oa
  • Draft: 6.3 m
  • Height: 11.3 m
  • Propulsion: 4000 hp (3 MW) surfaced = 15.6 kt (29 km/h), 4400 hp (3.3 MW) submerged = 17.2 kt (32 km/h)
  • Range: 25,000 km (15,500 miles) at 10 kt (19 km/h) surfaced, 550 km (340 miles) at 5 kt (9 km/h) submergedde:U-Boot Klasse XXI

pl:U-Boot Typ XXI

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