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Type XXI submarine

Type XXI submarine

U-3008 in U.S. Navy service in 1948.

Class overview

Type XXI U-boat


French Navy
German Navy
Royal Navy
Soviet Navy
United States Navy


5.750.000 Reichsmark per boat













General characteristics
Class & type: Submarine
Displacement: 1,621t (1,595 long tons) surfaced
1,819t (1,790 long tons) submerged

76.7m (251ft 8in)


8m (26ft 3in)


6.32m (20ft 9in)


2 MAN M6V40/46KBB supercharged 6-cylinder diesel engines, 4,000shp
2 SSW GU365/30 double acting electric motors, 5,000PS (3.7MW)
2 SSW GV232/28 silent running electric motors, 226shp (169kW)


15.6kn (28.9km/h) surfaced

17.2kn (31.9km/h) submerged
6.1kn (11.3km/h) (silent running motors)

Type XXI submarine


15,500nmi (28,700km) at 10kn (19km/h) surfaced

340nmi (630km) at 5kn (9.3km/h) submerged

Test depth:

240m (787ft)

Complement: 5 officers, 52 enlisted men[3]


6 53.3cm (21.0in) torpedo tubes (bow), 23 torpedoes (or 17 torpedoes and 12 mines)
4 x 2cm (0.8in) anti-aircraft guns

Type XXI U-boats, also known as "Elektroboote" (German: "electric boats"), were the first submarines designed to
operate primarily submerged, rather than as surface ships that could submerge as a means to escape detection or
launch an attack.

The key improvement in the Type XXI was greatly increased battery
capacity, roughly triple the Type VIIC. This gave these boats great
underwater range, and dramatically reduced the time spent on or near
the surface. They could travel submerged at about 5kn (5.8mph;
9.3km/h) for two or three days before recharging batteries, which took
less than five hours using the snorkel. The Type XXI was also far
quieter than the VIIC, making it harder to detect when submerged.
US Navy diagram of a Type XXI U-boat,
showing a small bulbous bow feature at the
ventral stem

The Type XXI's streamlined and hydrodynamically clean hull design

even featuring a small, pioneering form of the later bulbous bow at
the ventral end of the stem as designed allowed high submerged
speed. The ability to outrun many surface ships while submerged,
combined with improved dive times (also a product of the new hull
form), made it far harder to chase and destroy. It also gave the boat a
'sprint ability' when positioning itself for an attack. Older boats had to
surface to sprint into position. This often revealed a boat's location,
Type XXI U-boats in Bergen, Norway
especially after aircraft became available for convoy escort. The new
hull design also reduced visibility by marine or airborne radar when
surfaced; whether this was a goal of the design or coincidence is still debated.
They also featured a hydraulic torpedo reloading system that allowed all six bow torpedo tubes to be reloaded faster
than a Type VIIC could reload one tube.Wikipedia:Citation needed The Type XXI could fire 18 torpedoes in under
20 minutes. The class also featured a very sensitive passive sonar for the time.
The Type XXIs also had better facilities than previous U-boat classes, including a freezer for food.

Between 1943 and 1945, 118 boats were assembled by Blohm & Voss of Hamburg, AG Weser of Bremen, and F.
Schichau of Danzig. Each hull was constructed from eight prefabricated sections with final assembly at the
shipyards. This new method could have pushed construction time below six months per vessel, but in practice all the
assembled U-boats were plagued with severe quality problems that required extensive post-production work to
rectify. One of the reasons for these shortcomings was that sections were made by companies having little

Type XXI submarine

experience in shipbuilding, following a decision by Albert Speer. As a result, of 118 Type XXIs completed, only
four were fit for combat before the war ended in Europe.
It was planned that final assembly of Type XXI boats would eventually be carried out in the Valentin submarine
pens, a massive, bombhardened concrete bunker built at the small port of Farge, near Bremen. Construction took
place between 1943 and 1945, using around 10,000 concentration camp prisoners and prisoners of war as
forcedlabour. The facility was 90% completed when, in March 1945, it was badly damaged by Allied bombing with
Grand Slam "earthquake" bombs and abandoned. A few weeks later, the area was captured by the British Army.

Radar Detector
The FuMB Ant 3 Bali radar detector an antenna was located on top of schnorkel head.

Radar Transmitter
The Type XXI boats were fitted with the FuMO 65 Hohentwiel U1 with the Type F432 D2 radar transmitter.

Radar Transmitter Type F432 D2

Type XXI submarine

Wartime and post-war service

U-2511 and U-3008 were the only Type XXIs to go on war patrols,
and neither sank any ships. U-2511 had a British cruiser in her sights
on 4 May when news of the German cease-fire was received. She made
a practice attack before leaving the scene undetected.
In 1957, U-2540, which had been scuttled at the end of the war, was
raised and refitted as research vessel Wilhelm Bauer of the
Bundesmarine. She was operated by both military and civilian crews in
a research role until 1982. In 1984, she was opened to the public by the
Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum (German Maritime Museum) in
Bremerhaven, Germany.

Wilhelm Bauer (U-2540)

U-2518 became French submarine Roland Morillot. She saw active service during the Suez Crisis in 1956, and
remained in commission until 1967. She was scrapped in 1969.

Soviet Union
Four Type XXI boats were assigned to the Soviet Union by the Potsdam Agreement; these were U-3515, U-2529,
U-3035, and U-3041, which were commissioned into the Soviet Navy as B-27, B-28, B-29, and B-30 (later B-100)
respectively. However, Western intelligence believed the Soviets had acquired several more Type XXI boats; a
review by the U.S. Joint Intelligence Committee for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in January 1948 estimated the Soviet
Navy then had 15 Type XXIs operational, could complete construction of 6 more within 2 months, and could build
another 39 within a year and a half from prefabricated sections, since several factories producing Type XXI
components and the assembly yard at Danzig had been captured by the Soviets at the end of World War II. U 3538
U 3557 (respectively TS-5 TS-19 and TS-32 TS-38) remained incomplete at Danzig and were scrapped or
sunk in 1947. The four boats assigned by Potsdam were used in trials and tests until 1955, then scuttled or used for
weapon testing between 1958 and 1973. The Type XXI formed the basis for the Project 614, essentially a copy of the
Type XXI, and many of its characteristics were also incorporated into the Project 613 submarine (known in the West
as the Whiskey class).

United Kingdom
The U-3017 was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS N41. She was used for tests until being scrapped in
November 1949.

United States
The United States Navy took over the U-2513 and U-3008, operating them both in the Atlantic. In November 1946
President Harry S. Truman became the first American President to travel on a submarine when he visited U-2513;
the submarine dove to 440 feet (130m) with the President on board.[4] The U-2513 was sunk as a target in 1951;
U-3008 was scrapped in 1956.

Type XXI submarine

The only boat to survive intact is Wilhelm Bauer (ex-U-2540). The wrecks of other Type XXI boats are known to
exist. In 1985, it was discovered that the partially scrapped remains of U-2505, U-3004, and U-3506 were still in the
partially demolished "Elbe II" U-boat bunker in Hamburg. The bunker has since been filled in with gravel, although
even that did not initially deter many souvenir hunters who measured the position of open hatches and dug down to
them to allow the removal of artifacts.[5] The wrecks now lie beneath a car park, making them inaccessible.
U-2513 lies in 213 feet (65m) of water 70 nautical miles (130km) west of Key West, Florida. The boat has been
visited by divers, but the depth makes this very difficult and the site is only considered suitable for advanced divers.
Four other boats lie off the coast of Northern Ireland, where they were sunk in 1946 as part of Operation Deadlight.
Both U-2511 and U-2506 were found by nautical archaeologist Innes McCartney during his Operation Deadlight
expeditions between 2001 and 2003. Both were found to be in remarkably good condition.

The Type XXI design directly influenced advanced post-war submarines, the GUPPY improvements to the
American Gato, Balao, and Tench class submarines and the Soviet submarine projects designated by NATO as the
Whiskey, Zulu[6] and Romeo classes. The Chinese built Romeo-class submarines based on Soviet-supplied designs.
The subsequent Ming class, some of which are still in operation in 2013, is in turn based on the Romeo.


Grner, Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe, vol.III, p.124

Grner, Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe, vol.III, p.1248
Grner, Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe, vol.III, p.125
"Truman Dives 440 Feet In German Sub" (http:/ / news. google. com/ newspapers?id=p1kbAAAAIBAJ& sjid=1EwEAAAAIBAJ&
pg=3101,1930838& dq=truman+ sub& hl=en), The Pittsburgh Press, November 21, 1946, p9
[5] Hitler's U-boat Bases (2002), Jak P Mallmann Showell, Sutton Publishing ISBN 0-7509-2606-6
[6] Fitzsimons, Bernard, general editor. The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus Publishing Company, 1978),
Volume 24, p.2594, "'Whiskey'", and p.2620, "'Zulu'".

Kohl, Fritz; Eberhard Rossler (1991). The Type XXI U-boat. Conway Maritime. ISBN1-55750-829-1.
Fitzsimons, Bernard, general editor. The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus
Publishing Company, 1978), Volume 24, p.2594, "'Whiskey'", and p.2620, "'Zulu'".

External links
U-Boot Type XXI in Detail ( with photos.
Type XXI ( on
Type XXI ( on

Article Sources and Contributors

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Type XXI submarine Source: Contributors: 8ty3hree, Aldis90, Alureiter, Andrew Gray, Andy Dingley, AuthorDionysos, Autodidact1,
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Denniss, Dili, Droll, Farquharson64, Geoffreybrooks, GraemeLeggett, Haus, Historian932, Hmains, IstvanWolf, JHunterJ, Jerryobject, Jimp, John, John K, John Prattley, Joseph Solis in
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File:U3008.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: D.W., Deep silence, Editor at Large, J 1982, PMG, Pil56, Rama, Rave,
Rcbutcher, Stefan Bernd, 1 anonymous edits
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User: David Newton
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Denelson83, Erlenmeyer, Fry1989, Lokal Profil, Ludger1961, Mattes, Ricordisamoa, SiBr4, Stunteltje, WerWil, 3 anonymous edits
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AnonMoos, Avicennasis, Bender235, Cathy Richards, Cycn, Dancingwombatsrule, Ec.Domnowall, Fry1989, Homo lupus, Pumbaa80, SiBr4, Stunteltje, Xiengyod, Yaddah, 4 anonymous edits
File:Naval Ensign of the Soviet Union.svg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors:
File:Flag of the United States.svg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Anomie
File:SRH025-p40.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Original uploader was user:Megapixie at en.wikipedia
File:U2511 Bergen.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: unknown british seaman
File:FuMO-61 Hohentwiel U Radar Transmitter Type F 432 D2.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Contributors:
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