German Type 21

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by chipm, Dec 29, 2018.

  1. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Were these submarines any harder for the Allies Sonar to detect.?
    Or was their biggest Asset/Advantage the fact that they were so fast when submerged.?
    I realize they never, really, got a fair chance to prove themselves, but.....was it their speed underwater that was going to save them from destruction by Allied surface ships, or did they posses some stealthy qualities as well.?
    Thank You
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Well theres enough articles out there to be read:

    July 1945: Stepping aboard a captured German U-boat | The Engineer
    But, remarked The Engineer, “this submarine was not designed to come to the surface except when entering or leaving harbour” and its submerged speed was a ground-breaking 16 knots, around twice the top speed of existing submarines. The article puts this down to the number of batteries on board and the grouping of the cells.


    Type XXI Elektro boats - U-boat Types - German U-boats of WWII - Kriegsmarine -
    CL1, timuk and Blutto like this.
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
  4. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Jak Showell in his book Type XXI "Wonder Weapon" revises some of the established views on Type XXI , his view would be that the boat might not have had the clear field that has often been stated in many earlier appraisals of the XXI.
    An advanced design yes but one which was not combat ready and suffered from the production problems of dispersed manufacturing and assembly, along with a shortage of skilled shipwrights and rare materials / high-quality metals for critical elements of the build.
    The Allies had also not been blind to the development of the new submarines, were very well informed of German expectation, progress and performance of the boats. In view of this, they had reviewed and prepared their defenses to counter the new U Boats.
    Tracking targets moving at high speed submerged, use of sonar buoys, FIDO, Squid all proved satisfactory. Aircrew were training to spot and track snorkels and smoke / wake made by them, advanced and a step forward yes but in many ways, it was catch up.
    Had the Type XXI's appeared in numbers there would have been losses but they would not have altered the course of the war at sea.
  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Contrary to what some films might suggest many (most?) successful U boat attacks were made on the surface with the boat only submerging, after launching its fish, to avoid retaliation. The English translation of the captured German Admiralty archives suggests that one of the big problems the U boats had was locating the convoys so that they could be in position to attack. These are constant moans that the Luftwaffe were not giving enough support in this matter. A fast U boat able to stay submerged would be more difficult to locate and attack from the air but it would have a somewhat restricted view of the sea around it and unless long range sonar fitted might experience problems in finding targets
  6. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    The high speed ( completely submerged) was for a limited time only and could not be sustained, otherwise, it was like the obsolete boats snorkeling.
    The new boats were very much in the hands of the engineering officer and required to be constantly trimmed, the batteries needed constant attention and monitoring so any combat entered into would require an update on the boat's status from the engineering dept.
    The much-quoted mock attack by Schnee on an escorted cruiser in which he positioned for attack and escaped undetected at high speed never actually took place.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020

Share This Page