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  • Type XXI Elektroboat U-Boat

    Just watched a documentary last night on the remarkable type XXI U boat.
    Until now I didn't know that one survived, but a British submarine expert took us on a tour of the last surviving unit left in Bremerhaven, it looked awesome, not out of date even today.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_X...7881765%29.jpg

    It was planned that final assembly of Type XXI boats would eventually be carried out in the Valentin submarine pens, a massive, bomb–hardened concrete bunker that astounded the Brit compare, the facility was 90% completed when, in March 1945, it was badly damaged by Allied bombing with Grand Slam "earthquake" bombs and abandoned.

    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 and Romeo classes. The Chinese built Romeo-class submarines were 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. Wiki.

    Great doco.

  • #2
    Actually, that U-boat factory, not "pens at all, wasn't knocked out of action by Grand Slam bombs at all, but was bombed experimentally after the war by a special unit of the US Army Air Corp. They failed miserably, bombing under perfect conditions without enemy fighters or flak, scoring only two or three hits or so out of dozens of different bomb types, including the Disney bombs - rocket asssisted penetration bombs - and both the British GRand Slam and the American *Amazon bombs. The much vaunted Norden Bomb Sight failed miserably in the hands of veteran bombardiers against a huge target.
    *see chart below

    While in Germany I had the opportunity to read the official report on the operation, code named Project Ruby:

    The Valentin U-boat Assembly Facility:





    Bunker with Type XXI to show scale:

    Bombs Used On Project Ruby: Disney bomb is second from left:

    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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    • #3
      It was a monster facility, that's for sure......

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentin_submarine_pens

      The Brit historian in the doco gave a grand tour of the site, which was to be a massive production line for the Type XXI boats, the largest fortified U-boat facility in Germany, even had two bays that could be flooded to test the sub before it sailed from the base, the Germans planned on a monthly delivery of a minimum of 14 boats.

      The Brit who, was astounded by the sheer scale of the site, saying it had walls 15 ft thick and a roof up to 23ft, and a height of 89ft.
      He showed the damage done by the Grand Slam, and some of the casing of the Grand Slam was found, he was amazed by the sheer thickness and weight of it.

      But the Submarine in the flesh was impressive, the sub expert who went over it from bow to stern and with aid of computer graphics showed how the Germans had made a quantum leap in submarine design and development, luckily it was all too late.

      http://www.uboataces.com/uboat-type-xxi.shtml

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Aussie View Post
        It was a monster facility, that's for sure......

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentin_submarine_pens

        The Brit historian in the doco gave a grand tour of the site, which was to be a massive production line for the Type XXI boats, the largest fortified U-boat facility in Germany, even had two bays that could be flooded to test the sub before it sailed from the base, the Germans planned on a monthly delivery of a minimum of 14 boats.

        The Brit who, was astounded by the sheer scale of the site, saying it had walls 15 ft thick and a roof up to 23ft, and a height of 89ft.
        He showed the damage done by the Grand Slam, and some of the casing of the Grand Slam was found, he was amazed by the sheer thickness and weight of it.

        But the Submarine in the flesh was impressive, the sub expert who went over it from bow to stern and with aid of computer graphics showed how the Germans had made a quantum leap in submarine design and development, luckily it was all too late.

        http://www.uboataces.com/uboat-type-xxi.shtml
        The Valentin factory was set up from the beginning to move the finished subs into the river submerged for their journey to the ocean. It was a very well designed and executed concept and once it was occupied and staffed with it's AA batteries and fighters nearby, I doubt the Allies would have been able to do anything about it.

        Remember, it was attacked while it was entirely undefended.

        Exit to the river on the far left of drawing:


        Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

        Comment


        • #5
          Your diagrams show the production line of over a dozen boats, each 251ft long with a beam of 26ft.

          Gives some idea of the size of the site.

          The Brit sub expert who gave the grand tour of the type 21, suggested that if it had been launched two years earlier, it would have caused massive problems for the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic.

          At the end of the doco it showed one of only two type 21's to go to sea, and the Captain Adalbert Schnee trailed and moved to within 600 meters of the cruiser HMS Suffolk without being detected, and although he had the signal that Germany had surrendered, thought long and hard about finishing the war with a bang, 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.

          Lucky Suffolk.

          Comment


          • #6
            The Type XXI could go faster underwater than it could on the surface, and it's submerged speed took away the allied sonar/asdic advantage because at the time, a destroyer had to slow to ten knots to employ it's sonar and the XXI could go up to 17 knots when it did so. The XXI had an 8 know silent running speed, as well, about twice as fast as a standard U-boat.

            It could also go a lot longer between battery charges - up to 24 hours -, carried a snorkel, and could dive operationally to 300 meters, well beyond the depth charge settings normally used.

            Most lethal, however, was that the XXI would track, target and fire acoustically from a depth of 100 meters. It didn't need to come to periscope depth and expose itself, and with acoustic torpedoes and pattern-running torpedoes, it's lethality remained intact.
            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

            Comment


            • #7
              And it certainly packed some punch with six hydraulically reloaded torpedo tubes capable of firing more than 23 stored torpedoes in quick time. This arsenal could turn a convoy into wreckage according to the Brit.

              No doubt designer Hellmuth Walter was some kind of genius, with the type 21 being the first true modern submarine, but it might not have survived because of the problem related to fuel required by the closed circle Walter engine, highly flammable Perhydrol. But 2 engineers, Schuerer and Broecking, who realized a very simple solution, utilizing the new Walter hull design. Instead of using the lower section for Perhydrol, the idea was to install additional batteries there. This would effectively triple the battery capacity of the boat.

              The documentary showed the trials of a small experimental type by Walter in 1940, driven by hydrogen peroxide, it reached 23 knots submerged, more than double the underwater speed of any submarine in the world at that time.

              Comment


              • #8
                The Type XXI didn't use the Walther's peroxide engine. That was the smaller, and much faster V80, which was upscaled to the Type XVIII intended to use the Walther *Peredol engine, but which became the Type XXI when it was altered to conventional power with a massive increase in battery size.

                The XXI could do 15 knots surfaced and 17 submerged.

                The V80 could do almost 30 knots submerged.

                There was also a conventional spin-off of the XXI intended for coastal defense - the Type XXIII.

                * Peredol was Walther's name for a form of stabilized hydrogen peroxide meant to be safer to operate with his closed system engine.

                V-80 Prototype Peredol powered submarine:



                Type XXIII Coastal U-boat:

                Type XXI for comparison - TYpe XXIII in background:
                Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Aussie View Post
                  last surviving unit left in Bremerhaven, it looked awesome, not out of date even today.
                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_X...7881765%29.jpg
                  I was on her board last year. Couldn't help boasting, sorry.
                  "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Some notes on the XXI and XXIII / XVI:

                    The AA gun mounts on the type XXI were found to be death traps for the crew. They couldn't be evacuated quickly enough on the sub making an emergency dive to prevent the crew from drowning. These were later removed from the design.

                    The Type XXIII was found to be extremely dangerous in terms of its low freeboard and very rapid diving time. One heavy wave over the low conning tower and there was potential to flood the boat sufficiently to sink it. This actually happened to at least one.

                    H2O2 boats uniformly proved, postwar, to be horribly dangerous in terms of explosions and fire. This proved sufficiently common that everybody abandoned H2O2 boat development.

                    One might also note that the Japanese developed high underwater speed subs on their own too.

                    The I 201 class was smaller than the Type XXI but essentially the same idea:



                    That class was a development of the earlier Vessel 71, a pre war high speed submarine test vehicle.

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_No.71

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                      The Type XXI didn't use the Walther's peroxide engine. That was the smaller, and much faster V80, which was upscaled to the Type XVIII intended to use the Walther *Peredol engine, but which became the Type XXI when it was altered to conventional power with a massive increase in battery size.

                      The XXI could do 15 knots surfaced and 17 submerged.

                      The V80 could do almost 30 knots submerged.

                      There was also a conventional spin-off of the XXI intended for coastal defense - the Type XXIII.

                      * Peredol was Walther's name for a form of stabilized hydrogen peroxide meant to be safer to operate with his closed system engine.

                      V-80 Prototype Peredol powered submarine:



                      Type XXIII Coastal U-boat:

                      Type XXI for comparison - TYpe XXIII in background:
                      This...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German.......eventually turned into these....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German...XVII_submarine.
                      The underwater speed for these boats, followed by the type 21, was amazing for the time.

                      Originally posted by dmf01 View Post
                      I was on her board last year. Couldn't help boasting, sorry.
                      Your a lucky son of a gun!
                      Give my eye teeth to get aboard.
                      Been promising myself to do the Aussie tour of Britain and Europe for more years then I can remember, about time I got up and went.


                      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                      Some notes on the XXI and XXIII / XVI:

                      The AA gun mounts on the type XXI were found to be death traps for the crew. They couldn't be evacuated quickly enough on the sub making an emergency dive to prevent the crew from drowning. These were later removed from the design.

                      The Type XXIII was found to be extremely dangerous in terms of its low freeboard and very rapid diving time. One heavy wave over the low conning tower and there was potential to flood the boat sufficiently to sink it. This actually happened to at least one.

                      H2O2 boats uniformly proved, postwar, to be horribly dangerous in terms of explosions and fire. This proved sufficiently common that everybody abandoned H2O2 boat development.

                      One might also note that the Japanese developed high underwater speed subs on their own too.

                      The I 201 class was smaller than the Type XXI but essentially the same idea:



                      That class was a development of the earlier Vessel 71, a pre war high speed submarine test vehicle.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_No.71
                      The remaining operational Type XXIs remained in service in France until 1967, in the Soviet Union for testing purposes until 1973, in the United Kingdom until 1949, and in the United States (U-2513 and U-3008) until 1956. And by all accounts Harry S. Truman became the first United States President aboard a submarine when he traveled in U-2513 in November 1946 and submerged to a depth of 130 meters (440 feet).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Aussie View Post

                        Your a lucky son of a gun!
                        Give my eye teeth to get aboard.
                        Been promising myself to do the Aussie tour of Britain and Europe for more years then I can remember, about time I got up and went.
                        Actually, for a long while I been contemplating a tour to Australia. But it's so friggin far and expensive!
                        "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dmf01 View Post
                          Actually, for a long while I been contemplating a tour to Australia. But it's so friggin far and expensive!
                          Yep, it's a long way alright, and travel sure aint cheep.

                          One good idea a lot of younger Europeans do is come to Aus during the fruit picking season, they usually make enough money (tax free) to pay for their trip and have some left in their pocket to go home.
                          But unfortunately the current Government is looking to tax them 33 cents in the dollar, which means many will probably give it a miss.

                          What did you think of the sub?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aussie View Post
                            The remaining operational Type XXIs remained in service in France until 1967, in the Soviet Union for testing purposes until 1973, in the United Kingdom until 1949, and in the United States (U-2513 and U-3008) until 1956. And by all accounts Harry S. Truman became the first United States President aboard a submarine when he traveled in U-2513 in November 1946 and submerged to a depth of 130 meters (440 feet).
                            In the case of the USN, this is inaccurate. U 2513 remained operational until 7/49 when it was laid up. Truman was the second President to go to sea on a submarine, not the first. U2513 was sunk by gunfire as a target on 9/2/51.

                            U 3008 was placed out of service on 6/18/49 and remained so until scuttled in 1954. She was subsequently raised and sold on 9/15/55 for scrap.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Aussie View Post
                              Yep, it's a long way alright, and travel sure aint cheep.

                              One good idea a lot of younger Europeans do is come to Aus during the fruit picking season, they usually make enough money (tax free) to pay for their trip and have some left in their pocket to go home.
                              But unfortunately the current Government is looking to tax them 33 cents in the dollar, which means many will probably give it a miss.

                              What did you think of the sub?
                              I was impressed. You know, it's a museum inside dedicated to WWII and later years of her service. It was like travel back in time. Enjoyed much and bought some souvenirs.

                              Unfortunately I couldn't get to U-boot Museum in Cuxhaven-Altenbruch because it was closed on that day. Interesting small museum not far from Bremerhaven, but it's a private establishment and one has to contact them via email to plan a visit to make sure it'd be open and there'd be anyone who speaks English.
                              "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

                              Comment

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