German Type II submarine

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Finnish submarine Vesikko, which served as a direct prototype for German Type II
Vesikko, which served as a direct prototype for German Type II
Class overview
Name: Type II Submarine
Builders: IIA : Deutsche Werke (6)
IIB : Deutsche Werke (4), Germaniawerft (14), Flender Werke (2)
IIC : Deutsche Werke (8)
IID : Deutsche Werke (16)
Operators:  Kriegsmarine
 Soviet Navy (post war; U 9, U 18, U 24)
Built: 1934–1940
In commission: 1935–1945
Completed: IIA : 6
IIB : 20
IIC : 8
IID : 16
General characteristics [1]
Displacement: IIA :
254 tonnes (250 long tons) surfaced
303 t (298 long tons) submerged
381 t (375 long tons) total
279 t (275 long tons) surfaced
328 t (323 long tons) submerged
414 t (407 long tons) total
291 t (286 long tons) surfaced
341 t (336 long tons) submerged
435 t (428 long tons) total
314 t (309 long tons) surfaced
364 t (358 long tons) submerged
460 t (453 long tons) total
Length: IIA :
40.9 m (134 ft 2 in) o/a
27.8 m (91 ft 2 in) pressure hull
42.7 m (140 ft 1 in) o/a
28.2 m (92 ft 6 in) pressure hull
43.9 m (144 ft) o/a
29.6 m (97 ft 1 in) pressure hull
43.97 m (144 ft 3 in) o/a
29.8 m (97 ft 9 in) pressure hull
Beam: IIA, IIB, IIC :
4.08 m (13 ft 5 in) o/a
4 m (13 ft 1 in) pressure hull
4.92 m (16 ft 2 in) o/a
4 m (13 ft 1 in) pressure hull
Height: IIA, IIB : 8.6 m (28 ft 3 in)
IIC, IID : 8.4 m (27 ft 7 in)
Draught: IIA:
3.83 m (12 ft 7 in)
IIB: 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in)
3.82 m (12 ft 6 in)
3.93 m (12 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: All types : 2 × MWM RS 127 S 6-cylinder diesel engines, 700 hp (522 kW)
2 × SSW PG VV 322/36 double-acting electric motors, 360–375 shp (268–280 kW)
Speed: IIA :
13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph) surfaced
6.9 knots (12.8 km/h; 7.9 mph) submerged
13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph) surfaced
7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) submerged
12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) submerged
12.7 knots (23.5 km/h; 14.6 mph) surfaced
7.4 knots (13.7 km/h; 8.5 mph) submerged
Range: IIA :
1,600 nmi (3,000 km; 1,800 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
35 nmi (65 km; 40 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
3,100 nmi (5,700 km; 3,600 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
35–43 nmi (65–80 km; 40–49 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
3,800 nmi (7,000 km; 4,400 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
35–42 nmi (65–78 km; 40–48 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
5,650 nmi (10,460 km; 6,500 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
56 nmi (104 km; 64 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: All types : 150 m (490 ft)
Complement: All types : 3 officers, 22 enlisted
  • 3 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (bow)
  • 5 torpedoes
  • various 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun

The Type II U-boat was designed by Germany as a coastal U-boat, modeled after the CV-707 submarine, which was designed by the Dutch dummy company NV Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw den Haag (I.v.S) (set up by Germany after World War I in order to maintain and develop German submarine technology and to circumvent the limitations set by the Treaty of Versailles) and built in 1933 by the Finnish Crichton-Vulcan shipyard in Turku, Finland. It was too small to undertake sustained operations far away from the home support facilities. Its primary role was found to be in the training schools, preparing new German naval officers for command. It appeared in four sub-types.


Germany was stripped of her U-boats by the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I, but in the late 1920s and early 1930s began to rebuild her armed forces. The pace of rearmament accelerated under Adolf Hitler, and the first Type II U-boat was laid down on 11 February 1935. Knowing that the world would see this step towards rearmament, Hitler reached an agreement with Britain to build a navy up to 35% of the size of the Royal Navy in surface vessels, but equal to the British in number of submarines. This agreement was signed on 18 June 1935, and U-1 was commissioned 11 days later.


The defining characteristic of the Type II was its tiny size. Known as the Einbaum ("dugout canoe"), it had the advantages over larger boats of the ability to work in shallow water, diving more quickly, and being more difficult to spot due to the low conning tower. However, it had a shallower maximum depth, short range, and cramped living conditions, and could carry few torpedoes.

The boat had a single hull, with no watertight compartments. There were three torpedo tubes forward (none aft), with space for another two torpedoes inside the pressure hull for reloads. A single 20 mm anti-aircraft gun was provided, but no deck gun was mounted.

Space inside was limited. The two spare torpedoes extended from just behind the torpedo tubes to just in front of the control room, and most of the 24-man crew lived in this forward area around the torpedoes, sharing 12 bunks. Four bunks were also provided aft of the engines for the engine room crew. Cooking and sanitary facilities were basic, and in this environment long patrols were very arduous.

Most Type IIs only saw operational service during the early years of the war, thereafter remaining in training bases. Six were stripped down to just a hull, transported by river and truck to Linz (on the Danube), and reassembled for use in the Black Sea against the Soviet Union.

In contrast to other German submarine types, few Type IIs were lost. This, of course, reflects their use as training boats, although accidents accounted for several vessels.

These boats were a first step towards re-armament, intended to provide Germany with experience in submarine construction and operation and lay the foundation for larger boats to build upon. Only one of these submarines survives to this day; the prototype CV-707, renamed Vesikko by the Finnish Navy which later bought it.

On 3 February 2008, The Telegraph reported that U-20 had been discovered by Selçuk Kolay, a Turkish marine engineer in 80 feet (24 m) of water off the coast of the Turkish city of Zonguldak. [1] The paper also reported that Kolay knows where U-23 and U-19 are, scuttled in deeper water near U-20.

Comparison of Finnish Crichton-Vulcan CV-707(U2A) to German Type II[edit]

CV-707 Type IIA U1-U6
Launched 11 May 1933 1939–1940
Displacement (tonnes)
Surfaced 254 254
Submerged 303 303
Total 381 381
Size (metres)
Length 40.9 40.9
Beam 4.1 4.1
Draft 4.2 3.8
Speed (knots)
Surfaced 13 13
Submerged 8 6.9
Range (nautical miles)
Surfaced 1,350 nautical miles (2,500 km; 1,550 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km; 1,200 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
Submerged 40 nautical miles (74 km; 46 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) 35 nautical miles (65 km; 40 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Engine Diesel-electric Diesel-electric
2 × MWM Diesel 700 hp (520 kW) 2 × MWM Diesel 700 hp (520 kW)
2 × Siemens Electric 360 hp (270 kW) 2 × Siemens Electric 402 hp (300 kW)

Type IIA[edit]

The Type IIA was a single hull, all welded boat with internal ballast tanks. Compared to the other variants, it had a smaller bridge and could carry the German G7a, G7e torpedoes as well as TM-type torpedo mines. There was a single periscope in the conning tower with serrated net cutters in the bow. The net cutters were adopted from World War 1 boats but were quickly discontinued during World War 2.

Deutsche Werke AG, of Kiel built six Type IIAs in 1934 and 1935.

List of Type IIA submarines[edit]

Type IIB[edit]

The Type IIB was a lengthened version of the Type IIA. Three additional compartments were inserted amidships which were fitted with additional diesel tanks beneath the control room. The range was increased to 1,800 nautical miles at 12 knots. Diving time was also improved to 30 seconds.

Deutsche Werke AG, of Kiel, built four Type IIBs in 1935 and 1936, Germaniawerft AG, of Kiel, built fourteen in 1935 and 1936, and Flender Werke AG, of Lübeck, built two between 1938 and 1940, for a total of twenty built.

List of Type IIB submarines[edit]

There were 20 Type IIB submarines commissioned.

Type IIC[edit]

The Type IIC was a further lengthened version of the Type IIB with an additional two compartments inserted amidships to accommodate improved radio room facilities and a second periscope. The additional diesel tanks beneath the control room was further enlarged, extending the range to 1,900 nautical miles at 12 knots.

Deutsche Werke AG, of Kiel built eight Type IICs between 1937 and 1940.

List of Type IIC submarines[edit]

There were eight Type IIC submarines commissioned

Type IID[edit]

The Type IID had additional saddle tanks fitted to the sides of the external hull. These saddle tanks were used to accommodate additional diesel storage tanks. The diesel oil would float atop the saddle tanks and as the oil is consumed, sea water would gradually fill the tanks to compensate for the positive buoyancy. The range was nearly doubled to 3,450 nautical miles (6,390 km; 3,970 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) and enabled the Type II to operate for longer durations around the British Isles. A further development was the propellers were fitted with Kort nozzles, intended to improve propulsion efficiency.

Deutsche Werke AG, of Kiel built sixteen Type IIDs in 1939 and 1940.

List of Type IID submarines[edit]

There were 16 Type IID submarines commissioned

Ships in class[edit]

See list of German Type II submarines for individual ship details

See also[edit]

Media related to German Type II submarines at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ Gröner, p. 67.


  • Gröner, Erich (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 

External links[edit]