German submarine U-181

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-181
Ordered: 15 August 1940
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1021
Laid down: 15 March 1941
Launched: 30 December 1941
Commissioned: 9 May 1942
Fate: Taken over by Japan, May 1945
Career (Japan)
Name: I-501
Acquired: May 1945
Commissioned: 15 July 1945
Fate: Surrendered, August 1945
Scuttled, 12 February 1946
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Type IXD2 submarine
Displacement: 1,616 t (1,590 long tons) surfaced
1,804 t (1,776 long tons) submerged
Length: Overall: 87.58 m (287.3 ft) o/a
68.50 m (224.7 ft) pressure hull
Beam: 7.50 m (24.6 ft) o/a
4.40 m (14.4 ft) pressure hull
Draught: 5.35 m (17.6 ft)
Propulsion: 5,400 hp surfaced
1,100 hp surfaced
Speed: 19.2 knots (35.6 km/h; 22.1 mph) surfaced
6.9 knots (12.8 km/h; 7.9 mph) surfaced
Range: 12,750 nmi (23,610 km; 14,670 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
57 nmi (106 km; 66 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: Calculated crush depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 4-7 officers, 51-57 enlisted
Armament:
Service record (Kriegsmarine)[2][3]
Part of: 4th U-boat Flotilla
(9 May–30 September 1942)
10th U-boat Flotilla
(1–31 October 1942)
12th U-boat Flotilla
(1 November 1942 – 30 September 1944)
33rd U-boat Flotilla
(1 October 1944 – 8 May 1945)
Commanders:
Operations: Four patrols
1st patrol:
12 September 1942–18 January 1943
2nd patrol:
23 March–14 October 1943
3rd patrol:
16 March–8 August 1944
4th patrol:
19 October 1944 – 5 January 1945
Victories: 27 commercial ships sunk (138,779 GRT)

German submarine U-181 was a Type IXD2 U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 15 March 1941 at the DeSchiMAG AG Weser yard at Bremen as yard number 1021. She was launched on 30 December 1941 and commissioned on 9 May 1942 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth. After training with the 4th U-boat Flotilla at Stettin, U-181 was attached to the 10th flotilla for front-line service on 1 October 1942, then transferred to the 12th flotilla on 1 November.[2]

Operational history[edit]

Under Lüth's command she sailed on two long combat patrols in late–1942 and 1943, haunting the waters off South Africa and Mozambique and sinking 22 ships for a total of 103,712 tons,[3] making Lüth the second most successful U-boat commander of the war (after Otto Kretschmer) and earning him promotion to Korvettenkapitän and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He went on to command the 22nd U-boat Flotilla.[4]

On 1 November 1943 under the command of Fregattenkapitän Kurt Freiwald and part of the 12th U-boat Flotilla. U-181 sailed from her base in Bordeaux, France to Penang, Malaya (now Malaysia) in mid–1944, sinking four ships totalling 24,869 tons.[3] They carried a Bachstelze and a Naxos radar detector on this trip.[5]:183–184,190 On 1 October 1944 the U-boat was transferred to the 33rd U-boat Flotilla.[2] She carried out only one additional patrol in the Indian Ocean, in 1944–1945, on their journey home with 130 tons of tin, 20 tons of molybdenum, 80-100 tons of raw rubber, and the latest radar-detection equipment FUMB26 TUNIS.[5]:199,207 They ended up sinking a single ship of 10,198 tons.[3] Because of their cargo, they only had room for two torpedoes, which they used in this sinking.[5]:215 The trip home was aborted when the main bearings started to wear out, prompting a return to Batavia on 6 Jan. 1945, but transferring their fuel to the U-843 near the Cocos Islands on the way.[5]:219–221

On the 12th, they were ordered to Penang, but only made it as far as Singapore. There they worked on repairing the engines and fittitng a Schnorchel, before attempting a renewed trip home starting on 10 May.[5]:212,227–230

Wolfpacks[edit]

U-181 took part in one wolfpack, namely.

  • Without name (27–30 March 1943)

Fate[edit]

On 6 May, Otto Giese dropped the two code-key machines into the Singapore harbor, and later that day, the boat was "taken" by the Japanese Captain Marujama. Admiral Paul Wenneker sent the message on 8 May, that Lubeck was in place, "an early agreement between Germany and Japan, if one nation lost and the other continued fighting, the former would render its war material to the later." The crew was taken to Batu Pahat.[5]:232–236

After Germany's surrender in May 1945 the U-boat was taken over by Japan at Singapore and commissioned as I-501 on 15 July 1945. She surrendered to Allied forces there in August 1945, and was sunk on 12 February 1946 in the Strait of Malacca, in position 03°05′50″N 100°41′50″E / 3.09722°N 100.69722°E / 3.09722; 100.69722Coordinates: 03°05′50″N 100°41′50″E / 3.09722°N 100.69722°E / 3.09722; 100.69722, by the British frigates HMS Loch Glendhu and HMS Loch Lomond.[6]

Summary of raiding career[edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
1st patrol[7]
3 November 1942 East Indian  United States 8,159 Sunk
8 November 1942 Plaudit  Panama 5,060 Sunk
10 November 1942 K.G. Meldahl  Norway 3,799 Sunk
13 November 1942 Excello  United States 4,969 Sunk
19 November 1942 Gunda  Norway 2,241 Sunk
20 November 1942 Corinthiakos  Greece 3,562 Sunk
22 November 1942 Alcoa Pathfinder  United States 6,797 Sunk
24 November 1942 Dorington Court  United Kingdom 5,281 Sunk
Mount Helmos  Greece 6,481 Sunk
28 November 1942 Evanthia  Greece 3,551 Sunk
30 November 1942 Cleanthis  Greece 4,153 Sunk
2 December 1942 Amarylis  Panama 4,328 Sunk
2nd patrol[8]
11 April 1943 Empire Whimbrel  United Kingdom 5,983 Sunk
11 May 1943 Tinhow  United Kingdom 5,232 Sunk
27 May 1943 Sicilia  Sweden 1,633 Sunk
7 June 1943 Harrier  South Africa 193 Sunk
2 July 1943 Hoihow  United Kingdom 2,798 Sunk
15 July 1943 Empire Lake  United Kingdom 2,852 Sunk
16 July 1943 Fort Franklin  United Kingdom 7,135 Sunk
4 August 1943 Dalfram  United Kingdom 4,558 Sunk
7 August 1943 Umvuma  United Kingdom 4,419 Sunk
12 August 1943 Clan Macarthur  United Kingdom 10,528 Sunk
3rd patrol[9]
1 May 1944 Janeta  United Kingdom 5,312 Sunk
19 June 1944 Garoet  Netherlands 7,118 Sunk
15 July 1944 Tanda  United Kingdom 7,174 Sunk
19 July 1944 King Frederick  United Kingdom 5,265 Sunk
4th patrol[10]
2 November 1944 Fort Lee  United States 10,198 Sunk

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gröner 1985, p. 114.
  2. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type IXD2 boat U-181". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-181". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Kapitän zur See Wolfgang Lüth". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Giese, O., 1994, Shooting the War, Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, ISBN 1557503079
  6. ^ Hofmann, Markus. "U 181". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-181 from 12 Sep 1942 to 18 Jan 1943". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-181 from 23 Mar 1943 to 14 Oct 1943". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-181 from 16 Mar 1944 to 8 Aug 1944". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-181 from 19 Oct 1944 to 5 Jan 1945". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German) IV (Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler). ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • 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]