German submarine U-21 (1936)

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-21
Fate: Stranded, March 1940 after running aground in southern Noorway
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: IIB
Type: Coastal submarine
Displacement: 279 t (275 long tons) surfaced
328 t (323 long tons) submerged
Length: 42.70 m (140 ft 1 in)
Beam: 4.08 m (13 ft 5 in)
Draft: 3.90 m (12 ft 10 in)
Propulsion: 2 × propeller shafts
2 × MWM four-stroke diesel engines, 700 shp (520 kW)
2 × Siemens-Schuckert electric motor, 360 shp (270 kW)
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph) surfaced
7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) submerged
Range: 1,800 nmi (3,300 km; 2,100 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
35–43 nmi (65–80 km; 40–49 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 80 m (260 ft)
Complement: 3 officers, 22 men
Armament:
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine
1st U-boat Flotilla
3rd U-boat Flotilla
21st U-boat Flotilla
30th U-boat Flotilla
Commanders:
  • Kptlt. Kurt Freiwald
    (18 July 1935–3 October 1937)
  • Kptlt. Werner Lott
    (September 1936–31 March 1937)
  • Kptlt. Wilhelm Ambrosius
    (1937)
    Kpt. Erwin Sachs
    (1937)
  • Kptlt. Fritz Frauenheim
    1 October 1937–6 January 1940
  • Wolf-Harro Stiebler
    6 January–28 July 1940
  • Oblt.z.S. Hans Heidtmann
    1 August–20 December 1940
  • Kptlt. Ernst-Bernard Lohse
    21 December 1940–18 May 1941
  • Oblt.z.S. Karl-Heinz Herbsleb
    19 May 1941–3 January 1942
  • Oblt.z.S. Hans-Heinrich Döhler
    4 January–24 September 1942
  • Lt.z.S. Hans-Ferdinand Geisler
    25 September 1942–28 January 1943
  • Oblt.z.S. Rudolf Kugelberg
    29 January 1943–11 May 1944
  • Oblt.z.S. Wolfgang Schwazkopf
    12 May–5 August 1944
Operations: 16;
1st patrol:
25 August–5 September 1939
2nd patrol:
9 September–1 October 1939
3rd patrol:
22 October–8 November 1939
4th patrol:
27 November–5 December 1939
5th patrol:
17–24 December 1939
6th patrol:
27 January–9 February 1940
7th patrol:
21–27 March 1940
Victories: Five ships sunk for a total of 10,706 GRT
one auxiliary warship sunk, of 605 GRT;
one warship damaged of 11,500 tons

German submarine U-21 was a Type IIB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine. Her keel was laid down 4 March 1936, by Germaniawerft of Kiel as yard number 551. She was commissioned on 3 August 1936. During World War II, she conducted operations against enemy shipping.

U-21 went on seven war patrols, sinking five ships, one auxiliary warship and damaging one warship.

Operational history[edit]

1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols[edit]

U-21‍ '​s first patrol was relatively uneventful.

On her second foray, the boat was attacked by the British submarine HMS Ursulawhich fired six torpedoes at her in the North Sea northeast of Berwick-Upon-Tweed [On the English/Scottish border] on 17 September 1939. These were the first submarine weapons launched by the Royal Navy in the Second World War. They all missed.

On her third patrol, the U-boat also had torpedoes fired at her in the central North Sea by another British submarine, HMS Sealion. The result was inconclusive as well.

4th and 5th patrols[edit]

The boat's first success with a torpedo came on 1 December 1939 when she sank the Finnish-registered Mercator about 12 nmi (22 km; 14 mi) southeast of Buchan Ness (near Peterhead). She also damaged the British cruiser HMS Belfast with a mine.

On her fifth sortie, she sank Mars on 21 December 1939 and Carl Henckel (both from Sweden), on the same day. She also sank the British boom defence vessel HMS Bayonet in the Firth of Forth,[2] again with a mine.

6th patrol[edit]

Patrol number six saw her sink the Danish Vidar 100 nmi (190 km; 120 mi) east of the Moray Firth[3] on 31 January 1940.

7th patrol[edit]

She sank the British Royal Archer with a mine on 26 February 1940, but then it all went horribly wrong on 27 March when she ran aground off Oldknuppen Island after a navigational error. The boat was towed to Mandal in Norway where she was interned. She was then towed to Kristiansand for repairs and released on 9 April after the German occupation of the Nordic country.

Fate[edit]

In July she was transferred to the 21st U-boat Flotilla in Kiel as a training boat, with whom she remained for the rest of the war. U-21 was scrapped in February 1945.[4]

Summary of raiding career[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
(GRT)
Fate[5]
21 November 1939 HMS Belfast  Royal Navy 11,500 Damaged (mine)
1 December 1939 Mercator  Finland 4,620 Sunk
21 December 1939 Carl Henckel  Sweden 1,352 Sunk
21 December 1939 HMS Bayonet  Royal Navy 605 Sunk (mine)
21 December 1939 Mars  Sweden 1,475 Sunk
31 January 1940 Vidar  Denmark 1,353 Sunk
24 February 1940 Royal Archer  United Kingdom 2,266 Sunk (mine)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gröner 1985, p. 67.
  2. ^ The Times Atlas of the World - Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4, p. 10
  3. ^ The Times Atlas of the World, p. 10
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type II boat U-21". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-21". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 

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]

Coordinates: 41°10′N 30°47′E / 41.167°N 30.783°E / 41.167; 30.783