German submarine U-42 (1939)

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-42.
U-37 at Lorient in 1940
U-37, (an identical U-boat to U-42) at Lorient in 1940
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-42
Ordered: 21 November 1936[1]
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 947[1]
Laid down: 21 December 1937[1]
Launched: 16 February 1939[1]
Commissioned: 15 July 1939[1]
Fate: Sunk on 13 October 1939 southwest of Ireland. 26 dead and 20 survivors[2]
General characteristics [3][4]
Type: Type IXA submarine
Displacement: 1,032 t (1,016 long tons) surfaced
1,152 t (1,134 long tons) submerged
Length: 76.5 m (251 ft) o/a
58.7 m (192 ft 7 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.51 m (21 ft 4 in) o/a
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.4 m (30 ft 10 in)
Draft: 4.7 m (15 ft 5 in)
Propulsion: 2 × MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines, 4,400 hp (3,281 kW)
2 × SSW 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)
Speed: 18.2 knots (33.7 km/h; 20.9 mph) surfaced
7.7 knots (14.3 km/h; 8.9 mph) submerged
Range: 10,500 nmi (19,400 km; 12,100 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
65–78 nmi (120–144 km; 75–90 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 46
Service record
Part of: Kriegsmarine:
6th U-boat Flotilla
Identification codes: M 05 024
Commanders: Kptlt. Rolf Dau
(15 July–13 October 1939)
Operations: One
2–13 October 1939
Victories: One ship damaged of 4,803 gross register tons (GRT)

German submarine U-42 was a Type IXA U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine that operated during World War II.[2]

U-42 was ordered by Kriegsmarine in November 1936. Her keel was laid down in December 1937; she was launched in February 1939 and commissioned in July 1939.

U-42 had a very short career, being sunk while still on her first war patrol. During her service with Kriegsmarine, the boat conducted only one training patrol and one war patrol. Over the latter she damaged one enemy vessel of 4,803 gross register tons (GRT). Both her patrols were as part of the 6th U-boat Flotilla.

U-42 was sunk southwest of Ireland on 13 October 1939. Out of a crew of 46, 20 survived and 26 went down with the submarine.[2]


U-42 was ordered by Kriegsmarine on 21 November 1936 (as part of Plan Z). Her keel was laid down on 21 December 1937 by DeSchiMAG AG Weser of Bremen as yard number947. She was launched on 16 February 1939 and commissioned on 15 July of that same year under the command of Kapitänleutnant Rolf Dau.[2]

Like all other Type IXA U-boats, U-42 had two MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines that put out 4,400 hp (3,281 kW), as well as two SSW 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors that produced 1,000 hp (746 kW) and allowed her to travel at up to 18.2 knots (33.7 km/h; 20.9 mph) while surfaced and 7.7 knots (14.3 km/h; 8.9 mph) submerged. She had a range of 10,500 nmi (19,400 km; 12,100 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) while on the surface and 65–78 nmi (120–144 km; 75–90 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) while submerged. U-42 had six torpedo tubes (four in the bow and two in the stern). She also carried a total of twenty-two 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedoes and had a 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SK L/45 deck gun with 180 rounds. She was equipped with 2 cm FlaK 30 anti-aircraft guns. U-42 had a crew of 46 men. However, she could hold up to 56 crew members at any given time. After being commissioned and deployed, U-42 was stationed in the German city of Wilhelmshaven.[4] It was to be her home port for the rest of her fairly short career.[2]

Service record[edit]


Following training exercises with the 6th Flotilla from 16 July 1939 to 1 October 1939, U-42 was moved into active service with the 6th Flotilla, ready for operations. The day after her training exercises ended, she left Wilhelmshaven on 2 October. On a 12 day journey, U-42 traveled into the North Sea and circumnavigated the British Isles. She then entered the North Atlantic in search of any Allied convoys.[5] During this operation, one enemy ship was damaged, the 4,803 ton British steam freighter SS Stonepool, which had become separated from Convoy OB 17 while sailing from Liverpool, England to North America. This was to be the boat's first and only attack on any Allied merchant vessel.[6]


While still on her first war patrol, U-42 was sunk on 13 October 1939 by depth charges[2] from the British destroyers HMS Imogen and HMS Ilex. This attack took place off the southwest coast of neutral Ireland.[7] Of the 46 man crew, 26 were killed in the depth charge attack, 20 crew members survived and were made prisoners of war by the British. The youngest crew member aboard U-42 was Rudolf Nuggel who was born on 22 December 1919 and was among the 26 dead. He was 19 years old with his 20th birthday just over two months away. The captain, Rolf Dau, was the oldest known crew member of U-42. He was born on 1 April 1906 and was 33 years old at the time of the boat's sinking;[1] he survived.[5] U-42 was the fifth U-boat to be lost in World War II.[8]

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date[9] Ship[9] Nationality[9] Tonnage[9] Convoy Fate[9]
13 October 1939 Stonepool  United Kingdom 4,803 Convoy OB 17 Damaged


  1. ^ a b c d e f "U-42 Type IXA". Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-42". German U-boats of World War II. Retrieved 13 April 2010. 
  3. ^ Gröner 1985, pp. 105-6.
  4. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "Type IXA". U-Boat War in World War II. Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol info for U-42 (First patrol)". U-boat patrols. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Stonepool (Steam merchant)". Ships hit by U-boats. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Heden, Karl (2006). "Sunken Ships World War II: US Naval Chronology, Including Submarine Losses of the United States, England, Germany, Japan, Italy". Branden Books. p. 298. ISBN 0-8283-2118-3. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-boat Losses – 1939". U-boat Fates. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Ships hit by U-42". U-boat Successes. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  • 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. 
Further reading
  • 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. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°12′N 16°00′W / 49.200°N 16.000°W / 49.200; -16.000