German submarine U-78 (1940)

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-78.
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-78
Ordered: 25 January 1939[1]
Builder: Bremer Vulkan, Bremen-Vegesack
Yard number: 6[1]
Laid down: 28 March 1940[1]
Launched: 7 December 1940[1]
Commissioned: 15 February 1941[1]
Fate: Sunk on 16 April 1945 by Soviet artillery fire.[2]
General characteristics [3]
Class & type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged MAN 6-cylinder 4-stroke M 6 V 40/46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × BBC electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296
Speed: 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 km (43 nmi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers & ratings
Service record[2]
Part of: 22nd U-boat Flotilla
(15 February 1941–28 February 1945)
4th U-boat Flotilla
(1 March–16 April 1945)
Commanders: Kptlt. Adolf Dumrese
(15 February 1941–July 1941)
Oblt.z.S. Kurt Makowski
(July 1941–February 1942)
Kptlt. Max Bernd Dieterich
(February 1942–30 June 1942)
Kptlt. Ernst Ziehm
(1 July 1942–November 1942)
Kptlt. Helmut Sommer
(November 1942–16 May 1943)
Wilhelm Eisele
(17 May 1943–26 November 1944)
Oblt.z.S. Horst Hübsch
(27 November 1944–16 April 1945)
Operations: None
Victories: None

German submarine U-78 was a Type VIIC submarine of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was the only German submarine to be sunk by land-based artillery fire during the war.

She was ordered on 25 January 1939, and laid down on 28 March 1940, in the shipyard of Bremer Vulkan in the port city of Bremen-Vegesack as 'Werk 6'. U-78 was launched on 7 December 1940 and formally commissioned into the Kriegsmarine as a "school boat" on 15 February 1941, with a crew of 41 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Alfred Dumrese.[2]

Service record[edit]

U-78 spent the majority of her career as a training U-boat, during which time she had several different crews. As a result, she never sank any enemy vessels nor engaged any enemy ships or convoys. On 1 March 1945, she was transferred to the 4th U-boat Flotilla but never saw any combat; prior to beginning her first patrol she was sunk on 16 April 1945. U-78's fate is notable in that she was the only German U-boat to be sunk by land-based artillery fire during World War II.[2][4]

Use as a training boat[edit]

U-78 spent almost her entire career as part of the 22nd U-boat Flotilla as a "school boat", a role which saw her being used to train U-boat crews. During this time, her commander was changed six times: in July 1941 from Kapitänleutnant (K/L) Alfred Dumrese to Oberleutnant zur See (O/L) Kurt Makowski, who remained in command until February 1942 when she was handed over to K/L Max Bernd Dieterich; in July 1942, K/L Ernst Ziehm took command of the U-boat from Dieterich in November 1942. K/L Helmut Sommer took command from Ziehm in May 1943; the sixth commander of U-78 took control of the U-boat when Wilhelm Eisele was named captain and lastly, the seventh commander, O/L Horst Hübsch, took command of U-78 from Eisele on 27 November 1944. All of U-78 '​s changes of command took place while the U-boat was still serving as a training boat. Crewmembers used her as a practice submarine before being assigned to their operational U-boat.[2]


By March 1945, the war was coming to an end, the Kriegsmarine was faced with a dwindling number of active U-boats. To offset this, the Navy looked to transfer boats away from other duties, such as training. On 1 March 1945, U-78 began active service with the 4th U-boat Flotilla. Just a month and a half later, however, on 16 April 1945, U-78 was sunk after being attacked by Soviet land-based artillery while she was docked near the electricity supply pier in the German port of Pillau in East Prussia.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e "U-78 Type VIIC". Retrieved 14 March 2010. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-78". U-Boat War in World War II. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Type VIIC". U-Boat War in World War II. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-boat losses by cause". U-Boat fates 1939-1945. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  • 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]

  • *Hofmann, Markus. "U-78". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-78". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 December 2014.