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SM UB-42

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For other ships of the same name, see German submarine U-42.
SM UB-42
SM UB-42
Career (German Empire)
Name: UB-42
Ordered: 31 July 1915[1]
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen[1]
Yard number: 244[1]
Laid down: 3 September 1915[1]
Launched: 4 March 1916[1]
Commissioned: 23 March 1916[1]
Fate: broken up at Malta, 1920
General characteristics
Class and type: German Type UB II submarine
Displacement: 279 t (308 short tons) surfaced[2]
305 t (336 short tons) submerged[3]
Length: 36.9 m (121 ft 1 in)[3]
Beam: 4.37 m (14 ft 4 in)[3][4]
Draft: 3.75 m (12 ft 4 in)[3]
Propulsion: 2 × propeller shaft
2 × Daimler diesel engines, 284 shp (212 kW) total
2 × Siemens-Schuckert electric motors, 280 shp (210 kW) total[3]
Speed: 8.82 knots (16.33 km/h) surfaced
6.22 knots (12 km/h) submerged[3]
Range: 6,940 nautical miles (12,850 km; 7,990 mi) at 5 kn (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph), 45 nautical miles (83 km; 52 mi) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Complement: 2 officers, 21 men[3]
Armament: 2 × 50 cm (19.7 in) torpedo tubes[3]
4 × torpedoes (later 6)
1 × 5 cm (1.97 in) deck gun[3]
Service record as UB-42
Part of:
  • Fritz Wernicke (Mar 1916 – May 1917)[1]
  • Kurt Schwarz (May 1917 – Apr 1918)
  • Erich von Rohrscheidt (Apr–Jul 1918)
  • Herbert Nolde (Jul–Sep 1918)
  • Hans Georg Lübbe (Sep 1918)
  • Cassius von Montigny (Sep–Nov 1918)
  • Peter Ernst Eiffe (Nov 1918)
  • 10 ships (15,925 GRT) sunk[1]
  • 1 ship (97 GRT) taken as prize
  • 1 warship (1,200 t) damaged

SM UB-42 was a Type UB II submarine or U-boat for the German Imperial Navy (German: Kaiserliche Marine) during World War I. UB-42 operated in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas during the war. She was broken up at Malta in 1920.

UB-42 was ordered in July 1915 and was laid down at the AG Weser shipyard in Bremen in September. UB-42 was 36.9 m (121 ft 1 in) in length and displaced between 270 and 305 metric tons (298 and 336 short tons), depending on whether surfaced or submerged. She was equipped to carry a complement of four torpedoes for her two bow torpedo tubes and had an 5 cm (1.97 in) deck gun. As part of a group of six submarines selected for Mediterranean service, UB-42 was broken into railcar sized components and shipped to Pola where she was assembled, launched and commissioned in March 1916.

In 21 patrols during the war, UB-42 sank ten ships of 15,925 gross register tons (GRT), captured one 97-ton vessel as a prize, and damaged Veronica a British Acacia-class sloop. In October 1916, UB-42 delivered five Georgians who had gold to help finance a Georgian independence movement. After the surrender of the Ottoman Empire in late October 1918, UB-42 fled to Sevastopol, where she was surrendered in November. UB-42 was taken to Malta, where she was broken up in 1920.

Design and construction[edit]

The German UB II design improved upon the design of the UB I boats, which had been ordered in September 1914.[5] In service, the UB I boats were found to be too small and too slow. A major problem was that, because they had a single propeller shaft/engine combo, if either component failed, the U-boat became almost totally disabled.[6] To rectify this flaw, the UB II boats featured twin propeller shafts and twin engines (one shaft for each engine), which also increased the U-boat's top speed.[7] The new design also included more powerful batteries,[6] larger torpedo tubes, and a deck gun.[2] As a UB II boat, U-47 could also carry twice the torpedo load of her UB I counterparts, and nearly ten times as much fuel.[2] To contain all of these changes the hull was larger,[6] and the surface and submerged displacement was more than double that of the UB I boats.[2]

The German Imperial Navy ordered UB-42 from AG Weser of Bremen on 31 July 1915 as one of a series of six UB II boats (numbered from UB-42 to UB-47).[2] UB-42 was 36.9 metres (121 ft 1 in) long and 4.37 metres (14 ft 4 in) abeam. She had a single hull with saddle tanks and had a draft of 3.75 metres (12 ft 4 in) when surfaced.[3] She displaced 305 metric tons (336 short tons) while submerged but only 272 metric tons (300 short tons) on the surface.[3]

The submarine was equipped with twin diesel engines and twin electric motors—for surfaced and submerged running, respectively—that drove twin propeller shafts.[4] UB-42 had a surface speed of up to 8.82 knots (16.33 km/h) and could go as fast as 6.22 knots (11.52 km/h) while underwater.[2] The U-boat could carry up to 37 metric tons (41 short tons) of diesel fuel, giving her a range of 6,940 nautical miles (12,850 km; 7,990 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph).[3] Her electric motors and batteries provided a range of 45 nautical miles (83 km; 52 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)[2] while submerged.

UB-42 was equipped with two 50-centimeter (19.7 in) bow torpedo tubes and could carry four torpedoes. The U-boat was also armed with a 5 centimetres (1.97 in) SK L/40 deck gun.[3]

UB-42 was laid down on 3 September 1915.[1] As one of six U-boats selected for service in the Mediterranean while under construction, UB-42 was broken into railcar-sized components and shipped overland to the Austro-Hungarian port of Pola.[8][9] Shipyard workers from Weser assembled the boat and her five sisters at Pola,[8] where she was launched on 4 March 1916.[1]

Service career[edit]

SM UB-42 was commissioned into the German Imperial Navy on 23 March 1916 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Fritz Wernicke.[1][Note 1] UB-42, Wernicke's first U-boat command,[10] was assigned to the Navy's Pola Flotilla (German: Deutsche U-Halbflotille Pola).[1] Although the flotilla was based in Pola, the site of the main Austro-Hungarian Navy base, boats of the flotilla operated out of the Austro-Hungarian base at Cattaro which was located farther south and closer to the Mediterranean. German U-boats typically returned to Pola only for repairs.[11] The first months of service for UB-42 proved unsuccessful; the U-boat sank no ships while in the Pola Flotilla.[12]

After Germany's conquest of Romania (see Romania during World War I), the German Imperial Navy had sufficient fuel oil for submarines located in the Black Sea. UB-42 and three of her sister ships in the Pola Flotilla were ordered to Constantinople and, en route, had to navigate through the Dardanelles, which had been heavily mined by the Allies in the middle of 1916.[13][Note 2] UB-42 joined the Constantinople Flotilla (German: U-boote der Mittelmeerdivision in Konstantinopal) on 16 August.[1]

The German submarines in the Black Sea accomplished little, sinking only six ships between August 1916 and the end of the year.[14] UB-42 sank half of the six in September and October.[12] On 3 September, Wernicke and UB-42 achieved their first success when they sank the Russian transport Peter Darcy in the Black Sea. The 731-ton ship was headed from Constantza to Odessa when torpedoed by UB-42.[15] The 150-ton Russian vessel St. Nikolei was sunk at the entrance to Karkinit Bay on 5 October,[16] and the 2,891-ton Czarita was sunk two weeks later off Cape Midia.[17]

In April 1917, UB-42 was operating in the Mediterranean when she made attacks on three ships. On 14 April, Wernicke torpedoed the British Acacia-class sloop HMS Veronica 45 nautical miles (83 km) off Alexandria, damaging the 1,200 t vessel.[18] Two days later, UB-42 sank the 86-ton Egyptian sailing ship off Gaza and, a week after that, sank a 15-ton Italian sailing vessel, Boro, east of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea.[19][20]

On 14 May, Wernicke was succeeded by Kapitänleutnant Kurt Schwarz as commander of UB-42.[1] The 27-year-old Schwarz, who had previously commanded the Type UB I boat UB-14,[21] led UB-42 to sink her largest ship, Cestrian, on 24 June. The 8,912-ton former Leyland Line steamer was in use as a troopship, carrying 800 troops and horses when Schwarz sent her down 4 nautical miles (7.4 km) southeast of Skyros in the Aegean. Three of Cestrian‍ '​s crewmen died in the attack and, according to R. H. Gibson and Maurice Prendergast, "splendid discipline" among the embarked troops was the sole reason that none were lost.[22][23]

In early October, UB-42 had returned to the Black Sea, when she was ordered to deliver five Georgians with gold to finance a Georgian independence movement.[24] While remaining in the Black Sea, UB-42 sank the sailing ships Agios Georgios on 10 October, and Francesco Patrino in November.[25][26] On 22 November, she torpedoed the 1,086-ton Siracusy while the latter was at anchor off the Georgian coast.[27] UB-46 also shelled Tuapse while in the northern Black Sea.[24]

Kapitänleutnant Erich von Rohrscheidt assumed command of UB-42 on 6 April 1918,[28] and six week later, led the U-boat in capturing the motor sailing vessel Sergij as a prize six weeks later off Novorossisk.[29] In September, Kapitänleutnant Hans Georg Lübbe (who had succeeded Herbert Nolde after his two-month stint as commander of UB-42) led the U-boat in sinking her final ship.[1] On the night of 7/8 September, the 1,833-ton Italian steamer Vicenza was sent down south of Salonica.[30] UB-42‍ '​s commanding officer was changed twice more before the end of the war,[1] but the submarine sank no more ships.[12]

After the signing of the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October ended the war for the Ottoman Empire, the four remaining U-boats of the Constantinople Flotilla—UB-14, UB-42, UC-23, and UC-37—fled to Sevastopol. There they were surrendered on 26 November.[31] UB-42 was broken up at Malta in 1920.

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Ships sunk or damaged by SM UB-42[12]
Date Name Nationality [Note 3] Tonnage Fate
3 September 1916 Peter Darcy  Russian Empire 731 Sunk
5 October 1916 St. Nikolei  Russian Empire 150 Sunk
19 October 1916 Czarita  Russian Empire 2,891 Sunk
14 April 1917 HMS Veronica  Royal Navy 1,200 Damaged
16 April 1917 Rosetta  Egypt 86 Sunk
23 April 1917 Boro  Kingdom of Italy 15 Sunk
24 June 1917 Cestrian  United Kingdom 8,912 Sunk
10 October 1917 Agios Georgios  Russian Empire 106 Sunk
November 1917 Francesco Patrino  Russian Empire 115 Sunk
22 November 1917 Siracusy  Russian Empire 1,086 Sunk
16 May 1918 Sergij  Russian Empire 97 Captured as a prize
7 September 1918 Vicenza  Kingdom of Italy 1,833 Sunk
[Note 4]Sunk:


  1. ^ The 30-year-old Wernicke had been in the Navy's April 1905 cadet class with 36 other future U-boat captains, including Hermann von Fischel, Carl-Siegfried Ritter von Georg, Kurt Hartwig, and Hans von Mellenthin.
    For Wernicke information, see: Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Fritz Wernicke". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
    For cadet crew information, see: Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI Officer Crews: Crew 4/05". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  2. ^ The other three boats were UB-44, UB-45, and UB-46.
  3. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.
  4. ^ Tonnage of ships captured as prizes is included in tonnage sunk.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UB-42". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Tarrant, p. 172.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gröner 1985, p. 50.
  4. ^ a b Gardiner, p. 181.
  5. ^ Gardiner, p. 174.
  6. ^ a b c Miller, p. 48.
  7. ^ Williamson, p. 13.
  8. ^ a b Halpern, p. 383.
  9. ^ Miller, p. 49.
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Fritz Wernicke". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  11. ^ Halpern, p. 384.
  12. ^ a b c d Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Ships hit by UB 42". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  13. ^ Halpern, pp. 248–49.
  14. ^ Halpern, p. 249.
  15. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Peter Darcy". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  16. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: St. Nikolei". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  17. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Czarita". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  18. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Veronica (hms)". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  19. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Rosetta". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  20. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Boro". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  21. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Kurt Schwarz". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  22. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Cestrian". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  23. ^ Gibson and Prendergast, p. 251.
  24. ^ a b Halpern, p. 254.
  25. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Agios Georgios". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  26. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Francesco Patrino". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  27. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Siracusy". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  28. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Erich von Rohrscheidt". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  29. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Sergij". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  30. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Vicenza". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 13 February 2009. 
  31. ^ Gibson and Prendergast, p. 275.