German submarine U-507

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-507
Ordered: 20 October 1939
Builder: Deutsche Werft, Hamburg
Yard number: 303
Laid down: 11 September 1940
Launched: 15 July 1941
Commissioned: 8 October 1941
Fate: Sunk by aircraft, 13 January 1943[1]
Badge: U 507 (Kriegsmarine).jpg
General characteristics [2]
Type: Type IXC submarine
Displacement: 1,120 t (1,100 long tons) surfaced
1,232 t (1,213 long tons) submerged
Length: 76.76 m (251 ft 10 in) o/a
58.7 m (192 ft 7 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in) o/a
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.6 m (31 ft 6 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: 13,450 nmi (24,910 km; 15,480 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
64 nautical miles (119 km; 74 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 48 to 56
Service record[3][4]
Part of: 4th U-boat Flotilla
(8 October 1941–28 February 1942)
2nd U-boat Flotilla
(1 March 1942–13 January 1943)
Commanders: KrvKpt. Harro Schacht
(8 October 1941–13 January 1943)
Operations: 1st patrol: 7–25 March 1942
2nd patrol: 4 April–4 June 1942
3rd patrol: 4 July–12 October 1942
4th patrol: 24 November 1942–13 January 1943
Victories: 19 commercial ships sunk (77,143 GRT)
1 commercial ship damaged (6,561 GRT)

German submarine U-507 was a Type IXC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service in the Second World War and the Battle of the Atlantic. She was mainly notable for two patrols she conducted during the "Second Happy Time" in mid-1942, during the first of which she caused havoc in the Gulf of Mexico amongst unprotected American shipping, and then in the second she attacked ships along the coast of Brazil, in an inexplicable and shocking attack on a neutral nation's shipping in its own waters which almost single-handedly provoked the Brazilian declaration of war on Germany.

The U-boat was built during 1941 by the Deutsche Werft shipyards in Hamburg, and commissioned on 8 October 1941, with Korvettenkapitän Harro Schacht in command. Schacht commanded the boat for its entire lifespan, receiving the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 9 January 1943 in recognition of his successful patrols in the preceding year. He never wore his award however, as he was killed with his entire crew when the boat was sunk four days later.[5]

Service history[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

Once the U-507 had completed her working up period of six months following her commissioning, she departed German waters and entered the Atlantic Ocean for her first patrol; an uneventful and simple cruise to Lorient in occupied France, which was to be her permanent home port for the remainder of her life.

2nd patrol[edit]

The second patrol was more eventful, as the boat rounded Florida at the end of April 1942, taking full advantage of the lit-up settlements on the shoreline to pick and choose her targets amongst the unescorted shipping which bottlenecked between Cuba and the Floridan peninsula. Here she sank four large cargo ships in three days before following the coastline along Western Florida and Alabama, where in three more days she sank four more large unprotected ships, making full use of the failure of the local authorities to enforce either convoy regulations or the blackout. On 6 May she sank the SS Alcoa Puritan about 45 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. On the 12 May she sank the 10,000 ton SS Virginia in the mouth of the Mississippi, killing 26 sailors in an audacious attack which shocked the American authorities. Swinging south, she sank a Honduran freighter as she cruised out of the Caribbean Sea, leaving a shaken seaboard behind her. On this cruise alone she had sunk nine ships totalling 45,000 tons.

3rd patrol[edit]

Her third patrol was even more controversial, as a fruitless passage across the Atlantic brought her to the Brazilian coast in mid-August 1942. There she searched for Allied shipping hugging the coastline in Brazilian territorial waters heading for North America. Here she again saw unescorted ships and a lit coastline, and Schacht made the inexplicable decision to attack without first ascertaining the nationalities of her targets. The first was the SS Baependy on 16 August, which was torpedoed and sunk with 270 civilian lives. A few hours later the SS Araraquara was sunk, killing 131 people, followed by the SS Annibal Benevolo, on which 150 civilians drowned. The next day the slaughter continued, the SS Itagiba sunk within sight of the city of Vitória, killing 36, and the SS Arara similarly sunk with 20 deaths as she picked up the survivors of the Itagiba. Two days after this, the tiny sailing vessel Jacyra was sunk, and a Swedish ship was torpedoed three days after that. In just one week, U-507 had sunk seven ships of 18,000 tons and killed over 600 people, all of them neutral civilians.

The political ramifications of what Schacht and his crew had done off the Brazilian coast were enormous. Brazil went from a neutral favourable to Germany to an enraged opponent in the space of 48 hours, declaring war on Germany and supplying a Brazilian Expeditionary Force to the war in Europe and a squadron of ships to the Atlantic. More importantly, Brazilian Air Force bases were made available to American naval air squadrons, thus denying the U-boats their previous advantage of hiding in Brazilian coastal waters, and giving the Allies air cover across most of the Southern Atlantic, making the job of the U-boats significantly harder. In addition, Germany's standing amongst neutral nations, particularly the formerly pro-German dictatorships of South America, was in tatters, never to recover.

Three-quarter front view over the bow from a submarine conning tower of another submarine with numerous people standing on both submarines, at sea.
U-156 (foreground) and U-507 (background) on 15 September 1942

The third patrol of U-507, was also highly significant, as after two months ineffective cruising between the West African and Brazilian coasts of the South Atlantic, U-507 received a radio call from U-156 on 15 September reporting that she had sunk a ship carrying 1,500 Italian prisoners of war. This ship was the RMS Laconia, and U-507 made all haste to aid in the rescue operation, collecting a large number of survivors on board and towing several lifeboats, until attacks by American aircraft on the rescuing submarines forced her to dive and escape. She returned to Germany with her human cargo, and there received the orders which were the end result of the Laconia incident, which consisted of a total ban on aiding shipwreck survivors, except ships' officers who were to be captured for information purposes.

4th patrol[edit]

On her fourth and final patrol she put this information to full use, as she sank three British ships off the Northern Brazilian coast, and captured the masters of all the ships, J.Stewart, F.H. Fenn and D. MacCullum. These victories had taken her into 1943 with a reputation for success, confirmed when her captain was informed of his Knight's Cross award. Sadly for him, the crew and the captives, just four days later the U-507 was spotted by an American Navy PBY Catalina aircraft of VP-83 flying from a newly available Brazilian base, which dropped several depth charges on the boat. The site of the attack was 330 miles from shore at Cape Saint Roque in Brazil, and there were no survivors, the 56 dead including Schacht, the captives, and the boat's new captain Heinz Radau, who was conducting an observation and familiarization patrol.

Summary of Raiding Career[edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage (GRT) Fate
30 April 1942 Federal  United States 2,881 Sunk
4 May 1942 Norlindo  United States 2,686 Sunk
5 May 1942 Munger T. Ball  United States 5,104 Sunk
5 May 1942 Joseph M. Cudahy  United States 6,950 Sunk
6 May 1942 Alcoa Puritan  United States 6,759 Sunk
7 May 1942 Ontario  Honduras 3,099 Sunk
8 May 1942 Torny  Norway 2,424 Sunk
12 May 1942 Virginia  United States 10,731 Sunk
13 May 1942 Gulfprince  United States 6,561 Damaged
16 May 1942 Amapala  Honduras 4,184 Sunk
16 August 1942 Baependy  Brazil 4,801 Sunk
16 August 1942 Araraquara  Brazil 4,872 Sunk
16 August 1942 Annibal Benévolo  Brazil 1,905 Sunk
17 August 1942 Itagiba  Brazil 2,169 Sunk
17 August 1942 Arará  Brazil 1,075 Sunk
19 August 1942 Jacyra  Brazil 90 Sunk
22 August 1942 Hamaren  Sweden 3,220 Sunk
27 December 1942 Oakbank  United Kingdom 5,154 Sunk
3 January 1943 Baron Dachmont  United Kingdom 3,675 Sunk
8 January 1943 Yorkwood  United Kingdom 5,401 Sunk


  1. ^ Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1997, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, p. 99.
  2. ^ Gröner 1985, pp. 105-7.
  3. ^ "The Type IXC boat U-507 - German U-boats of WWII -". Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "War Patrols by German U-boat U-507 - Boats -". Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "Fregattenkapitän Harro Schacht - German U-boat Commanders of WWII -". Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  • 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. 
  • Sharpe, Peter (1998). U-Boat Fact File. Great Britain: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-072-9. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 1°38′N 39°52′W / 1.633°N 39.867°W / 1.633; -39.867