German submarine U-278

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History
Nazi Germany
Name: U-278
Ordered: 10 April 1941
Builder: Bremer Vulkan, Bremen-Vegesack
Yard number: 43
Laid down: 26 March 1942
Launched: 2 December 1942
Commissioned: 16 January 1943
Fate: Surrendered, May 1945. Sunk as part of Operation Deadlight
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement:
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length:
Beam:
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Installed power:
  • 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp) (diesels)
  • 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
Propulsion:
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 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) 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: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Armament:
Service record[1][2]
Part of:
Commanders:
  • Kptlt. Joachim Franze
  • 16 January 1943 – 8 May 1945
Operations:
  • Seven patrols
  • 1st patrol: 8–28 January 1944
  • 2nd patrol: 29 January – 19 February 1944
  • 3rd patrol: 4 March – 4 April 1944
  • 4th patrol: 24 April – 8 May 1944
  • 5th patrol: 2 August – 3 October 1944
  • 6th patrol: 12–20 December 1944
  • 7th patrol: 10 April – 9 May 1945
Victories:
  • one commercial ship sunk (7,177 GRT)
  • one warship sunk (1,810 tons)

German submarine U-278 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

The submarine was laid down on 26 March 1942 at the Bremer Vulkan yard at Bremen-Vegesack as yard number 43. She was launched on 2 December and commissioned on 16 January 1943 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Joachim Franze.[1]

Design[edit]

German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-278 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[3] She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two AEG GU 460/8–27 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).[3]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph).[3] When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-278 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and an anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[3]

Armament[edit]

FLAK weaponry[edit]

U-278 was mounted with two 2cm Flak C38 in a M43U Zwilling mount with short folding shield on the upper Wintergarten.[4] The M43U mount was used on a number of U-boats (U-190, U-249, U-250, U-337, U-475, U-853, U-1058, U-1109, U-1023, U-1105, U-1165 and U-1306).

Service history[edit]

U-278 seen from a B-24 Liberator

U-278 served with the 8th U-boat Flotilla for training from January to September 1943 and operationally with the 7th U-boat Flotilla from 1 October 1943. She was reassigned to the 11th flotilla until 31 August 1944 and then the 13th flotilla until the war's end.[1] She carried out seven patrols, sinking two ships; a commercial vessel of 7,177 tons and a warship of 1,810 tons. She was a member of eight wolfpacks.

She carried out a short voyage between Kiel in Germany and Bergen in Norway over December 1943 and January 1944.

1st patrol[edit]

The boat departed Bergen on 8 January 1944 and sank the Penelope Barker on the 25th, about 115 nautical miles (213 km; 132 mi) north of the North Cape. She docked at Hammerfest on the 28th.

2nd and 3rd patrols[edit]

She sank the British destroyer Hardy southeast of Bear Island on 30 January 1944.

On her third sortie, she steamed through the Norwegian and Barents Seas.

4th patrol[edit]

U-278 left Hammerfest on 24 April 1944. On 3 May she was attacked by a Fairey Swordfish of 822 Naval Air Squadron FAA, (Fleet Air Arm), from the aircraft carrier HMS Fencer and a Swordfish and a Martlet, both of 833 Squadron from Activity. The U-boat sustained only superficial damage; her crew claimed the Martlet shot down. However, all three aircraft returned safely to their carriers.

The boat then embarked on a series of short 'hops' between Bergen, Ramsund and Narvik in July 1944.

5th patrol[edit]

Patrol number five was her longest at 63 days. It took the submarine north and east to the Kara Sea.

She then moved from Narvik to Trondheim in October 1944.

6th patrol[edit]

This sortie was divided into two parts, during which the boat travelled as far as the northern coast of Scotland.

7th patrol and surrender[edit]

Her last patrol was from Narvik, between 10 April 1945 and 9 May.

Following the German capitulation, the boat was moved from Norway to Loch Eriboll in Scotland, for Operation Deadlight. She was sunk on 31 December 1945 by gunfire from HMS Onslaught and ORP Blyskawica.[5]

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Ship Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate[6]
25 January 1944 Penelope Barker  United States 7,177 Sunk
30 January 1944 HMS Hardy  Royal Navy 1,810 Sunk

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-278". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-278". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  4. ^ Base on war-time photographs.
  5. ^ Hofmann, Markus. "U 278". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-278". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6. 
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4. 

External links[edit]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-278". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 278". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 26 December 2014. 

Coordinates: 55°44′N 8°21′W / 55.733°N 8.350°W / 55.733; -8.350