German submarine U-473

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Nazi Germany
Name: U-473
Ordered: 20 January 1941
Builder: Deutsche Werke, Kiel
Yard number: 304
Laid down: 1 December 1941
Launched: 17 April 1943
Commissioned: 16 June 1943
Fate: Sunk by British warships west southwest of Ireland, May 1944[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
  • 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)
  • 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
  • 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
  • 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
Service record[2]
Part of:
  • Kptlt. Heinz Sternberg
  • 16 June 1943 – 6 May 1944
  • 1 patrol: 27 March – 18 April 1944
  • 2nd patrol: 24 April – 6 May 1944
Victories: One warship a total loss, 1,400 tons

German submarine U-473 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

She carried out two patrols. She caused a warship to be declared a total loss..

She was sunk by British warships west southwest of Ireland, in May 1944.[1]


German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-473 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 Siemens-Schuckert GU 343/38–8 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-473 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]

Service history[edit]

The submarine was laid down on 1 December 1941 at the Deutsche Werke in Kiel as yard number 304, launched on 17 April 1943 and commissioned on 16 June under the command of Kapitänleutnant Heinz Sternberg.

She served with the 5th U-boat Flotilla from 16 June 1943 for training and the 9th U-boat Flotilla from 1 January 1944 for operations.

1st patrol[edit]

U-473's first patrol was preceded by a short journey from Kiel in Germany to Bergen in Norway. The patrol itself began when the boat departed Bergen on 27 March 1944. She passed through the gap separating Iceland and the Faroe Islands and out into the Atlantic Ocean. She docked at Lorient in occupied France on 18 April.

2nd patrol and loss[edit]

The U-boat departed Lorient on 24 April 1944 for her second foray. On the 28th, she was attacked by a Handley Page Halifax of No. 58 Squadron RAF. No damage was inflicted on U-473 but the aircraft was hit five times before only just returning to base.

She was attacked again by a Polish-manned Vickers Wellington of 304 Squadron a day later. The boat was not damaged in this inconclusive encounter, but kept the aircraft at a respectful distance for an hour.

U-473 torpedoed the American destroyer USS Donnell on 3 May 1944. The warship did not sink; the U-boat dived deep to evade other convoy escorts and sustained slight damage from their depth charges.

The boat's luck ran out on 6 May when she was sunk by depth charges (some 345 of them), from the British sloops HMS Starling, Wren and Wild Goose, at position 49°29′N 21°22′W / 49.483°N 21.367°W / 49.483; -21.367Coordinates: 49°29′N 21°22′W / 49.483°N 21.367°W / 49.483; -21.367.[2] U-473 had been abandoned; the deserted U-boat, still running at high speed, headed straight for Starling which was obliged to take evasive action. Two explosions, possibly scuttling charges, finished the submarine off.[1]

Twenty-three men went down with U-473; there were thirty survivors.[1][2]

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate
3 May 1944 USS Donnell  United States Navy 1,400 Total loss



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


  1. ^ a b c d Kemp 1999, p. 187-8.
  2. ^ a b c Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-473". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.


  • 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; 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. 
  • Kemp, Paul (1999). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3. 

External links[edit]