German submarine U-50 (1939)

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Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-5566-24, Wilhelmshaven, U-Boot-Männer mit Eisernem Kreuz.jpg
Crew members of U-50 display their Iron Crosses in Wilhelmshaven on 2 March 1940
Nazi Germany
Ordered21 November 1936
BuilderGermaniawerft, Kiel
Cost4,439,000 Reichsmark
Yard number585
Laid down3 November 1938
Launched1 November 1939
Commissioned12 December 1939
FateSunk, 6 April 1940, in the North Sea north of Terschelling. 44 dead
General characteristics
Class and typeType VIIB U-boat
  • 753 t (741 long tons) surfaced
  • 857 t (843 long tons) submerged
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draught4.74 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)
  • 8,700 nmi (16,112 km; 10,012 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)surfaced
  • 90 nmi (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Test depth
  • 230 m (750 ft).
  • Calculated crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems
Service record
Part of:
Identification codes: M 00 375
  • Kptlt. Max-Hermann Bauer
  • 12 December 1939 – 6 April 1940
  • 2 patrols:
  • 1st patrol:
  • 6 February – 4 March 1940
  • 2nd patrol:
  • 5 – 6 April 1940
Victories: 4 merchant ships sunk
(16.089 GRT)

German submarine U-50 was a Type VIIB U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. Ordered on 21 November 1936, she was laid down as yard number 585 at the yards of Friedrich Krupp Germaniawerft AG in Kiel on 3 November 1938. She was launched on 1 November 1939 and commissioned on 12 December 1939 by Kapitänleutnant (Kptlt.) Max-Hermann Bauer, who was the sole commander of the boat. In her short career she conducted only two patrols, both as part of the 7th U-boat Flotilla. In this time she succeeded in sinking four ships, totalling 16,089 gross register tons (GRT).


German Type VIIB submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIA submarines. U-50 had a displacement of 753 tonnes (741 long tons) when at the surface and 857 tonnes (843 long tons) while submerged.[1] She had a total length of 66.50 m (218 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 48.80 m (160 ft 1 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.50 m (31 ft 2 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 460/8-276 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).[1]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.9 knots (33.2 km/h; 20.6 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph).[1] When submerged, the boat could operate for 90 nautical miles (170 km; 100 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,700 nautical miles (16,100 km; 10,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-50 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 one 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[1]

Service history[edit]

First patrol[edit]

Departing the German-administered island of Helgoland (sometimes known as Heligoland), on 6 February 1940, U-50 proceeded north of the British Isles. It was here that she sighted her first victim at 22.40 hours on 11 February. The neutral Swedish steam merchant ship Orania (1,854 GRT) was homeward bound from Argentina with a load of maize, bran and oil cakes. Despite running fully illuminated, the U-Boat was unable to identify her as neutral but attacked with a single torpedo at 23.54 hours about 65 miles north-northeast of the Shetland Islands. All 24 souls aboard abandoned ship in two lifeboats, but one, with fourteen occupants, was never seen again. The remaining ten survivors were picked up the next day by HMS Faulknor, transferred to HMS Foxhound, and landed at Lerwick in Scotland.

In the early morning hours of 15 February, U-50 crossed paths with her second victim, the 4,895 GRT Danish steam merchantman Maryland, which was travelling unescorted. The first torpedo, fired at 01.54 hours, detonated prematurely (a common problem early in the war). A second shot at 02.07 hours broke the ship's back and she sank in seven minutes. All 34 aboard perished; only a wrecked lifeboat was found later, at North Uist.

U-50 travelled south after this encounter and found her third victim, the neutral Dutch steam merchant ship Tara (4,760 GRT) west of Cape Finisterre. Despite her neutral affiliation, she was travelling without neutrality markings (according to the U-Boat captain's log). The submarine had spotted her at midnight and attacked with a single torpedo at 01.38 hours, which missed. A second torpedo at 02.54 hours found its mark. All hands abandoned ship in two lifeboats as U-50 moved in to deliver the coup de grâce at 03.12 hours. The vessel sank twenty minutes later. One lifeboat made landfall on the Spanish coast. The other was picked up by the Spanish fishing trawler Milin; its occupants were landed at A Coruña.

At 00.20 hours on 22 February, U-50 located convoy OGF-19 and torpedoed the 4,580 GRT British tanker British Endeavour about 100 miles west of Vigo. Five were killed in the attack, the remaining thirty-three (including the ship's master), abandoned ship and were picked up by the British merchantman Bodnant. The survivors were landed at Funchal in Portugal on 26 February.

The U-Boat terminated this successful patrol at Kiel on 4 March after 28 days at sea.

Second patrol[edit]

U-50's second and final patrol began 5 April 1940. She departed Kiel and was never heard from again.


U-50 ran afoul of a minefield and sank on 6 April in the North Sea[2] north of Terschelling. Her exact position is not known. All 44 sailors were killed.

Mines laid by the Allied destroyers HMS Express, Esk, Icarus, and Impulsive in the North Sea on 3 March 1940, were probably responsible for the destruction of U-50 as well as several other U-boats as they returned to port.

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name of ship Nationality Tonnage (GRT) Fate[3]
11 February 1940 Orania  Sweden 1,854 Sunk
15 February 1940 Maryland  Denmark 4,895 Sunk
21 February 1940 Tara  Netherlands 4,760 Sunk
22 February 1940 British Endeavour  United Kingdom 4,580 Sunk


  1. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43–44.
  2. ^ Kemp 1999, pp. 64–5.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-50". German U-boats of WWII – Retrieved 7 December 2014.


  • 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). Vol. 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. Vol. 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]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIB boat U-50". German U-boats of WWII – Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 50". Deutsche U-Boote 1935–1945 – (in German). Retrieved 8 December 2014.