German submarine U-56 (1938)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other ships with the same name, see German submarine U-56.
History
Nazi Germany
Name: U-56
Ordered: 17 June 1937
Builder: Deutsche Werke, Kiel
Yard number: 255
Laid down: 21 September 1937
Launched: 3 September 1938
Commissioned: 26 November 1938
Decommissioned: 3 April 1945
Fate: Scuttled on 3 May 1945
Status: Damaged by US aircraft 3 April 1945
General characteristics
Class and type: IIC
Type: Coastal submarine
Displacement:
  • 291 t (286 long tons) surfaced
  • 341 t (336 long tons) submerged
Length:
Beam:
  • 4.08 m (13 ft 5 in) (o/a)
  • 4.00 m (13 ft 1 in) pressure hull
Height: 8.40 m (27 ft 7 in)
Draught: 3.82 m (12 ft 6 in)
Installed power:
  • 700 PS (510 kW; 690 bhp) (diesels)
  • 410 PS (300 kW; 400 shp) (electric)
Propulsion:
Range:
  • 1,900 nmi (3,500 km; 2,200 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
  • 35–42 nmi (65–78 km; 40–48 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 80 m (260 ft)
Complement: 3 officers, 22 men
Armament:
Service record
Part of:
Commanders:
  • Kptlt. Wilhelm Zahn[2]
  • 26 November 1938 – 21 January 1940
  • Oblt.z.S. Otto Harms[3]
  • 22 January – 13 October 1940
  • Kptlt. Werner Pfeifer[4]
  • 14 October 1940 – 21 April 1941*Kptlt. Wolfgang Römer[5]
  • 22 April 1941 – 19 January 1942
  • Oblt.z.S. Günther-Paul Grave[6]
  • 20 January – 14 November 1942
  • Oblt.z.S. Hugo Deiring[7]
  • 15 November 1942 – 27 February 1944
  • Oblt.z.S. Werner Sausmikat[8]
  • 28 February – 30 June 1944
  • Lt.z.S. Heinrich Miede[9]
  • 1 July 1944 – 22 February 1945
  • Lt.z.S. Walter Käding[10]
  • 9 January – 5 February 1945
  • Oblt.z.S. Joachim Sauerbier[11]
  • 23 February - April 1945
Operations:
  • Twelve:
  • 1st patrol:
  • 25 August – 8 September 1939
  • 2nd patrol:
  • 12–19 September 1939
  • 3rd patrol:
  • 23 October – 13 November 1939
  • 4th patrol:
  • 27 November – 5 December 1939
  • 5th patrol:
  • 27 December 1939 – 11 January 1940
  • 6th patrol:
  • 27 January – 17 February 1940
  • 7th patrol:
  • 14 – 20 March 1940
  • 8th patrol:
  • 4 – 26 April 1940
  • 9th patrol:
  • 21 May – 14 June 1940
  • 10th patrol:
  • 29 June – 21 July 1940
  • 11th patrol:
  • 25 July – 14 August 1940
  • 12th patrol:
  • 19 August – 15 September 1940
Victories:
  • Three ships sunk, total 8,860 GRT;
  • one auxiliary warship sunk 16,923 GRT;
  • one ship damaged, 3,829 GRT[12]

German submarine U-56 was a Type IIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine that served in the Second World War. She was built by Deutsche Werke, Kiel as yard number 255. Ordered on 17 June 1937, she was laid down on 21 September, launched on 3 September 1938 and commissioned on 26 November under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wilhelm Zahn.

U-56 was initially assigned to the 5th U-boat Flotilla during her training period, until 31 December 1939, when she was re-assigned to the 1st U-boat Flotilla for operations. She carried out twelve war patrols, sinking three ships for a total 8,860 gross register tons (GRT) and one auxiliary warship of 16,923 GRT; she also damaged one vessel of 3,829 GRT.

Design[edit]

German Type IIC submarines were enlarged versions of the original Type IIs. U-56 had a displacement of 291 tonnes (286 long tons) when at the surface and 341 tonnes (336 long tons) while submerged. Officially, the standard tonnage was 250 long tons (250 t), however.[13] The U-boat had a total length of 43.90 m (144 ft 0 in), a pressure hull length of 29.60 m (97 ft 1 in), a beam of 4.08 m (13 ft 5 in), a height of 8.40 m (27 ft 7 in), and a draught of 3.82 m (12 ft 6 in). The submarine was powered by two MWM RS 127 S four-stroke, six-cylinder diesel engines of 700 metric horsepower (510 kW; 690 shp) for cruising, two Siemens-Schuckert PG VV 322/36 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 410 metric horsepower (300 kW; 400 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 0.85 m (3 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 80–150 metres (260–490 ft).[13]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph).[13] When submerged, the boat could operate for 35–42 nautical miles (65–78 km; 40–48 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 3,800 nautical miles (7,000 km; 4,400 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph). U-56 was fitted with three 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes at the bow, five torpedoes or up to twelve Type A torpedo mines, and a 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of 25.[13]

Service history[edit]

1st, 2nd and 3rd patrols[edit]

U-56's first three patrols, completed during her workup and training period, were relatively uneventful cruises in the North Sea. No ships were attacked during this period; even though on her third sortie, she circumnavigated the Shetland Islands.

4th patrol[edit]

The submarine's luck changed for the better on her fourth foray. She damaged Eskdene on 2 December 1939, 70 nautical miles (130 km; 81 mi) northeast of the Tyne. The following day, she sank Rudolf 40 nautical miles (74 km; 46 mi) east of May Island (in the mouth of the Firth of Forth).

5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th patrols[edit]

The fifth patrol was also uneventful and took the boat into the southern North Sea.

Patrol numbers six and seven were both more of the same.

The boat's eighth sortie ranged far and wide; across the North Sea to the Scottish west coast, north of Shetland, then the other side of the North Sea to the coast of Norway, but further success continued to elude her.

Her ninth effort was to the north of the Hebrides and again round the Shetland Islands.

10th patrol[edit]

U-56's tenth patrol took her to the newly captured port of Lorient on the French Atlantic coast. She departed Wilhelmshaven on 29 June 1940; her route was to the west of Ireland, culminating in her arrival on 21 July.

11th patrol[edit]

She was near Ireland once more when she sank the Boma on 5 August 1940 northwest of Malin Head.[14]

In a similar location, she sank the armed merchant cruiser HMS Transylvania 40 nautical miles (74 km; 46 mi) northwest of Malin Head on 10 August.

12th patrol[edit]

U-56 was attacked by the British submarine HMS Tribune about 15 nautical miles (28 km; 17 mi) northeast of St Kilda on 6 September. All the torpedoes missed; the Germans were unaware of the situation. The boat was on her way, via the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands, back to Germany. She arrived in Kiel on 15 September.

Fate[edit]

Whilst in Kiel on 3 April 1945, U-56 was badly damaged in a US air raid and subsequently decommissioned. She was then scuttled by her crew on 3 May 1945 in position 54°19′N 10°10′E / 54.317°N 10.167°E / 54.317; 10.167. Soon after the war ended the wreck was raised and broken up.

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage[Note 1] Fate
2 December 1939 Eskdene  United Kingdom 3,829 Damaged
3 December 1939 Rudolf  Sweden 2,119 Sunk
23 January 1940 Onto  Finland 1,333 Sunk (mine)
5 August 1940 Boma  United Kingdom 5,408 Sunk
10 August 1940 HMS Transylvania  Royal Navy 16,923 Sunk

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

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

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "German Type II U-boat U-56". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Wilhelm Zahn". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Otto Harms". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Werner Pfeifer". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Wolfgang Römer". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Günther-Paul Grave". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Hugo Deiring". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Werner Sausmikat". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Heinrich Miede". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Walter Käding (Knight's Cross)". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Joachim Sauerbier". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships Hit by U-56". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 39–40.
  14. ^ The Times Atlas of the World - Third edition, revised 1995, ISBN 0 7230 0809 4, p. 10

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. "German Type II U-boat U-56". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 56". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - u-boot-archiv.de (in German). Retrieved 2014-12-06.