June 23, 2014

German Submarine Developments 1945-1960s - Work in Progress

Diagram of a Type XXI.

The evolution of postwar German designed submarines - starting with the HDW 201 at the bottom of the diagram.

This study of German submarine developments is a work in progress which is extending from the immediate post World War Two era - through the 1960s launch of HDW Type 205s - to the 212s. Many links are in German but Google and other websites can Translate the links into English or other languages. 

Allied Derivatives of the German Type XXI 

At the end of WWII the victorious allies benefited from Germany’s advanced U-boat developments which reached the most useful state of development in the Type XXI U-boat. The XXI's much higher battery capacity and snorkel resulted in a far lower “indiscretion [unsafe operating] ratio” and streamlined hull all allowed faster, longer duration  and quieter submerged operation. 

XXI designs influenced post-war submarines, including the:

-  US GUPPY (greater underwater propulsion power program) improvements to the US GatoBalao, and Tench class submarines;

-  Soviet submarine projects designated by NATO as the WhiskeyZulu and Romeo classes;

- Chinese built Romeo class submarines based on the XXI design via Soviet-supplied designs. The Ming class, is based on the Romeo design. Some Mings are still in operation in the PLA-Navy 2013 (2 Mings are being transferred to Bangladesh).

-  UK Porpoise and Oberon classes,

-  France, the XXI ex-U 2518 became French submarine Roland Morillot The XXI design influence the French Arethuse and Daphne classes, and

-  Sweden’s Hajen class (built 1954-58) was also influenced by the XXIs.

Postwar Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) 

Two German WWII internal oxygen supply AIP developments were tested by some victorious allies after WWII. But proved too problematic to be adopted. These technologies included the:

-  Walter engine - hydrogen peroxide is used as a source of oxygen to burn diesel driving steam turbines. An article translated from German providing more detail on the Walter Drive (engine) is here. This technology proved too volatile and explosive to be safe, and 

- closed cycle diesel engines -  uses a submarine diesel engine which can be operated conventionally on the surface, but which can also be provided with oxidant, stored as liquid oxygen,. Considered dangerously explosive from fire, heat or sparks.

Postwar Transition

Between May 1945 and 1956  former members of the Kriegsmarine formed the nucleus of the German Mine Sweeping Administration amounting to a transition stage for the navy. In 1956, with West Germany's accession to NATO, the West German Navy, colloquially known as Bundesmarine (Federal Navy) was established. In 1956 East Germany formed the Volksmarine ("People's Navy"). 

Submarines ("U-Boots") were and are built at HDW dockyards at Kiel, Type 202 (Atlas Werke AG , Bremen) and the Type 207 ( Rheinstahl-Nordseewerke , Emden)

Type 201

350 tonnes surfaced
450 tonnes submerged

From around 1957 West German facilities to develop and construct submarines had been repaired, rebuilt or built. This included dockyards which had been destroyed by bombing in the war. 

In West Germany The HDW 201s, launched in 1962, were Germany's first class of military submarines built after World War II. 

Functions - They were designed to defend coastal (or littoral) Baltic-North Sea areas and with a total of 8 torpedoes or 16 sea mines

They were built out of a magnetic steel to counter the threat of magnetic naval mines, but this steel  had been insufficiently tested and proved to be problematic in service with the BundesmarineMicroscopic cracks in the pressure hull forced the cancellation of 9 of the 12 ordered submarines and the early retirement of the three completed boats. This led to the need for the Type 205s.

Type 202

100 tonne surfaced
137 submerged 

2 built for West Germany at Atlas Werke AG , Bremen, in service 1965-1966 then scrapped

Type 205

205s mainly differed from the 201s in hull steel used. Various steels were tried in different 205 hulls. The most acceptable steel was found to be PN 18 S2, which was developed by the steel company Phoenix Rheinrohr . PN 18 S2 (is ST-52 the same steel?) has been used for all subsequent submarines for the German Navy up to Type 212A . 

The Eleven Type 205s for West Germany were launched from 1962 to 1968 and operational between 1967 and 2004The last 205 in service waU 12 eventually used as a test bed for new weapons systems until its retirement in June 2005.

Functions - Up until the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) major peacetime functions most probably included providing a deterrent and electronic and special forces intelligence gathering missions against Warsaw Pact countries. If war broke out the 205's main function was to operate within the NATO structure specifically to defend against Warsaw Pact landing ships and other naval vessels threatening the Baltic and North Seas. 

Type 206

450 tonne surfaced
498 submerged

18 built by West Germany HDW, Kiel
12 for West Germany to type 206 A

4 (plus 2 as spare parts) by Columbia    1973-1975         

The following types were German designed and built but for export customers only - Type 207 (Kobben-"Seal" Class) and the Type 209 

The 3 Gal ("wave") Class submarines for Israel (similar to the 206s) in service 1976-2002, 540 tonnes surfaced, 600 tonnes submerged,  were German designed but for political reasons built in the UK at Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd , Barrow-in-Furness

Type 212

The first batch of Type 212 submarines used the Kongsberg-MSI-90U combat system. The Kongsberg system was used due to contra-trade obligations with Norway. 

The second 212 batch use a Atlas Elektroniks combat system - perhaps the ISUS 90 or the more advanced ISUS 2000

The DM2A4 heavy weight torpedo (export designation SeaHake mod4) is in service with the 212s, has been delivered to the Pakistan Navy for service in Pakistan's Agosta 90B submarines and has been selected by the Spanish Navy for its new S80A submarines. The DM2A4 torpedo's sonar system has a wide angle array and the torpedo utilizes an at least 50km long fiber optic cable. Due to the bandwidth of optical transmissions the torpedo works as an additional sonar sensor for the submarine. 

Wikipedia-English sources used so far

Wikipedia-German sources being used

Thankyou MHalblaub for drawing my attention to Wikipedia-German and other websites translated into English which have much more detail on German submarine matters  :-)

[The shipyard HDW has his own ideas to a more advanced version called class 216 presented, which should have a greater range and a longer operating lifetime of a compared to the 212 Class almost 40 percent larger boat length. [18] Potential buyers of the 4000-t- Boats Australia could be that looking for a replacement for the submarines of the Collins-class is. [19] The submarines have 33 people crew. Instead of the outdated lead-acid batteries of any ancestors are here lithium-ion batteries can be used. [20]reference to 218SG]

Other German sources being used

http://www.die-marine.de/_deutsch/schiffe/subm.htm The U-boat Arm of the German Navy
http://seefahrer.blog.de/tags/uboot/ Seafarer or Sailor blog



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

you listed as sources just the English Wikipedia articles. Sometimes it is far better to read an article in the "indigenous" language of the item and sometimes you won't even found the article in English

Try these: https://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fde.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FWalter-Antrieb&edit-text=



Something interesting is revealed there: the steel type used to build the pressure hulls.
U 1 to U 8: AM10 (the corrosive type)
The U 1 and U 2: St52 (magnetic)
U 9 and U 10: AM53 (amagnetic)
U 11: PN 18 S2 (amagnetic)
U 12: Amanox 182 M 9 (amagnetic)

Type 206 and Type 212 are also build with PN 18 S2 steel.

More links:

(the last Type XXI afloat)


Anonymous said...

Another interesting blog to read:
You don't need Google to translate. Microsoft Translation is implemented on the site.


Mishap with a rare German submarine Type TR-1700: http://www.infobae.com/2014/06/17/1573766-un-submarino-la-armada-quedo-varado-el-canal-ingreso-al-puerto-dock-sud
Dare to compare it with the Collins-class?


Pete said...

Thanks MHalblaub

I'll have a look at those latest references tomorrow and will also make mention of the Type 201's hull metal issues.



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

some remarks according questions marks:
"Bundesmarine" is the Navy of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland in English: Federal Republic Germany.
So the "Federal Navy" is correct.

St52 is a conventional magnetic steel type.

Submarines are still build at HDW, Kiel.
Just search for "HDW Kiel" in Google Earth. Slightly to the north you can see a submarine on the elevator platform and 2 others inside the water. According to size it looks like a Type 212 (picture date 2005). The last Type 212 was finished in 2013. HDW is still building at least one submarine for IDF, the Dophin-class with AIP.

BTW, don't miss the Type 207:

Still in use: http://www.navy.mw.mil.pl/index.php?akcja=kobben

This is the complete list of all Types:


Anonymous said...

Missed something:
"How to buy a submarine: Part 2"

On page 5 you will find a list of submarine exports for DCNS, Kockums and TKMS.


- South Korea has 9 Type 214 submarines on order and not just 3.

- Greece could just afford 4 Type 214 instead of 6.

- For Kockums the Challenger- and Archer-class is counted despite the fact that Kockums is owned by TKMS.

On the other side they missed the refurbish TKMS submarines from 1995 on:
- 2 type 206 refurbished for Colombian Navy
- 4 type 207 refurbished for Poland

And finally ASPI missed the export of Type 209 submarines during that period:
- 3 type 209 to South Africa: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroine_class_submarine
- 3 type
4 to 6 type 209 to Turkey: Preveze- and Gür class
- 6 Chang Bogo class subs for South Korea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chang_Bogo_class_submarine
- 3 type 209 for Brazil: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_submarine_Tikuna_%28S34%29

- 3 Dolphin-class submarines without AIP also miss.

How to count the 3 South Korean made Type 209 on order for Indonesia? Wasn't that the aim of ASC to export submarines?

To sum up the exports:
Kockums: 12 between 1995 and 2009
DCNS: 18 between 1995 and 2020
TKMS: 58 + 6 (Kockums) between 1995 and 2020

(I expect also several errors for DSNS.)

Don't miss the IDAS missile in service with German Type 212 and maybe with IDF for your blog. The collapse for helicopter based ASW.


Pete said...

Hi MHalblaub

Thanks for your last two comments. I'll add Germany's submarine exports to the picture and corrections over the next two days.

Meanwhile I need to write an article on US influences that will impact on Australia's future submarine selection process.



Anonymous said...

Concerning "US influences" and the necessity to communicate with US ships check this: http://www.link22.org/

Did you notice the missing Australian flag?

Current standard is Link 16 and sufficient to perform such a task between platforms of different nations:

According to my knowledge a US combat systems is used on the following conventional submarines:
Australian Collins-class
Spanish S-80
Brazils SS Tapajo (Type 209)
Canadian Victoria-class (bought in 1998 the first torpedo with the AN/BSY-2 was fired in 2013 ...)


BTW. HDW never did build submarines at Hamburg (see
Some submarines were built at Emden http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhein-Stahl-Nordseewerke also TKMS now. It was a strategic issue to have a another submarine shipyard far to the west.

Here is a nice comparison of the French and German AIP solutions but not only:

(Hint Google translates MESMA to SAME!)


Anonymous said...

Some more stuff to read:
writen in 2003: http://www.competence-site.de/downloads/23/2d/i_file_51085/uboote_ritterhoff_stuve.pdf

HDW PR (2012): http://www.globaldefence.net/technologie/21043-deutschland-die-klasse-216-u-boote-fuer-den-weltweiten-einsatz.html

Far more interesting is this note from 2009: http://www.bits.de/public/researchnote/rn09-1.htm


OK, you need some translation...

Pete said...

Thanks MHalblaub

I've translated (German to English) those 3 papers:




and then placing the (rather crude) English translations on this website.



Pete said...

Hi MHalblaub

Thanks for your fine-tune translation offer. I've just sent a message to your email address.



jbmoore said...

Nice work. Very good synopsis. The fiber optic cable controlled torpedo and radical propulsion systems looked interesting.