U-boat


U-boat
/yooh"boht'/, n.
a German submarine.
[1910-15; < G U-Boot, short for Unterseeboot lit., undersea boat]

* * *

German Unterseeboot ("undersea boat")

German submarine.

The first German submarine, the U-1, was built in 1905. During World War I Germany became the first country to employ submarines in war, and during World War II its U-boats dominated the Battle of the Atlantic until the Allies developed new antisubmarine tactics. The principal German U-boat was the type VII; the VIIC variant was 220.25 ft (66 m) long, displaced 769 tons on the surface, carried one 90-mm deck gun and five torpedo tubes, and was manned by a crew of 44. Modern German U-boats are built for the German navy and navies of allied countries; their sophisticated structures, electonics, and propulsion systems allow them to be used for intelligence gathering and special operations in addition to defending sea lanes and threatening enemy forces.

* * *

▪ German submarine
Introduction
German  U-boot,  abbreviation  of Unterseeboot 

      (“undersea boat”), a German submarine. The destruction of enemy shipping by German U-boats was a spectacular feature of both World Wars I and II.

      Germany was the first country to employ submarines in war as substitutes for surface commerce raiders. At the outset of World War I, German U-boats, though numbering only 38, achieved notable successes against British warships; but because of the reactions of neutral powers (especially the United States) Germany hesitated before adopting unrestricted U-boat warfare against merchant ships. The decision to do so in February 1917 was largely responsible for the entry of the United States into the war. The U-boat campaign then became a race between German sinkings of merchant ships and the building of ships, mainly in the United States, to replace them. In April 1917, 430 Allied and neutral ships totaling 852,000 tons were sunk, and it seemed likely that the German gamble would succeed. However, the introduction of convoys, the arrival of numerous U.S. destroyers, and the vast output of American shipyards turned the tables. By the end of the war Germany had built 334 U-boats and had 226 under construction. The peak U-boat strength of 140 was reached in October 1917, but there were never more than about 60 at sea at one time. In 1914–18 the destruction—more than 10,000,000 tons—caused by the U-boats was especially remarkable in view of the small size (less than l,000 tons), frailty, and vulnerability of the craft.

      The Armistice terms of 1918 required Germany to surrender all its U-boats, and the Treaty of Versailles forbade it to possess them in the future. In 1935, however, Adolf Hitler's Germany repudiated the treaty and forcefully negotiated the right to build U-boats. Britain was ill-prepared in 1939 for a resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, and during the early months of World War II the U-boats, which at that time numbered only 57, again achieved great successes. The first phase, during which the U-boats generally operated singly, ended in March 1941, by which time many merchant ships were sailing in convoy, trained escort groups were becoming available, and aircraft were proving their effectiveness as anti-U-boat weapons. In the next phase the Germans, having acquired air and U-boat bases in Norway and western France, were able to reach much farther out into the Atlantic, and their U-boats began to operate in groups (called wolf packs by the British). One U-boat would shadow a convoy and summon others by radio, and then the group would attack, generally on the surface at night. These tactics succeeded until radar came to the aid of the escorts and until convoys could be given continuous sea and air escort all the way across the Atlantic in both directions. In March 1943, as in April 1917, the Germans nearly succeeded in cutting Britain's Atlantic lifeline, but by May escort carriers and very-long-range reconnaissance bombers became available. After the U-boats lost 41 of their number during that month, they withdrew temporarily from the Atlantic.

      In the next phase, U-boats were sent to remote waters where unescorted targets could still be found. Although at first they achieved considerable successes, especially in the Indian Ocean, the Allied strategy of striking at the U-boats' supply vessels and putting all possible shipping into convoys again proved successful. In the final phase the U-boats—then fitted with the snorkel (schnorkel) ventilating tube, which permitted extended underwater travel and greatly reduced the effectiveness of radar—returned to the coastal waters around the British Isles, but they sank few ships and themselves suffered heavy losses.

      In World War II Germany built 1,162 U-boats, of which 785 were destroyed and the remainder surrendered (or were scuttled to avoid surrender) at the capitulation. Of the 632 U-boats sunk at sea, Allied surface ships and shore-based aircraft accounted for the great majority (246 and 245 respectively).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Boat people — is a term that usually refers to illegal immigrants or asylum seekers who emigrate en masse in boats that are sometimes old and crudely made rendering them unseaworthy and unsafe. The term came into common use during the late 1970s with the mass… …   Wikipedia

  • Boat — (b[=o]t), n. [OE. boot, bat, AS. b[=a]t; akin to Icel. b[=a]tr, Sw. b[*a]t, Dan. baad, D. & G. boot. Cf. {Bateau}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A small open vessel, or water craft, usually moved by cars or paddles, but often by a sail. [1913 Webster] Note …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Boat hook — Boat Boat (b[=o]t), n. [OE. boot, bat, AS. b[=a]t; akin to Icel. b[=a]tr, Sw. b[*a]t, Dan. baad, D. & G. boot. Cf. {Bateau}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A small open vessel, or water craft, usually moved by cars or paddles, but often by a sail. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Boat rope — Boat Boat (b[=o]t), n. [OE. boot, bat, AS. b[=a]t; akin to Icel. b[=a]tr, Sw. b[*a]t, Dan. baad, D. & G. boot. Cf. {Bateau}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A small open vessel, or water craft, usually moved by cars or paddles, but often by a sail. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Boat building — Boat building, one of the oldest branches of engineering, is concerned with constructing the hulls of boats and, for sailboats, the masts, spars and rigging.Parts* Bow the front and generally sharp end of the hull. It is designed to reduce the… …   Wikipedia

  • boat — W2S1 [bəut US bout] n [: Old English; Origin: bat] 1.) a vehicle that travels across water ▪ If we had a boat, we could row across to the island. ▪ a fishing boat on/in a boat ▪ MacKay said he would sleep on his boat. by boat ▪ …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Boat boy — or boat bearer are terms used for a junior Acolyte position found in Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. The role of a boat boy is to assist the thurifer (the senior Acolyte who carries the thurible) during services in which incense is used.… …   Wikipedia

  • Boat racing — is the racing of boats on water.Types* Drag boat racing * Dragon boat racing * Snake Boat Race * Hydroplane racing * Jet sprint boat racing * Offshore powerboat racing * Outrigger canoe racing * Sport rowing * Yacht racing * Match race * Team… …   Wikipedia

  • Boat people — 132 boat people haïtiens entassés sur une petite embarcation et interceptés par un navire américain. Les boat people (construit à partir des mots anglais « bateau » et « gens ») sont des migrants qui fuient leur pays pour des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Boat Lake — ist der Name mehrerer Seen in den Vereinigten Staaten: Boat Lake (Alaska) Boat Lake (Dixie County, Florida) Boat Lake (Hillsborough County, Florida) Boat Lake (Seminole County, Florida) Boat Lake (Washington County, Florida) Boat Lake (Indiana)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • boat — [bōt] n. [ME bot < OE bat (akin to Ger & Du boot) < IE base * bheid , to split (in the sense “hollowed out tree trunk”) > FISSION] 1. a small, open water vehicle propelled by oars, sails, engine, etc. 2. a large such vehicle for use in… …   English World dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.