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GORDON WILLIAMSON, illustrated by IAN PALMER
KRIEGSMARINE U-BOATS 1939-45

Type VIIC

The third and most significant variant of the Type VII was the 'C'. It was originally proposed as a vessel for the new sonar search equipment known as the Such-Gerät (S-Gerät), with an increase in length to both the control room and the conning tower to accommodate the necessary equipment. Other smaller, but nevertheless welcome, modifications were also incorporated. A small buoyancy tank was fitted within the saddle tanks, which could also be flooded to improve diving time. A new filtration system for the diesel engines, a new diesel rather than electric-powered compressor for the air tanks - to ease demands on the electrical system - and more modern electrical switching systems were all added to this model.

U-30, a Type VIIA, returns to base after a war cruise. This boat is generally credited with starting the fashion of painting an emblem on the side of the conning tower. Note the single central stern jump wire; most boats had two, one to port and one to starboard. The very dark grey colour of the saddle tanks is once again apparent.

SPECIFICATIONS

Length - 67.1 m

Beam - 6.2 m

Draft - 4.8 m

Displacement - 761 tons surfaced, 865 tons submerged

Speed - 17 knots surfaced, 7.6 knots submerged

Endurance - 6,500 nautical miles surfaced, 80 nautical miles submerged

Powerplant - 2 × 1,400 bhp diesels coupled with 2 × 375 bhp electric motors

Armament - 5 torpedo tubes (4 bow, 1 stern), 1 × 8.8 cm gun, 1 × 2 cm gun

Crew - 44

Type VIIC/41

The first major sub-variant of this type was the VIIC/41. This variant featured extensive replacement of existing electrical equipment by newer, more compact models. The weight thus saved (some 11 tons overall) was utilised in thickening the steel plate used for the pressure hull by a further 2.5 mm, thus allowing an increase in diving capabilities from a maximum depth of 250 m to 300 m. The bow was also lengthened slightly to increase seaworthiness.

SPECIFICATIONS

Length - 67.2 m

Beam - 6.2 m

Draft - 4.8 m

Displacement - 759 tons surfaced. 860 tons submerged

Speed - 17 knots surfaced, 7.6 knots submerged

Endurance - 6,500 nautical miles surfaced, 80 nautical miles submerged

Powerplant - 2 × 1,400 bhp diesels coupled with 2 × 375 bhp electric motors

Armament - 5 torpedo tubes (4 bow, 1 stern), 1 × 8.8 cm gun, 1 × 2 cm gun

Crew - 44

U-boat ace Kapitänleutnant Gunther Prien on the bridge of U-47. This was an early Type VIIA boat. Note the outward flare of the conning tower edge common to most early Type VIIs and later replaced by a more effective form of spray deflector. Also visible are the snorting bull emblem adopted by Prien as his boat's emblem and the attachment points at the side of the tower for the jump wires.

Type VIIC/42

This projected sub-variant was an attempt to improve speed further by adding additional turbochargers, coupled with an increase in length to give greater fuel storage capabilities. Armour-plate was to be used rather than normal steel for the pressure hull, taking the maximum depth possible up to 500 m. None of this type was ever completed.

Type VIIC/43

Another design that got no further than the drawing board, this was essentially a Type VUG/42 with armament upgraded to provide six rather than four bow torpedo tubes.

Type VIID

This version of the versatile VII design was a minelayer. The hull of the basic Type VII was extended by almost ten metres, just aft of the control room, to provide five vertical mine shafts. Additional benefits of the extension in hull length included space for additional fuel and extra trim tanks. These boats also had the luxury of refrigerated food storage. The full torpedo and gun armament of the standard Type VII was retained. On the down side, the additional weight and length, to say nothing of the raised decking required for the mine shafts, reduced overall speed and handling qualities, though overall endurance was increased.

SPECIFICATIONS

Length - 76.9 m

Beam - 6.4 m

Draft - 5.0 m

Displacement - 965 tons surfaced, 1,080 tons submerged

Speed - 16 knots surfaced, 7.3 knots submerged

Endurance - 8,100 nautical miles surfaced, 69 nautical miles submerged

Powerplant - 2 × 1,400 bhp diesels coupled with 2 × 375 bhp electric motors

Armament - 5 torpedo tubes (4 bow, 1 stern), 1 × 8.8 cm gun, 1 × 2 cm gun, 15 mines

Crew – 44c

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