next page back to the menu

U-2450, an U-Boot of world war II

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

U-Boot for unterseeboot simply submarine in German. This vessel is now used as a museum in Bremerhaven, it is interesting from every point of view to make a visit in order to better realize, to understand what could be the daily life of the submariners at that time. You can click on images to view them larger. In order to reach the widest possible audience, descriptions and historical part are simple, concise, more precise articles are already available on the Web.

The submarine U-2450, later renamed Wilhelm Bauer

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

To put 58 people in the submarine may seem to be mentally ill, but all these people are needed to ensure the smooth running of the submarine. On board, the captain is the only person authorized to look into the periscope. The submariner is living without any knowledge about what is going to happen. He had to have absolute confidence in his captain. The bunks are never empty, the one who starts his daily task give the bed to the one that just finished his service. Space is limited, so there is no 58 beths on board, only the captain have his privacy on board. No room for personal effects, submariner thus keeps the same clothes throughout the mission. A mission can last from 3 weeks to 3 months. Simply underwear parts. Electricity is never cut, but the dim light permanently make the submariner loose all sense of time, space limitations do not really allow distractions either. As far astorpedoes are launched, space becomes available in front of the submarine, allowing the hammocks and benches, rest ... The permanent noise of the engines, the smell of fuel, a quite humid atmosphere of 50 degrees Celsius drives the submariner slowly to crazyness . On top, the submariner sprays himself with Cologne perfume to minor the effect of the salted sea water. One of the most important tasks was obviously the tower.

1) the presentation of the ship

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

No fridge for food. However, the commodities provided are better than other soldiers. No place, huh? Hams, sausages and other provisions hang from the pipes throughout the submarine. during the first days of the mission, one of the two toilets was reserved to store food. Fresh produces will be consumed first, the rest absorbs the smells, the atmosphere throughout the trip. That tells you a fined fuel smoked ham? A dangerous job? Clearly, yes! Some have disappeared, swept away by the sea while on deck. Whoever is on duty on the bridge must be able to drop in case of need for emergency dive. Is it necessary to mention the sometimes harsh weather conditions when performing his duty? Between cold and moisture, without the possibility of drying clothes. The U-Boot rarely dips, especially the first years of the war. At this time, there is no air exchange system, most of the time, the U-boat sails to the surface where it is subject to rolling and pitching. The vessel is not really stable. Prolonged immersion is not without consequences on the health of submariners due to oxygen depletion, caused irreversible damage.

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

No fridge for food. However, the commodities provided are better than other soldiers. No place, huh? Hams, sausages and other provisions hang from the pipes throughout the submarine. during the first days of the mission, one of the two toilets was reserved to store food. Fresh produces will be consumed first, the rest absorbs the smells, the atmosphere throughout the trip. That tells you a fined fuel smoked ham? A dangerous job? Clearly, yes! Some have disappeared, swept away by the sea while on deck. Whoever is on duty on the bridge must be able to drop in case of need for emergency dive. Is it necessary to mention the sometimes harsh weather conditions when performing his duty? Between cold and moisture, without the possibility of drying clothes. The U-Boot rarely dips, especially the first years of the war. At this time, there is no air exchange system, most of the time, the U-boat sails to the surface where it is subject to rolling and pitching. The vessel is not really stable. Prolonged immersion is not without consequences on the health of submariners due to oxygen depletion, caused irreversible damage.

3) A short career for the U-2540?

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

The U-2540 Type XXI, one of the last out of the production. It was put into service at the end of the war, to his credit, not a single ship sank. The crew decided to do sink off at the beginning of May 1945. Scuttling a carefully planned. It will be bailed out in 1957 and returned to service under the name of Wilhelm Bauer, the inventor of the submarine for military purposes in the 19th century. The U-2450 will end in a museum ship in 1983 after several years of service. If this type of submarine was produced before, the war would have had another turn.

4) Finally, a bit of history

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

The Kriegsmarine is a symbol of pride, an elite corps, and successes in the early years of the war will generate many vocations. This is also the corps most successful, most rewarded. Wearing the uniform is not compulsory in submarines (we've seen the living conditions, it is easy to understand why ...). The grey wolves of Admiral Karl Doenitz is indeed a formidable weapon that prevents Winston Churchill to sleep peacefully. The intent of Adolf Hitler to stifle England, cutting all supplies. The supply is vital for UK at that time. The hunt is open to the convoys. However, Karl Doenitz will accumulate some mistakes that will determine the course of the war. Then certain circumstances will also have an impact that will spell the end of the U-Boot fleet.

- The defective torpedoes? Yes. Place on board submarines is reduced. Already said, right? Why pick 20 torpedoes if they are just ineffective? It sometimes happened that the torpedoes sank the submarine itself, simply by performing a circular path. Responsibility is first put on the crews, there were many reports from the captains about the defects, till Günther Priencomplained to Dönitz. Waste of time and therefore unefficiency.

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

- Enigma, the source of many films and fantasies ... The anecdote of the U-559. The U-boat was lost, he should sink. But not here. No, not there. The English forces had a look into the submarine which was still floating and brought this curious machine, kind of typewriter, but above all the communication tool with the U-Boot command. The usefulness of this machine has not been understood by the soldiers who inspected the U-Boot but they meticulously brought backthe machine. Posts communications were subsequently systematically decrypted and range of the U-boat was no longer secret. Dönitz did not know that Enigma had fallen into the hands of the English forces, he was supposing espionage. Dönitz orders were to limit the information on the location and movements of submarines to a limited quantity of persons. All wrong, not well done ...

- The U-Boot vulnerable? Yes. Profiled, fast enough, not that much on the surface. However at the beginning of the war, it is still undetectable. But most of the time, the U-boat sailing on the surface, where it is subject to attacks and easy to sank. An English experience: the Audacity. A merchant ship captured, turned into a few weeks in a small aircraft carrier . Uh, an escort aircraft carrier. First. The atterrisage track is ridiculous and a big scare for pilots. The Audacity was sunk with two torpedoes only but it helped to sank five U-boats. As a result, to turn ships into aircraft carriers is almost a few weeks, these ships can be lost. Effective, however. A nightmare for German submarines.

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

- A technological breakthrough? Yes, the radar. Dönitz ignored this possibility, he simply did not believe it. What a pity. The U-Boot is vulnerable. Not really detectable until that time. With advanced radars, the adventure ends, it is no longer possible to hide during the day or the night, on surface or not. The weapons are also improving (submarine grenades triggerable with depth, for example). The Channel and the North Sea gradually become too dangerous for U-boats.

- An additional enemy in the war ? I must admit that nothing can really stop the U-Boot in the early years of the war. Non-interference of Americans facilitated the task of the submarine, the U.S. entered the war September 11, 1941 will change the situation. Economic and military power of the U.S. is well established. Towards the end of the war, the U-Boot missions will be more dedicated to protect or escort.

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

- The heroes are dead, out of the loop or tired? Several high value captains are gone. Günther Prien, hero at that time disappears with his boat on March 6, 1941, probably sunk by one of its own torpedoes. Joachim Schepke disappeared in March 1941 too. Otto Kretschmer, called as silent Ottowas captured with his crew on March 17, 1941. Engelbert Endrass died in December 1941. Hans Diedrich von Tiesenhausen captured on November 17, 1942. Other, talented captains overtake a shore command (Suhren Reinhard, Wolfgang Lüth, Herbert Schultze, Otto Schuhart). Curious strategy, isn't it? To maintain the U-Boot as a formidable weapon, it is imperative to have a properly trained captain, and that does take time. The disappearance or taken out of the game captains is not without consequences. Some U-Boot will finish into the depth of the sea, the crew becaming even more unexperienced.

U-Boot 2540, Wilhelm Bauer

In conclusion, among time, grey wolves fleet has been reduced. The survival of a U-Boot does not exceed two missions at the end of the war. Furtive submarines were lately produced (11 U-boats), the German III Reich was already on the way to collapse. Over thousand U-Boot were produced. Nearly 800 of them were sanked or reported as missing. The last U-boat was found in 2010 in the depth of the Churchill River in Canada. About 41,000 submariners during World War II. 30,000 of them never returned home.