The Type VIIC U-boat U-96 - German U-boats of WWII (2024)

List of all U-boats



Ordered30 May 1938
Laid down16 Sep 1939 F. Krupp Germaniawerft AG, Kiel (werk 601)
Launched1 Aug 1940
Commissioned14 Sep 1940Kptlt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock
14 Sep 1940 - 1 Apr 1942Kptlt. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (Knights Cross)
28 Mar 1942 - 15 Mar 1943Oblt. Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel (Knights Cross)
16 Mar 1943 - 30 Jun 1944Oblt. Wilhelm Peters
Feb, 1944 - Jun, 1944Oblt. Horst Willner
1 Jul 1944 - 15 Feb 1945Oblt. (R) Robert Rix
11 patrols
14 Sep 1940-30 Nov 19407. Flottille (training)
1 Dec 1940-31 Mar 19437. Flottille (active service)
1 Apr 1943-30 Jun 194424. Flottille (training)
1 Jul 1944-15 Feb 194522. Flottille (school boat)
Successes27 ships sunk, total tonnage 181,206 GRT
4 ships damaged, total tonnage 33,043 GRT
1 ship a total loss, total tonnage 8,888 GRT

Decommissioned on 15 February 1945 at Wilhelmshaven.

Sunk on 30 March 1945 in the Hipper Basin at Wilhelmshaven by bombs during US air raid (8th AF).

Loss position

See the 32 ships hit by U-96 - View the 11 war patrols

Wolfpack operations

U-96 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
Hammer (5 Aug 1941 - 12 Aug 1941)
Grönland (12 Aug 1941 - 27 Aug 1941)
Kurfürst (28 Aug 1941 - 2 Sep 1941)
Seewolf (2 Sep 1941 - 10 Sep 1941)
Stosstrupp (30 Oct 1941 - 4 Nov 1941)
Störtebecker (5 Nov 1941 - 19 Nov 1941)
Benecke (19 Nov 1941 - 22 Nov 1941)
Hecht (11 May 1942 - 18 Jun 1942)
Stier (29 Aug 1942 - 2 Sep 1942)
Vorwärts (3 Sep 1942 - 25 Sep 1942)
Jaguar (10 Jan 1943 - 20 Jan 1943)

Attacks on this boat and other events

28 Apr 1941

On 28 Apr 1941 southeast of Iceland, in position 60.04N, 15.45W, the British corvette HMS Gladiolus depth charged a German U-boat. This was for some time thought to have sunk U-65, but the target was actually U-96, which escaped unscathed.

31 Oct 1941
While attacking convoy OS 10 on the surface during a full moon, Lehmann-Willenbrock fired into the convoy at long range, sinking one ship. The British escort sloop HMS Lulworth gave chase, and after driving U-96 under with gunfire, dropped 27 depth charges. None fell close, and the boat evaded the attack and continued the patrol. (Sources: Blair, vol 1, page 394)

30 Nov 1941
While penetrating the Straits of Gibraltar, U-96 was attacked at 2235hrs by a British Swordfish aircraft. Suffering some damage, the boat dived, surfaced the next morning at 0445hrs, and proceeded to base in France. The much longer and more dramatic stay in the deep described by Buchheim in his novel Das Boot is one of the numerous occasions in this book where the author fictionalized the events he experienced during his time as war correspondent on U-96. (Sources: Blair, vol 1, page 401)

3 recorded attacks on this boat.

General notes on this boat

The "Das Boot" (The Boat) Connection

Lothar-Günther Buchheim joined U-96 for one patrol as a war correspondent. This resulted in the international best-selling novel of submarine warfare Das Boot (The Boat), the short story Die Eichenlaubfahrt (The Oak-Leaves Patrol) and a three-part text-and-photo chronicle U-bootkrieg (U-Boat War), U-Bootfahrer (U-Boat-Men) and Zu Tode Gesiegt (Victoried to Death).

Buchheim was posted aboard as an official artist to provide impressions of the German Navy in action for propaganda purposes Over 5,000 of his photos survived the war, and 205 of these form the epic photo-essay U-Boat War. All the photographs in U-Boat War were taken by Buchheim with the exception of a few taken by U-96 engineering officer Fritz Grade.

Buchheim witnessed the chance meeting between U-96 and U-572 during a heavy storm. This probably occurred in November 1941. U-572 had sailed on 29/11/41, a few days after U-96 (see the mission details below). At this time U-572 was commanded by Kptlt. Heinz Hirsacker (who was condemned to death by military tribunal in 1943 charged with "Cowardice in the face of the enemy" - the only U-boat commander to suffer that fate, being executed on April 24th 1943. U-572 was lost later in 1943).

He also wrote the book Jäger im Weltmeer (Hunter in the Ocean) and in 1995 he published the novel Die Festung (The Fortress). There Buchheim writes about the last days in the port of Brest, France and his dramatic schnorchel voyage to La Pallice with the last but one U-boat to leave Brest.

Buchheim’s books are controversial because, particularly in his photo essays, he writes very critically of the U-boat force, and particularly about Dönitz. (Refuting Buchheim, Karl-Friedrich Merten wrote a book entitled Wir U-Bootfahrer sagen: "Nein! So war das nicht!" [We U-boat men say: "No, it wasn't so!"] )

Men lost from U-boats

Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-96 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.

U-boat Emblems

We have 1 emblem entry for this boat. See the emblem page for this boat or view emblems individually below.

The Laughing Sawfish - 9th Flotilla

Media links

U-Boat Operations of the Second World War - Vol 1
Wynn, Kenneth

German U-Boat Losses During World War II
Niestle, Axel

Hitler's U-boat War, Vol II
Blair, Clay

Hitler's U-boat War
Blair, Clay

There was another U-96 in World War One
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 15 Feb 1917 and commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 11 Apr 1917. The Naval war in WWI was brought to an end with the Armistice signed on 11 Nov, 1918. Read about SM U 96 during WWI.

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The Type VIIC U-boat U-96 - German U-boats of WWII (2024)


The Type VIIC U-boat U-96 - German U-boats of WWII? ›

She was decommissioned on 15 February 1945 in Wilhelmshaven. When US Eighth Air Force attacked Wilhelmshaven on 30 March 1945, U-96 was sunk in Hipper basin. The remains of the U-boat were broken up after the war.

What happened to U-boat 96? ›

She was decommissioned on 15 February 1945 in Wilhelmshaven. When US Eighth Air Force attacked Wilhelmshaven on 30 March 1945, U-96 was sunk in Hipper basin. The remains of the U-boat were broken up after the war.

How deep could a type 7 U-boat go? ›

Submerged range at 4 knots74–94 nmi (137–174 km; 85–108 mi)80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi)
Maximum operating depth220 m (720 ft)250 m (820 ft)
Crush depth230–250 m (750–820 ft)275–325 m (902–1,066 ft)
19 more rows

How big is the crew on a Type 7 U-boat? ›

A Type VII Uboat carried around 45 men and officers. Putting that many people on board would kill your framerates, not to mention dealing with all those extra animations and probably a lot of visual clipping.

How many torpedoes did a Type 7 U-boat carry? ›

They had five torpedo tubes (four in the bow, one in the stern) and carried 14 torpedoes, and were also armed with one 8.8cm deck gun and a 2cm anti-aircraft gun mounted at the rear of the conning tower.

How many German U-boats are still missing? ›

According to the definitive website, a total of 50 German U-boats remained unaccounted for after the end of World War II.

Where are the 4 surviving U-boats? ›

U-534 is one of only four German World War II submarines in preserved condition remaining in the world, the others being the IXC boat U-505 in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, the VIIC/41 boat U-995 at the Laboe Naval Memorial near Kiel and the XXI boat U-2540 in Bremerhaven.

Who had the best U-boats in WWII? ›

In comparison to the submarines of the United States, which were already very advanced and won the Pacific theatre, German U-boats displayed greatly enhanced underwater speed and endurance, with highly streamlined hulls and snorkels, and in this way posed one of the most serious risks to the Allied powers in WWII—as ...

Were German U-boats better than US submarines? ›

The U-boats could go faster and farther, and they could carry almost twice as many weapons as the newest U.S. submarines. They also could submerge four times faster. The U.S. Navy's subs possessed advantages only in maximum depth and an extra half knot submerged.

How many U-boats are left? ›

Where to see the final four “iron coffins.” The German Unterseeboot, or U-boat, was a submarine that appeared seemingly out of nowhere to destroy both military and commercial ships. Despite their prevalence during World War I and World War II, only four U-boats remain intact today.

How many people could fit in a German U-boat? ›

The Germans' most formidable naval weapon was the U-boat, a submarine far more sophisticated than those built by other nations at the time. The typical U-boat was 214 feet long, carried 35 men and 12 torpedoes, and could travel underwater for two hours at a time.

How many toilets does a U-boat have? ›

U-boat submariners had a 75% casualty rate, the highest of all German forces during the war. The U-505 had two bathrooms, one of which was used to store food for the first part of the voyage.

What was the most powerful U-boat? ›

U-48: The Most Successful U-Boat of the Second World War.

How long could a German WWII submarine stay underwater? ›

These submarines were developed by the Germans to fight the British during the world wars. Generally, a U-Boat was over 200 feet long, could remain underwater for nearly 2 hours, and hold more than 10 torpedoes and over 30 men.

How long can a German U-boat stay underwater? ›

Roughly 48 hours. World War II diesel submarines would have a large stack of batteries that would be charged by the diesel engine.

How deep could German U-boats dive? ›

A 'typical' German U-boat had an operating depth of 160–200 feet. Their crush depth was around 360–400 feet.

Why is the U-boat story closed? ›

One of only four surviving U-boats - and the only one in Britain - U-534 has not been accessible to the public since a former museum on the site closed in 2020 due to problems with the roof and waterproofing.

Why did the U-boat fail? ›

In the last two years of the war, the U-boats were forced to travel submerged due to Allied aircraft coverage of the North Atlantic, surfacing only as needed to recharge the batteries, and at the slow submerged speed required for sustained underwater transit, usually 2-3 knots, by the time that a boat reached its ...

Why did they stop using U-boats? ›

The U-boats failed to enforce a blockade but three sinkings of liners, with loss of American lives, outraged the US so that the Kaiser had to stop the campaign in September 1915: on 7 May 1915 SM U-20 sank RMS Lusitania; on 19 August SM U-24 sank SS Arabic; and on 9 September SM U-20 sank RMS Hesperian.

What ended the U-boats? ›

The effective date of surrender was May 8 and 156 U-boats surrendered to Allied forces in the following weeks. Operation Deadlight was an operation where Allied forces scuttled 116 of these boats following the war. This section houses imagery of some of the surrendered German submarines.

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