Tuesday, February 17, 2009

More Submarines

The fact that Germany had a midget submarine program in WW II is not well known. The most likely reason is, like the Japanese midget submarines, they were not a factor in the outcome of any major battles. In Germany’s case, many simply vanished while on patrol. No record of any Allied action involving them exists so it is assumed that they were lost to weather and the elements with nothing to show for it.

Germany had 4 classes of midget submarines. They were mostly designed for 1 man operation and carried torpedoes outside the hull. One of the most active classes was the “Biber” (Beaver). One of them is in the Imperial War Museum in London and is the one in the picture. This particular midget sub was found off of Dover and taken in tow. The operator had made an error in ventilating the boat and died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the gasoline engine fumes. Another Biber was recently refurbished by the BBC and is the only functional WW II midget submarine in captivity. In all, 324 of these little subs were built.

An excellent source for U-Boat information is the web site Uboat.net

For a summary of the BBC project, go here.

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