German Type X submarine

German Type X submarine

Type X (XB) U-boats were a special type of German submarine (U-boat). Although intended as long-range mine-layers, they were later used as long-range cargo transports, a task they shared with the Type IXD and Italian Romolo class submarines.


The Type X was originally designed specifically to accommodate the newly developed Sondermine A (SMA) moored naval mine. The initial design provided dry storage for the mines, which needed their detonators to be individually adjusted before launch; this submarine was projected to have displaced up to 2,500 tons. A further variant, the Type XA was projected, which would have supplemented the main mine chamber with extra mine shafts in the saddle tanks. Neither type entered production. [Williamson, p. 53]

A total of eight Type XB boats were produced, which replaced the mine chamber of the projected Type XA with 6 vertical wet storage shafts in the forward section of the hull. Up to 18 mines could be carried in these shafts, with an additional 48 mines in a series of 12 shafts set into the saddle tanks on each side. They only had two torpedo tubes, both at the stern. When used as cargo-carrying submarines they carried freight containers in the mine shafts (or had the freight containers welded on top of the lateral shafts, preventing their use for mines).

The first Type XB was launched in May 1941. At 2,710 tons submerged and fully loaded, they were the largest German U-boats ever built, and they had to sacrifice diving speed and agility.

ervice history

Six of the 8 boats built were sunk during the war (5 with all hands) but two survived the war. One survivor was "U-234", which surrendered to US Navy ships on 14 May 1945 while en route for Japan with a cargo that included 560 kg uranium oxide, two Me 262 jet fighters, and 10 jet engines.

The other type XB to survive was "U-219" which reached Djakarta in December 1944 with a cargo including dismantled V-2 rockets for Japan. Following Germany's surrender, "U-219" was seized by the Japanese at Batavia on 8 May 1945 and on 15 July 1945 was placed into service with the Imperial Japanese Navy as "I-505".


Six Type XBs were lost to various causes.
* "U-116" was last heard of on 6 October 1942 in the North Atlantic and was presumed sunk.
* "U-117" was sunk on 7 August 1943 in the North Atlantic by aircraft from USS "Card".
* "U-118" was sunk on 12 June 1943 near the Canary Islands by aircraft from USS "Bogue".
* "U-119" was sunk on 24 June 1943 in the Bay of Biscay by ramming and depth charges from the Royal Navy ship HMS "Starling".
* "U-220" was sunk on 28 October 1943 in the North Atlantic by aircraft from USS "Block Island".
* "U-233" was sunk on 5 July 1944 southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia by USS "Baker" and USS "Thomas".



*cite book | last = Williamson | first = Gordon | authorlink = | coauthors = Ian Palmer | title = Kriegsmarine U-boats 1939-45: Vol 2 | publisher = Osprey Publishing | date = 2002 | location = | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 1841763640

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