Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.
– Christopher Eger
Warship Wednesday Jan 29, 2014 U427 : survived 678 depth charges but never sank a ship
Here we see a Type VII submarine of the WWII Kreigsmarine. Her name was the U-427 and she was both the luckiest and the most unlucky ship in Hitler’s navy. Ordered two weeks before the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 from Danziger Werft, Danzig, she was commissioned 2 June 1943.
This class was the largest single class of submarines ever built, with some 703 units completed. Designed in 1933-34 as the first series of a new generation of attack U-boats, these hardy 220-foot craft could sail nearly 10,000 miles, making them capable of crossing the Atlantic and coming back unescorted.
U-427 entered service as the Battle of the Atlantic was being lost by the German navy. Throughout 1939-42 the tide was high for Admiral Donitz’s unterseebottes. U-boat skippers looked back at those years as ‘the happy time’. By 1943, with increasing numbers of US escort carriers armed with Avenger torpedo planes, British intelligence reading Donitz’s letters to the fleet, and hundreds of Allied escort ships coming out of the builder’s yards, life for the U-boat arm sucked.
Used for a year as a training craft, U-427 only ventured out to the North Atlantic for the first time on 20 June 1944, two weeks after D-Day. She survived an amazing 678 depth charges dropped on her from Allied ships and craft over the course of the next eleven months. Her war patrol record reads like monotony and included Convoy escort operations along the Norwegian coast December 4, 1944 to February 23, 1945 followed by Arctic operations against Russian convoys April 21, 1945 to 2 May, 1945. She conducted five patrols with five different Flottes and as part of Wolfpack Faust.
She never managed to sink or damage an Allied ship, be it merchant or naval. Just days before the end of the war, U-427 saw a chance to pop its cherry when it found a pair of 2800-ton Tribal class destroyers of the Royal Canadian Navy loafing about waiting for the war to end. These two ships, HMCS Haida and HMCS Iroquois, were on the receiving end of two live torpedoes fired from the U-427 that both missed.
The submarine retired to her base at Kilbotn, Norway, where it remained until Germany’s surrender on 8 May, in a heavily damaged state. In December of that year, along with 116 other surrendered German U-boats, she was sunk in deep water by the Royal Navy 100 miles northwest of Ireland as part of Operation Deadlight.
HMCS Haida, near-victim of U-427, survived the war as well and after retiring from the fleet in 1963 is now a museum ship and National Historic Site of Canada displayed at Hamilton, Ontario.
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) (o/a)
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) (pressure hull)
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged 6-cylinder 4-stroke diesel engines totalling 2,800–3,200 hp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
Speed: 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h) surfaced
80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Calculated crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44-52 officers & ratings
Armament: 5 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (4 bow, 1 stern)
14 × torpedoes or 26 TMA or 39 TMB mines
1 × 8.8 cm SK C/35 naval gun with 220 rounds
Various antiaircraft weaponry
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