HMS Meteorite

Last updated
U-1406.jpg
The U-1406, a vessel of the same class as Meteorite/U-1407
History
War ensign of Germany (1938-1945).svg Nazi Germany
Name:U-1407
Ordered: 4 January 1943
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Yard number: 257
Laid down: 13 November 1943
Launched: February 1945
Commissioned: 13 March 1945
Fate:
  • Scuttled at Cuxhaven, 5 May 1945
  • Later raised and rebuilt
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svgUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Meteorite
Acquired: 1945
Commissioned: 1946
Fate: Broken up, September 1949
General characteristics [1] [2]
Class and type: Type XVIIB submarine
Displacement:
  • 312 long tons (317 t) surfaced
  • 337 long tons (342 t) submerged
  • 415 long tons (422 t) total
Length:
Beam:
  • 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in) o/a
  • 3.3 m (10 ft 10 in) pressure hull
Draught: 4.3 m (14 ft 1 in)
Propulsion:
Speed:
  • 8.8 knots (16.3 km/h; 10.1 mph) surfaced
  • 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged (electric drive)
  • 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) submerged (HTP drive)
Range:
  • 3,000  nmi (5,600 km; 3,500 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
  • 76 nmi (141 km; 87 mi) at 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) submerged (electric drive)
  • 123 nmi (228 km; 142 mi) at 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) submerged (HTP drive)
Complement: 19
Armament:

HMS Meteorite was an experimental U-boat developed in Germany, scuttled at the end of World War II, subsequently raised and commissioned into the Royal Navy. The submarine was originally commissioned into the Kriegsmarine in March 1945 as U-1407. It was built around a Walter engine fuelled by high test peroxide (HTP).

Contents

History

The three completed German Type XVIIB submarines were scuttled by their crews at the end of the Second World War, U-1405 at Flensburg, and U-1406 and U-1407 at Cuxhaven, all in the British Zone of Occupation. [3] U-1406 and U-1407 were scuttled on 7 May 1945 by Oberleutnant zur See Gerhard Grumpelt even though a superior officer, Kapitän zur See Kurt Thoma, had prohibited such actions. Grumpelt was subsequently sentenced to seven years' imprisonment by a British military court. [4] [5]

At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945 U-1406 was allocated to the US and U-1407 to Britain and both were soon salvaged. [3]

Royal Navy service

U-1407 was salvaged in June 1945, and transported to Barrow-in-Furness, where she was refitted by Vickers with a new and complete set of machinery also captured in Germany, under the supervision of Professor Hellmuth Walter. Because she was intended to be used solely for trials and possibly as a high-speed anti-submarine target, her torpedo tubes were removed. [3] She was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 25 September 1945 and renamed HMS Meteorite.

During 1946 Meteorite carried out a series of trials under the guidance of Walter and his original team from Germaniawerft, Kiel. The trials raised considerable interest in the possibility of HTP as an alternative to nuclear power as air-independent propulsion and the Admiralty placed an order for two larger experimental Walter boats based on the German Type XXVI, HMS Explorer and HMS Excalibur, to be followed by an operational class of 12 boats.

Meteorite was not popular with her crews, who regarded the boat as a dangerous and volatile piece of machinery. She was difficult to control due to aircraft-type controls and a lack of forward hydroplanes. She was officially described as "75% safe".

Fate

Meteorite's Royal Navy service came to an end in September 1949, and she was broken up by Thos W Ward of Barrow-in-Furness.

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HMS Explorer was an experimental British submarine based on the captured German high test peroxide (HTP) powered U-boat U-1407. U-1407 had been scuttled following the German collapse at the end of the Second World War, was salvaged and eventually commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Meteorite. Her recovery was the impetus for a British research programme which resulted in the construction of two experimental submarines, HMS Explorer and HMS Excalibur. Built for speed trials, they were unarmed. Their HTP engines were essentially steam turbines, with the steam being generated by the interaction of HTP with diesel oil and a catalyst.

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References

  1. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Type XVIIB Walter boats". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  2. "This page contains details on the German U-Boat Type III, Type IV, Type V, Type VI, Type VIII, Type XI, Type XII, Type XIII, XV, XVI, VB60, V80, U-179, XVII". www.sharkhunters.com. Archived from the original on 24 February 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 Polmar, Norman; Kenneth J. Moore (2004). Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines. Brassey's. pp. 35–36. ISBN   1-57488-594-4.
  4. Madsen, Chris (1998). The Royal Navy and German Naval Disarmament, 1942-1947. Routledge. p. 180. ISBN   0-7146-4823-X.
  5. "UK v Grumpelt - Military Court" (PDF). World Court. Retrieved 2 March 2014.

Bibliography