German submarine U-78 (1940)

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Nazi Germany
Name: U-78
Ordered: 25 January 1939
Builder: Bremer Vulkan, Bremen-Vegesack
Yard number: 6
Laid down: 28 March 1940
Launched: 7 December 1940
Commissioned: 15 February 1941
Fate: Sunk on 16 April 1945 by Soviet artillery fire.[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Installed power:
  • 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp) (diesels)
  • 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
  • 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth:
  • 230 m (750 ft)
  • Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Service record[1]
Part of:
  • Kptlt. Adolf Dumrese
  • 15 February – July 1941
  • Oblt.z.S. Kurt Makowski
  • July 1941 – February 1942
  • Kptlt. Max Bernd Dieterich
  • February – 30 June 1942
  • Kptlt. Ernst Ziehm
  • 1 July – November 1942
  • Kptlt. Helmut Sommer
  • November 1942 – 16 May 1943
  • Oblt.z.S. Wilhelm Eisele
  • 17 May 1943 – 26 November 1944
  • Oblt.z.S. Horst Hübsch
  • 27 November 1944 – 16 April 1945
Operations: None
Victories: None

German submarine U-78 was a Type VIIC submarine of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was the only German submarine to be sunk by land-based artillery fire during the war.

She was ordered on 25 January 1939, and laid down on 28 March 1940, in the shipyard of Bremer Vulkan in the port city of Bremen-Vegesack as yard number 6. U-78 was launched on 7 December 1940 and formally commissioned into the Kriegsmarine as a "school boat" on 15 February 1941, with a crew of 41 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Alfred Dumrese.[1]


German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-78 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[2] She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 6 V 40/46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two Brown, Boveri & Cie GG UB 720/8 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).[2]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph).[2] When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-78 was fitted with two 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes at the bow, fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[2]

Service history[edit]

U-78 spent the majority of her career as a training U-boat, during which time she had several different crews. As a result, she never sank any enemy vessels nor engaged any enemy ships or convoys. On 1 March 1945, she was transferred to the 4th U-boat Flotilla but never saw any combat; prior to beginning her first patrol she was sunk on 16 April 1945. U-78's fate is notable in that she was the only German U-boat to be sunk by land-based artillery fire during World War II.[1][3]

Use as a training boat[edit]

U-78 spent almost her entire career as part of the 22nd U-boat Flotilla as a "school boat", a role which saw her being used to train U-boat crews. During this time, her commander was changed six times: in July 1941 from Kapitänleutnant (Kptlt.) Alfred Dumrese to Oberleutnant zur See (O/L) Kurt Makowski, who remained in command until February 1942 when she was handed over to Kptlt. Max Bernd Dieterich; in July 1942, Kptlt. Ernst Ziehm took command of the U-boat from Dieterich in November 1942. Kptlt. Helmut Sommer took command from Ziehm in May 1943; the sixth commander of U-78 took control of the U-boat when Wilhelm Eisele was named captain and lastly, the seventh commander, O/L Horst Hübsch, took command of U-78 from Eisele on 27 November 1944. All of U-78's changes of command took place while the U-boat was still serving as a training boat. Crewmembers used her as a practice submarine before being assigned to their operational U-boat.[1]


By March 1945, the war was coming to an end, the Kriegsmarine was faced with a dwindling number of active U-boats. To offset this, the Navy looked to transfer boats away from other duties, such as training. On 1 March 1945, U-78 began active service with the 4th U-boat Flotilla. Just a month and a half later, however, on 16 April 1945, U-78 was sunk after being attacked by Soviet land-based artillery while she was docked near the electricity supply pier in the German port of Pillau in East Prussia.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-78". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-boat losses by cause". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 14 March 2010. 


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6. 
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4. 

External links[edit]

  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-78". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 78". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 26 December 2014.