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German submarine U-1224
Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-1224 / RO-501
Ordered: 25 August 1941
Builder: Deutsche Werft, Hamburg
Yard number: 387
Laid down: 30 November 1942
Launched: 7 July 1943
Commissioned: 20 October 1943
Decommissioned: 15 February 1944
Fate: Transferred to Japanese service
Notes: Used as a training ship for Japanese crew
Career (Japan)
Name: RO-501
Acquired: 15 February 1944
In service: 15 February 1944
Fate: Sunk, 13 May 1944
General characteristics
Class & type: Type IXC/40 submarine
Displacement: 1,144 t (1,261 short tons), surfaced[1]
1,257 t (1,386 short tons), submerged
Length: 237 ft 2.15 in (72.2922 m)[1]
Beam: 22 ft 8.25 in (6.9152 m)[1]
Draft: 15 ft 4 in (4.67 m)[2]
Speed: 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h), surfaced[1]
7.3 knots (13.5 km/h), submerged
Endurance: 16,800 nautical miles @ 10 knots, surfaced (31,100 km @ 19 km/h)[1]
63 nautical miles @ 4 knots, submerged (117 km @ 7.4 km/h)[1]
Test depth: 330 feet (100 m)[1]
Complement: 48 (standard)[1]
Armament: 6 × 21 in (53.3 cm) torpedo tubes (4 bow, 2 stern)[2]
19 torpedoes, std. (22 max.)[1]
1 × 4.1 in (10 cm) deck gun (180 rounds)
1 x 37 mm (1.5 in) flak gun (2,625 rounds)
2 x 20 mm (0.79 in) twin flak gun (8,500 rounds)
Notes: 35-second diving time[1]

German submarine U-1224 was a Type IXC/40 U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine built for service during World War II. She was constructed by Deutsche Werft of Hamburg, used as a training ship for Japanese sailors, and transferred into Japanese service on February 15, 1944.

Service history[edit | edit source]

Kriegsmarine (German Navy)[edit | edit source]

His keel was laid down on November 1942 by Blohm + Voss of Hamburg. He was commissioned in October 1943.

U-1224 was used as a training ship for Japanese sailors, and engaged in technology transfer activities. It began its career doing training for Japanese sailors in the Baltic Sea. A small crew of Kriegsmarine Sailors trained 48 IJN sailors at sea from October 1943 to February 1944.

Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun (Imperial Japanese Navy)[edit | edit source]

After the crew underwent 3 months of training, the U-1224 was recommissioned into the Japanese navy under the pennant 'RO-501'. Captain Narita was put in charge of the crew (ref. 2), and the 'RO-501' was then tasked to carry a load of war materials, blueprints, and other secret cargo from Kiel, Germany to Penang, Malaysia. The mission was never completed.

Technology Transfer[edit | edit source]

Germany and Japan were separated by great distance, and in early 1944 they were increasingly cut off from each other. While neither power was able to send meaningful reinforcements or armaments through territory controlled by the Allied powers, they were able to use submarines to share some intelligence and weapons blueprints. Submarines offered security and their stealth allowed for a fair chance of success. Between 1942 and 1944, approximately 35 submarines attempted the journey from Europe to the Far East, and at least 11 attempted the journey from the Far East to Europe (ref. 4).

On its journey from Germany to Malaysia, the RO-501 carried precious metals, uncut optical glass, models and blueprints necessary to construct a Type IX U-boat in addition to motors and blueprints for the Messerschmitt Me-163 "Komet” rocket fighter airplane. It was also hoped that the trained Japanese sailors would pass along their expertise.

Loss at Sea[edit | edit source]

The route to Malaysia took the RO-501 to the Azores for refueling, and then around the Horn of Africa. Along the way, the RO-501 ran into an anti-submarine patrol group including the Escort Carrier USS Bogue and the Destroyer Escort USS Francis M. Robinson. The patrol drove the RO-501 underwater for 2 days, during which its batteries were depleted and the Captain radioed a distress signal to Imperial Fleet Command. The Allies had broken the code, and the message helped the Allied hunter-killer group close in on the submarine.

The Francis M. Robinson reported a submerged contact at 1900 hours on May 13, 1944. The destroyer engaged the contact with a 24-mortar spread from its hedgehog mount, and then dropped a string of eight depth charges. Shortly after the munitions detonated, a series of 4 underwater explosions were detected. All 52 men aboard the RO-501 were believed KIA (the 48 crew who had trained on him, plus the Captain, an Engineer, a German pilot, and a German radar operator).

The final resting place of U-1224/RO-501 is south of the Azores in about 2,900 feet (880 m) of water at 18°7′59″N 33°12′59″W / 18.13306°N 33.21639°W / 18.13306; -33.21639. The site is rarely dived due to its extreme depth, which is well beyond skinsuit range.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Tarrant, p. 176.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-881". Uboat.net. http://uboat.net/boats/u881.htm. Retrieved 30 March 2009. 



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