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German submarine U-181
Career (Germany)
Name: U-181
Ordered: 15 August 1940
Builder: AG Weser, Bremen
Yard number: 1021
Laid down: 15 March 1941
Launched: 30 December 1941
Commissioned: 9 May 1942
Fate: Taken over by Japan, May 1945
Career (Japan)
Name: I-501
Acquired: May 1945
Commissioned: 15 July 1945
Fate: Surrendered, August 1945
Scuttled, 12 February 1946
General characteristics
Type: Type IXD2 submarine
Displacement: Surfaced: 1616 tons
Submerged: 1804 tons
Length: Overall: 87.60 m (287.4 ft)
Pressure hull: 68.50 m (224.7 ft)
Beam: Overall: 7.50 m (24.6 ft)
Pressure hull: 4.40 m (14.4 ft)
Draught: 5.40 m (17.7 ft)
Propulsion: Surfaced: 5,400 hp
Submerged: 1,100 hp
Speed: Surfaced: 19.2 kn (35.6 km/h; 22.1 mph)
Submerged: 6.9 kn (12.8 km/h; 7.9 mph)
Range: Surfaced: 31,500 mi (50,700 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Submerged: 57 mi (92 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph)
Test depth: Calculated crush depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Armament:
  • 6 x 53.3cm Torpedo tubes: four bow, two stern (24 torpedoes) or 72 TMA mines
  • 1 x 105/45 deck gun with 150 rounds
  • 1 x 37mm and 1 x 20mm FlaMW
Service record (Kriegsmarine)[1][2]
Part of: 4th U-boat Flotilla
(9 May–30 September 1942)
10th U-boat Flotilla
(1 October–31 October 1942)
12th U-boat Flotilla
(1 November 1942–30 September 1944)
33rd U-boat Flotilla
(1 October 1944–8 May 1945)
Commanders: KrvKpt. Wolfgang Lüth
(9 May 1942–31 October 1943)
FrgKpt. Kurt Freiwald
(1 November 1943–8 May 1945)
Operations: Four patrols
1st patrol:
12 September 1942–18 January 1943
2nd patrol:
23 March–14 October 1943
3rd patrol:
16 March–8 August 1944
4th patrol:
19 October 1944–5 January 1945
Victories: 27 commercial ships sunk (138,779 GRT)

German submarine U-181 was a Type IXD2 U-boat of the Nazi German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 15 March 1941 at the AG Weser yard at Bremen as 'werk' 1021. She was launched on 30 December 1941 and commissioned on 9 May 1942 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Wolfgang Lüth. After training with the 4th U-boat Flotilla at Stettin, U-181 was attached to the 10th flotilla for front-line service on 1 October 1942, then transferred to the 12th flotilla on 1 November.[1]

Operational history[edit | edit source]

Under Lüth's command she sailed on two long combat patrols in late–1942 and 1943, haunting the waters off South Africa and Mozambique and sinking 22 ships for a total of 103,712 tons,[2] making Lüth the second most successful U-boat commander of the war (after Otto Kretschmer) and earning him promotion to Korvettenkapitän and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He went on to command the 22nd U-boat Flotilla.[3]

On 1 November 1943 under the command of Fregattenkapitän Kurt Freiwald and part of the 12th U-boat Flotilla, U-181 sailed from her base in Bordeaux, France to Penang, Malaya (now Malaysia) in mid–1944, sinking four ships totalling 24,869 tons.[2] On 1 October 1944 the U-boat was transferred to the 33rd U-boat Flotilla.[1] She carried out only one patrol in the Indian Ocean, in 1944–1945, sinking a single ship of 10,198 tons.[2]

After Germany's surrender in May 1945 the U-boat was taken over by Japan at Singapore and commissioned as I-501 on 15 July 1945. She surrendered to Allied forces there in August 1945, and was sunk on 12 February 1946 in the Strait of Malacca, in position 03°05′50″N 100°41′50″E / 3.09722°N 100.69722°E / 3.09722; 100.69722Coordinates: 03°05′50″N 100°41′50″E / 3.09722°N 100.69722°E / 3.09722; 100.69722, by the British frigates HMS Loch Glendhu and HMS Loch Lomond.[4]

Summary of raiding history[edit | edit source]

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate
1st patrol[5]
3 November 1942 East Indian  United States 8,159 Sunk
8 November 1942 Plaudit  Panama 5,060 Sunk
10 November 1942 K.G. Meldahl  Norway 3,799 Sunk
13 November 1942 Excello  United States 4,969 Sunk
19 November 1942 Gunda  Norway 2,241 Sunk
20 November 1942 Corinthiakos  Greece 3,562 Sunk
22 November 1942 Alcoa Pathfinder  United States 6,797 Sunk
24 November 1942 Dorington Court  United Kingdom 5,281 Sunk
Mount Helmos  Greece 6,481 Sunk
28 November 1942 Evanthia  Greece 3,551 Sunk
30 November 1942 Cleanthis  Greece 4,153 Sunk
2 December 1942 Amarylis  Panama 4,328 Sunk
2nd patrol[6]
11 April 1943 Empire Whimbrel  United Kingdom 5,983 Sunk
11 May 1943 Tinhow  United Kingdom 5,232 Sunk
27 May 1943 Sicilia  Sweden 1,633 Sunk
7 June 1943 Harrier  South Africa 193 Sunk
2 July 1943 Hoihow  United Kingdom 2,798 Sunk
15 July 1943 Empire Lake  United Kingdom 2,852 Sunk
16 July 1943 Fort Franklin  United Kingdom 7,135 Sunk
4 August 1943 Dalfram  United Kingdom 4,558 Sunk
7 August 1943 Umvuma  United Kingdom 4,419 Sunk
12 August 1943 Clan Macarthur  United Kingdom 10,528 Sunk
3rd patrol[7]
1 May 1944 Janeta  United Kingdom 5,312 Sunk
19 June 1944 Garoet  Netherlands 7,118 Sunk
15 July 1944 Tanda  United Kingdom 7,174 Sunk
19 July 1944 King Frederick  United Kingdom 5,265 Sunk
4th patrol[8]
2 November 1944 Fort Lee  United States 10,198 Sunk

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes
Bibliography

External links[edit | edit source]


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