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SM U-78
Career (German Empire)
Name: U-72
Ordered: 6 January 1915
Builder: AG Vulkan, Hamburg (Werk 56)
Launched: 31 October 1915
Commissioned: 26 January 1916
Fate: 27 October 1918 - Torpedoed by HM Sub G2 N of North Sea at 56°2′N 5°8′E / 56.033°N 5.133°E / 56.033; 5.133. 40 dead (all hands lost).[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: German Type UE I submarine
Displacement: 755 tonnes (743 long tons) (surfaced)
832 tonnes (819 long tons) (submerged)
[2]
Length: 56.8 m (186 ft 4 in) (overall)[2]
46.66 m (153 ft 1 in) (pressure hull)[3]
Beam: 5.9 m (19 ft 4 in) (overall)[2]5 m (16 ft 5 in) (pressure hull)[3]
Height: 8.25 m (27 ft 1 in)[3]
Draught: 4.86 m (15 ft 11 in)[2]
Propulsion: 900 hp (670 kW) (surfaced)
660 kW (890 hp) (submerged)[2]
Speed: 9.9 knots (18.3 km/h; 11.4 mph) (surfaced)
7.9 knots (14.6 km/h; 9.1 mph) (submerged)[2]
Range: 7,880 nmi (14,590 km; 9,070 mi) @ 7 kn (surfaced) 83 nmi (154 km; 96 mi) @ 4 kn (submerged)
Complement: 32 men[2]
Armament: One 50 cm (20 in) torpedo tubes forward and one 50cm torpedo tubes aft with two torpedoes[4]
plus one 8.8 cm (3.5 in) deck gun
two minelaying tubes for 38 mines[2]
Service record
Part of: Imperial German Navy
Commanders: Otto Dröscher [1]
20 Apr 1916 - 15 Jan 1918

Karl Thouret [2]
16 Jan 1918 - 31 Jan 1918

Johann Vollbrecht [3]
1 Feb 1918 - 27 Feb 1918

Karl Vesper [4]
1 Mar 1918 - 26 Apr 1918

Wilhelm Meyer [5]
27 Apr 1918 - 24 May 1918

Johann Vollbrecht [6]
25 May 1918 - 28 Oct 1918
Operations:

12 patrols 9 Jul 1916 - 28 Oct 1918 I Flotilla

17 ships sunk for a total of 27,488 tons. 2 ships damaged for a total of 11,332 tons.

2 ships taken as prize for a total of 3,427 tons.[1]

SM U-78 was one of the 329 submarines serving in the Imperial German Navy in World War I. U-78 was engaged in the naval warfare and took part in the First Battle of the Atlantic as a minelayer. On 27 October 1918 low frequency communications from U-78 in the Skagerrak were detected by the British submarine G2 which sank her with the loss of her crew of 40. The commonly listed sinking date of October 28, 1918 is in error.[1]

Original documents from Room 40[]

The following is a verbatim transcription of the recorded activities of SM U-78 known to British Naval Intelligence, Room 40 O.B.:[5]"SM U-78. Kaptlt. Dröscher, later to U-117, but not before May 1917; then Kaptlt. Vollbrecht. Was completed at Hamburg (Vulcan) in May 1916, joined the Kiel School and remained there until the 8th of July, when she went to Wilhelmshaven, and was attached to the 1st Half Flotilla.

  • 11–27 July 1916. Left for the north. By about the 20th had laid 34 mines off Skerryvore. On the 23rd she was in action with the armed trawler CHRYSEA off Fair Island. Took 1 Danish S.S. as prize on the day before she returned to Heligoland.
  • 20 August - 12 September 1916. Left, going northabout, for the south of Ireland and laid 34 mines off St. Govan’s Head on the night of the 1/2 September, and on the 27th August had chased S.S. FLOREAL off the Butt of Lewis. Returned northabout.
  • 18–23 October 1916. Apparently on North Sea patrol. Stopped 6 Scandinavian S.S, allowing them to proceed. On last day out took as prize a Norwegian steamer.
  • 29 October - 22 November 1916. Apparently went to coast of Norway to observe shipping; sank 1 Norwegian steamer.
  • 3–22 February 1917. Laid mines at various points off the west coast of Scotland, going northabout both ways. Sank 1 steamer N. of Ireland, and possibly another N. of the Orkney Islands.
  • 30 March - 19 April 1917. Went north, and watched the traffic on north coast of Ireland. Sand 3 S.S, 2 sailing vessels (6,500 tons). Laid mines in the Little Minch and Lough Swilly.
  • 29 May - 22 June 1917. Went northabout and laid mines off Inishtrahull, and at points off the N.W. coast of Scotland. Was engaged by H.M.S. HELGOLAND (a submarine trap) near Tory Island on 9 June. Claimed 5,000 tons sinkings. She asked permission to return by Little Belt, but was told for a special reason she must come in by Nordmands Tief.
  • 27 July - 13 August 1917. Laid mines in Sound of Islay. Claimed 2,500 tons sinkings. Returned at slow speed owing to failure of port engine.
  • She was to have gone out again in October 1917 but nothing is known of any cruise, and she was apparently not ready for service before June 1918.
  • 16 June - ? 27 June 1918. Apparently laid mines east of Scotland.
  • ? 14–21 July 1918. Left by the Kattegat, returned by the Bight. Had completed an unknown task in the North Sea by the 18th July.
  • ? 19 August - ? 26 August 1918. In the North Sea. Made no report as to her undertaking, but returned at 3 knots with double motor trouble.
  • 24 September - 1 October 1918. Laid mines on the east coast of Scotland.
  • About the end of October 1918 she left to lay mines in the North Sea and was sunk by H.M. submarine G2 in 56°2′N., 5°8′E."

Note: S.S. = Steam Ship; S.V. = Sailing Vessel; northabout, Muckle Flugga, Fair I. = around Scotland; Sound, Belts, Kattegat = via North of Denmark to/from German Baltic ports; Bight = to/from German North Sea ports; success = sinking of ships [6]

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Uboat.net U-78
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Encyclopedia of U-boats (2004), London:Greenhill Books, ISBN 1-85367-623-3, p.32
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Type UE 1 UE ocean minelayers class
  4. Fitzsimons, Bernard. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Vol. 23, p.2536.
  5. National Archives, Kew: HW 7/3, Room 40, History of German Naval Warfare 1914-1918 (Published below - Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918)
  6. Koerver, Hans Joachim (2009). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol II., The Fleet in Being. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-77-0. 

References[]

  • Spindler, Arno (1932,1933,1934,1941/1964,1966). Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten. 5 Vols. Berlin: Mittler & Sohn. Vols. 4+5, dealing with 1917+18, are very hard to find: Guildhall Library, London, has them all, also Vol. 1-3 in an English translation: The submarine war against commerce. 
  • Beesly, Patrick (1982). Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918. London: H Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-10864-2. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1995). A Naval History of World War I. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85728-498-0. 
  • Roessler, Eberhard (1997). Die Unterseeboote der Kaiserlichen Marine. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-5963-7. 
  • Schroeder, Joachim (2002). Die U-Boote des Kaisers. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-6235-4. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2008). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol I., The Fleet in Action. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-76-3. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2009). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol II., The Fleet in Being. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-77-0. 

External links[]

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