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S-Boats in the Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) 1916 - 1919

 

The start of the German S-Boat-Forces is back in World War One when workingboats from civilian sources, which were employed since 1916 in the clearing of nets off the coast of Flandres were in need of protection against the barrier guards.

In 1917 four net-working boats (LM 1 and LM 2) especially for that purpose built and armed with a 3,7 cm machine-cannon and two additional safety boats armed with a 45-cm bow-torpedo-tube and a machine-gun (LM 5 and LM 6) were commissioned. All boats were equipped with three propulsion shafts each driven by a 210 horse power Maybach CX  6-cylinder four-stroke gasoline airship-engine without reverse gear unit (the capability to reverse was neglected).

The boats had a complement of seven to eight personnel. They reached a speed of about 30 knots, the radius of action was 150 to 200 nautical miles and the endurance was five to seven hours.

LM 5 and LM 6 (picture from H. Fock: Schnellboote Band 1)

The originally planned stern-torpedo-tubes were substituted during the building phase by one bow-torpedo-tube. The firing speed was up to 20 knots. The boats were employed against the barrier guards with some success.

 

LM-Boat under shipyard trials (picture: Archives Lürssen)

 

Yet in 1918 15 boats of a second series were commissioned (LM 7 - LM 21).  With these the Imperial Navy had more than 21 S-boats under its command, seven of which were stationed in the Baltic Sea and 14 were employed off Flandres.

Plan LM 7 with friendly permission of Peter Dewitz

The builders of these first S-boats were Lürssen, Oertz, Naglo and Roland.The boats LM 1 and LM 2 were lost on  05.03.1918 repective 17.04.1918 due to gasoline and engine explosion respectively.  As a replacement LM 22 and LM 23 were ordered.

  LM 1 - 2 LM 3 - 4 LM 5 - 6 LM 7 - 10
Finished 1917 1917 1917 1918
Shipyard Lürssen Naglo Oertz Lürssen
Length 15,00 14,57 15,00 16,00
Beam 2,30 2,40 2,42 2,40
Draft 1,08 1,08 1,08 0,68
Displacement 6,0 t 6,0 t 6,0 t 7,0 t
Propulsion 3 x 210 hp Maybach 3 x 210 hp Maybach 3 x 210 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach
Propellers 3 3 3 3
Machine- Weapon 1 x 3,7 cm 1 x 3,7 cm 1 MG 1 MG
Torpedotubes - - 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube

 

  LM 11 - 13 LM 14 - 16 LM 17 - 20 LM 21 - 26
Finished 1918 1918 1918 1918 - unfinished
Shipyard Naglo Oertz Lürssen Lürssen
Length 16,25 15,00 16,00 16,00
Beam 2,55 2,42 2,40 2,40
Draft 0,76 1,08 0,68 0,68
Displacement 6,5 t 6,0 t 7,0 t 7,0 t
Propulsion 3 x 240 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach
Propellers 3 3 3 3
Machine- Weapon 1 MG 1 MG 1 MG 1 MG
Torpedotubes 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube

Yet in 1918 construction of series LM 27 - 30 by Oertz and construction of series LM 31 - LM 33 by Roland were ordered.

 

LM-Boats en route (picture from H. Fock: Schnellboote Band 1)

From construction series LM 21 - 26 only boats LM 21 to LM 23 were finished. The boats of construction series LM 27 - 30 and LM 31- 33 were abandoned.

Additionally the Imperial Navy had put trial boats on order: 

Boats Shipyard Propulsion
Lüsi 1 - 2 Lürssen 3 x 400 hp Siemens/Deutz
Köro 1 - 2 Roland 3 x 450 hp Körting
Juno 1 - 2 Oertz 3 x 450 hp Junker

Of these boats only Lüsi 1 was finished. All other boats were abandoned.

The accomplishments of the German torpedo-S-boats in World War One were of lesser importance. On 24.08.1917 the 1200 t Russian Minenlayer "Penelope" was sunk. 

During the night 22./23.08.1917 an attack by boats of the S-Boat-Division Flandres was performed on a number of ships anchored off Dunkirk. In a fierce fighting the first attack-group (boats LM 9, LM 15, LM 17 and LM 18) achieved two hits on a destroyer, which immediately listed and caught fire. The small cruiser of Arabis-class also taken under attack was not hit. The boats taken under fire could enter harbour undamaged, only on LM 17 the forward radiomast was shot down. 

The second attack-group (boats LM 7, LM 8 and LM 16) attacked a destroyer-group of three ships. One destroyer was hit amidships and broke in two according to German observations, LM 16 hitted another destroyer in the engineroom, the ship sank. Also this group could return to harbour undamaged.