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  S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine - Black Sea 1942 - 1943



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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

 Black Sea 1942 to 1943

The first boats of the 1. SFltl transferred to the Black Sea were "S 26" (Kptlt. Fimmen), "S 27" (Oblt.z.S. Büchting), "S 28" (Oblt.z.S. Künzel), "S 40" (Kptlt. Schneider, K.), "S 72" (Oblt.z.S. Schneider, W.), and "S 102" (Kptlt. Töniges).

The boats were cut off above the main deck and all equipment was removed. They were towed up the Elbe to Dresden, there they were put on special vehicles and brought to Ingolstadt cross country on roads, from there they were towed on the Danube to Linz. There parts of the equipment which had been shipped there by railway were built in again. Thereafter they were towed again to Galati (Galatz), were the main engines were installed. Then the boats sailed with own power to Constanta, were the remainder of equipment was installed. 

The two first boats "S 26" and "S 28" arrived at Constanta on 24.05.1942 . On 02.06.1942 they performed their first operation, but had to return due to engine failure. On 03.06.1942 boats "S 72" and "S 102" arrived at Constanta, while "S 26" and "S 28" operated off Cape Chersones without sighting of enemies. 

S-Boat hauled up on the bank of Elbe-River at Dresden - Picture: Archives H. Frank

S-Boat under Transport on the Autobahn - Picture: Archives H. Frank

Passing the Stone-Bridge at Regensburg - Picture: From the heritage of Kpt.z.S. Künzel

Re-installation of the forecastle "S-102" - Picture: Archives H. Frank

Mounting the Bridge-House "S 102" at Linz - Picture: Archives H. Frank

  • Re-Instellation of the Main-Engines at Linz - Picture: Archives H. Frank

"S 26" and "S 28" in tow on the Danube - Picture: Archives Förderverein

S-Boats being towed past Budapest - Picture: Archives H. Frank

On 06.06.1942 the first pair operated off Sevastopol without sighting of ship traffic. The second pair took part in search and rescue of the crew of a sea reconaissance aircraft.

On 10.06.1942 the 1. SFltl performed an operation in the northern Black Sea again without to find worthwhile targets. On the way back "S 26" broke in fire and had to go to Linz for repairs.

" S 26" on Fire in the Black Sea - Picture from the Heritage Kpt.z.S. Künzel

On 12.06.1942 the remainder of the flotilla transsitted to Ak Mečet at the westcoast of the Crimea. From there sorties against the Soviet ship traffic were performed. In so doing "S 102", sank the steamer "Belostok" (2.048 BRT) out of a convoy. In all other operations until the end of the month the enemies could avoid the torpedoes, since firing positions and wakes of the torpedoes were clearly to see because of bright marine luminescense.

In a battle with three Soviet gunboats of type MO 24, armed with 4,5 cm gun and MGs, during the night 02./03.07.1942 "SKA 0112" and "SKA 0124" could be sunk, however, "S 40"  took a heavy hit in the port torpedo tube. The explosion of the air-cylinder caused heavy damages so that the boat had to go to the shipyard and was not available for a long time. The CO, Oblt.z.S. Schneider-Pungs (since 01.07.1942), and nine men were wounded. On "S 28" one man was killed in action. The German S-Boats picked 37 survivers of the two boats out of the water, among them Generalmajor Petr Georgevič Nowikov, formerly commander of the 109. Rifles Division and acting deputy commander at Sevastopol, and brought them to Jalta. 

The survivors of SKA 0124, front right GenMaj Nowikov - Picture: Archives A. Artemichenko

On 03.07.1942 the "fortress" Sevastopol surrendered. The flotilla transferred with four boats to Iwan Baba, the new base on the southeast side of the Crimea. The objectives were escorting own traffic from and to the Crimea and sorties against the Caucasian coast.

Iwan Baba is the little rock at the end of the peninsula after which the S-boat-base was called - Picture: Google Earth

For the defence of Iwan Baba inter alia a gun of the soviet Cruiser "Chervona Ukraina" was used - Picture: Archives Atari Chen 

On 01.08.1942 Kptlt. Stuhr-Christiansen relieved the commander 1. SFltl. In August and early September the flotilla could report 23 sinking successes (freighters, tankers, and barges) On 05.09.1942 "S 27" was hit by a circular running torpedo of "S 72" and sank. 12 men  were killed, three severely and three slightly wounded.

The Italian S-boats in the harbour of Yalta were target of a bomb attack of the Soviet airforce on 09.09.1942, during which "MAS 571" and "MAS 573" were destroyed by direct hits, " MAS 567", "MAS 569", and "MAS 572" were severely damaged. Since "S 28", "S 72", and "S 102" were in the ship yard at Constanta, there were only two boats, "S 26" and "S 49", fresh from the ship yard,  available in the operations area.

Air attacks by the Soviet airforce against Iwan Baba were without success. "S 26" and "S 49" could sink a total of three ships in two nights. An attack of a Soviet SFltl against Iwan Baba could be repelled by strong defensive fire. 

On 30.09.1942 both boats had to go to Constanta for engine overhaul. "S 26", "S 28", "S 49", and "S 102" transitted to Iwan Baba and performed sorties from there against the Soviet ship traffic until the end of October, however, without noteworthy successes.

Because of a period of bad weather the first operation could only be conducted on  05.11.1942, all torpedoes fired against an escorted steamer failed. Then bad weather made every S-boat operation impossible until 21.11.1942. First icing of the northern Black Sea hindered operations additionally.

Until the end of 1942 the flotilla did not find targets during their sorties. From its target strength of 10 boats it was far away.

Two of the captured and assigned to the 1. SFltl Soviet S-boats ("TKA-47" from the Baltic Sea and "TKA-111" stranded off Eupatrorija and salvaged) of 16 t displacement with two 53,3 cm torpedo launching rails and one 12,7 mm-MG and driven by  2 GAM 34 BSF gasoline engines were faster than 50 knots but showed strong corrosion problems.


 The first objective of the year was to perform picket operations, since the army was fearing a landing in the area of Feodosija. Until 27.01.1943 these operations were influenced by bad weather. Icing in the Straits of Kerč was further limiting the operational freedom. At this point in time only three boats of the 1. SFltl were ready for action - "S 26", "S 51", and "S 102". The boats in approach via the Danube "S 40" and "S 52" also had problems with the ice and were stuck.

On 04.02.1943 the expected landing of the Soviets occurred at Novorossijsk. Because of the violent defensive fire only a part of the landing troops could land and was wiped out until the 06.02.1943. A side landing at Cape Myšako succeeded and until the 09.02.1943 17.000 men could land there.

The three S-boats of the 1. SFltl were the only units the Kriegsmarine could summon up. Most of the operations were without results since no targets came in sight or the torpedoes failed. On 16.02.1943 "S 23" which collided with a drifting lumber additionally fell out and had to sail to Constanta to change propellers. On 20.06.1943 "S 26" and "S 47" coming from Constanta joined the flotilla.

S-boats in a Black Sea harbour (Picture: Archives E. Skjold)

Bad weather hindered the operations of the 1. SFltl until it could report sinking successes again on 27.02.1943 (one torpedoboat, two steamers (together 4700 BRT) and one coaster. In reality is was the minesweeper "Gruz" (Fugas-class, 441 t), the gunboat "Krasnaja Gruzija" (1100 t) and the coaster "Racija".

On 01.03.1943 the 1. SFltl (KKpt Stuhr-Christiansen) consisted of the boats: "S 26" (Kptlt. Fimmen), "S 28" (Oblt.z.S. Künzel), "S 47" (Oblt.z.S. Schlenzka), "S 51" (Kptlt. Büchting), "S 72" (Oblt.z.S. Schneider, W.), and "S 102" (Lt.z.S. Lutherer). By thaw "S 40" and "S 52" at Braila were freed from the Danube-ice. "S 42", "S 45", and "S 46" were underway to Linz for repairs.

Until mid April almost all operations were without results because the Soviets let their support traffic run  during daytime almost without excemptions. Only two minor coasters were sunk.

On 18.04.1943 the 1. SFltl  transsitted with five boats together with seven boats of the Italian flotilla to Anapa, in order to fight the support for the bridge head at Cape Myšako from there. Until the end of April the boats conducted operations every night and fought numerous fights with Soviet escorts, during which  the guards "MK-054" and "MK-058" were sunk, the landing piers were fired at and severely damaged, and some coasters were sunk.

Boats of the 1. SFlt in the Black Sea (Picture: Archives E. Skjold)

Also in May the boats were on operations almost every night, however, they did not find targets in days. Nonetheless the Schooner "Ilič",  four coasters with together 2200 BRT and two barges with together 900 BRT as well as the tug  "CF-6 Pervans" were sunk. In most of the operations it came to fights with the escorts or with S-boats without remarkable successes. In many cases the boats were detected under the coast by searchlights and taken under fire by the coastal batteries. In the morning of the 20.05.1943 the boats sailing home were attacked by Soviet aircraft, whereby "S 49" and "S 72" were damaged and had to be reported not ready for action.

On 20.05.1943 the Itallian flotilla in Feodosija came into German posession. It got the indication 11. SFltl (Kptlt. Meyer, H.J.). Him were assigned: 1. Group: "S 503" (ex MAS 568) CO: Oblt.z.S. Wülfing, "S 502" (ex MAS 567) CO: StObStrm. Maniel, "S 505" (ex MAS 570) CO: ObStrm. Svoboda, and "S 506" (ex MAS 574) CO: ObStrm. Gurke; 2.Group: "S 504" (ex MAS 569) CO: Oblt.z.S. Schay, "S 501" (ex MAS 566) CO: StObStrm. Wernicke, "S 507" (ex MAS 575) CO: StObStrm. Köplin. "S 506" (ex MAS 574) was severely damaged by a bomb hit.

Because of the bad seaworthiness the boats were no special increase of the German S-boat force in the Black Sea.

In June the 11. SFltl undertook reconaissance trips. While chasing a submarine they came into a battle with four Soviet motorgunboats but could withdraw from the enemy which was superior in gunnery.

The 1. SFltl operated in most of the nights against the Caucasian coast. During one operation four boats fired their torpedoes into the bight at Cape Myšaki and destroyed a coaster (500 BRT) and a barge (300 BRT) as well as the docks.

During the night 28./29.06.1943 the 1. SFltl laid mines off the Bight of Gelenčik. In the course of which they were detected by landbased searchlights and attacked by aircraft, however, they were not hit.

During the night 03./04.07.1943 a ssortie against the soviet replenishment traffic with boats  "S 28", "S 46", "S 47" and "S 102" had to be broken off because of bad weather. 

During the night 07./08.07.1943 an attack of the 1. SFltl with boats "S 28", "S 40", "S 42", "S 46", "S 47", "S 72" und "S 102" in three flocks against a reported convoi came too late. "S 40" collided with "R 33" and was so heavily damaged, that she had to go to the shipyard for a longer period.

During the same night "S 102" (Lt.z.S. Lutherer) run into a mine in the Straits of Kerč and had to be abandoned in spite of an attempt of "S 28" to tow her in after an hour. Eight crew members hed been killed in action. 

Impressions of the wreck of "S 102" near Kerč - Pictures: A. Makarow

On 26.07.1943 "S 51" and "S 26" reported the sinking of a coastal freighter and a barge off Cape Myšako, in fact they sank the Floating Battery No. 627.

During the operations in July 1943 off Tuaspe and Novorossijsk the boats of the 2. SFltl sank three coastal freighters, one motorgunboat and one motortorpedoboat.

During the night 02./03.08.1943 the Soviet cruiser "Krasny Krim" and three destroyers fired at Iwan Baba. The S-boats "MAS 573" (Oblt.z.S. Ramboni) and "MAS 568" of the 19. MAS-flotilla bumped into this unit. "MAS 573" hit the cruiser at her stern, "MAS 568" hit the destroyer "Gniewny", which exploded and sank. The cruiser reached the harbour of Tuaspe with great difficulty but was never getting ready for sea again. 

On 10.09.1943 the Red Army landed in the city of Novorossijsk. Six days later the town had to be evacuated. On 11.09.1943 Soviet ground attack aircraft attacked the boats of the 1. SFltl returning home. Not impressed by the defensive fire they pushed down to 10 m hight and fired with onboard guns. On "S 46" all engines fell out, the torpedo in the port tube exploded and tore the forecastle off until the bridge. In spite of the ongoing attacks "S 49" went alongside and took over the partly severely wounded crew and two killed in action. The boat was sunk with a torpedo.

Bad weather and bright moonlight respectively prevented or hindered the operations of the S-boats during the next nights. The 1. and the 11. SFltl conducted picket operations again since the army feared a landing in their rear. The boats carried out search stripes south of  Anapa until the town was evacuated on 21.09.1943 in the framework of withdrawing movements. 

"S 47" coming alongside in the Black Sea still with the old bridgehouse - Picture: Archives Jürgens

On 28.09.1943 four boats of the 1. SFltl fired at ships at the mole of Anapa. To minesweepers, one motorlaunch, and one patrolboat were hit. The mole was damaged.

The 11. SFltl was disbanded on 20.09.1943 due to continuous engineproblems and sparepart shortness. The personnel becoming free were transferred to the 24. SFltl which was under formation in the Aegean Sea with captured Italian S-boats. "S 501", "S 506", and "S 507" were assigned to the 1. SFltl but decommissioned on 05.10.1943 in Feodosija.  The boats being not ready for action were transferred to Nikolaev, there "S 505" was decommissioned. The other four boats went to Linz for repairs.

 During the night 05./06.10.1943 a sortie by Soviet destroyers against the southern coast of the Crimea and the German evacuation transports occurred. "S 28", "S 42", and "S 45" attacked the unit and prevented an attack on the German ship traffic in spite of a hit on "S 45". The Luftwaffe came to help with four attack waves and eliminated all three Soviet destroyers.

"S 47" in the Black Sea after installation of the new bridgehouse - Picture: From the heritage of Kpt.z.S. Künzel

Until the end of the withdrawal of the Kuban bridge head having started 12.09.1943 on the 12.09.1943 it succeeded with all available vessels to evacuate 239.669 soldiers, 16.311 wounded, 27.456 civilians, and 115.477 t supply goods, 21.2320 cars, 27.741 horse-drawn vehicles, 74 tanks, 1.815 guns, 74.657 horses, and 6.255 cattle. The 1. SFltl, the 3. R-Fltl, and guncarriers took over the escorting.

On 28.10.1943 the 1. SFltl got the order to withdraw from Iwan Baba. When all facilities were destroyed and all weapon and other equipment were loaded and the boats were to leave harbour, the order was cancelled.

During the first half of November is came to some fights with Soviet units. During the night "TK-101" exploded by a direct hit, " TK-81" could escape. During the night 07./08.11.1943 the 1. SFltl sank the patrol boat "0122" with the unit commander on board out of a unit consisting of three patrol boats, four minesweepers, and four other vessels. On 11.11.1943 the 1. SFltl sank a motorgunboat by torpedo hit.

Mid  November"S 26", "S 28", "S 42", "S 45", "S 47", "S 49", "S 51", and "S 72"were ready for action at Iwan Baba. "S 40" was still in the shipyard as result of her collision with "R 33", the announced six boats as reinforcement from home were long in coming. "S 131", "S 149", and "S 148" were only launched in October or November. They became ready for action only on 01.04.1945.

"S 28" in the Black Sea off Iwan Baba - Picture: From the heritage of Kpt.z.S. Künzel

During the second half of November the operations were directed against the Soviet bridge head at Ketsch. On 17.11.1943 it came to a fight with the Soviet S-boats "TK-76", "TK-86", and "TK-104". "TK-76" did not return to her harbour, the other to boats were damaged. On 21.11.1943 the flotilla shot two landingvessels on fire and pushed eight others off to the east so that they could not land their cargo.

In the year 1943 the 1. SFltl  had conducted: 88 operations against ship traffic along the Caucasian coast, three mining operations, 50 operations escorting own convoys, and 24 sorties against Soviet landing operations in the Strait of Kerč. In the process thereof were reported as sunk:

One torpedoboat [minensweeper], one motortorpedoboat, three motorgunboats, three landing vessels, one tanker (4.000 BRT) [gunboat], three freighters (5.700 BRT), 19 coastal freighters (8.100 BRT), and 15 barges (8.200 BRT); together estimated 29.000 BRT.

Lost were "S 102" by a mine hit in the Strait of Kerč and "S 46" by a bomb hit off Feodosija.

Two Sovjet loot-boats assigned to the 1. SFltl in 1942  ("TKA-47" from the Baltic Sea and "TKA-111" stranded and salvaged off Eupatrorija) of 17,8 t displacement (length: 19,1 m, beam: 3,3 m; draft: 1,2 m) armed with 2 x 53,3 cm torpedoes and 1 x 12,7mm-MG propelled by 2 GAM 34 BSF Gasoline-Enginges each of 800 - 850 PS were faster than 50 knots but had severe corrosion-problems. The crew consisted of 6 to 8 men.

TKA-45 at high speed - Picture: Unknown