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U-Boot Type XXI in Detail

Part 1 - External views

n Text by Frank Spahr
n Photos by Frank Spahr

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Overall view of the Bremerhaven harbour area where Wilhelm Bauer is displayed. Looking from the distance against the backdrop of a large office complex, the U-2540 looks small. This is deceptive - she ranks as the largest submarine in service with the post-war German Navy.


Here she is in all her glory. Type XII introduced streamlining in U-Boat design, resulting in a quantum leap in underwater performance. All submarines before this one were basically designed to submerge and stay under the surface in one place (sans minor pedestrian manoeuvres using electric power). Type XXI could easily steam in circles around any Allied convoy - all under water. 


The boat's pointed stern. Today the ship rides much higher in the water than she used to. The colour division line on top of the hull is more representative of the waterline level in operational conditions. 


The entrance to the museum is adorned by two propellers, one of which is shown here. I'm quite certain that these are the original propellers of this U-boat.


Rear top decking of the hull.


Details of the boat's sail with periscopes (two narrow tubes) and snorkel (the thick tube with spherical top valve). The gun turret facing towards the camera is the rear twin-20mm anti-aircraft gun.


View alongside the rear hull showing the structure of the welded steel plating. 


Waterline level marks were welded on rather than painted.


Detail of flooding slits. Visible inside is the contour of the internal pressure hull and the ribs holding the two hulls together.


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