For our episode this week, we investigate the hidden voyage of the modified minelayer U-Boat U234. It’s crew were not told of their mission until it was underway, they were accompanied by a group of high-ranking well-educated officials, and their cargo was a closely-guarded secret, even for decades after the war.
Yet from the the moment they left Kiel Harbour in March 1945, the fate of U234 was inexorably tied to events that would ultimately bring an end to World War II.
What was U234 carrying? What was it’s ultimate destination, and purpose? Why was this submarine and it’s voyage absent from historical record until the late 1990s?
German submarine U-234 was a Type XB U-boat of Germany‘s Kriegsmarine during World War II, she was commanded by Kapitänleutnant Johann-Heinrich Fehler. Her first and only mission into enemy or contested territory consisted of the attempted delivery of uranium oxide and German advanced weapons technology to the Empire of Japan. After receiving Admiral Dönitz‘ order to surface and surrender and of Germany’s unconditional surrender, the submarine‘s crew surrendered to the United States on 14 May 1945.
|Class and type:||Type X submarine minelayer|
|Displacement:||1,763 tonnes (1,735 long tons) surfaced2,177 tonnes (2,143 long tons) submerged|
|Length:||89.80 m (294 ft 7 in) o/a70.90 m (232 ft 7 in) pressure hull|
|Beam:||9.20 m (30 ft 2 in) o/a4.75 m (15 ft 7 in) pressure hull|
|Height:||10.20 m (33 ft 6 in)|
|Draught:||4.71 m (15 ft 5 in)|
|Propulsion:||2 × supercharged GW F 46 a 9 pu 9 cylinder, four-stroke diesel engines, 4,800 PS (4,700 bhp; 3,500 kW)2 × AEG GU 720/8-287 electric motors, 1,100 PS (1,100 bhp; 810 kW)|
|Speed:||16.4–17 knots (30.4–31.5 km/h; 18.9–19.6 mph) surfaced 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) submerged|
|Range:||18,450 nautical miles (34,170 km; 21,230 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced93 nmi (172 km; 107 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged|
|Test depth:||Calculated crush depth: 220 m (720 ft)|
|Complement:||5 officers, 47 enlisted|
|FuMO-61 Hohentwiel UFuMB-26 Tunis|
|Armament:||2 × 53.3 cm (21 in) stern torpedo tubes15 × G7e torpedoes66 × SMA mines1 × 10.5 cm SK C/32 naval gun (200 rounds)|
Read more here at Wikipedia
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