View Full Version : Fellow Kaleuns! We Need Your Help - WHICH U-Boat was sunk by aircraft in WW ONE?

07-30-2007, 03:46 PM
This thread has been started to get to the bottom of a question in the SH3 Rolling Quiz.

In essence - How many U-Boat's were sunk by aircraft in WW1?

There are conflicting reports, only two U-Boats are mentioned in the research myself, NaKacu and Viking Grandad have done.

However, delve a little deeper (Pardon the pun) and some of that information gets a little blurred. Was there one? Two? or none? Not so much to settle a question / answer - but it appears the record books are perhaps at odds with each other over the correct number - it'd be cool I thought I we pool our resources and have a go ourselves eh? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Help us out, have a scoot around yourselves, be it on a search engine, or perhaps a book sat on your shelf holds the answer? I thank you all in advance for your time and help. It will be interesting to see what everyone comes up with http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

You can read about the answers we have discussed Here (http://forums.ubi.com/eve/forums?a=tpc&s=400102&f=857101043&m=4541068625&r=9181045875#9181045875)

07-30-2007, 04:16 PM
No U-boats sunk by aircraft from my research. Also found out of the nasty Q-Ships http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/784.gif which they hid their guns and when the U-boat surfaced thinking the ship was unarmed, they unveiled the guns and opened fire. A nasty surprise for any U-boat http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif They lured the subs in by the way.

07-30-2007, 04:21 PM
I just emptied the WWI U-boat related book reservoir from local libraries (placed roughly 20+ books on hold).... looks like I have plans for this weekend.... The truth is out there!!!

07-30-2007, 04:27 PM
I just emptied the WWI U-boat related book reservoir from local libraries (placed roughly 20+ books on hold).... looks like I have plans for this weekend.... The truth is out there!!!

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif The hunt...is on!

07-30-2007, 05:12 PM
This is what I've found so far...

The web page below states that THREE U-boats were sunk by aircraft - UC-36, UB-20 and UB-32:


"As the war progressed the RNAS began to use the seaplanes offensively against the U-Boats as well. On the 20th of May, 1917 the UC36 earned the dubious distinction of being the first submarine ever sunk by an aircraft. The UB20 suffered a similar fate in July and the UB32 in August."

In contrast, uboat.net states ONE POSSIBLE loss to aircraft:

- UB-20 "28 Jul, 1917 - Hit a mine and sank with all hands while on a diving trial off Zeebrugge at 51.21N, 02.38E."

- UB-32 "22 Sep, 1917 - Possibly sunk by bombs dropped from RNAS aircraft at 5145N 0205E"

- UC-36 "21 May, 1917 - Rammed off Ushant (4842N 0514W) by French steamer Molière.", but also notes that its fate was "re-assessed in fall 2006" with no mention of the previous recorded fate! Was it air attack?

A post over in the uboat.net forums (link: http://www.uboat.net/forums/read.php?3,741,741#msg-741 (http://www.uboat.net/forums/read.php?3,741,741#msg-741))) states THREE losses to aircraft:

- UB-20 "Destroyed by Seaplanes 8676 and 8862, in the North Sea, 29th July, 1917."

- UB-32 "Destroyed by seaplane 9860, 27 miles North of Cape Barfleur, 18th August, 1917."

- UC-36 "Destroyed by Seaplane 8663, 20 miles ENE of Noord Hinder Lightship, 20th May, 1917."

I've also found another interesting list of U-boat fates (link: http://www.btinternet.com/~k.barltrop/u-boat_losses.htm (http://www.btinternet.com/%7Ek.barltrop/u-boat_losses.htm)), which apparently is derived from numerous credible sources (I'm not suggesting that the other lists above are less credible - I have no way of telling). This page states ONE boat was sunk by aircraft with THREE POSSIBLES:

- UC-1 "Mined. Possibly bombed by aircraft from Felixstowe off the N.Hinder L.V., on 25 July. (The former is the most likely fate)." [uboat.net says UC-1 was mined]

- UC-6 "Mined nets. Caught in mined nets. Another account describes how UC-6 was caught on the surface... and was bombed by seaplane No.8676, Maj. B.D. Hobbs, RFC. This incident was witnessed and reported by several German ships." [uboat.net says UC-6 was caught in mined nets]

- UB-20 "July 28. Mined. Possibly sunk by two seaplanes off N.Hinder L.V. the same day while on a 'Jolly' with guests aboard including some women."

- UB-32 "Sunk by bombs dropped by seaplane No. 8695."

The latter page also states that UC-36 was sunk by its own mines, not by aircraft... So that's three different fates I've found for UC-36, which was supposedly infamous for being the first ever U-boat to be sunk by an aircraft?!

I've asked the question over in uboat.net's forum in the hope that one of the experts there can help.

EDIT - I've corrected some stuff and fixed a broken link

07-30-2007, 11:44 PM
Do LTA's count? I had hoped that one of the British SS class succeeded in bagging a U-boat, but not even sure they were armed - the idea was to spot & call for surface assistance.

A French airship, however, managed the dubious achievement of sinking the British submarine D3 on March 12 1916 (maybe they were thinking about Trafalgar?).

07-31-2007, 03:18 AM
Bockholt - one of the lists I found says that UB-115 (Thomsen) was "spotted and bombed by airship R-29, D/C'd by destroyers HMS OUSE and HMS STAR." Wikipedia also says similar in its page about R-29 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R29_(airship)).

Regarding the total number of confirmed losses to aircraft and the sources used to find this information, someone at uboat.net has kindly replied to my post (similar to my post above):


A reliable source? This web site uses the latest available information, which reflects both recent wreck discoveries and the very latest research, including my article reassessing the fates of UC 36 and UB 36, see http://www.uboat.net/articles/index.html?article=68

In general, what you've hit upon are a number of cases of people using outdated sources. Yes, outdated. In 1919, the Royal Navy published a list of what it thought had happened to all 178 German U-boats sunk during the war. This was obviously based upon the information available to it at the time -- which did not include anything from German sources.

The basic idea was the RN was matching U-boat sinking claims against when and where it thought U-boats went missing. These claims can only be as accurate as the Royal Navy's information was complete. And that's the problem. The Royal Navy only had a general idea when Flanders-based U-boats sailed on their final patrols and their assigned patrol areas. It also completely lost track of a few boats. The result is that the Royal Navy offered unworkable theories for a number of losses and misattributed some others.

Most (but not all) of that which makes no sense in the RN claims was caught by Admiral Arno Spindler in the official German history series. The latter volumes in this series came out some time after the war and are rare. Unfortunately, some web sites and authores do not make use of Spindler's work, relying instead on the older -- and inaccurate -- Royal Navy (mis)attributions.

Among the unworkable are a number of claims that U-boats were sunk by aircraft, like the UB 20 and UC 6 claims (the wrecks of both have been found at locations matching minefields/mine nets). The UC 36, August 18, 1917 UB 32 (she hadn't sailed yet), and UC 1 (excess patrol length required) also just don't work.

That leaves the September 22, 1917 claim for UB 32. It's a possible, no more than that -- it hasn't been completely disproven yet but I'd believe it when somebody finds and identifies the wreck at that location.

Best wishes,

07-31-2007, 07:32 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif Well done everybody so far, thanks for getting involved http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

@ VG - Your research is commendable! and what an interesting response you received from uboat.net. Great stuff! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif

07-31-2007, 07:52 AM
Thanks RJ http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

It's great when a question from the quiz prompts some learning http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

07-31-2007, 08:04 AM
It's great when a question from the quiz prompts some learning

...Exactly my reason for starting it, all those questions ago! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

07-31-2007, 10:29 AM
Indeed some interesting remarks. We do have to keep in mind that history is often mis-interpreted due to inaccurate data and various other biased views...
Likewise, not all information is made available to the public so often speculations develop into unreliable data...

As to the WW I uboats sunk by aircraft -- I think we can settle for ONE probable until further data is avaiable huh? Neat!

VG -- thanks for the speedy and down to the point research.