German submarine U-27 (1936)

German submarine U-27 was a Type VIIA U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service in World War II. Her keel was laid down in November 1935 in Bremen. She was commissioned in August 1936 with Korvettenkapitän Hans Ibbeken in command. Ibbeken was relieved on 4 October 1937, by Johannes Franz, who commanded the boat until 6 June 1939 when Hans-Georg von Friedeburg assumed command for barely one month. He was relieved on 8 July again by Johannes Franz, who commanded the boat until her loss on 20 September 1939.

U-33, a typical Type VIIA boat
Nazi Germany
Name: U-27
Ordered: 1 April 1935[1]
Builder: DeSchiMAG AG Weser, Bremen
Cost: 4,189,000 Reichsmark
Yard number: 908[1]
Laid down: 11 November 1935[1]
Launched: 24 June 1936[1]
Commissioned: 12 August 1936[1]
Fate: Sunk by British warships, 20 September 1939[2]
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIA submarine
  • 626 tonnes (616 long tons) surfaced
  • 745 t (733 long tons) submerged
  • 64.51 m (211 ft 8 in) o/a
  • 45.50 m (149 ft 3 in) pressure hull
  • 5.85 m (19 ft 2 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in)
Draught: 4.37 m (14 ft 4 in)
Installed power:
  • 2,100–2,310 PS (1,540–1,700 kW; 2,070–2,280 bhp) (diesels)
  • 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
  • 6,200 nmi (11,500 km; 7,100 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
  • 73–94 nmi (135–174 km; 84–108 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth:
  • 220 m (720 ft)
  • Crush depth: 230–250 m (750–820 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Sensors and
processing systems:
Service record[2][3]
Part of:
Identification codes: M 08 129
  • K.Kapt. Hans Ibbeken
  • 12 August 1936 – 4 October 1937
  • Kapt.z.S. Johannes Franz
  • 5 October 1937 – 5 June 1939
  • Kapt.z.S. Hans-Georg von Friedeburg
  • 6 June – 8 July 1939
  • Kapt.z.S. Johannes Franz
  • 8 July – 20 September 1939
Operations: One: 23 August – 20 September 1939
Victories: Two commercial ships sunk (624 GRT)

U-27 had a very short career, with only one war patrol and only two enemy ships sunk. Following the sinking of two British trawlers, Davara on 13 September and Rudyard Kipling on 16 September, U-27 was hunted down and sunk west of Lewis, Scotland, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Fortune, Faulknor and Forester. All 38 crewmen survived and were made prisoner for the remainder of the war.

Construction and design


U-27 was ordered by the Kriegsmarine on 1 April 1935 in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Her keel was laid down in the AG Weser shipyard in Bremen as yard number 908 on 11 November 1935. After about nine months of construction, she was launched on 24 June 1936 and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine as the second Type VIIA submarine, (after U-33, which was commissioned a few months earlier), on 12 August under the command of Korvettenkapitän Hans Ibbeken.[2]


Like all Type VIIA submarines, U-27 displaced 626 tonnes (616 long tons) on the surface and 745 t (733 long tons) submerged. She was 64.51 m (211 ft 8 in) in overall length and had a 45.50 m (149 ft 3 in) pressure hull. U-27's propulsion consisted of two MAN 6-cylinder 4-stroke M 6 V 40/46 diesel engines that totaled 2,100–2,310 PS (1,540–1,700 kW; 2,070–2,280 bhp) at maximum between 470 and 485 rpm giving a maximum speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) on the surface and a range of 6,200 nmi (11,500 km; 7,100 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). The submarine was also equipped with two Brown, Boveri & Cie GG UB 720/8 electric motors that totaled 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp). Their maximum rpm was 322 and they could propel the submarine 95 nmi (176 km; 109 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) when submerged, with an underwater maximum speed of 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph). The U-boat's test depth was 220 m (720 ft), but she could go as deep as 230–250 m (750–820 ft) without having her hull crushed. U-27's armament consisted of five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four located in the bow and one in the stern). She could have up to 11 torpedoes on board or 22 TMA mines or 33 TMB mines. U-27 was also equipped with a 8.8 cm (3.5 in) L/45 deck gun with 220 rounds. Her anti-aircraft defenses consisted of one 2 cm (0.79 in) anti-aircraft gun. U-27 had a crew of four officers and 40 to 56 enlisted men.[4]

Service history

U-27 had a very short career, conducting only one war patrol and sinking only two enemy vessels before she herself was sunk. She left Wilhelmshaven on her first war patrol on 23 August 1939. For a period of 24 days, she traveled down the coast of Germany and neutral Belgium and the Netherlands, through the English Channel and out into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. Here, the boat sank two British trawlers, totaling 624 tons. The first attack took place at 2:55 on 13 September, 21 nmi (39 km; 24 mi) northwest of Tory Island, when the trawler Davara was shelled by U-27's deck gun. Following the sinking of Davara, her captain and 11 other crew members were picked up by the steam merchant ship Willowpool.[5] The second vessel to be sunk was the trawler Rudyard Kipling. The attack took place at 3:53 on 16 September, 100 nmi (190 km; 120 mi) west of the west coast of neutral Ireland, with the ship being sunk by scuttling charges from U-27. Following the sinking of Rudyard Kipling, the submarine picked up the crew of the trawler who were then given food and warm clothes. Eight hours later, Rudyard Kipling's crew were allowed to re-enter their lifeboats to row the remaining 5 nmi (9.3 km; 5.8 mi) to Ireland.[6]


The destroyers HMS Fortune and HMS Faulknor (who sank U-39 six days earlier), had been part of a concerted effort to find and sink the U-Boat that had been attacking trawlers. On 20 September 1939, three torpedoes were fired at the warships, but failed to do any damage when they exploded prematurely. The British vessels replied with a series of depth charge attacks, one of which damaged the German submarine sufficiently to force it to the surface. Fortune's ramming attack was curtailed when it became apparent that the U-Boat was surrendering.[7] All 38 crewmen survived and were taken prisoner.[2] U-27 became the second German submarine to be sunk in World War II after U-39 was sunk on 14 September 1939.[8]

U-27's skipper, Kapitänleutnant Johannes Franz was able, via code, to inform Bdu, the U-boat high command, of the situation regarding the malfunctioning torpedoes from his prison camp.[7]

Summary of raiding history

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
13 September 1939 Davara  United Kingdom 291 Sunk
16 September 1939 Rudyard Kipling  United Kingdom 333 Sunk

See also


  1. "U-1163 Type VIIA". Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  2. Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIA boat U-27". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  3. Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-27". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  4. Gröner 1991, pp. 43–44.
  5. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Darava (Steam trawler)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  6. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol info for U-27 (First patrol)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  7. Kemp 1999, p. 60.
  8. Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-boat Losses - 1939". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 30 June 2010.
  9. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-27". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 28 September 2014.


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6.
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2.
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.
  • Kemp, Paul (1999). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3.
  • Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIA boat U-27". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  • Hofmann, Markus. "U 27". Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 - (in German). Retrieved 7 December 2014.

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