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SM U-29 (Austria-Hungary)

SM U-29 or U-XXIX was a U-27 class U-boat or submarine for the Austro-Hungarian Navy U-29, built by the Hungarian firm of Ganz Danubius at Fiume, was launched in October 1916 and commissioned in January 1917

U-29 had a single hull and was just over 121 feet 37 m in length She displaced nearly 265 metric tons 261 long tons when surfaced and over 300 metric tons 295 long tons when submerged Her two diesel engines moved her at up to 9 knots 17 km/h on the surface, while her twin electric motors propelled her at up to 75 knots 139 km/h while underwater She was armed with two bow torpedo tubes and could carry a load of up to four torpedoes She was also equipped with a 75 mm 30 in deck gun and a machine gun

During her service career, U-29 sank three ships and damaged two others, sending a combined tonnage of 9,838 GRT to the bottom U-29 was at Fiume at war's end and was surrendered at Venice in March 1919 She was granted to France as war reparation in 1920, but foundered while under tow to Bizerta for scrapping5

Design and constructionedit

Austria-Hungary's U-boat fleet was largely obsolete at the outbreak of World War I6 The Austro-Hungarian Navy satisfied its most urgent needs by purchasing five Type UB I submarines that comprised the U-10 class from Germany,7 by raising and recommissioning the sunken French submarine Curie as U-14,6Note 1 and by building four submarines of the U-20 class that were based on the 1911 Danish Havmanden class3Note 2

After these steps alleviated their most urgent needs,6 the Austro-Hungarian Navy selected the German Type UB II design for its newest submarines in mid 19158 The Germans were reluctant to allocate any of their wartime resources to Austro-Hungarian construction, but were willing to sell plans for up to six of the UB II boats to be constructed under license in Austria-Hungary8 The Navy agreed to the proposal and purchased the plans from AG Weser of Bremen9

U-29 displaced 264 metric tons 260 long tons surfaced and 301 metric tons 296 long tons submerged3 She had a single hull with saddle tanks,10 and was 121 feet 1 inch 3691 m long with a beam of 14 feet 4 inches 437 m and a draft of 12 feet 2 inches 371 m3 For propulsion, she had two shafts, twin diesel engines of 270 bhp 200 kW for surface running, and twin electric motors of 280 shp 210 kW for submerged travel She was capable of 9 knots 167 km/h while surfaced and 75 knots 139 km/h while submerged3 Although there is no specific notation of a range for U-29 in Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921, the German UB II boats, upon which the U-27 class was based, had a range of over 6,000 nautical miles 11,000 km at 5 knots 93 km/h surfaced, and 45 nautical miles 83 km at 4 knots 74 km/h submerged10 U-27-class boats were designed for a crew of 23–243

U-29 was armed with two 45 cm 177 in bow torpedo tubes and could carry a complement of four torpedoes She was also equipped with a 75 mm/26 30 in deck gun and an 8 mm 031 in machine gun3

After intricate political negotiations to allocate production of the class between Austrian and Hungarian firms,8 U-27 was ordered from Ganz Danubius on 12 October 19151 She was laid down on 3 March 1916 at Fiume and launched on 21 October2

Service careeredit

U-29 underwent diving trials at Fiume and then made her way to Pola on 29 November 19162 There, on 21 January 1917,2 SM U-29 was commissioned into the Austro-Hungarian Navy under the command of Linienschiffleutnant Leo Prásil4 Prásil, a 29-year-old native of Pola, had previously served as commander of U-1011

U-29 departed on her first patrol on 23 January, destined for duty in the Mediterranean The next day, however, the U-boat encountered a severe storm near Lussin that damaged her Prásil steered the boat into the harbor at Brgulje to wait out the storm Departing Brgulje on the 25th to resume her journey to the Mediterranean, the submarine developed a leak when performing a test dive U-29 headed back to Pula for repairs, which lasted until 30 January On 5 February the U-boat set out for Cattaro, which she reached after three days journey2

Prásil took U-29 out of Cattaro on 17 February to begin the delayed patrol in the Mediterranean, but on the 20th encountered another severe storm Suffering no damage in the tempest, the boat continued on On 24 February, she had an at-sea rendezvous with U-43 On 1 March the U-boat's gyrocompass broke down, necessitating a return to port Two days later, as she neared Cattaro, U-29 encountered yet another storm, this one again damaging the ship The beleaguered U-boat headed back to the base at Pula for more repairs, and remained there until early April2

On 4 April, U-29 set out from Pula, touched at Cattaro, and continued on into the Mediterranean for her second patrol there2 While 25 nautical miles 46 km from Cape Matapan, Prásil torpedoed and sank the steamer Dalton, traveling in ballast U-29 took the master of the 3,486-ton British ship captive; three other men lost their lives in the attack12 Five days later and some 115 nautical miles 213 km away, U-29 torpedoed Mashobra, a British India Line passenger steamer of 8,173 gross register tons GRT The ship, en route from Calcutta to London with a general cargo, was finished off by U-29's deck gun As with Dalton, Mashobra's master was taken prisoner Eight persons died in the attack13 U-29's gyrocompass broke down again on 17 April, once again forcing the boat to return for repairs U-29's second Mediterranean tour ended when Prásil docked the boat at Cattaro on 19 April2

U-29's third Mediterranean deployment began on 8 May when she departed Cattaro After eleven days at sea, Prásil torpedoed the British cargo ship Mordenwood 90 nautical miles 170 km from Cape Matapan14 U-29 took the 3,125-ton ship's master captive15 Two sources disagree on the number of casualties when Mordenwood went down, but place the number at either 21 or 3116 Escorting destroyers launched a depth charge attack on U-29 but did not succeed in damaging the U-boat Two days later, U-29 launched a torpedo attack on the British steamer Marie Suzanne but did not sink the ship U-29 arrived at Cattaro on 25 May2

After a brief time in port, U-29 set out for the Mediterranean again on 17 June One day out, the U-boat came under attack from an airplane out of Valona, compelling U-29 to crash dive; none of the three bombs dropped by the aircraft hit their mark U-29's patrol ended without success when she docked at Cattaro on 6 July After a return to Pola on 12 July, the U-boat underwent extensive repairs that kept her out of action for the next nine months2

HMS Edgar was torpedoed by U-29 on 4 April 1918 but survived the attack Edgar was the only warship topedoed by U-29

On 16 March 1918, the newly refitted boat sailed from Pola to Cattaro, departing that port for another Mediterranean tour on 25 March Near Valona the next day, an Italian destroyer attempted to ram U-29, scraping one of her propellers against U-29's conning tower The damage done was slight and U-29 continued on into the Mediterranean, weathering a storm in the Ionian Sea on the 27th On 4 April, U-29 launched a torpedo attack on what was thought to be a cargo ship2 In fact, it was the British protected cruiser Edgar which had been hit Edgar was damaged but did not sink; she suffered no casualties in the attack17 The following day Prásil attempted to torpedo a ship in a convoy but missed and was exposed to a depth charge attack by the convoy's escorts The U-boat ended the patrol with no further successes2

In June, the Austro-Hungarian Navy planned an assault on the Otranto Barrage, similar to a May 1917 action that evolved into the Battle of Otranto Straits18 U-29 was deployed from Cattaro on 9 June in advance of the attack2 One of the seven separate groups participating in the attack, the two dreadnoughts Tegetthoff and Szent István, came under attack from Italian MAS torpedo boats in the early morning hours of 10 June Szent István was hit and sank just after 06:00, and the entire operation was called off18 U-29 returned to Cattaro on 12 June Over the next two months, U-29 operated in the Adriatic out of Cattaro, patrolling off Durazzo and the Albanian coast2

While at Cattaro, command of U-29 passed to Linienschiffleutnant Friedrich Sterz on 4 September The 27-year-old native of Pergine, Tyrolia in present-day Italy, had previously commanded U-22 and, like Prásil, had also served a stint as commander of U-1019 After assuming command of U-29, Sterz set sail for Durazzo the same day The U-boat had encounters with MAS torpedo boats on 9 and 12 September On the latter date, U-29 had to crash dive to avoid a bombing attack from Allied airplanes None of the seven bombs hit their mark and U-29 returned to Cattaro on 16 September2

Linienschiffleutnant Robert Dürrial replaced Sterz as commander on 29 September The Galician Dürrial, like both Stertz and Prásil, had served as the commander of U-10, but had most recently commanded U-2120 A day after assuming command, Dürrial headed for the Albanian coast in U-29 and patrolled off Durazzo2

After the Armistice with Bulgaria on 29 September ended Bulgaria's participation in the war, Durazzo gained importance to the remaining Central Powers as the main port for supplying their forces fighting in the Balkans Anticipating this, the Allies put together a force to bombard Durazzo While the second echelon of the attacking force got into position to bombard the town, U-29 and sister boat U-31 maneuvered to attack While U-31 was able to hit and damage the British cruiser Weymouth, U-29 was blocked by screening ships and herself attacked The Allied escorts mainly American submarine chasers subjected U-29 to a heavy depth charge attack21 U-29 was able to make her way back to Cattaro on 8 October2

Over the next three weeks, U-29 patrolled between Cattaro and Antivari, Montenegro After her arrival back at Cattaro on 1 November, U-29 was moored between the coastal battleship Monarch and U-14 There she remained until she was awarded to France as a war reparation in 1920 U-29 was towed, along with sister boats U-31 and U-41, from Cattaro for Bizerta for scrapping, but foundered on the way5 In total, U-29 sank three ships with a combined tonnage of 14,784, and damaged one warship

Ships sunk or damagededit

Ships sunk or damaged by SM U-2922
Date Name Tonnage Nationality
000000001917-04-10-000010 April 1917 Dalton 3,486 British
000000001917-04-15-000015 April 1917 Mashobra 8,173 British
000000001917-05-19-000019 May 1917 Mordenwood 3,125 British
000000001918-04-04-00004 April 1918 EdgarHMS Edgar 7,350 British

damaged but not sunk


  1. ^ Curie had been caught in an anti-submarine net while trying to enter the harbor at Pola on 20 December 1914 See: Gardiner, p 343
  2. ^ The plans for the Danish Havmanden class submarines, three of which were built in Austria-Hungary, were seized from Whitehead & Co in Fiume See: Gardiner, pp 344, 354

3 Josef Guenther Lettenmaier, who served on U 29 as "Maschinenquartiermeister", roughly equivalent to Machinist Mate 2nd Class, documented his experiences in the Austro-Hungarian Navy and aboard U 29 as historical fiction in "Rot-Weiss-Rot zur See", published by Tyrolia Verlag, Innsbruck, 1934 Lettenmaier's book is the only published record of the Kuk U-Waffe written by "other ranks"


  1. ^ a b Miller, p 20
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Tengeralattjárók" pdf in Hungarian Imperial and Royal Navy Association pp 25–26 Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Gardiner, p 344
  4. ^ a b c d Helgason, Guðmundur "WWI U-boats: KUK U14" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  5. ^ a b Gibson and Prendergast, pp 388–89
  6. ^ a b c Gardiner, p 341
  7. ^ Gardiner, p 343
  8. ^ a b c Halpern, p 383
  9. ^ Baumgartner and Sieche, as excerpted here reprinted and translated into English by Sieche Retrieved 1 December 2008
  10. ^ a b Gardiner, p 181
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "WWI U-boat commanders: Leo Prásil" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  12. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "Ships hit during WWI: Dalton" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  13. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "Ships hit during WWI: Mashobra" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  14. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "Ships hit during WWI: Mordenwood" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  15. ^ Tennent, p 51
  16. ^ Tennent p 51 reports 31 were killed; Helgason reports 21 killed
  17. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "Ships hit during WWI: Edgar HMS" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  18. ^ a b Halpern, pp 174–75
  19. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "WWI U-boat commanders: Friedrich Sterz" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  20. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "WWI U-boat commanders: Robert Dürrial" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 
  21. ^ Halpern, pp 175–76
  22. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur "Ships hit by Ships hit by KUK U29" German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboatnet Retrieved 22 January 2009 


  • Baumgartner, Lothar; Erwin Sieche 1999 Die Schiffe der kuk Kriegsmarine im Bild = Austro-Hungarian warships in photographs in German Wien: Verlagsbuchhandlung Stöhr ISBN 978-3-901208-25-6 OCLC 43596931 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed 1985 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921 Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press ISBN 978-0-87021-907-8 OCLC 12119866 CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list link
  • Gibson, R H; Prendergast, Maurice 2003 1931 The German Submarine War, 1914–1918 Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press ISBN 978-1-59114-314-7 OCLC 52924732 
  • Halpern, Paul G 1994 A Naval History of World War I Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press ISBN 978-0-87021-266-6 OCLC 28411665 
  • Miller, David 2002 The Illustrated Directory of Submarines of the World St Paul, Minnesota: MBI Pub Co ISBN 978-0-7603-1345-9 OCLC 50208951 
  • Tennent, A J 2006 1990 British Merchant Ships Sunk by U boats in the 1914–1918 War Penzance: Periscope Publishing ISBN 1-904381-36-7 

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