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S-Boats in the Imperial Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) 1916 - 1919

 

The base of the German S-Boat-Forces goes back to World War I. Workingboats requisitioned from civilian sources, which were employed in the clearing of nets off the coast of Flandres since 1916 were in need of protection against the enemy raids.

In 1917 four net-working boats (LM 1 and LM 2) especially built for that purpose and armed with a 3,7 cm machine-cannon and two additional safety boats armed with a 45-cm bow-torpedo-tube to launch the 6 m long aircraft-torpedo F52 and a machine-gun (LM 5 and LM 6) were commissioned. All boats were equipped with three propulsion shafts each driven by a 210 horse power Maybach CX  6-cylinder four-stroke gasoline airship-engine without reverse gear unit (the capability to reverse was neglected).

The boats had a complement of seven to eight men. They attained a speed of about 30 knots, the radius of action was 150 to 200 nautical miles and the endurance was five to seven hours.

LM 5 and LM 6 (picture from H. Fock: Schnellboote Band 1)

The stern-torpedo-tubes originally planned were substituted during the building phase by one bow-torpedo-tube. The firing speed was up to 20 knots. The boats were employed against enemies  barrier guards with some success.

 

LM-Boat under shipyard trials (picture: Archives Lürssen)

 

Yet in 1918 15 boats of a second series were commissioned (LM 7 - LM 21).  With these the Imperial Navy had more than 21 LM-boats under its command, seven of which were stationed in the Baltic Sea and 14 were employed off Flandres.

Plan LM 7 with friendly permission of Peter Dewitz

The builders of these LM-boats were Lürssen, Oertz, Naglo and Roland.The boats LM 1 and LM 2 were lost on  05.03.1918 repective 17.04.1918 due to gasoline and engine explosion respectively.  As a replacement LM 22 and LM 23 were ordered.

  LM 1 - 2 LM 3 - 4 LM 5 - 6 LM 7 - 10
Finished 1917 1917 1917 1918
Shipyard Lürssen Naglo Oertz Lürssen
Length 15,00 14,57 15,00 16,00
Beam 2,30 2,40 2,42 2,40
Draft 1,08 1,08 1,08 0,68
Displacement 6,0 t 6,0 t 6,0 t 7,0 t
Propulsion 3 x 210 hp Maybach 3 x 210 hp Maybach 3 x 210 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach
Propellers 3 3 3 3
Machine- Weapon 1 x 3,7 cm 1 x 3,7 cm 1 MG 1 MG
Torpedotubes - - 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube

 

  LM 11 - 13 LM 14 - 16 LM 17 - 20 LM 21 - 26
Finished 1918 1918 1918 1918 - unfinished
Shipyard Naglo Oertz Lürssen Lürssen
Length 16,25 15,00 16,00 16,00
Beam 2,55 2,42 2,40 2,40
Draft 0,76 1,08 0,68 0,68
Displacement 6,5 t 6,0 t 7,0 t 7,0 t
Propulsion 3 x 240 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach 3 x 240 hp Maybach
Propellers 3 3 3 3
Machine- Weapon 1 MG 1 MG 1 MG 1 MG
Torpedotubes 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube 1 x 45 cm bow-torp.-tube

In teh very year 1918 construction of a series LM 27 - 30 by Oertz and of a series LM 31 - LM 33 by Roland were ordered.

 

LM-Boats en route (picture from H. Fock: Schnellboote Band 1)

From series LM 21 - 26 only boats LM 21 to LM 23 were finished. The boats of series LM 27 - 30 and LM 31- 33 were abandoned.

Additionally the Imperial Navy had put trial boats on order: 

Boats Shipyard Propulsion
Lüsi 1 - 2 Lürssen 3 x 400 hp Siemens/Deutz
Köro 1 - 2 Roland 3 x 450 hp Körting
Juno 1 - 2 Oertz 3 x 450 hp Junker

Of these boats only Lüsi 1 was finished. All other boats were abandoned.

The accomplishments of the German LM-boats in World War I were of little importance. On 24.08.1917 the 1200 t Russian Minenlayer "Penelope" was sunk. 

During the night 22./23.08.1917 an attack by boats of the LM-Boat-Division Flandres was performed on a number of ships anchored off Dunkirk. In a fierce fighting the first attack-group (boats LM 9, LM 15, LM 17 and LM 18) achieved two hits on a destroyer, which immediately listed and caught fire. The small cruiser of Arabis-class also attacked was not hit. The boats taken under fire could enter harbour undamaged, only on LM 17 the forward radiomast was shot down. 

The second attack-group (boats LM 7, LM 8 and LM 16) attacked a destroyer-group of three ships. One destroyer was hit amidships and broke in two according to German observations, LM 16 hit another destroyer in the engineroom, the ship sank. Also this group could return to harbour undamaged.