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Book Review
Encyclopedia of U-Boats: 1904 to Present

by: Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]

Originally published on:
Model Shipwrights

my feelings about this book

If you don’t already have this book on your library shelves at home, and value a fantastic reference volume for the German U-boat, then I strongly recommend finding this little beauty and tagging it yours. This book is set up to provide the maximum amount of background information in an easy to read, and understand style. Every class of U-boat listed is given its own detailed data sheet, in a chart style format, which begins each chapter listing. This chart provides the following information for each of it’s subjects; Type, Design and Development, Year(s) in Service, Type Displacement, Dimensions, Speed, Range, Propulsion both surfaced and submerged, Armament, Crew Number, and the boats Fates. Add plenty of fantastic, historic black and white photos and plan drawings in these chapters and you have one superb volume packed with valuable reference information.

Chapter Overview, in Brief...

The first two chapters of this volume are the introductory writings, the Preface containing background information of the author and his life, and the Introduction containing the first listings of information and a taste of what’s in store, with a basic compilation of all of the U-boats that served in the German Navy, (in it’s various forms), with details of their fates, successes, and loss of life sustained by their crews.
Then we slide into the Early Submersibles, and detailed discussions of the predecessor’s of the boats to come, including the Brandtaucher, and Friedrich Otto Vogel’s boats, to name but a few. Very early photographs and line drawings help the reader to understand the importance of these early inventions.

Next, we move on to the “guts” of the publication, the complete listings of the U-boats in service. In these pages the reader will find each and every boat, in all branches of the German navy listed, with detailed information, schematics, and photos. It’s really interesting to follow along and watch the transition of the U-boat from the early, cumbersome looking machines to the sleek boats of WWII, and on to the modern day marvels. These listings will provide the modeler with a vast amount of background information on the many different variants of the German U-boat, and help to represent the subjects much more accurately.

The Projects chapter holds certain interest, as it contains many examples of experimental boats from the early days, some that were built with success, and some that were scrapped and never built at all. Some very interesting reading, here!

Captured Submarines lists, as the title states, U-boats of the opposite forces that were captured intact, including Russian, British, Norwegian, Dutch, French, and Italian boats. Information found here includes the boat name/number, date captured, place of capture, and final outcome of the capture.

Chapter 7, “Manned Torpedoes and Miniature Submarines”, discusses the existence of these crafts in Italy, Great Britain, and Japan, long before the Kriegsmarine ever considered the possibility of such. This chapter also contains many photos and drawings of early experimental models of these.

Chapter eight, “Machinery, Sensors, and Weapons”, contains many smaller sub-chapters on topics such as power-plants of all types, sensors and radars, armament, steering, and then into the more modern air independent propulsion, water propulsion, and nuclear propulsion. Complete inner workings of the submarine are spoken of in detail with many photo’s, drawings, and technical charts.

“U-Boat Aces”, which is divided into two sub-chapters also, being the First and Second World War, respectively. This chapter covers in detail all of the prominent skippers of the German navy, and their accomplishments and awards. Many photos of the aces along with chart style information listings make this an exciting chapter.

The next four Chapters, although they are more like sections, are short discussions of each subject title, although the subjects are covered well, and in depth, none-the-less. This takes us up to chapter 14, which is entitled “U-Boats Preserved” which of course lists, in chronological order according to date of entry into service, German U-boats, or sections thereof, that are preserved in museums around the world. Other U-boat related exhibits, such as mini-subs, and small weapons such as Neger, Marder, Biber, and Molch, are also included in these listings.

The book winds down with an excellent chapter that discusses the U-boats of the Austro-Hungarian Navy and its commanders, and some final thoughts from the authors themselves in the “Reflections” chapter. Book notes and sources of information are also included here.

Final Thoughts...

Overall, a fantastic book for the U-Boat enthusiast, student, and modeler alike, as the reference information contained within, along with all of the photos, charts, and tables, all combine together into one excellent volume that will be an invaluable addition to your bookshelf. Although not geared toward the modeler in general, the resources in this encyclopedia will greatly benefit. Definitely recommended, from this modelers point of view.

I picked up this copy from the Military Book Club at a fantastic price on sale, less than half of the cover price, US$12.00 including postage!

book details

The Encyclopedia of U-Boats : From 1904 to the Present
Written by Eberhard Moller and Werner Brack
ISBN: 1-85367-623-3
Published by Greenhill Books, 2004

10” X 8”
263 Black and White Photographs, line drawings
240 pages

1) Preface
2) Introduction
3) Early Submersibles
4) U-boats In Service (Complete Listing, from U-1 to U-4712)
5) Projects
6) Captured Submarines
7) Manned Torpedoes and Miniature Submarines
8) Machinery, Sensors, and Weapons
9) The U-Boat “Aces”
10) U-Boat Decoys
11) U-Tankers
12) U-Boats in the Mediterranean and Black Sea
13) Commercial U-Boats: Deutschland and Bremen
14) U-Boats Preserved
15) U-Boats of the Austro- Hungarian Navy
16) Reflections
17) Notes
18) Sources

This comprehensive reference volume takes the reader on the 100 year history sojourn of the German submarine, from the meager beginnings in 1904, through the huge fleets of two World Wars, up to the commercially successful present day designs.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: 1853676233
  Suggested Retail: $22.50 (USD)
  Related Link: Green Hill Books
  PUBLISHED: Apr 11, 2006

About Mark R. Smith (Gunny)

I have been building models of all sorts all of my life, concentrating mainly on the coolest one's when I was younger, but now I focus directly on all military subjects, from armor to warships. After years of counting rivets, I put away the calipers, dial indicators, and micrometers and now just ha...

Copyright ©2020 text by Mark R. Smith [ GUNNY ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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Click image to enlarge
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 001
    Book Cover - Impressive Typ 212 photo!
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 002
    Sample Page - Kaiserliche Marine U-boot types
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 003
    Sample Page - Workhourse of the fleet: Typ VII
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 004
    Sample Page - Short description of types (last entries from WWI and WWII types)
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 005
    Sample Page - U-Boot Engines
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 006
    Sample Page - The most successful submarine comander of all times on the left (Lothar von Arnauld de la Perriere) and second most one (Walter Forstmann). Both from WWI.
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 007
    Samaple Page - U-boots Preserved
  • The Encyclopedia of U-Boats - 008
    Sample Page - Walter U-boot V80