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Home » U-Boat Articles » Most Successful U-Boat Attacks

Most Successful U-Boat Attacks

As with any other armed service, the men of the U-boat force was a mixed bunch with some achieving outstanding success while others met with dismal failure. The top five U-boat aces, for example, were responsible for more than 1 million tons of Allied devastation and almost 200 ships. The majority however, were in between where average performance was multiplied by great numbers and contributed to the total tonnage sunk during the war. Presented here is the summary of the most successful attacks during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Top Commanders by Tonnage

Commander Boat(s) No. of
No. of
Ships Sunk
Total Tonnage
Otto Kretschmer U-23 (Type IIB)
U-99 (Type VIIB)
16 44 257,000
Wolfgang Luth U-9 (Type IIB)
U-138 (Type IID)
U-43 (Type IXA)
U-181 (Type IXD)
15 47 226,000
Erich Topp U-57 (Type IIC)
U-552 (Type VIIC)
U-3010 (Type XXI)
U-2513 (Type XXI)
12 35 197,000
Heinrich Liebe U-38 (Type IX) 9 34 187,000
Viktor Schutze U-25 (Type IA)
U-103 (Type IXB)
7 35 180,000
Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock U-5 (Type IIA)
U-96 (Type VIIC)
U-256 (Type VIIC)
10 25 179,000
Karl Friedrich Merten U-68 (type IXC) 5 27 170,000
Herbert Schultze U-2 (Type IIA)
U-48 (Type VIIB)
8 26 170,000

Most Successful U-Boats

U-Boat Commander(s) No. of Sorties No. of Ships Sunk Total Tonnage
U-48 (Type VIIB) Herbert Schultze
Hans Rudolf Rosing
Heinrich Bleichrodt
Diether Todenhagen
Siegfried Atzinger
12 52 308,000
U-99 (Type VIIB) Otto Kretschmer 8 38 245,000
U-103 (Type IXB) Viktor Schutze
Werner Winter
Gustav-Adolf Janssen
Heinz Murl
Hans-Norbert Schunck
11 45 237,000
U-124 (Type IXB) Georg-Wilhelm Schulz
Johann Mohr
11 48 225,000
U-107 (Type IXB) Gunther Hessler
Harald Gelhaus
Volker Simmermacher
Karl-Heinz Fritz
14 39 218,000

Most Successful Attacks Against Warships

Commander U-Boat Date of Attack Warship Nation Tonnage
Otto Schuhart U-29 (Type VII) 17 Sept, 1939 Courageous
(aircraft carrier)
British 22,500
Gunther Prien U-47 (Type VIIB) 14 Oct, 1939 Royal Oak
British 31,250
Friedrich Guggenberger U-81 (Type VIIC) 13 Nov, 1941 Ark Royal
(aircraft carrier)
British 27,000
Hans Diedrich
Freiherr von
U-331 (Type VIIC) 25 Nov, 1941 Barham
British 31,300
Helmut Rosenbaum U-73 (Type VIIB) 11 Aug, 1942 Eagle
(aircraft carrier)
British 22,200
Joachim Mohr U-124 (Type IXB) 24 Nov, 1941 Dunedin
(light cruiser)
British 4,850
Ottokar Paulsen U-557 (Type VIIC) 15 Dec, 1941 Galatea
(light cruiser)
British 5,300
Gerhard Bigalk U-751 (Type VIIC) 21 Dec, 1941 Audacity
(escort carrier)
British 11,000
Johann Jebsen U-565 (Type VIIC) 10 Mar, 1942 Naiad
(light cruiser)
British 5,600
Max-Martin Teichert U-456 (Type VIIC) 30 Apr, 1942 Edinburgh
(light cruiser)
British 10,600
Franz Georg Reschke U-205 (Type VIIC) 16 Jun, 1942 Hermione
(light cruiser)
British 5,600
Adolf Cornelius Piening U-155 (Type IXC) 15 Nov, 1942 Avenger
(escort carrier)
British 13,785
Horst-Arno Fenski U-410 (Type VIIC) 18 Feb, 1944 Penelope
(light cruiser)
British 5,300
Detlev Krankenhagen U-549 (Type IXC/40) 29 May, 1944 Block Island
(escort carrier)
US 9,400
Hans-Jurgen Sthamer U-354 (Type VIIC) 22 Aug, 1944 Nabob
(escort carrier)
British 11,400
Jurgen Kuhlmann U-1172 (Type VIIC) 15 Jan, 1945 Thane
(escort carrier)
British 11,400

Most Successful War Patrols

Commander U-Boat Period No. of Ships Sunk Total Tonnage
Gunther Hessler U-107 (Type IXB) 03/41 07/41 14 86,699
Georg Schewe U-105 (Type IXB) 02/41 06/41 12 71,450
Viktor Schutze U-103 (Type IXB) 04/41 07/41 13 65,000
Helmut Witte U-159 (Type IXC) 08/42 01/43 11 64,000
Erwin Rostin U-158 (Type IXC) 05/42 06/42 12 63,000
Otto Kretschmer U-99 (Type VIIB) 02/41 03/41 7 62,000
Carl Emmermann U-172 (Type IXC) 08/42 12/42 8 60,000
Werner Henke U-515 (Type IXC) 02/43 06/43 10 58,000
Wolfgang Luth U-181 (Type IXD2) 09/42 01/43 12 58,000
Reinhard Hardegen U-123 (Type IXB) 03/42 05/42 10 57,000

Atacks Against Large Passenger Liners

Commander U-Boat Date of Attack Name of Ship Tonnage
Fritz Julius Lemp U-30 (Type VIIA) 3 Sep, 1939 Athenia 13,580
Engelbert Endrass U-20 (Type VIIB) 6 Jun, 1940 Carinthia 20,300
Hans Jemisch U-32 (Type VII) 28 Oct, 1940 Empress of Britain 42,300
Werner Hartenstein U-156 (Type IXC) 12 Sep, 1942 Laconia 19,700
Carl Emmermann U-172 (Type IXC) 10 Oct, 1942 Orcades 23,500
Hans Ibbeken U-178 (Type IXD) 10 Oct, 1942 Duchess of Atholl 20,100
Ernst-Ulrich Bruller U-407 (Type VIIC) 11 Nov, 1942 Viceroy of India 19,600
Gustav Poel U-413 (Type VIIC) 14 Nov, 1942 Warwick Castle 20,100
Horst Hamm U-562 (Type VIIC) 21 Dec, 1942 Strathallan 23,700

U-995 German Type VIIC U-Boat

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