German Type XIV submarine

The Type XIV U-boat was a modification of the Type IXD, designed to resupply other U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s. They were nicknamed "Milchkuh/Milchkühe (pl.)" (milk cows). They had no torpedo tube
Torpedo tube
A torpedo tube is a device for launching torpedoes. There are two main types of torpedo tube: underwater tubes fitted to submarines and some surface ships, and deck-mounted units installed aboard surface vessels...

s or deck gun
Deck gun
A deck gun is a type of artillery cannon mounted on the deck of a ship or submarine.The deck gun was used as a defensive weapon against smaller boats or ships and in certain cases where torpedo use was limited. Typically a crew of three; gunner, loader, and layer, operated the gun, while others...

s, only anti-aircraft guns
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

. Due to its large size, the Type XIV could resupply other boats
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 with 400 tons of fuel, four torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

es, and fresh food that was preserved in refrigerator units. In addition, the boats were equipped with bakeries, in order to provide the luxury of fresh bread for crews being resupplied.

In 1942 the milk cows allowed the smaller Type VIIC boats to raid the American coast during the "Second Happy Time
Second happy time
The Second Happy Time , also known among German submarine commanders as the "American shooting season" was the informal name for a phase in the Second Battle of the Atlantic during which Axis submarines attacked merchant shipping along the east coast of North America...

". The milk cows were of course a priority target for Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 forces. Ultra
Ultra was the designation adopted by British military intelligence in June 1941 for wartime signals intelligence obtained by "breaking" high-level encrypted enemy radio and teleprinter communications at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. "Ultra" eventually became the standard...

 intercepts provided information concerning sailing and routing, and this, coupled with improved Allied radar and air coverage in the North Atlantic, eliminated most of them during 1943. By the end of the war all ten had been sunk. Milk cow duty was especially hazardous; 289 sailors were killed out of an estimated complement of 530–576 men.

List of Type XIV submarines

Ten boats of this type were commissioned:
  • U-459, commissioned 15 November 1941, scuttled 24 July 1943
  • U-460, commissioned 24 December 1941, sunk 4 October 1943
  • U-461, commissioned 30 January 1942, sunk 30 July 1943
  • U-462, commissioned 5 March 1942, sunk 30 July 1943
  • U-463, commissioned 2 April 1942, sunk 16 May 1943
  • U-464, commissioned 30 April 1942 , scuttled 20 August 1942
  • U-487
    German submarine U-487
    German submarine U-487 was a Type XIV supply and replenishment U-boat of the of the German Kriegsmarine during World War II....

    , commissioned 21 December 1942, sunk 13 July 1943
  • U-488
    German submarine U-488
    German submarine U-488 was a Type XIV supply and replenishment U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine during World War II....

    , commissioned 1 February 1943, sunk 26 April 1944
  • U-489
    German submarine U-489
    German submarine U-489 was a Type XIV supply and replenishment U-boat of the of the German Kriegsmarine during World War II....

    , commissioned 8 March 1943, sunk 4 August 1943
  • U-490
    German submarine U-490
    German submarine U-490 was a Type XIV supply and replenishment U-boat of the of the German Kriegsmarine during World War II.Her keel was laid down on 21 February 1942, by Germaniawerft of Kiel...

    , commissioned 27 March 1943, sunk 12 June 1944

Fourteen planned Type XIVs were cancelled. Three of them (U-491, U-492, U-493) were about 75% complete when work was stopped and they were scrapped in July and August 1943. The other 11 had not been laid down when they were cancelled on 27 May 1944. On that same day Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

 dropped development plans for the Type XX U-boats, large transport boats that would not have been ready until mid-1945.


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