List of all U-boats




Ordered25 Jan 1939
Laid down11 May 1940 Bremer Vulkan-Vegesacker Werft, Bremen-Vegesack (werk 9)
Launched22 Feb 1941
Commissioned26 Apr 1941Oblt. Friedrich Guggenberger
26 Apr 1941 - 24 Dec 1942  Kptlt. Friedrich Guggenberger (Knights Cross)
25 Dec 1942 - 9 Jan 1944  Oblt. Johann-Otto Krieg (Knights Cross)
17 patrols
26 Apr 1941-31 Jul 1941  1. Flottille (training)
1 Aug 1941-30 Nov 1941  1. Flottille (active service)
1 Dec 1941-9 Jan 1944  29. Flottille (active service)
Successes24 ships sunk, total tonnage 41,754 GRT
1 auxiliary warship sunk, total tonnage 1,150 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 22,600 tons
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 6,671 GRT
1 ship a total loss, total tonnage 7,472 GRT

Sunk at 1130hrs on 9 January 1944 in the Mediterranean Sea at Pola, in position 44.52N, 13.51E, by bombs during a US air raid (15th AF). 2 dead and 44 survivors.

Loss position

See the 28 ships hit by U-81 - View the 17 war patrols

Wreck raised on 22 April 1944 and broken up.

Wolfpack operations

U-81 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
   Markgraf (1 Sep 1941 - 11 Sep 1941)
   Arnauld (5 Nov 1941 - 18 Nov 1941)
   Wal (10 Nov 1942 - 15 Nov 1942)

Attacks on this boat and other events

30 Oct 1941
The boat was attacked by a British Catalina flying boat (RAF Sqdn 209/Z, pilot Denis E. Ryan) SW of Brest while enroute to cross the Straits of Gibraltar. A Hudson bomber (Sqdn 53, F/O Henry) also appeared and dropped depth charge. The boat was severely damaged and had to return to Brest. After hurried repairs the boat once more sailed for the Mediterranean. (Sources: Blair, vol 1, page 396)

13 Nov 1941
U-81, having recently entered the Mediterranean, learned the British Force H was passing through on its way to Gibraltar. She managed to intercept, and fired from extreme range to sink the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. The destroyer escort delivered a punishing depth charge attack with 130 depth charges counted, but the boat escaped. (Sources: Blair, vol 1, page 396)

27 Jun 1943
U-81 had to retreat when shelled by coastal artillery after sinking Michalios three miles west of Latakia, Syria.

9 Jan 1944
The sinking of U-81: At 11.30 hrs on 9 January 1944, as U-81 was making final preparations to sail at 16.00 hrs on its 18th war patrol, the harbour of Pola was hit by 319 tons (290 tonnes) of bombs dropped by 107 B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 2nd, 97th, 99th and 301st BG, 15th AAF. One bomb hit the U-boat near the aft torpedo hatch and passed completely through the pressure hull, killing two men on watch. Flooding of the stern compartments caused U-81 to settle so fast that the crew had no time to close the bulkhead to the control room, and the U-boat sank, capsized to port in shallow water.

4 recorded attacks on this boat.

Men lost from the boat

5 Apr 1942
One of U-81's crew was injured in an accident.

  Related: For more info on such losses see - Men lost from U-boats -

U-boat Emblems

We have 1 emblem entry for this boat. See the emblem page for this boat or view emblems individually below.

Crew 37b

Media links

U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor
(£ 38.25)

Ark Royal

Poolman, Kenneth

German U-Boat Losses During World War II

Niestle, Axel

Hitler's U-boat War, Vol II

Blair, Clay

U-Boat Operations of the Second World War - Vol 1

Wynn, Kenneth

Hitler's U-boat War

Blair, Clay

There was another U-81 in World War One
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 24 Jun 1916 and commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 22 Aug 1916. The Naval war in WWI was brought to an end with the Armistice signed on 11 Nov, 1918. Read about SM U 81 during WWI.

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