Military Wiki
SM U-38
SM U-38
SM U-38 with crew
Career (German Empire)
Name: U-38
Ordered: 12 June 1912
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Laid down: 25 February 1913
Launched: 9 September 1914
Commissioned: 15 December 1914
Fate: Surrendered 23 February 1919.
General characteristics
Class & type: German Type U 31 submarine
Displacement: 685 tons (surfaced)
878 tons (submerged)
971 tons (total)
Length: 64.70 m (overall)
52.36 m (pressure hull)
Beam: 6.32 m (overall)
4.05 m (pressure hull)
Height: 7.68 m
Draught: 3.56 m
Propulsion: Diesel (2 x 950 PS)
Electric (2 x 600 PS)
1850 hp (surfaced)
1200 hp (submerged)
Speed: 16.4 knots (surfaced)
9.7 knots (submerged)
Range: 8790 miles @ 8 kn (surfaced) 80 miles @ 5 kn(submerged)[1]
Test depth: 50 m
Complement: 4 officers
31 crewmen
Service record
Part of: II Flottille, Imperial German Navy
Commanders: Max Valentiner
Wilhelm Canaris
Hans Heinrich Wurmbach
Clemens Wickel
Operations: 17
Victories: 138 ships sunk for a total of 292,848 tons.
5 ships damaged for a total of 27,112 tons.
1 ship taken as prize for a total of 1,441 tons.
1 warship damaged for a total of 10,850 tons.

SM U-38 was a German Type U 31 U-boat which operated in the Mediterranean Sea during World War I. It ended up being the third most successful u-boat participating in the war sinking 138 ships sunk for a total of 299.985 tons.

Its longest serving captain was Max Valentiner, who was awarded the Pour le Mérite while in command of U-38. Valentiner was in command of U-38 in November and December 1915 when she sank the passenger liners SS Ancona and SS Persia; both were controversial since the ships were sunk by torpedoes without warning, in defiance of the then-current Prize rules, which stated that merchant vessels carrying passengers be given an opportunity to evacuate their passengers before being sunk.

Valentiner was succeeded as commander of U-38 by Wilhelm Canaris, who later went on to become an Admiral and head of the Abwehr from 1935 to 1944.


After World War I ended, U-38 was surrendered to France and docked in Brest in 1919, and then broken up.

See also


  1. type U31
  2. Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. "U-Boats (1905-18)", in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare, "(Phoebus Publishing, 1978), Volume 23, p.2534.
  3. Fitzsimons, p.2575; he mistakenly identifies it as 86mm p.2534.


  • Eberhard Rössler: Geschichte des deutschen U-Bootbaus - Band 1. Bernhard & Graefe Verlag 1996, ISBN 3-86047-153-8
  • Bodo Herzog: Deutsche U-Boote 1906-1966. Manfred Pawlak Verlags GmbH, Herrschingen 1990, ISBN 3-88199-687-7
  • Spindler, Arno (1932,1933,1934,1941/1964,1966). Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten. 5 Vols. Berlin: Mittler & Sohn. Vols. 4+5, dealing with 1917+18, are very hard to find: Guildhall Library, London, has them all, also Vol. 1-3 in an English translation: The submarine war against commerce. 
  • Beesly, Patrick (1982). Room 40: British Naval Intelligence 1914-1918. London: H Hamilton. ISBN 978-0-241-10864-2. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (1938). A Naval History of World War I. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-85728-498-0. 
  • Roessler, Eberhard (1997). Die Unterseeboote der Kaiserlichen Marine. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-5963-7. 
  • Schroeder, Joachim (2002). Die U-Boote des Kaisers. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe. ISBN 978-3-7637-6235-4. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2008). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol I., The Fleet in Action. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-76-3. 
  • Koerver, Hans Joachim (2009). Room 40: German Naval Warfare 1914-1918. Vol II., The Fleet in Being. Steinbach: LIS Reinisch. ISBN 978-3-902433-77-0. 

External links

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