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The U-9 was the lead ship of class of four submarines built for the Imperial German Navy shortly before the beginning of the First World War. Small by the standards of today, they were 188 feet in length (57.4 meters) and displaced 493 tons surfaced. They were manned by a crew of 4 Officers and 25 enlisted men.
At the onset of WWI submarines were unproven and were looked upon derisively by many naval traditionalists. They were not capable of operating for prolonged periods while submerged and could not dive to great depths. They were uncomfortable and tricky to operate, and often dangerous to their own crews.
On 22SEP14 the U-9 encountered three Royal Navy cruisers patrolling the near the eastern end of the English Channel. These were cruisers of the Cressy class, HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue, and HMS Cressy, which were of an outdated design but still useful. The photograph is of HMS Hogue.
Firing four torpedoes while submerged, U-9 hit two of the cruisers. She then reloaded her last two torpedoes and hit the third. All three cruisers sank. Within an hour the theoretical threat of submarine warfare had become a proven reality.
U-9 returned to Wilhelmshaven to a hero’s welcome. As if to demonstrate that her accomplishment was not just a fluke, on 15OCT14 she sank a fourth British cruiser, the HMS Hawke. U-9 was authorized to display the Iron Cross on her conning tower, one of only two Imperial German Navy ships so honored (the other being SMS Emden). Painting by Willy Stower.
U-10 was the second of the class, commissioned into service on 31AUG11. During the war she sank seven small commercial vessels. On 30JUN16 she was lost with all hands, likely the victim of a mine. Here she is seen operating with U-8.
This is an interesting photograph showing a nest of submarines in port tied op near the barracks ship Acheron. U-11 is the center vessel in the foreground. This gives a good opportunity to compare details of the U-9 class design with other contemporary Imperial German Navy submarines.
U-11 had a short operational career. She was mined off the Belgian coast on 09DEC14 and sank with all hands. She was not credited with sinking any enemy vessels.
The last of the four sisters, U-12 was commissioned on 13AUG11. She torpedoed the minesweeper HMS Niger on 11NOV14, but was herself sunk by the Royal Navy destroyers HMS Ariel, HMS Acheron and HMS Attack on 10MAR15. Ten of her crew survived the sinking. Pictured is U-12 alongside an unidentified sister and a third submarine of a different class.
U-12s claim to fame is she was the first submarine to launch an aircraft. On 15JAN15 she left Zeebrugge with a Friedrichshafen FF.29 lashed to her fo’c’sle. The U-12 partially submerged allowing the floatplane to take off from the surface. The aircraft proceeded to patrol the English coastline and returned safely.
In 2008 divers located the wreck of U-12 under 50 meters of water off the coast of Eyemouth, where she has obviously been a nuisance to fisherman working the area.
Das Werk has announced an injection molded kit of the U-9 in 1/72 scale. The model will be 31.4 inches in length (79.7 cm) – large, but not prohibitively so. There will be nameplates and decals to build any of the four submarines of the class.