Military Review

Kriegsmarine combat swimmers: remote controlled boats


“We have to build small and varied series. As soon as the enemy finds ways to fight our weapons, this weapon should be abandoned in order to stun the enemy with a new weapon of a completely different kind. "

- from the personal notes of Vice Admiral Helmut Geye, commander of the "K" formation.

After the catastrophic losses incurred during the attacks on the allied invasion fleet, Formation K began to develop new weapons and tactics for their use.

However, the activities of the Kriegsmarine bore a general imprint of decline, which began to slowly but surely overwhelm all of Germany.

The Germans came to the use of remotely controlled boats, rather by chance, than from a purposeful calculation. After the start of the landing in Normandy, the commander of the "K" formation, Vice-Admiral Gaye, had to solve an extremely serious question - what means he, in general, could use to counter the fleet allies?

What flotilla could be the first to go to the Bay of the Seine to fight the enemy?

The possibilities of large-scale production of "Neger" were exhausted, and the remaining pilots were decidedly insufficient for a new combat operation. The batch of new single-seat submarines of the Bieber type, in turn, were exclusively training units.

And then the boats "Linze" appeared on the scene.

As paradoxical as it may sound, Geye knew practically nothing about this weapon, although its design began much earlier than other assault weapons.

Kriegsmarine combat swimmers: remote controlled boats

The problem of the situation was that the idea of ​​creating "Linze" did not arise at all at the headquarters of the naval department. It belonged to the infamous Brandenburg unit, which had 30 ready-to-use devices at its disposal.

Elite saboteurs, however, were in no hurry to place them at the disposal of the Kriegsmarine - for this Geye had to use his connections in the highest military circles of Germany. Only after the Supreme High Command of the Wehrmacht issued a corresponding order, the Brandenburg regiment agreed to hand over its remotely controlled boats.

But, as often happens in a cramped resource base, as well as due to the lack of sufficient time for preparation, everything did not go according to plan.

On June 10, 1944, the already known Boehme caperang arrived in Le Havre. There, in a great hurry, he began to prepare all the necessary organizational measures for the deployment of naval saboteurs. Ten days later, the first flotilla of boats "Linze" (10 - remote control and 20 - exploding) under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Kolbe arrived at the scene.

Initially, the combat swimmers were stationed on the territory of the shipyard in one of the Seine branches - there they were more or less sheltered from air attacks. However, on June 29, they moved to a naval port - in the evening they were to carry out the first operation.

Problems overtook naval saboteurs already at this stage. When the boats were designed at Brandenburg, no one had any idea what distances they would have to cover for a war at sea - the vehicles were equipped with fuel tanks in the regiment, based on a cruising range of only 32 km. For serious sorties, this was not enough - and the "K" compound had to mount additional tanks in the most haste manner.

Naturally, this was not enough - the distance from Le Havre to the Allied landing zones was approximately 40 kilometers. The only sensible solution was the idea of ​​towing the Linze to the area of ​​their combat deployment. For this purpose, it was decided to use minesweepers, which were deployed along with the saboteurs.

In the port, just before the start of the operation, the combat swimmers were overtaken by an accident. The Linze pilots checked the wires of the electric fuses. In the course of the trial, an explosion suddenly sounded, which shook the entire area of ​​the parking lot and the ships located there.

As it turned out, one of the servicemen of the "K" compound, who was on his boat at the side of the minesweeper, forgot to disconnect the explosive charge from the electric fuse before testing the latter ...

Then "Linze" for the first time demonstrated their combat effectiveness on their own creators. The saboteur's mistake cost the Germans the boat and the minesweeper.

Some time after the incident, the boats gave up and went on their first combat mission.

The minesweepers took 3-5 Linza in tow. In this way, the saboteurs planned to get to the mouth of the Orne, and from there to start independent actions.

And here the second big difficulty awaited them.

Very big.

As soon as Le Havre was left behind, the minesweepers increased their speed significantly. It was then that the pilots had to face the unforeseen difficulties of sailing in tow.

Three-point excitement was enough for the "Linze" to face the threat of sinking. Boats one after another became victims of waves: here the towing cable broke, someone went out of order, because of the roll, water accumulated (and some "Linze" scooped it up so much that the electric cables got wet and short circuits occurred).

When the minesweepers nevertheless reached the mouth of the Orne, of the eight links (the link included a control boat and two exploding boats) that left Le Havre, only two were fully combat-ready.

It is worth paying tribute to the decisiveness of the Germans - even with such a modest composition, they risked going in search of enemy ships.

However, the weather was foggy that night - it did not allow them to achieve at least some success. The Germans were shackled in maneuver, they had to fight the onslaught of the sea non-stop. Depressed and disappointed, with the first rays of the sun, the saboteurs turned back to the shore.

The experience of that night was a bitter and instructive lesson for them. Not having had enough experience to test and check the "Linze", the combat swimmers fell into the trap of their own haste and delusions.

“The comrades greeted us with loud exclamations. Our "Linze" returned fourth. The rest, probably, too, were already walking somewhere along the coast. Happy, we got out on all fours ashore. As I straightened, I felt weakness in my knees. One of our four couldn't get out of the boat at all. Several people from the coast guard unit grabbed him and carried him out.
Our operational inspector, Captain 1st Rank Boehme, stood on the shore with a bottle of vodka and poured a full tea glass for each arriving person. Sergeant Major Lindner reported to him on the successful completion of the assignment.
I lit a cigarette, my hands were trembling. Everyone around was laughing, questioning and telling stories. But we already felt a little uncomfortable. At sea, no one noticed fatigue, but the operation and the return from it demanded the utmost tension from our muscles and nerves.
Now everything was over, the tension was replaced by lethargy for several minutes, we were simply exhausted. There remained only excitement, which, despite our mortal fatigue, prevented us from falling asleep, and we could not cope with it for a long time. "

- from the memoirs of Corporal Leopold Arbinger, naval saboteur of the "K" formation.

Linze gets a new life

After an unsuccessful debut, compound "K" decided to independently rework and produce new "Linse".

Naturally, the new model was based on old developments, but the unsuccessful experience of the first operation made it possible to significantly improve the seaworthiness of the boats.

The full-scale revision of "Linze" took four weeks. All this time, naval saboteurs were actively training in the Blaukoppel camp (this base was located in a pine grove near the mouth of the Trave River - this location was not accidental, because the trees served as a camouflage in case of an air attack).

During training, they worked actively to develop new tactics and developed a very effective pattern of action.

The main combat unit of the compound was the "Linze" link - 1 control boat and 2 remotely controlled ones. In the search mode, they moved at a speed of 12-19 km / h - this made it possible to minimize the noise of the running engines as much as possible. Each exploding boat carried only one pilot, and the control boat carried a pilot and two gunners. The driver of the remote control boat was also the flight commander.

Anchorage was chosen as a typical target. Their search was carried out in a dense formation, which disintegrated only after the detection of the enemy.

The attack process itself was not a task for the faint of heart - the rapprochement with the allied ships took place at low speed. It was too dangerous to give full engine speed - the enemy could pay attention to the noise (it should be noted that the boats had mufflers) and had time to take countermeasures.

While the Linze was creeping towards the target at low speed, the control vessel moved directly behind them. After the signal of the flight commander, the attack began: the pilots squeezed all possible speed out of the boats, brought the electric fuse into a firing position and started the remote control device. As a measure of distraction during the movement, the pilots scattered domes from the cockpits of the "Neger" - this helped to temporarily focus enemy fire on false targets.

After that, the light wooden boat, loaded with explosives, set off on the last voyage, using the full power of its 95 horsepower Ford gasoline eight-cylinder engine. The pilot was in the cockpit for a while to make sure the boat was on the correct course. Several hundred meters before the target, he jumped into the water - now his main task was survival.

Then everything depended on the gunner on the control boat - he had to direct the "Linze" to the target, controlling their rudders with the help of a transmitter.

It was for this that two crew members were required - each of them controlled one "Linze".

It is worth mentioning separately about the VHF transmitter itself.

It was a small black box - the size made it easy to put it on your knees. To avoid superposition of coherent waves, they worked at different frequencies. The remote control device itself on the "Lens" was the same device that was used on the famous self-propelled mine "Goliath".

The functionality of the device was as follows:

1) right turn;
2) left turn;
3) turning off the motor;
4) turning on the motor;
5) turning on trolling;
6) the inclusion of a full stroke;
7) detonation (only in case the boat does not hit the target).

Taking into account the fact that the boats needed to attack the enemy at night, the pilots, before the jump, activated special signal equipment, which was designed to facilitate the control process for the gunners.

It was a green lamp at the bow of the boat and one red at the stern. The red one was below the green level in terms of level, and both lamps could be seen only from the stern of the "Linze" - it was by them that the gunners were guided.

The mechanism was pretty straightforward: if the red dot was below the green one on the same vertical, it meant that the Lens course was correct. If the red dot turned out to be, for example, to the left of the green one, it means that he needed a correction using the transmitter.

That was the theory - in practice, the matter looked much more complicated.

The sailors of the Allied fleet did not eat their bread in vain - their numerous security forces thwarted the Linze attacks over and over again. As soon as they suspected the presence of boats, they activated the lighting equipment and unleashed a barrage of shells and large-caliber bullets at any suspicious area of ​​the sea.

Under these conditions, the only weapon of the German saboteurs was speed and, perhaps, luck.

The control boat needed not only to direct the "Linza" to the target, actively maneuvering under fire (which in itself was not an easy task), but also to pick up the pilots who had jumped out of the water. Only after that the German saboteurs could retreat - which, of course, was not always possible.

Now let's talk about the direct process of the combat use of the "Linze".

A reinforced metal frame was mounted along the bow of the boat, which was held by 15 centimeter spiral springs. On impact, the springs were compressed and sent current through the contact fuse. That, in turn, caused a detonation of the thick tape, twice encircling the entire bow of the boat.

The tape detonated and blew apart the nose of the "Linze" - from this the heavier aft part with an engine and a 400-kilogram charge of explosives immediately sank to the bottom.

At the same time, a delayed action fuse was activated - usually it was set for 2, 5 or 7 seconds. This was not done by chance - this is how the main charge worked at a certain depth. It exploded next to the underwater part of the hull, striking a blow similar in strength to the detonation of a bottom mine.

After all the above manipulations, in case of successful (or not) destruction of targets, the control boat picked up two pilots from the water and went away at maximum speed. The saboteurs needed not only to have time to get away from the escort ships, but also to reach the coast before dawn, with which another danger came - aviation.

As an afterword, I would like to quote a direct participant in those events, Lieutenant-Commander Bastian:

“The solidarity and sense of camaraderie among our people was also expressed in the fact that if, after completing a mission, a flight unit returned to the port, it was always in full force. Otherwise, none returned.
It was impossible even to imagine that this or that remote control boat returned to the port and the flight commander reported that the drivers of the exploding boats were killed or not found due to darkness or enemy fire. The comrades who remained on the water, powerless before the elements, were searched until they were dragged aboard, even if it took whole hours, even if the enemy exerted strong pressure. That is why the return of the units was sometimes delayed, so that it was necessary to sail already in the daytime, when it is easiest to become a victim of enemy fighter-bombers.
The flotilla suffered losses precisely during the return of the boats from the mission, and not in the infernal night cauldron of the enemy defense, where the "Linze" acted with great courage and skill. "

Продолжение следует ...
Photos used:

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, daily additional materials that do not get on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 30 May 2021 04: 28
    Thanks for the interesting sequel. An attractive cycle is obtained.
    I myself first read about the "lens" in my childhood in the historical adventure novel "Sign of Vishnu". But there he was mentioned in passing.
    1. Anzhey V.
      30 May 2021 07: 07
      Please, Chief. I'm glad to see that the topic is interesting not only to me)
      1. knn54
        knn54 30 May 2021 12: 17
        Andrew. Thank you. Definitely a plus.
        I have been interested in the topic since school after reading
        adventure novel by the remarkable writer A. Nasibov "Mad Men" (the film "Dr. Abst's Experiment" was staged).
        Then brochures about Italian (ancestors) and Japanese combat swimmers
        Recommend Becker K., German naval saboteurs in World War II. - M .: IL, 1958.
        (Bekker C. ... Und liebten doch das leben. - Hannover, 1956).
        Excellent translation, lots of pictures. Yes, and it was written "hot on the trail"
        1. Anzhey V.
          30 May 2021 12: 20
          Thank you knn!)

          I totally agree that Becker's book is a real find. To a large extent I am guided by it when writing this cycle.
      2. NIKN
        NIKN 30 May 2021 13: 37
        Well, there are application statistics? Have they destroyed something (except for their minesweeper)?
        1. Anzhey V.
          30 May 2021 15: 55
          To be honest, you asked a very good question.

          I confess, to my shame, I forgot to include statistics in the article, because initially I thought that there would be two of them on the subject of "Lens" ...

          These boats are considered almost the most effective weapon of the "K" compound. I can't give statistics at the moment, I'm sorry.

          If you find and post it, it will be great)
  2. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I 30 May 2021 05: 30
    Well ... Remotely controlled boats (DUK) ... they, remotely controlled (radio-controlled) torpedo boats (including DUK ...) were available not only in Germany; but also in some other countries, even in 30 -x years ... They were also in the USSR ... they tried to use them at the beginning of the war, in 1941 ... but not successfully! The Americans also used similar "wunderwaflies" ... and, more successfully .... But the main "catch" is that DUKs "exist" and, even, are being developed now! They are available, for example, in Israel, China ...


    The remote-controlled exploding boats (torpedo boats) of the Houthis in Yemen are very actively used now ...

    The boat was created by the Houthis by re-equipping a 10-meter high-speed small patrol motor boat built by the Emirati company Al Fattan Ship Industry (Al Sadr, Abu Dhabi). The company supplied a large number of such boats to the UAE Coast Guard, and more than 60 of these boats, in turn, were donated by the Emirates to aid the Yemeni Navy before the start of the Yemeni Civil War in 2011.

    The boat has a total length of 10 m, a width of 2,3 m and an average recess of only 0,43 m, and is equipped with two Yamaha L200A outboard motors with 200 hp each. Top speed 45 knots, fuel capacity 165 gallons. The standard capacity is four people. When converted by the Houthis into an exploding boat (the new abbreviation Water-borne improvised explosive device - WBIED), the boat was equipped with a radio command control system based on the use of a personal computer housed in a special protected metal case. For control and guidance of the boat, an additionally installed video camera, a Garmin GPS receiver and a Nexus autopilot compass were used. Two-way data transmission over a radio link with a control panel (which is located on the shore or on another boat) has been carried out. Direct control is carried out by servo drives with rods connected to standard controls (steering wheel and throttle) on the dashboard of the boat. The computer and wiring used in the conversion are Iranian-made.

    As a warhead, a 4G20 warhead installed in the hull of the boat from Soviet anti-ship missiles P-21 / P-22 (export versions of P-15M missiles) was used - judging by the markings, produced in 1988, equipped with a "sea mixture". It is reported that Yemen received 20 P-21 / P-22 missiles under the agreement of 1989 for arming the large missile boats of the 1241RE project under construction in the USSR (Yemen managed to receive one such boat in 1990). The warhead detonation system consists of four steel rods with springs in the hull of the boat's bow (two rods forward, one along the side), which, when crumpled, act on a push-button switch that transmits current to an improvised
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 31 May 2021 11: 27
      Quote: Nikolaevich I
      Well ... Remotely controlled boats (DUK) ... they, remotely controlled (radio-controlled) torpedo boats (including DUK ...) were available not only in Germany; but also in some other countries, even in 30 years ...

      I'll tell you more - the first use of the DUK was already in the First World War: on October 28, 1917 at Ostend, the Erebus monitor was damaged by a hit from a wire-guided boat FL-12 (230 kg of explosive, control from a coastal point with correction from an aircraft).
      1. Nikolaevich I
        Nikolaevich I 31 May 2021 13: 03
        Quote: Alexey RA
        I'll tell you more - the first use of the DUK was already in the First World War: October 28, 1917 ...

        I read about it ... I will also say that human-guided torpedoes first appeared in WW1 ... You may recall that wire-guided guided torpedoes appeared already in the 19th century ... But the articles that appeared on VO "covered" the WW2 period. ..that is why my comments belonged to the same period ... Besides, in WW1 there were "tests of the pen" ... one might say, "experimental" applications! In the 30s they tried to create a "main" weapon ... they set up mass production and during WW2 they were supposed to use it "seriously"!
  3. Olgovich
    Olgovich 30 May 2021 05: 57
    "The most fun" of all was the jumper from the torpedo boat ...

    And most importantly, how to look for it in pitch darkness? recourse
    1. Anzhey V.
      30 May 2021 07: 06
      And most importantly, how to look for it in pitch darkness?

      As far as I understood, very often they were not, and for this reason, the control boat, which continued to search either under fire or until dawn, perished, too ...
      1. Olgovich
        Olgovich 30 May 2021 07: 23
        Quote: Anjay V.
        very often they were not, and for this reason, the control boat also perished, which continued to search either under fire or until dawn ...

        I think that, after all, after a certain period of time, the search stopped: it is completely irrational, because of one lost soldier, to lose four more and a boat and the like was probably foreseen.
        1. Anzhey V.
          30 May 2021 07: 47
          Cohesion and a sense of camaraderie among our people were also expressed in the fact that if, after completing the assignment, the flight unit returned to the port, it was always in full force. Otherwise, none returned.
          It was impossible even to imagine that this or that remote control boat returned to the port and the flight commander reported that the drivers of the exploding boats were killed or not found due to darkness or enemy fire. The comrades who remained on the water powerless before the elements were searched until they were dragged aboard, even if it took whole hours, even if the enemy exerted strong pressure

          Judging by this, after all, they lost everyone ...
          1. Olgovich
            Olgovich 30 May 2021 07: 53
            Quote: Anjay V.
            Judging by this, after all, they lost everyone ...

            I read this passage, but I think that the reality was somewhat different. and I am sure that there were also appropriate orders.
            1. Anzhey V.
              30 May 2021 10: 46
              It's hard to say how it really was. The losses at the compound were huge - no matter which side you look at, the saboteurs often went sailing one way.

              Well, one cannot dismiss the fact that the Germans had an exaggeratedly developed sense of military comradeship, which they had been instilled in school. And in "K" the most ideologically motivated served, and in their moral and strong-willed qualities they surpassed the same SS soldiers (and, probably, one could not expect anything different from people who went to the open sea in slow fragile boats to challenge the most powerful fleet that mankind at that time knew).
              1. Olgovich
                Olgovich 30 May 2021 12: 26
                Quote: Anjay V.
                And in "K" they served the most ideologically motivated

                that's it: the motivation was to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible.

                And the victims, due to the search for one person, the crew of control specialists, the boat and the pilot, clearly did not contribute to this ...
              2. Catfish
                Catfish 31 May 2021 16: 45
                Good day, Andrey! hi
                Only now I could get to your article. As always, everything was read with interest. I would very much like you, if possible, to provide data on the losses of saboteurs and the losses of allies from the attacks of these boats.
                There is nothing to say, these guys were desperately brave, but still, this is the despair of the doomed. It is a pity for the people on both sides, the color of the nations stood out. soldier

                "Linze" projections.
                1. Anzhey V.
                  1 June 2021 08: 58
                  Hello Comrade Cat!

                  I would very much like you, if possible, to provide data on the losses of saboteurs and the losses of allies from the attacks of these boats

                  I will definitely try to do this in one of the articles - perhaps in the very last, final one)

                  Thanks for the illustration, it is very descriptive.
  4. hohol95
    hohol95 30 May 2021 07: 42
    The Brandenburgs saw similar boats from the Italians (MTM) and apparently decided to use them not at sea, but on rivers to blow up a bridge or a crossing.
  5. Cure72
    Cure72 30 May 2021 20: 04
    I join the thanks for the continuation. Anzhej thanks!
    1. Anzhey V.
      1 June 2021 08: 56
      Thank you, comrade!)
  6. Exval
    Exval 1 June 2021 08: 35
    It is very good that such an interesting topic is finally disclosed in a truly conscientious publication, and not by any hack, like Shirokorad!
    1. Anzhey V.
      1 June 2021 08: 58
      Thank you, Valery! Glad you appreciated)