The World Wars

Wwii Stealth Submarine the U480

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According to experts, the U480 was probably the world’s first stealth submarine. The U480 stealth submarine carried a special coating thus making it invisible to Allied sonar. With the submarine being invisible to sonar, there was a valuable edge in her campaign against Allied and British warships.

Since the development of the very effective submarine device ASDIC, the Germans realized that they were losing the war in the sea and so to try and once again gain the upper hand they developed the highly acclaimed U480 stealth submarine. The application of the special coating required tremendous labor on the part of the Germans but in the end they were successful.  

The submarine’s commander, Oberleutnant Hans-Jaochim Forster, was ordered by German High Command to lie in wait for British shipping crossing the English Channel.  In the submarine’s early strike against Allied shipping, four warships were suddenly sunk without warning in August 1944, off the coast of Southern England. The sinking led the British to wonder how a German submarine could get through such a heavily patrolled area such as the English Channel.

The British finally destroyed the U480 stealth submarine through a carefully devised plan. They did this by sending their ships to another area and setting cleverly laid underwater mines known as Brazier D2 with the hope the crew of the German sub would not detect the minefield. The trick worked. The German submarine returned to its familiar hunting waters and encountered the minefield. Thus the U480 sank, killing all but one of its crewmembers, Helmsman Horst Rosner, because he was at the time training in Norway.

In all, the U480 made two successful raids against Allied ships, but on its third travel the submarine did not return.   

For the successful onslaught against Allied shipping by the U480 German-made stealth submarine, Commander Oberleutnant Hans-Jaochim Forster was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on October 18, 1944.

Sixty years after the war ended, the U480 submarine was discovered lying at the bottom of the sea. A team of underwater detectives investigating the doomed submarine found out that it carried a special coating causing it to be invisible to enemy sonar.

After the discovery of U480, Helmsman Horst Rosner was located and interviewed concerning his life on the stealth submarine. It was during this time that he found out about how the submarine sank as well as what happened to his comrades. 

Therefore, stealth was always a cat and mouse game playing out in the war between the Germans and Allies. The winner would emerge because they possessed better technology.  

More about this author: Lancelot Tucker

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