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An E-boat flying the white flag, after surrender at the coastal forces base HMS Beehive, Felixstowe, May 1945
Class overview
Name: S-Boot
Builders: Lürssen
Succeeded by: Jaguar-class
Preserved: 1
General characteristics
Class & type: S-100 Fast attack craft
  • 100 tons (max)
  • 78.9 tons (standard)
Length: 32.76 m (107.5 ft)
Beam: 5.06 m (16.6 ft)
Draught: 1.47 m (4 ft 10 in)
Installed power: 3,960 brake horsepower (2,950 kW)
Propulsion: 3 × Daimler Benz MB 501 marine diesel engines
Speed: 43.8 knots (81.1 km/h; 50.4 mph)
Range: 800 nmi (1,500 km; 920 mi) at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 24–30
  • 2 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (4 torpedoes)
  • 1 × twin 20 mm C/30 cannon, 1 × single 20 mm cannon
  • 1 × 37 mm Flak 42 cannon

E-boat (German: Schnellboot, or S-Boot, meaning "fast boat") was the Western Allies' designation for fast attack craft of the Kriegsmarine during World War II. The most popular, the S-100 class, were very seaworthy,[1] heavily armed,[2] and fast – capable of sustaining 43.5 knots (80.6 km/h; 50.1 mph) and briefly accelerating to 48 knots (89 km/h; 55 mph).[3]

These craft were 35 metres (114' 10") long and 5.1 metres (16' 9"') in beam, half again longer and much sleeker than any of the Allied PT boats.[4] Their diesel engine propulsion had substantially longer range (approximately 700 nautical miles) than the gasoline-fueled American PT boat and the generally similar British Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB).

As a result, the Royal Navy later developed better matched versions of MTBs using the Fairmile 'D' hull design.



This design was chosen because the theatre of operations of such boats was expected to be the North Sea, English Channel and the Western Approaches. The requirement for good performance in rough seas dictated the use of a round-bottomed displacement hull rather than the flat-bottomed planing hull that was more usual for small, high-speed boats. Lürssen overcame many of the disadvantages of such a hull and, with the Oheka II, produced a craft that was fast, strong and seaworthy. This attracted the interest of the Reichsmarine, which in 1929 ordered a similar boat but fitted with two torpedo tubes. This became the S-1, and was the basis for all subsequent E-boats.[citation needed]

After experimenting with the S-1, the Germans made several improvements to the design. Small rudders added on either side of the main rudder could be angled outboard to 30 degrees, creating at high speed what is known as the Lürssen Effect.[5] This drew in an "air pocket slightly behind the three propellers, increasing their efficiency, reducing the stern wave and keeping the boat at a nearly horizontal attitude".[6] This was an important innovation as the horizontal attitude lifted the stern somewhat, allowing even greater speed, and the reduced stern wave made E-boats harder to see, especially at night.[citation needed]

Operations with the Kriegsmarine

E-boats, a British designation using the letter E for Enemy,[7][8] were primarily used to patrol the Baltic Sea and the English Channel in order to intercept shipping heading for the English ports in the south and east. As such, they were up against Royal Navy and Commonwealth (particularly Royal Canadian Navy contingents leading up to D-Day) Motor Gun Boats (MGBs), Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), Motor Launches, frigates and destroyers. They were also transferred in small numbers to the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea by river and land transport. Some small E-boats were built as boats for carrying by auxiliary cruisers.

Crew members could earn an award particular to their work—Das Schnellbootkriegsabzeichen—denoted by a badge depicting an E-boat passing through a wreath. The criteria were good conduct, distinction in action, and participating in at least twelve enemy actions. It was also awarded for particularly successful missions, displays of leadership or being killed in action. It could be awarded under special circumstances, such as when another decoration was not suitable.

Schnellboote of the 9th flotilla were the first naval units to respond to the invasion fleet of Operation Overlord.[9] They left Cherbourg harbour at 5 a.m. on 6 June 1944.[9] On finding themselves confronted by the entire invasion fleet, they fired their torpedoes at maximum range and returned to Cherbourg.[9]

During World War II, E-boats sank 101 merchant ships totalling 214,728 tons.[10] In addition, they sank 12 destroyers, 11 minesweepers, eight landing ships, six MTBs, a torpedo boat, a minelayer, one submarine and a number of small merchant craft. They also damaged two cruisers, five destroyers, three landing ships, a repair ship, a naval tug and numerous merchant vessels. Sea mines laid by the E-boats were responsible for the loss of 37 merchant ships totalling 148,535 tons, a destroyer, two minesweepers and four landing ships.[10]

In recognition of their service, the members of Schnellboot crews were awarded 23 Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and 112 German Cross in Gold.[10]

Italian MS boat

The poor seaworthiness of the Italian-designed MAS boats of World War I and early World War II led its navy to build its own version of E-boats, called MS (Motoscafo Silurante). The prototype was designed on the pattern of six German-built E-boats captured from the Yugoslav Navy in 1941. Two of them sank the largest warship (the British light cruiser HMS Manchester) that was sunk by this kind of vessel in World War II.[11] Two MS boats were used to infiltrate a party of 14 Italian marines behind the Allied lines in Egypt on 3 September 1942. The marines blew up a railway and an aqueduct before being captured.[12] Thirty-six of these vessels were completed by 1943.[13]

Service in the Spanish Navy

The Kriegsmarine supplied the Spanish Navy with six E-boats during the Spanish Civil War, and six more during the Second World War. Another six were built in Spain with some assistance from Lürssen. One of the early series, either the Falange or the Requeté, laid two mines during the civil war that crippled the British destroyer HMS Hunter off Almería on 13 May 1937. The German-built boats were discarded in the 1960s, while some of the Spanish-built ones served until the early 1970s.[14]

Service in China

The Chinese Nationalist Navy had three S-7 E-boats during the Second Sino-Japanese War (World War II in China). One was destroyed by Japanese planes, one was lost, and one was captured by the People's Liberation Army during the Chinese civil war. The People's Liberation Army Navy used it as a patrol boat until 1963. The Chinese Nationalist Government had also ordered eight S-30 E-boats and a boat carrier, but they joined the Kriegsmarine in 1939.

Post-war service

Royal Navy

At the end of the war about 34 E-boats were surrendered to the British. Three boats, S-130 (renamed P5230), S-208 (P5208) and S-212 (P5212) were retained for trials.

Operation Jungle

The Gehlen Organization, an intelligence agency established by American occupation authorities in Germany in 1946 and manned by former members of the Wehrmacht's Fremde Heere Ost (Foreign Armies East), used Royal Navy's E-boats in order to infiltrate its agents into the Baltic states and Poland.[15] Royal Navy Commander Anthony Courtney was struck by the potential capabilities of former E-boat hulls, and John Harvey-Jones of the Naval Intelligence Division was put in charge of the project. He discovered that the Royal Navy still had two E-boats, P5230 and P5208, and had them sent to Portsmouth, where one of them, P5230 (ex-S130), was modified to reduce its weight and increase its power with the installation of two Napier Deltic engines of 3000 hp apiece.[16] Lieutenant-Commander de (Hans-Helmuth Klose) was assigned to command a German crew, recruited by the British MI16 and funded by the American Office of Policy Coordination. The missions were assigned the codename "Operation Jungle". The boats carried out their missions under the cover of the British Control Commission's Fishery Protection Service, which was responsible for preventing Soviet navy vessels from interfering with German fishing boats and for destroying stray mines. The home port of the boats was Kiel, and operated under the supervision of Harvey-Jones. Manned by Klose and his crew, they usually departed for the island of Bornholm waving the White Ensign, where they would hoist the Swedish flag for a dash to Gotland, and there they would wait for orders from Hamburg. The first mission consisted in the landing of Lithuanian agents at Palanga, Lithuania, in May 1949,[17] and the last one took place in April 1955 in Saaremaa, Estonia.[18] During the last two years of the operation, three new German-built motorboats replaced the old E-boats.[19] Klose was later assigned the command of a patrol boat in the Bundesmarine and became commander-in-chief of the fleet before his retirement in 1978.[18]

Royal Danish Navy

In 1947, the Danish navy bought twelve former Kriegsmarine boats. These were further augmented in 1951 by six units bought from the Royal Norwegian Navy. The last unit, the P568 Viben, was retired in 1965.[20]

Royal Norwegian Navy

After World War II, the Norwegian Navy received a number of former Kriegsmarine boats. Six boats were transferred to Denmark in 1951.



There is just one surviving E-boat, identified as S-130. S-130 was purchased and towed from Wilhelmshaven, Germany to the Husbands Shipyard, Marchwood, Southampton, England in January 2003, under the auspices of the British Military Powerboat Trust. In 2004, S-130 was taken to the slipway at Hythe, where, under the supervision of the BMPT, she was prepared and then towed to Mashfords yard in Plymouth, England to await funding for restoration. In 2008, S-130, having been purchased by Kevin Wheatcroft, was slipped across the River Tamar and set up ashore at Southdown in Cornwall to undergo restoration work involving Roving Commissions Ltd. As of June 2012, this work continues and includes an S130 Members' Club.

Built as hull No. 1030 at the Schlichting boatyard in Travemünde, S-130 was commissioned on 21 October 1943 and took an active part in the war, participating in the Exercise Tiger attack and attacks on the D-day invasion fleet.

According to Dutch military historian Maurice Laarman:

In 1945, S-130 was taken as a British war prize (FPB 5030) and put to use in covert operations. Under the guise of the "British Baltic Fishery Protection Service", the British Secret Intelligence Service MI-6 ferried spies and agents into Eastern Europe. Beginning in May 1949, MI-6 used S-208, (Kommandant Hans-Helmut Klose) to insert agents into Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland. The operations were very successful and continued under a more permanent organisation based in Hamburg. In 1952, S-130 joined the operation and the mission was enlarged to include signal intelligence (SIGINT) equipment. In 1954/55, S-130 and S-208 were replaced by a new generation of German S-boote.

S-130 was returned to the newly formed Bundesmarine in March 1957, and operated under the number UW 10. Serving initially in the Unterwasserwaffenschule training sailors in underwater weaponry such as mines and torpedoes, she later became a test boat under the name EF 3.[21]

S-130 was on display in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, formerly used as a houseboat.

Today S-130 is undergoing thorough restoration in Southdown Marina, Cornwall, following purchase by the "Wheatcroft Collection" England.


The Schnellboot design evolved over time. The first had a pair of torpedo tubes on the fore deck.

S-2 class
The first production of the E-boat in 1931, based on the S-1.
S-7 class
Built from 1933, three were sold to China.
S-14 class
Improved S-7, built in 1934. Enlarged hull.
S-18 class

Wartime types were:

S-26 class
Entered service in 1940. 40 m hull. Torpedo tubes covered by forward deck.
S-30 class
S-38 class
S-38b class
Improved S-38 class with armoured bridge. Various armament including 40 mm Bofors or 20 mm Flak aft, MG34 Zwillingsockel midships.
S-100 class
From 1943. 1 × 20 mm in the bow, 2 × 20 mm gun amidships and 37 mm gun aft.
S-151 class
Type 700
Late war design proposal with stern torpedo tubes and 30 mm gun turret forward. Eight boats built, but completed to S-100 design specification.


  • Length: 34.9 m (114 feet 6 inches)
  • Weight: up to 120 t
  • Speed: 43.8 kn
  • Engines: Three 20-cylinder 2000 hp Daimler-Benz MB501 diesels driving three shafts.
  • Armament:
    • 2 × 53.3 cm (21 inches) torpedo tubes, with room for 2 more torpedoes (for reloading).
    • 1 × 20 mm gun, (20 mm single on early boats, twin and special bow version on later classes)
    • 1 × 40 mm gun (40 mm Bofors) on some S-38 class boats

Other AA armament carried on different models included two or more pintle-mounted MG-34s, 3.7 cm Flak 42 (S-100) and 8.6 cm RaG M42 (S-100) or, rarely, one of the well-known, quadruple 20 mm Flakvierling mounts.

See also


  1. PT-Boat.com–German S-100 Class Schnellboot (Fast Boat): [1] "MTB Boats and unlike most allied boats was not based on a planing hull design but was rather a deeper round bottom design, more suitable for heavy seas."
  2. militaryfactory.com–Schnellboot (S-Boot) Motor Torpedo Boat: [2] At least 4 torpedoes, 3 20-mm cannon, one 37-mm cannon, and one or more machine guns
  3. PT-Boat.com–German S-100 Class Schnellboot (Fast Boat): [3] "The S-100 class boats were driven by three Daimler-Benz MB 511-V marine diesel engines giving them an outstanding speed of 43.5 knots (briefly accelerating to 48 knots)".
  4. PT-Boat.com–German S-100 Class Schnellboot (Fast Boat): [4]
  5. Saunders, Harold E. (1957). Hydrodynamics in ship design, Volume 1. Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. p. 586. ISBN 99914-0-571-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Schnellboot! An Illustrated Technical History – Design, Manufacture and Detail". Retrieved Dec 16, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Wilson, Steve. "Enemy Boats". Military.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "E-Boats". British Military Powerboat Trust.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Tarrant, V.E. (1994). The Last Year of the Kriegsmarine. Arms and Armour Press. pp. 56–57. ISBN 1-85409-176-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Connelly & Krakow, 2003. p.54
  11. "MAS, VAS and MS". regiamarina.net.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Mediterranean Fleet, Admiralty War Diary 1942, including Operation Pedestal". naval-history.net.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Sadkovich, James (1994). The Italian Navy in World War II. Greenwood Press, Westport, p. 39. ISBN 0-313-28797-X
  14. Coello, J.L. (1995). Buques de la Armada española años de la postguerra. S.L. AGUALARGA EDITORES, ISBN 978-84-88959-15-7
  15. Höhne, Heinz; Zolling, Hermann (1972). The General Was a Spy: The Truth about General Gehlen and his spy ring. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan. pp. 150-53. ISBN 0-698-10430-7
  16. Peebles, Curtis (2005). Twilight Warriors. Naval Institute Press. pp. 38–39. ISBN 1-59114-660-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Dorril, Stephen (2002). MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service. Simon and Schuster, pp. 190-91. ISBN 0-7432-1778-0
  18. 18.0 18.1 Adams, Jefferson (2009). Historical Dictionary of German Intelligence. Scarecrow Press, pp. 234-35. ISBN 0-8108-6320-0
  19. Hess, Sigurd. "The Clandestine Operations of Hans Helmut Klose and the British Baltic Fishery Protection Service (BBFPS) 1945–1956". The Journal of Intelligence History. LIT Verlag Münster. 1 (2): 169–178.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "GLENTEN Class (1947–1965), Motortorpedoboats". navalhistory.dk.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Schnellboot E-boat S-130". prinzeugen.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Dallies-Labourdette, Jean Philippe (June 2003). German S-boote at War, 1939–1945. Histoire and Collections. ISBN 2-913903-49-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Krakow, David (August 2013). Schnellboot in Action (2nd Edition, Warships). Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-89747-660-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Krakow, David; Connelly, Garth (January 2003). Schnellboot in Action (Warships). Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-89747-457-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Williamson, Gordon; Palmer, Ian (September 18, 2002). German E-boats 1939–45. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-445-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Macpherson, Ken. Ships Of Canada's Naval Forces (Warships). Collins Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-00-216856-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Williamson, Gordon (2011). E-boat vs MTB : the English Channel 1941–45. Oxford ; Long Island City: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84908-407-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links


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