The U-1406, a vessel of the same class as Meteorite/U-1407
|Ordered:||4 January 1943|
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss, Hamburg|
|Laid down:||13 November 1943|
|Commissioned:||13 March 1945|
|Fate:||Broken up, September 1949|
|General characteristics |
|Class and type:||Type XVIIB submarine|
|Draught:||4.3 m (14 ft 1 in)|
HMS Meteorite was an experimental U-boat developed in Germany, scuttled at the end of World War II, subsequently raised and commissioned into the Royal Navy. The submarine was originally commissioned into the Kriegsmarine in March 1945 as U-1407. It was built around a Walter engine fuelled by high test peroxide (HTP).
The three completed German Type XVIIB submarines were scuttled by their crews at the end of the Second World War, U-1405 at Flensburg, and U-1406 and U-1407 at Cuxhaven, all in the British Zone of Occupation. U-1406 and U-1407 were scuttled on 7 May 1945 by Oberleutnant zur See Gerhard Grumpelt even though a superior officer, Kapitän zur See Kurt Thoma, had prohibited such actions. Grumpelt was subsequently sentenced to seven years' imprisonment by a British military court.
U-1407 was salvaged in June 1945, and transported to Barrow-in-Furness, where she was refitted by Vickers with a new and complete set of machinery also captured in Germany, under the supervision of Professor Hellmuth Walter. Because she was intended to be used solely for trials and possibly as a high-speed anti-submarine target, her torpedo tubes were removed. She was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 25 September 1945 and renamed HMS Meteorite.
During 1946 Meteorite carried out a series of trials under the guidance of Walter and his original team from Germaniawerft, Kiel. The trials raised considerable interest in the possibility of HTP as an alternative to nuclear power as air-independent propulsion and the Admiralty placed an order for two larger experimental Walter boats based on the German Type XXVI, HMS Explorer and HMS Excalibur, to be followed by an operational class of 12 boats.
Meteorite was not popular with her crews, who regarded the boat as a dangerous and volatile piece of machinery. She was difficult to control due to aircraft-type controls and a lack of forward hydroplanes. She was officially described as "75% safe".
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