During World War II, Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine considered various submarine designs for specialized operations or improving U-boat performance. Many of these designs did not come to fruition for various reasons. Some were abandoned due to practical considerations. Others towards the end had to be abandoned, as the yards were overrun by allied forces.
- The Type III U-boat was a 1934 project for a purpose-built minelayer based on the Type IA U-boat. The Type III U-Boat would have been similar to the Type IA, but with a hull lengthened by 7.5 m, and a total displacement of 970 tons. The Type III U-Boat was planned to carry an armament of 54 to 75 mines (depending on the type carried), two 105-mm deck guns, and one 20-mm antiaircraft gun.
- The Type IIIA U-boat was a planned minelayer similar to the Type IA U-boat. It would have had a larger outer hull than the Type IA, and featured a large, watertight cylindrical hangar on the aft deck, which would have carried two small motor torpedo boats. The boat would have carried 48 mines, and used the smaller boats to help lay and recover mines. The project was dropped as impractical.
- The Type IV U-boat was a planned resupply and repair U-boat, intended to meet other U-boats at sea and resupply them with torpedoes, fuel, food/water, and spare parts, and also be capable of performing light repair work.
- The Type V U-boat was an experimental midget submarine designed by Hellmuth Walter using his hydrogen peroxide-fuelled turbine. Only one vessel, the V-80, was built.
- The Type VI U-boat was a planned conversion of Type IA U-boats to run both submerged and surfaced from steam propulsion.
- The Type VIIE U-boat was planned to make use of a lightweight engine, and with the saved weight, increase the thickness of the pressure hull - thus allowing for greater diving depths. The project was cancelled.
- Little information is available on the Type VIII U-boat, other than it was planned for production in the event of mobilization in 1935.
- The Type XI U-boat was planned as an artillery boat; its main armament would have been four 128-mm guns, in two twin gun turrets. It would have also carried an Arado Ar 231 collapsible floatplane. Four boats (U-112, U-113, U-114, and U-115) were laid down in 1939, but cancelled at the outbreak of World War II. Had the Type XI U-boat been constructed, it would have had a completely new hull design and a submerged displacement of 4,650 tons – she would have been by far the largest of the U-boats and the second-largest diesel submarine after the Japanese I-400-class submarine. Its purpose was to engage ships (including escorts) in artillery duels at relatively long range, then dive away if they came within a certain threshold distance. Many anti-submarine escorts of WW2 including the Flower corvettes would have been too small and too poorly equipped with forward guns to cope with this approach.
- The Type XII fleet U-boat was a design from 1938. It had eight torpedo tubes, six at the bow and two at the stern, and was to carry 20 torpedoes. The gun armament was to be the same as for the type IX boats. Designed size equal to the later, larger type IX version IXD model, but with even more powerful engines and motors planned, allowing faster speeds both above and below the surface. No contracts were granted for these boats.
- The Type XIII was a further development of the type II coastal U-boat, with four torpedo tubes and one 20-mm antiaircraft gun. No contracts were granted for these boats.
- The Type XV and XVI U-boats were intended for very large transport and repair boats (5,000-ton and 3,000-ton, respectively) intended to carry torpedoes, food, and oil as cargo. The engine layout was to be the same as for the VIIC. No contracts were granted for these boats.
- The Type XVIII U-boat was a project for an attack boat using the Walter propulsion system. Two boats (U-796 and U-797) were laid down in 1943, but construction was cancelled in March 1944.
- The Type XIX was a project for an unarmed transport U-boat, based on the Type XB mine layer.
- The Type XX was another project for a transport U-boat based on the Type XB; it would have had a shorter hull than the Type XB, but had a greater beam and draft. Thirty Type XX U-boats were laid down in 1943, but construction stopped in 1944. In August 1944, construction on three Type XX U-boats (U-1701, U-1702, and 1703) resumed, but again stopped in early 1945.
- The Type XXII U-boat was intended for coastal and Mediterranean use. They used the Walter propulsion system and would have had a crew of two officers and 10 men. They were to have three torpedo tubes, two at the bow (below the CWL) and one aft of the bridge (above the CWL). Initially, 72 contracts were awarded to Howaldtswerke (36 to the yard in Hamburg and 36 in Kiel), but of those, only two had been laid down and had received U-boat numbers (U-1153 and U-1154) before they were all cancelled in late 1943.
- The Type XXIV was a 1943 design for an ocean-going U-boat using the Walter system. It was to have 14 torpedo tubes, six at the bow, and four each side aft.
- The Type XXV U-boats were intended to be electric propulsion-only boats for coastal use. The design was 160 tons with a crew of about 58 men and would have had two torpedo tubes fitted at the bow.
- The Type XXVI was a high-seas U-boat propelled by the Walter system. They would have had a crew of three officers and 30 men, with ten torpedo tubes, four at the bow and six in a so-called Schnee organ, and no deck guns; 100 contracts were initially awarded to the Blohm & Voss yard in Hamburg (U-4501 through U-4600) and sections were under construction for U-4501 through U-4504 when the war ended. The other contracts had been cancelled.
Major U-boat classes
- Type I
- Type II
- Type VII
- Type IX
- Type X
- Type XIV - used to resupply other U-boats; nicknamed the Milk Cow
- Type XVII
- Type XXI
- Type XXIII
- Midget submarines, including Biber, Hai, Molch, Seehund
- Miller, David (2000). U-Boats: the Illustrated History of the Raiders of the Deep. Washington: Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-246-5.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "U-boat Types". German U-boats of World War II - Uboat.net.
- "German Experimental U-Boats". Archived from the original on 2018-03-27.