Posted by: SJS | June 1, 2012

German E Boats – worthy opponents in the Med

When my father told me about his days in Ron 15 in the Mediterranean, he never failed to mention the German E Boats which often tangled with the Allied ships.  While they were not much larger than PT boats and could not match the speed or maneuverability of the PTs, the E Boats were manned by crews that were not afraid to fight.

German E Boat

German E Boat in the Mediterranean, 1944

According to accounts I have read, the prime targets of the E Boats were Allied shipping vessels.  During the invasions of Elba and Southern France in the summer of 1944, however, there seemed to be many encounters between the German E Boats and their naval adversaries on the Allied side.       Red Stahley’s duties during his time in Ron 15  consisted primarily of  providing radio support from PT bases at various locations in North Africa and the Italian island of Sardinia.  His job, as far as I can determine, was to assist with communication to the boats that participated in the Allied invasions in the summer of 1944.  Defeating an enemy with a seasoned air force, multiple shore batteries, and E Boats took the skills, courage, and endurance of every PT sailor whether on sea or land.

German E Boat in the Mediterranean Sea



  1. Powered by Daimler Benz twenty-cylinder diesel engines MB 501; 3,960 hp, the E-boats were easily capable of 44knots; and tow versions sea-trialled by the RN in 1946 proved capable of exceeding 50 knots.
    Only the final engine version of the USN’s PT Boats, powered by the Packard 5M-2500, (late 1945) which had a larger supercharger, aftercooler, and power output of 1850 hp. could push the fully loaded boats at 45 to 50 knots (51-57 mph.
    All the earlier Versions only had to meet a USN requirement to reach 41 knots on Trials, when new; and since maintenance in Service was poor, due to heavy workloads and lack of Shipyard time, – most PT boats were not capable of even reaching 40 knots, due to mechanical problems and hull-fouling issues.
    RN Comparison Trials during 1946/8, rated the Kriegsmarine’s E-boats as the best Fast Small-Patrol-Craft of all those in WW2 Service in all the combatant Navies, since the E-boats remained excellent weapons platforms even at full speed in a seaway. whereas the USN’s PT Boats andthe RN’s MTB’s bounced-around so much at high speeds that it was almost impossible for their crews to serve the deck-mounted armaments. In addition, of all the fast patrol-craft Trialled by the Royal Navy, only the later Series E-boats had armoured wheelhouses, gun-tubs, and engine-rooms. None of the other Navies had armoured their Fast Attack craft at all!

    • Many thanks for this excellent information on the German E-boats of WWII. No wonder the PT crews were wary of these powerful craft.

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