Saturday 13 July 2024

Spanish Jupiter Class Mine-Layers (photos and info from Cartagena Museo de Militar added 13/07/2024)

 Spanish Jupiter Class mine-layers and the SCW

by Richard Baber

Now navel wargaming and history isn`t my thing, I have played naval games and also included ships/landing craft in scenarios I`ve written, but on the whole this aspect of war leave me cold. But a few years back whilst browsing at a boot fair here in Spain I came across this photo which had been used a Christmas postcard by a member of her crew.

Now i had no idea what the vessel was, but could tell by the general layout she was of SCW or WW2 vintage. The single funnel and general layout had me stumped as to her type or class, but I assumed she was Spanish.

Anyway I frequent a FB page dedicated to wargaming the SCW and a few months back they started posting images of ships and talking about the naval aspects wargames of the war. So I took the plunge and asked if anyone could identify the ship - within an hour that legend and font of all knowledge (when it comes to SCW) Bob Cordery (author of the Arriba Espana! rules) came back with the answer - she was a Jupiter Class mine-layer!

Armed with this info I did a bit of internet digging and this is what I discovered: 

Commissioned by the Spanish republican Government in 1935, to be built by SECN at Ferrol. All the four vessels of this class fell into rebel hands when the port and facilities came under rebel control. Only three actually served during the SCW with the last not completed until late 1939.


Jupiter (F11) completed March 1937

Vulcano (F12) completed August 1937

Marte (F01) completed November 1938

Neptuno (F02) completed November 1939


Displacement: 2100tons std; 2600tons loaded

Length: 96M, Breadth: 12M, Draught: 3.5M

Max speed: 18.5 knots

Powered by two Parsons geared steam turbines with four Yarrow boilers

Range: 3700 nautical miles @ 12 knots

Crew: 180


Júpiter: 2 x 1 - 105/42 SK L/45, 2 x 1 - 76/40 Ansaldo 1917, 3 x 1 - 40/39 Vickers-Terni 1915, 264 mines, 2 DCR

In 1938 the Jupiter was upgraded:

Júpiter: - 2 x 1 - 105/42, 3 x 1 - 40/39; + 4 x 1 - 120/45 Vickers-Armstrong Mk F, 3 x 1 - 20/65 C/38

Vulcano: 4 x 1 - 120/45 Vickers-Armstrong Mk F, 2 x 1 - 88/42 SK L/45, 3 x 1 - 20/65 C/30, 264 mines, 2 DCR

Marte, Neptuno: 4 x 1 - 120/45 Vickers-Armstrong Mk F, 2 x 1 - 76/40 Ansaldo 1917, 3 x 1 - 20/65 C/38, 264 mines, 2 DCR

Service during the Civil War

Due to the lack of destroyers in the Franco`s fleet, and the potential of their armament, the main mission of these vessels was not minelaying, but to face Government units in open combat, despite their slow speed.


Along with VulcanoJúpiter was one of the main players in the blockade of international shipping in the ports of Biscay, where she took part in the capture of several merchantmen, especially the British Candleston CastleDover Abbey and Yorkbrook, the French Cens and a number of Basque Auxilliary Navy trawlers during the second half of 1937. She also laid four minefields off Santander and Gijón, from April to July 1937. The rebel battleship Espana was lost on 30 April after hitting by accident one of her mines at Santander. There were only four casualties among España's crew.

On 17 July, while on patrol off Gijón, Júpiter caught two British cargo ships while they were attempting to run the blockade. One of them, Sarastone, managed to reach the harbor despite being fired on. The other steamer, Candleston Castle, stopped after the minelayer fired two shots across her bows. She was handed over by Júpiter to the auxiliary cruiser Ciudad de Palma, which escorted the captured merchantman to Ferrol. A fruitless sortie was launched from the French port of Saint jean de Luz by the Royal Navy battleship HMS Royal Oak and the destroyer HMX Basilisk.

She engaged the Basque Auxiliary Navy destroyer Ciscar on 10 August off Gijón. During this exchange of fire, Júpiter's gunfire accidentally straddled the British destroyer HMS Foxhound. Occasionally, she also provided support fire for the rebel troops inland. On 24 August 1937, after the fall of the port of Santona, Júpiter, along with other naval units was called from Bilbao to watch the British steamer Seven Seas Spray, taken in custody by Nationalist troops while attempting to evacuate Basque troops as part of the ill-fated Santona Agreement between the Italian Corpo truppe Volontarie and the Basque Nationalist Party.

 On 5 October, while she was escorting the seized freighters Dover Abbey and Yorkbrook to ribadeo, the former vessel sent a distress message to HMS Resolution, giving the position and course of the convoy and claiming that her capture had taken place outside territorial waters. Actually, they have been caught by armed trawlers 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) off shore, well inside Spanish maritime boundaries, Júpiter successfully outran the British battleship and the convoy reached destination without incident.

At least five minor vessels carrying refugees and soldiers of the Republican army where seized by the minelayer after the fall of the last government's strongholds on northern Spain by the end of October.[

 On Christmas Day 1937 she shelled the port of Burriana, near Castelion, in the Mediterranean coast, where the British freighter Bramhill was at anchor. The merchant was hit by several rounds, specially on her bow, and had to withdraw to Marseille to undergo repairs.

Towards the end of the war, along with the auxiliary cruiser Mar Negro, she supported the landing of an infantry division on Mahon, Menorca after the Republican surrender of this island, on 9 February 1939. She was one of the units involved in the blockade of Alicante, where thousands of refugees gathered in order to flee Spain when Franco's victory was in sight. Assisted by her sister ships, Jupiter entered the port on 31 March, the day before the official end of the conflict, in order to land the 121st and 122nd battalions of the Galician Regiment.

After the Spanish Civil War, in December 1940, Júpiter carried out an undercover reconnaissance mission around Gibralter with Admiral Canaris and General Lang and a Spanish officer aboard. The goal was to gather intelligence about the British fortifications and boom defenses as a first step toward the proposed Operation Felix.


Vulcano temporarily blocked the entrance to Gijón of the British merchants Stanray and Stangrove

At the end of the war in the north she joined a naval squadron which drove back the steamers HillfernBramhillStanhill and Stanleigh off Cape Peñas, seizing a number of small Republican vessels crowded with refugees in the process.  During this period she shelled, without success, the British Thorpebay when this steamer entered the port of the Musel. Between the last months of 1937 and 1939 Vulcano was active in the Mediterranean, where she was part of the rebel fleet which bombarded Castellon, Burriana and Vinarios on Christmas Day 1937. She played a key role, along with her sisters ships, in ferrying troops after Franco's army reach the coast between Valencia and barcelona in April 1938.

On 17 October 1938, she seized the soviet cargo ship Katayama, of 3,200 tons. She also played a secondary role in the capture of the Greek merchant Victoria by the auxiliary cruiser Mar Cantábrico and the British Stangrove by the gunboat Dato, in the final months of the civil war. All these freighters joined the Spanish merchant fleet at the end of the conflict.

Perhaps the most famous action of Vulcano is the chase and capture of the Republican Churruca-class destroyer Jose Luis Diez off Gibraltar, in the course of a battle fought as close as 50 metres (160 ft) between the ships involved. José Luis Diez eventually became stranded in Catalan Bay, in the territory of Gibraltar, the last day of 1938. The destroyer was turned over to Franco's government after its recognition by Britain as the legitimate authority in Spain.

She was the leading unit of an aborted landing at Cartagena on 7 March 1939, after the withdrawal of the Republican fleet from its bases and its internment at Bizerte. 

On 7th March 1939 just days before the end of the war a small fleet of rebel ships were approaching the port of Cartagena. The operation was mounted on the belief that anti-communist Republicans had taken over the port once the Government navy fled, they expected to sail into an unguarded port and claim the city for Franco. However, loyalist forces retook control of the coastal batteries around the harbour. All the ships received the order of aborting the operation, but two transports, Castillo de Olite and Castillo Peñafiel, didn`t have radios and continued toward Cartagena unaware of the danger! They were the former Soviet steamers Postishev and Smidovich, of 3,545 and 2,485 tons respectively, which had been seized by the Nationalists at high seas. Castillo de Olite was hit by a 381 mm (15 in) shell from the coastal battery at La Parafiel about 4km from the port, which set offammunition stored aboard and she blew up and sunk with a loss of 1477 military and naval personel, the worst loss of live at sea during the Civil War! Meanwhile, Castillo Peñafiel had a narrow escape, harassed by Republican aircraft. In a letter to General Franco, Admiral Francisco Moreno put the blame on Vulcano's commander for his failure to prevent the departure of the freighters, as ordered by Moreno himself. Vulcano apparently gave a green light to the transports after receiving contradicting orders from the high command to proceed.

At the Museo Militar de Cartagena there is a room and display dedicated to this incident, I took these photos during out visit back in May 2024

1/56th scale model of the Castillo de Olite
Deck gun raised from the wreck

Along with her sister ships, Vulcano landed two infantry battalions at Alicante on 31 March, the day before the official end of hostilities.


Marte was the last minelayer of the class to be commissioned before the end of the civil war. Marte was released to the Nationalist navy on 11 November 1938. The minelayer departed from El Ferrol in December 1938 to take part in the chase of the Republican destroyer José Luis Díez, which had taken shelter in Gibraltar. Given the inexperience of her crew, Marte didn't play any major role in the neutralization of the Republican warship. Later, in January 1939, while based at the Port of Palma, Marte participated in gunnery trials off Majorca and in blockade activities along the Catalan coast and the Gulf of Leon. In February, she relieved her sister Júpiter from her blockade duties off Catalonia, and on 21 February she attended a naval parade at Salou. On 7 March 1939, during the ill-fated landing on Cartagena, Marte loaded troops and cargo at Castellon before the operation was cancelled. Along with her sisters, she patrolled the Republican waters off Alicante in the waning days of the war. Marte took part in one of the last international maritime incidents of the war on 19 March 1939, when she prevented the British steamer Stanbrook from entering Alicante. The ship, chartered by the Republican government, went back to Oran, Algeria. The Stanbrook eventually reached the Spanish port on 27 March, after the Nationalist side displayed some indulgency toward the evacuation of refugees in return for the British recognition of Franco's legitimacy. Two days later, Stanbrook left Alicante bound for Oran, crowded with at least 2,000 people, one of the last ships to either enter or flee Republican Spain. Her Welsh skipper, Captain Archibald Dickson, later killed during the sinking of his ship in World War II, is today remembered as a hero in Alicante.

You can read more about Capt. Dickson and the Stanbrock too here on this blog:


Neptuno, the last of the batch, was not completed until November 1939, seven months after the war was over. 






Monday 8 July 2024

U-573 The Spanish U-boat (photos from Cartagena added 09/07/2024)

The Spanish U-boat

Submarine G-7 (formally U-573) docked at Barcelona

The U-573 was a Type VIIC U-boat. Her keel was laid down 8 June 1940 at the Blohm & Voss yard in Hamburg. She was launched on 17 April 1941 and commissioned 5 June with Captain Heinrich Heinsohn (12 February 1910 – 6 May 1943) in command. Heinsohn commanded her for her entire career in the Kriegsmarine. In May 1941 he had arranged that the city of  Landeck in Tyrol adopted the submarine within the then popular sponsorship programme (Patenschaftsprogramm), organising gifts and holidays for the crew, earning her the honorary name "U-573 Landeck".

Badge of the U-573 Landeck

U-573 had a displacement of 769 tonnes. She had a total length of 67.10 m, a beam of 6.20 m, a height of 9.60 m and a draught of 4.74 m. The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower for use while surfaced, two Brown, Boveri & Cie GG UB 720/8 electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres.

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots. When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles at 4 knots; when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles at 10 knots. U-573 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four in the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8cm SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and a 2cm C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a crew complement of between forty-four and sixty.

The boat began her service career as part of the 3rd U-boat Flotilla when she conducted training; on 1 September 1941 she commenced operations with that flotilla. She was transferred to the 29th Flotilla, also for operations, on 1 January 1942. She was sold to the Spanish Navy that same year and became the Spanish submarine G-7.

U-573 (renamed G-7) in Spanish service

Combat History during WW2

Her operational career began with her departure from Kiel on 15 September 1941. She entered the Atlantic via the North Sea and the gap between Iceland and the Faroe Islands. She almost reached the Labrador coast before heading for St. Nazaire in occupied France, docking on 15 November.

U-573's second patrol involved the boat slipping past the heavily defended Strait of Gibralter into the Mediterranean, where she sank the Norwegian Hellen (5,289 GRT) with two torpedoes on 21 December 1941 (the boats only kill during her service). She arrived at Pola in Croatia on 30 December.

Her third sortie was relatively uneventful, starting and finishing in Pola between 2 February and 6 March 1942.

During her fourth and final patrol, on 1 May 1942 at approximately 15.56 hrs, 40 miles north-west of Ténès, Algeria, a British Hudson bomber AM735 (RAF Sqdn 233/M, pilot: Sgt Brent) on patrol from Gibraltar dropped three 250lb depth charges on the boat. Two were seen to explode very close on the starboard side aft, lifting the stern out of the water as the boat dived. U-573 was then seen to resurface close to a large patch of oil with about ten men standing on the bridge and raising their hands in surrender. The pilot felt it was not justified to strafe the U-boat as the crew did not man the AA guns, but the assessment of Coastal Command was that he should have machine-gunned the crew because there were no surface vessels nearby to accept the surrender. The aircraft circled the area until it was low on fuel, returning to base at 16.20 hrs.

U-573 was left severely damaged, with one electric motor and both diesel engines out of order, both batteries damaged, leaks in the diving and ballast tanks on the starboard side and a large dent in the pressure hull at the stern. On receiving a distress call from U-573, the FdU ordered the nearby U-74 and U-375 to assist, and Italian submarines Emo and Mocenigo also joined the rescue operation. The Allies sent aircraft from Gibraltar and detached HMS Wishart and HMS Wrestler from a group of five destroyers on A/S patrol east of Gibraltar to intercept the crippled U-boat. The commander of U-573 at first thought he would have to scuttle the boat, but the engineers managed to restart one of the electric motors to move slowly northwards. The radio was also initially out of action, and U-573 was unable to report her position to rendezvous with her rescuers. On the morning of the 2nd May, SKL ordered her to proceed to Cartagena in neutral Spain, where U-573 arrived at 11.36 hrs. Allied forces searching for U-573 located and sank U-74 shortly afterwards.

International agreements allowed ships in neutral ports 24 hours to make emergency repairs before they were to be interned. The Spanish authorities granted U-573 a three-month period for repairs, which prompted several strong protests from the British Embassy in Madrid. On 19 May Heinsohn flew from Madrid to Stuttgart, then travelled on to Berlin, in order to discuss the situation with the Kriegsmarine. He returned by train via Hendaye (in southwest France) on 28 May. Realizing that even three months would not be enough to repair the boat, the Kriegsmarine sold the vessel to Spain for 1.5 million Reich Marks. On 2 August 1942, at 10 am, (one day before the three-month period was due to expire), the Spanish navy commissioned the boat as the G-7.

U-573's crew were interned in Cartagena and were gradually released in groups of two or three. The last five members of the crew left with Captain Heinsohn on 13 February 1943. He returned to Gotenhafen (now Gdynia, Poland). In March he was ordered to Brest, to take command of U-438, and died with all his crew on 6 May 1943.

Spanish Service

G-7 being repaired at Cartagena

Work started on the U-573, now the G-7, began in August 1943 following the sale to Spain but took four years to complete. The damage caused by the British attack was found to be more extensive than was first thought; also German technical assistance and parts were difficult to obtain in the last years of World War II and indeed after the war in Europe had ended! In addition, Spain's economy was weak following the Civil War. Finally repairs were completed in early 1947 and on 5 November 1947 G-7 was re-commissioned. The bow's net cutter and the 20mm anti-aircraft cannon were removed.

Despite the Type VII being out-dated by the end of World War II, G-7 was the most modern of Spain's submarine fleet; her other vessels (two ex-Italian, and four home-built boats) dating from the early 1930s. G-7 lacked radar and did not possess a snorkel.

G-7 here photographed after she was renamed S-01 in 1961

In 1958 Arca-Filmproduktion GmbH rented G-7 to take part in the semi-fictitious movie U-47 Kapitanleutnant Prien partially based on his patrol to Scapa Flow, where he sank HMS Royal Oak.

In 1961 the Spanish Navy's submarine force was re-numbered, and G-7 became S-01.

On 2 May 1970 she was de-commissioned after 23 years service. She was auctioned for 3,334,751 Pts (about 26,500 US Dollars), after which, despite efforts to save and preserve her as a museum, the submarine was broken up for scrap.

Submarine exhibition, Cartagena Naval Museum

Back in May we visited the excellent Spanish Naval Museum at Cartagena

One Spanish Submarine was covered in some detail, the famous Spanish U-boat - U573  

1/56 scale model showing internal detail

The Submarine`s badge note the two Spanish designations G-7 and S-01

The sub`s deck gun which used to be displayed out on the harbour front

Additional information

One other U-Boat was interned by the Spanish during WW2 - U-760.

On 8 September 1943, about 150 nautical miles off Cape FinisterreU-760 was sailing on the surface alongside U-262 when they were attacked by Allied aircraft. U-760 fled into Vigo harbour and surrendered to the Spanish cruiser Navarra. Under International neutrality agreements allowed ships to spend up to 24 hours in neutral harbours to make emergency repairs, but U-760 was unable to get underway in time. She was interned at Ferrol for the remainder of World War II. The submarine engine was dismantled and used to generate electric energy for the city of Vigo's tram network. On 23 July 1945, the boat was taken to the United Kingdom for Operation Deadlight and was scuttled on 13 December 1945.

Sunday 7 July 2024

South Wales Airshow 2024

 South Wales Airshow 2024

Well as some of you may be aware we had to return from Spain to run the guesthouse in Swansea again. We`re not quite sure how long we`ll have to do this, but no use moaning sometimes you just have to get on with things.

This weekend there has been the annual South Wales Airshow right across the road from our place over the fabulous Swansea Bay, with stalls and exhibits all along the seafront. 

As you can imagine for a guesthouse it has been a very busy weekend, but we did manage to get out and have look around and take a few snaps of the various flying displays.

First off literally right across the street from our guesthouse they set-up this Hurricane

Our place is the bright freshly painted (by me) red and white one - Beachcomber

Then they had a small collection of vintage militay transport 

This MWD was pretty cool

Further up the beach were stalls for the TA and various cadet units



Euro fighter Typhoon ground display

Flying high

Starlings Areobatic Display Team

Westland Wasp

Fairy Swordfish

Air-sea Rescue Seaking

A great shot with Mumbles lighthouse 


De Havilland Vanpire

Gazelle Squadron

Team Raven

Red Arrows

Shot from our front door on Sunday