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The Monkey God

Japanese gold en route to Nazi Germany

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Hi Guys,

I have more than a passing interest in WW2 Axis submarines. I`ve read the threads on here about Nazi gold, Stalins silver, Uboats, HMS Edinburgh etc,etc.

So I thought you might be interested in the story of the I-52 an IJN submarine sunk en route to France from Japan with 2.2 tonnes of gold on board, in order to pay Nazi German. I suppose along the sames lines as the U180, except the I-52 never made it....



& Lets no forget the fabled U977 & U534, both believed to have carried gold, but as far as I`m aware never did.

Does anyone else know of any submarines that carried gold during the war?

The Monkey God.cheers.gif

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Those sound like interesting tales. The Wiki sites that you provided do not provide much information on these patrols. There is nothing under the Japanese sub link, at all.

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Japanese submarine I-52 (1943)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search 300px-I-52.jpg

C3 type submarine I-52Career (Japan)45px-Naval_Ensign_of_Japan.svg.pngName:I-52, code-named Momi (樅, Japanese for "evergreen" or "fir tree")Laid down:18 March 1942Commissioned:28 December 1943Struck:10 December 1944Fate:Sunk on 24 June 1944General characteristicsClass and type:Type C-3 cargo submarineDisplacement:2,095 metric tons standard, 2,564 t surface, 3,644 t submergedLength:108.5 m (356 ft)Beam:9.3 m (31 ft)Draught:5.12 m (17 ft)Propulsion:2-shaft diesel and electric motor, 4,700 bhp (3,500 kW) surface, 1,200 shp (890 kW) submergedSpeed:17.7 knots (33 km/h) surface, 6.5 knots (12 km/h) submergedRange:21,000 nautical miles (39,000 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h)Test depth:100 m (328 ft)Complement:94 officers and men, 18 civiliansArmament:6 x 53 cm torpedo tubes, 2 x 14 cm/40 cal. gun, 2 x 25 mm anti-aircraft gunsNotes:Cargo: 300 metric tonsI-52, code-named Momi (樅, Japanese for "evergreen" or "fir tree") was a Type C-3 cargo submarine of the Imperial Japanese Navy used during World War II for a secret mission to Lorient, France, then occupied by Germany, during which she was sunk.



  • <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-1">
1 Valuable cargo <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-2">2 Type C-3 submarines <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-3">3 Yanagi missions <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-4">4 Fatal voyage <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-5">5 US Task Force <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-6">6 Aftermath <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-7">7 Recent salvage operations <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-8">8 Media coverage <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-9">9 References <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-10">10 Additional reading11 External links


[edit] Valuable cargo

She is also known as Japan's "Golden Submarine", because she was carrying a cargo of gold to Germany as payment for war matériel and technology. There has been speculation that a peace proposal to the allies was contained onboard the I-52 as well, but this is highly unlikely on two counts: there is no evidence of the Japanese government being interested in peace proposals or negotiated settlements at this early stage in the war, prior to the summer of 1945, and the Japanese kept an open dialogue with their diplomatic attachés via radio and diplomatic voucher through Russia, and had no need for long and uncertain transfer via submarine.

Also interesting is that 800 kg of uranium oxide awaited I-52 for her return voyage at Lorient according to Ultra decrypts. It has been speculated that this was for the Japanese to develop a radiological weapon (a so-called "dirty bomb") for use against the United States (the amount of unenriched uranium oxide would not have been enough to create an atomic bomb, though if used in a nuclear reactor it could have created poisonous fission products).[1]

She was also to be fitted with a snorkel device at Lorient.

[edit] Type C-3 submarines

This class of submarines was designed and built by Mitsubishi Corporation, between 1943 and 1944, as cargo carriers. They were quite long and carried a crew of up to 94. They also had a long cruising range at a speed of 12 knots (22 km/h). The Japanese constructed only three of these submarines during World War II (I-52, I-53 and I-55), although twenty were planned [1]. They were the largest submarines ever built at that time, and were known as the most advanced Japanese submarines of their time.

The keel of I-52 was laid on 18 March 1942, and she was commissioned on 28 December 1943 into the 11th submarine squadron. After training in Japan she was selected for a Yanagi (exchange) mission to Germany.

[edit] Yanagi missions

These were missions enabled under the Axis Powers' Tripartite Pact to provide for an exchange of strategic materials and manufactured goods between Germany, Italy and Japan. Initially, cargo ships made the exchanges, but when that was no longer possible submarines were used.

Only five other submarines had attempted this trans-continental voyage during World War II: I-30 (April 1942), I-8 (June 1943), I-34 (October 1943), I-29 (November 1943), and German submarine U-511 (August 1943). Of these, I-30 was sunk by a mine, I-34 by the British submarine Taurus, and I-29 by the United States submarine Sawfish (assisted by Ultra intelligence).

[edit] Fatal voyage

On 10 March 1944, on her maiden voyage, I-52 (Commander Uno Kameo) departed Kure via Sasebo for Singapore. Her cargo from Japan included 9.8 tons of molybdenum, 11 tons of tungsten, 2.2 tons of gold in 146 bars packed in 49 metal boxes, 3 tons of opium and 54 kg of caffeine [2]. The gold was payment for German optical technology. She also carried 14 passengers, primarily Japanese technicians, who were to study German technology in anti-aircraft guns, and engines for torpedo boats.

In Singapore she picked up a further 120 tons of tin in ingots, 59.8 tons of caoutchouc (raw rubber) in bales and 3.3 tons of quinine, and headed through the Indian Ocean, to the Atlantic Ocean.

On 6 June 1944, the Japanese naval attaché in Berlin, Rear Admiral Kojima Hideo, signaled the submarine that the Allies had landed in Normandy, thus threatening her eventual destination of Lorient on the coast of France. She was advised to prepare for Norway instead. She was also instructed to rendezvous with a German submarine on 22 June 1944 at 21:15 (GMT) at the co-ordinates 18px-Erioll_world.svg.png15°N 40°W / 15°N 40°W / 15; -40. I-52 responded with her position, being 18px-Erioll_world.svg.png35°N 23°W / 35°N 23°W / 35; -23. The message was intercepted and decoded by US intelligence; I-52 had been closely watched all the way from Singapore. Guided by the F-21 Submarine Tracking Room and F-211 "Secret Room" of the Tenth Fleet which was in charge of the Atlantic section, a hunter-killer task force was targeted towards her [3].

On the night of 22 June 1944 about 850 nautical miles (1,574 km) west of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa, I-52 rendezvoused with U-530, a Type IXC/40 U-boat commanded by Kapitänleutnant Kurt Lange.[2] U-530 provided her with fuel, and also transferred a Naxos FuMB 7 radar detector, and an Enigma coding machine, along with two radar operators, Petty Officers Schulze and Behrendt, and German liaison officer for the trip through the Bay of Biscay.

[edit] US Task Force

A US task force assembled as a submarine hunter-killer group, consisting of the escort carrier USS Bogue and five destroyers, en route to the United States from Europe, was ordered to find and destroy the Japanese submarine. This task force departed from Casablanca on 15 June 1944, and was commanded by Captain Aurelius B. Vosseller. It also had 9 FM-2 Wildcats and 12 TBF-1C Avenger of VC-69 on board. The task force, on its way from Hampton Roads to Casablanca, had sunk another Japanese submarine, the Type IX RO-501 (formerly U-1224) on 13 May 1944. This was a very effective force, sinking 13 German and Japanese submarines between February 1943 and July 1945.

The five destroyers were:

Arriving in the area of the meeting, the carrier began launching flights of Avengers at around 23:00 GMT to search for the submarines. U-530 escaped undetected.

At approximately 23:40 on 23 June, Ed Whitlock, the radar operator in Lieutenant Commander Jesse D. Taylor's Avenger, detected a surface contact on his malfunctioning radar (only the right half of its sweep was working). Taylor immediately dropped flares, illuminating the area, and attacked. After his first pass, he saw the depth charge explosions just to starboard of the submarine — a near miss — and the submarine diving. Taylor dropped a purple sonobuoy, a newly-developed device that floated, picked up underwater noise, and transmitted it back. A searching aircraft usually dropped these in packs of five, named purple, orange, blue, red and yellow (POBRY); the operator was able to monitor each buoy in turn to listen for sounds emitted by its target.

Taylor then began a torpedo attack, dropping a Mark 24 "mine" torpedo. That term was used for what was code-named "Fido": the first Allied acoustic torpedo, developed by the Harvard Underwater Sound Lab, which homed in on the sounds of the submarine. Fido was designed to be a "mission kill" weapon — it would damage the submarine so badly it would have to surface, rather than destroying it completely. Within minutes, the sonobuoys transmitted the sounds of an explosion and mechanical break-up noises.

As Commander Taylor's watch ended, the operators on Bogue and Taylor all thought he had sunk the sub. However, as Taylor's patrol ended, he was relieved by Lieutenant (junior grade) William "Flash" Gordon, accompanied by civilian underwater sound expert Price Fish. They arrived on the scene just after midnight, and circled with Taylor for some time. At about 01:00 on 24 June 1944, Fish reported hearing some faint propeller noise in the area.

Captain Vosseller ordered a second attack; Gordon checked with Taylor about the exact position of the sonobuoy, and dropped another "Fido" torpedo where he believed the submarine to be. Taylor departed from the area at 01:15, but Gordon stayed to circle the area and listen for any sign of activity. He heard nothing, and was relieved by Lieutenant (junior grade) Brady, who continued to watch and listen, but no further activity was reported. Next morning, Janssen reached the site (18px-Erioll_world.svg.png15°16′N 39°55′W / 15.267°N 39.917°W / 15.267; -39.917) and found flotsam: a ton of raw rubber, a piece of silk, and even human flesh.

The sonobuoy recording of the last few moments of I-52's sound still survives in the US National Archives in Washington D.C. in the form of two thin film canisters marked "Gordon wire No. 1" and "Gordon wire No. 2" dated 24 June 1944. The wire from Taylor's attack has not been found; however, a set of 78 rpm vinyl recordings that include segments of Taylor's wire recordings has been located. These records were produced during the war for training pilots. On the wire and vinyl recordings Lieutenant Gordon can be heard talking to his crew, along with the sound of a torpedo exploding, and metal twisting. [4] Subsequent to the discovery of the wreck (see below), analysts at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, experts in analyzing modern submarine sounds, studied these recordings and concluded that the I-52 was sunk by Taylor. The propeller sounds heard by Gordon were actually from the U-Boat, nearly 20 miles (32 km) away, reaching Gordon's sonobuoys through a "surface duct". This quirk of underwater sound propagation traps sounds in a channel near the surface and can transmit them for many miles. At the time, the Navy credited the sinking of the I-52 to both Gordon and Taylor, as it was uncertain whether the ship was sunk on the first attack.

[edit] Aftermath

  • On 30 August 1944, the Kriegsmarine officially declared I-52 sunk in the Bay of Biscay as of 25 July 1944, with all crew.
  • The Imperial Japanese Navy declared I-52 missing on 2 August 1944, and struck her from service on 10 December 1944 as sunk.

[edit] Recent salvage operations

In late 1994, a salvage operation named Project Orca was launched to try and locate the I-52 and retrieve her valuable cargo of gold. Despite the commissioning of the Russian research ship Akademik Keldysh for the project, and an extensive search, by March 1995 the search had proved to be a failure (Hamilton-Paterson 1998). Very shortly afterwards, however, in the spring of 1995 Paul Tidwell, working with the ocean exploration company Meridian Sciences, Inc. (later renamed Nauticos Corp.) located the wreck 5,240 meters deep, mostly upright. The vessel was found nearly 20 miles (32 km) from the datum quoted by the U.S. Navy at the time of the sinking, but within 1/2 mile of the coordinates computed by Meridian. Meridian's analysts used historical ship logs from the U.S. task force as well as from the German U-Boat to reconstruct the events of the battle, and correct navigation errors using a process called "re-navigation," or RENAV. Her conning tower is intact and her hull number is still visible. The bow is broken up, probably due to impact on the bottom, and a large hole, undoubtedly caused by one of the torpedoes, is aft of the conning tower. Debris was scattered over a large area. Plans were made to raise the sub and recover the gold. The Japanese government objected, indicating that they considered the wreck site a grave. Tidwell worked on the proper procedures with the Japanese government and received the approval of the war graves authorities in Japan. Tidwell's team took down a Japanese naval ensign and affixed it to the wrecked submarine. A metal box from the debris field was brought to the surface in the hope that it would contain some of the sunken gold (then worth US$25 million), but when opened, the salvagers were disappointed to find not gold, but opium. It was dumped overboard.

The plan was to recover the entire conning tower, diplomatic pouches, gold, coding equipment, (Japanese and German) and more. The recovered items would be taken to New Orleans for cleaning, conservation, and corrosion treatment to prepare for an exhibition. Mandalay Bay Casino had offered $20 million for the exhibition. After three years in Las Vegas everything except the gold would be returned to Japan to be placed at the city of Kure in a permanent exhibition. [5] There are no full-size Japanese WWII submarines on display anywhere in the world; however, captured Japanese midget submarines are on display at the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, at the USS Bowfin Museum Submarine Museum and Park, close to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

The Japan Times, in an article dated 19 April 2005, reported that Tidwell intended to return to the site and raise the submarine in November 2005 or May 2006. However, as of 2008, Tidwell's plans have not been fulfilled.

[edit] Media coverage

  • In 2000 the National Geographic Society commissioned and produced a documentary called, Submarine I-52: Search for WWII Gold, on the I-52 and Tidwell's salvage effort.
  • The October 1999 issue of the National Geographic featured an article on the I-52 sinking and salvage.
  • Short video clip of the I-52 from the National Geographic Special. Mid way down the page - http://www.floridafilmvideo.com/

[edit] References

  1. <LI id=cite_note-0>
^ Billings, Battleground Atlantic. ^ "When treasure and technology meet, who gets the gold?". Associated Press. November 29, 1998. http://www.post-gazette.com/healthscience/19981129wrecks2.asp. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  • Boyd, Carl. U.S. Navy Radio Intelligence During the Second World War and the Sinking of the Japanese Submarine I-52, Journal of Military History 63 (2): 339-354, April 1999.
  • Hamilton-Paterson, James. (1998) Three Miles (5 km) Down: A Hunt for Sunken Treasure, New York: Lyons Press.
  • Listen to the training records [6]
  • Listen to the wire recording from the aircraft [7]

[edit] Additional reading

  • Billings, Richard N. Battleground Atlantic: How The Sinking of a Single Japanese Submarine Assured the Outcome of World War II, NAL Hardcover, 2006, 311pp, ISBN 0451217667

[edit] External links

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German submarine U-180

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search Career59px-War_Ensign_of_Germany_1938-1945.svgName:U-180Ordered:28 May 1940Builder:AG Weser, BremenYard number:1020Laid down:25 February 1941Launched:10 December 1941Commissioned:16 May 1942Fate:Sank, 23 August 1944General characteristicsType:Type IXD1 submarineDisplacement:1,610 t (1,580 long tons) surfaced

1,799 t (1,771 long tons) submergedLength:87.6 m (287 ft 5 in) overall

68.5 m (224 ft 9 in) pressure hullBeam:7.5 m (24 ft 7 in) overall

4.4 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hullHeight:10.2 m (33 ft 6 in)Draft:5.4 m (17 ft 9 in)Propulsion:2 × MAN M9V40/46 supercharged 9-cylinder diesel engines, 4,400 hp (3,281 kW)

2 × SSW GU345/34 double-acting electric motors, 1,000 hp (746 kW)Speed:20.8 knots (38.5 km/h) surfaced

6.9 knots (12.8 km/h) submergedRange:12,750 nmi (23,610 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced

213 nmi (394 km) at 4 kn (7.4 km/h) submergedTest depth:230 m (750 ft)Complement:55 to 63Armament:Anti-aircraft gunsService record[1]Part of:4th U-boat Flotilla

(16 May 1942–31 January 1943)

12th U-boat Flotilla

(1 February–1 November 1943, and 1 April–23 August 1944)Commanders:Fregkpt. Werner Musenberg

(16 May 1942–4 January 1944)

Oblt. Harald Lange

(October–7 November 1943)

Oblt. Rolf Riesen

(2 April–23 August 1944)Operations:1st patrol: 9 February–3 July 1943

2nd patrol: 20–23 August 1944Victories:2 commercial ships sunk (13,298 GRT)German submarine U-180 was a Type IXD1 transport U-boat of the German Kriegsmarine which served in World War II. Her keel was laid down on 25 February 1941 at AG Weser yard in Bremen, and was launched on 10 December 1941. Stripped of torpedo armament the Type IXD1's were designated as transport submarines, and could carry up to 252 tonnes of freight.[2] U-180 was used primarily in clandestine operations.



  • <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-1" sizcache="0" sizset="1">
1 Service history

[edit] Service history

[edit] 1st patrol

U-180, under the command of Fregattenkapitän Werner Musenberg, sailed from Kiel on 9 February 1943 , with the leader of the Indian National Army Subhas Chandra Bose and his aide Abid Hasan aboard.

On 18 April U-180 sank the British 8,132 ton tanker Corbis about 500 miles east-southeast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.[3] Three days later, on 21 April, U-180 made her rendezvous with the Japanese submarine I-29, just east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, and exchanged the two Indians for two Japanese Navy officers who were to study U-boat building techniques, and two tonnes of gold ingots as payment from Japan for weapons technology.

On the return voyage, on 3 June 1943, U-180 sank the Greek freighter Boris west of Ascension Island.[4]

During this voyage, U-180 was supplied by the U-462 on the way to the exchange. She was supposed to be refueled by the U-463 on the way back, but U-463 was sunk by the British on 16 May 1943. On 19 June, she was refueled by the U-530.

[edit] 2nd patrol and loss

Under the command of Oberleutnant Rolf Riesen, U-180 sailed from Bordeaux on 20 August 1944 bound for Japan. She was reported sunk off the Bay of Biscay on 23 August 1944, with the loss of all of her 56 crew. The official verdict is "sunk by a mine", however some experts speculate that schnorkel trouble may have been the cause.

[edit] Media

[edit] References

  1. <LI id=cite_note-0>
^ "The Type IXD1 boat U-180 - German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. http://www.uboat.net/boats/u180.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-04. <LI id=cite_note-1>^ "German Transport Boats to the Far East". www.uboataces.com. http://www.uboataces.com/articles-fareast-boats5.shtml. Retrieved 2009-12-04. <LI id=cite_note-2>^ "Corbis (Motor tanker) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/2872.html. Retrieved 2009-12-04. ^ "Boris (Steam merchant) - Ships hit by U-boats - uboat.net". www.uboat.net. http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/2945.html. Retrieved 2009-12-04.

[edit] External links

[hide] v d eGerman Type IXD submarineType IXD1U-180 · U-195

Type IXD2U-177 · U-178 · U-179 · U-181 · U-182 · U-196 · U-197 · U-198 · U-199 · U-200 · U-847 · U-848 · U-849 · U-850 · U-851 · U-852 · U-859 · U-860 · U-861 · U-862 · U-863 · U-864 · U-871 · U-872 · U-873 · U-874 · U-875 · U-876

IXD/42U-883 · U-884

Preceded by: Type IXC · Followed by: Type X

List of German U-boatsCoordinates: 18px-Erioll_world.svg.png44°00′00″N 2°00′00″W / 44.000°N 2.000°W / 44.000; -2.000

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-180"Categories: Type IX U-boats | U-boats commissioned in 1942 | U-boats sunk in 1944 | World War II submarines of Germany | Shipwrecks of the Biscay coast | World War II shipwrecks in the Atlantic Ocean | Subhas Chandra Bose | 1941 ships | Ships damaged by naval minesHidden categories: Ship infoboxes without an image

  • <LI class="toclevel-2 tocsection-2">
1.1 1st patrol1.2 2nd patrol and loss<LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-4">2 Media <LI class="toclevel-1 tocsection-5">3 References 4 External links


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Thank you for posting (and crediting to the source) of this great information. Where did it come from, originally? This is really great stuff.

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Thank you for posting (and crediting to the source) of this great information. Where did it come from, originally? This is really great stuff.

Glad to hear thats okey.cheers.gif

I came across I-52 whilst researching the U862, which has two crewman buried in a local cemetery. I was side tracked slightly as one sometimes is whilst researching.unsure.gif !!

I`d never heard of it before, so was most interested to learn its tale. I assume the gold must have been part of the `Golden Lily` horde?

Edited by The Monkey God

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What an interesting thread :beer: !!!! One can only assume that this also ended up in Switzerland?

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I`ve also learnt that the I-29 also carried gold bullion to France (Nazi Germany) from Japan.

In April 1943, I-29 was tasked with a Yanagi mission. She was commanded by Captain Masao Teraoka, submarine flotilla commander — indicating the importance of the trip. She left Penang with a cargo that included two tons of gold.


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Several of these Gold shipments were mentioned in ULTRA decrypts of signals from the Japanese Embassy in Berlin and were sent to fund the Embassy and it's large retinue of advisors or staff. Also to fund purchases of manufacturing rights to Nazi technology.

Some of the Gold appears to have been aboard I-30 referred to as MOMI-1 in ULTRA traffic. That wreck was quietly salvaged some years ago north of Sumatra.

Of equal interest was that before France fell, French warships evacuated 1,200 tons of Gold bullion to Dakar and from there to Saigon where it was buried outside the city. When French Indochina (Vietnam) was invaded by Japan they recovered that Gold and sequestered it in hiding places across the Philippines. With help of the Japanese royal family after the war, the CIA recovered most of the hidden gold and shared it 50:50 with the Japanese royal family. The CIA used it's share to create a fund for black ops which was beyond the scruitiny of Capitol Hill.

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