Kophamel attacked on the surface and the Italian crew put up a desperate fight with their stern gun as the little ship crammed on full speed and ran for it. But U-151's surface speed of 12 knots was more than adequate and, slowly, the
range closed until, after a three hour chase, the U-boat scored a hit on the steamer’s stern. Suddenly the entire situation changed. The ammunition began exploding in all directions and, in a trice, the Italian crew were taking to the boats
and rowing as hard as they could away from the steamer. With a healthy respect for the exploding ammunition Kophamel stood off some distance and leisurely finished off his victim with the deck guns. Suddenly the reason for the Italian
sailors’ hurried departure became evident. ‘A shell hit the steamer squarely amidships (and) I thought the end of the world had come,’ Kophamel recalled later. ‘Our eardrums almost burst. Where the steamer had been was now a vast
billowing cloud of smoke. The sky darkened and the air became thick and grey...the ship had been blown to atoms.’ It was only after the dust and fury had settled down that U-151's skipper learned from the steamer’s crew that she had been
carrying 1,000 tons of dynamite. As he confessed after the war, his decision to keep his distance ‘was one of the luckiest decisions I ever made.
” (The Killing Time by Edwyn A. Gray, Charles Scribner’s Sons 1972 at page 189.)

They reached the Azores safely and the giant U-boat changed course as she headed out into mid-ocean. For the crew the magic of tropical waters was a new experience. ‘Flying fish went darting over our bow. Spearfish rushed at our iron
sides, struck vainly against the metal, and then went diving away. At night...the sky was full of stars and a tropical moon beamed down. The sea was alight too. It was aglow with millions of tiny phosphorescent organisms. It seamed as
though we were travelling through an ocean of glistening molten metal The waves were silvery, and a silver mist sparkled over our bow.
U-151 on her 1918 American Cruise (The Killing Time by Edwyn A. Gray, Charles Scribner’s Sons 1972
at page 192)
In the planning that went into World War One the German Admiralstab made a serious mistake. They anticipated that the British would impose a blockade of Germany but wrongly assumed that it would be a close blockade within sight of German
shores, just as the British had done with France in the Napoleonic Wars. The German plan was to use attrition of the ships in the close blockade line through submarine action and sorties by surface ships to whittle down the strength of the British
Fleet before any major fleet action. In August and September of 1914, when no patrolling British ships were spotted close to Heligoland Bight or along the German coast, sorties were constantly launched to find the location of the blockade line.
These sorties were mostly by submarines. The British were afraid of using a close blockade for this very reason and chose to impose a distant blockade by choking the entrances to the North Sea with a blockade running from the Orkney Islands,
north of Scotland, to the Norwegian coast and the English Channel by a light force of cruisers and destroyers based at Harwich.

As the war progressed the blockade had significant effects. Raw material and especially food stuffs suffered greater and greater shortages. Germany was incapable of growing enough food to support her population. With feeding the military forces
receiving the greatest priority, the diet of the German civilians worsened significantly. There had to be a way to break the blockade. The management of the North German Lloyd Line thought that they had an answer. The solution was to build
extremely large merchant submarines. Two of these unarmed submarines were initially constructed with private funds.
Deutschland and Bremen. Flensburger Schiffbau was selected to build the Deutschland and on October 27, 1915 the submarine
was ordered. She was launched on March 28, 1916. She was 213-feet 3-inches (65m) in length overall, with an internal pressure hull 187-feet (57m) in length. Beam was 29-feet 2-inches (8.9m) and draught of 17-feet 5-inches (5.3m). Her standard
displacement was 1,512-tons surfaced and 1,875-tons submerged, with a deep load displacement of 2,272-tons. The machinery coupled to two propellers gave her a top speed of 12.4-knots surfaced and 5.2-knots submerged. She had a tremendous
range of 25,000nm (45,000 km) at 5.5-knots with a submerged range of 65nm (120 km). Her test depth was 160-feet (50m).

On June 23, 1916
Deutschland made her first voyage as a merchant cruiser. She departed Heligoland and headed to Baltimore, which was reached on July 9, 1916. Her 750 ton cargo for the US  was among other things, chemical dyes, medicine,
gemstones and diplomatic mail with a total worth of $1,500,000. Only 90 miles in the outbound 3,800 mile voyage were spent submerged. Her route took her north of Scotland. While in Baltimore the crew of the
Deutschland were treated as
celebrities, taken out to dinners had honored in organized volksfests. Simon Lake, the US submarine pioneer, visited the
Deutschland and entered an agreement with North German Lloyd officials to build merchant submarines for the firm in the
United States. She returned, departing for Bremerhaven on August 2, 1916 and arrived there on August 24. The cargo included, among other things, 341 tons of nickel, 93 tons of tin, 348 tons of rubber, with a total value of $17,500,000, more than
the cost of building the submarine.
Deutschland’s second voyage as a merchant cruiser was to New London, Connecticut. Her $10,000,000 cargo for the US included gemstones, medicine and securities. As she was leaving New London on
November 17, her tug boat escort
T.A. Scott, Jr. cut in front of the Deutschland.  The submarines was not very maneuverable and accidentally rammed the tug boat, which immediately sank with the loss of her five man crew. Deutschland
returned to New London for a week of repairs to her bow. When she left a second time on November 21, she carried cargo that included 6.5 tons of silver bullion. The second mercantile submarine was named the
Bremen. Also built by Flensburger
Sciffbau, the
Bremen left Bremerhaven in September bound for Norfolk, Virginia with among other cargo credits for Simon Lake to build merchant submarines in the US. Her fate is unknown as she disappeared during the voyage to unknown
U-53 reported on September 28 that she had intercepted a transmission from an unknown source that Bremen was sunk. On September 29 an oil stained life preserver marked Bremen was recovered at Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
The Deutschland’s days as a civilian merchant ship were numbered. The Admiralstab saw the benefit of the Deutschland’s tremendous range, not as a merchant ship but as a long range U-Boat raider. The Deutschland was acquired by the
government on February 19, 1917 and commissioned as
U-155. She was then converted to an armed U-Boat. She received six 20-inch (50cm) torpedo tubes with a load of 18 torpedoes and two 5.9-inch (150mm) L/40 deck guns with a total of
1,688 rounds. In addition to the
Deutschland and Bremen, there were six other merchant submarines under construction. The Imperial Navy acquired all of them and designated them the U-151 Class, U-151 through U-157. The Admiralstab was
going to use the U-Kreuzer Flotilla to hunt all the way to the United States and as far south as the Cape of Good Hope.

U-151, originally to be named Oldenburg as a merchant submarine, was renamed U-151. She was ordered on November 29, 1916 and built by Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte & Maschinenfabrik at Hamburg as Yard Number 303. She was launched
on April 4, 1917, commissioned on July 21 and became part of the U-Kreuzer Flotilla. Complement was six officers and fifty crewmen. In addition to the six 20-inch (50cm) torpedo tubes and two 5.9-inch (150mm) SK L/45 deck guns,
U-151 also
was equipped with two 3.5-inch (88mm) SK L/30 guns. It took time for the British and her allies to introduce the convoy system but when they finally did, the pickings for the U-Boats shrank significantly. In the Mediterranean Korvetten Kapitan
Waldemar Kophamel, who was the senior German naval officer at the Austrian port of Cattaro, was recalled to Germany in the summer of 1917 for a new command. He took command of
U-151 on July 21, 1917 and held command until December
26, 1917. On September 3 Kophamel took the
U-151 to sea bound for the Azores on a voyage that would be 12,000 miles in length. He traveled through the Baltic to go through the Kattegat and Skagerak, separating Denmark and Sweden. It was far
safer taking this route than to try to exit the North Sea. On September 19 the
U-151 claimed her first victim, the French ship Blanche of 3,104 tons.

U-151's next victim was the steamer Etna of 5,604 tons sunk on October 1. On October 2 U-151 collided with the Q-ship, HMS Begonia, Originally an Azalea Class minesweepin sloop of 1,250 tons, sailing as SS Dolcis and then Jessop, off
Casablanca causing the sinking of
Begonia with all hands. Other sinkings of notice on this patrol were; steamer Bygdones (2,849 tons) on October 4, Caprera steamer of 5,040 tons (the first paragraph of this article recounts her sinking) on
October 13,
Moyori Maru steamer of 3,746 tons, Gryfevale steamer of 4,437 tons on October 21, Acary steamer of 4,275 tons on November 2, Tijuca sailing ship of 2,543 tons on November 22.  On November 20, 1917 U-151 captured the
Norwegian steamship,
Johan Mjelde (2,049 tons), loaded with copper. After transferring 22 tons of copper to U-151, the Johan Mjelde was scuttled on November 26. Her last sizable victim was the Brazilian steamer Claudio of 2,588 tons on
December 4, 1917.
U-151 also sank another six smaller merchantmen during this cruise.
U-151 received a new commander on December 27, 1917. He was Korvetten Kapitan von Nositz und Jackendorff. The Admiralstab was very satisfied with the results of the U-Kreuzers in their initial cruises. In the spring they decided to unleash the
U-Kreuzers on an unsuspecting United States. On April 14, 1918 the
U-151 set off from Kiel. In addition to her normal armament the U-151 was carrying a load of mines to be deployed off the coast of Baltimore and the entrance to the Delaware
Bay. This was the primary mission and von Nositz was under orders not to engage enemy ships until after the mines were laid. However, U-boat captains are not known for being timid and von Nositz couldn’t resist attacking the steamer
Port Said
on the
U-151's way to the Azores. He missed and the Port Said’s radio started frantically filling the radio waves of the presence of an U-boat. “Violating official instructions is sometimes glorious when you score a brilliant victory,’ one of the
officers admitted later, ‘but not when all you achieve is failure.
” (The Killing Time by Edwyn A. Gray, Charles Scribner’s Sons 1972 at page 192) On May 13 von Nositz did it again. He sighted the steamer India Huntress and fired a torpedo,
which missed. As with the
Port Said earlier, the India Huntress filled the airwaves with screams about the U-boat. With two failures von Nositz decided to play it safe and avoided contact until his primary mission was completed.

On May 21 Cape Hatteras was sighted and the crew started making preparations for laying the mines thy were carrying. She approached Baltimore submerged but surfaced at night to lay mines off Baltimore. The city and local community had all of
their lights blazing so it was easy to get a fix on their location. Suddenly an USN armored cruiser was spotted with all of her lights shining out of the darkness. The cruiser did not spot the
U-151. The U-boat crew couldn’t believe the lax attitude
displayed by the armored cruiser and the city. After laying mines off Baltimore, the
U-151 turned north on her way to Delaware Bay. She ran across three sailing ships that were taken. The crew of U-151 stripped the ships of anything useful, took
their crews on board the
U-151 and sank the vessels with explosive charges. The submarine’s crew was overjoyed to have fresh food to eat, after a month of subsisting on canned fare. New York City was reached on May 28. The first thing done
by the crew was to cut two communication cables, one to Europe and the other to South America.
U-151 then turned south to go back to the Delaware Bay to lay the rest of her mines. She carried this out submerged and after all of the mines were
laid, she surfaced into a thick fog.
U-151 was surrounded by the moans of numerous fog horns coming from every direction. Von Nositz turned on the submarine’s high pitched siren and the surrounding merchant ships quickly made way for an
obvious USN warship, allowing the
U-151 to speedily clear Delaware Bay and reach the open sea.
Now the U-151 was free to go on the hunt. On June 2 she sank the sailing ship Isabel B. Wiley and the steamer Winneconne. She unloaded her prisoners into motorized boats from the steamer, so they could reach the shore, which was close. Later
that day she sank two more schooners and the steamer
Texel loaded with Puerto Rican sugar bound for New York. To cap off the day U-151 stopped the passenger ship Carolina was stopped. The passengers and crew took to the life boats before
the ship was sunk by gun fire. In twelve hours
U-151 had sunk six ships, totalling 14,518 tons without any deaths or injuries. The mines left by the submarine started claiming victims, causing a panic on shore. Wild reports claimed U-boat sightings
everywhere up and down the coast. Merchant ships were recalled to harbor, insurance rates soared through the ceiling, and USN warships furiously scoured the coastal sea looking for the German pirates. However,
U-151 was 90 miles out at sea
and the crew could only laugh at the panicked reports they intercepted.
U-151 continued south on her American Tour, taking ships as she went. She encountered an old sailing ship manned by poor white and black crewmen from Mississippi. The
ship’s captain told von Nositz that the ship was owned by poverty stricken families that depended on this expedition to Greenland for whaling. Von Nositz let them go on their way. When the Norwegian steamer
Vindeggen was stopped it was
discovered that she was carrying 2,000 tons of copper, desperately needed by Germany. One of the crew had his wife and baby girl aboard the steamer and the sea was to rough to send them over to the submarine. Von Nositz gave the steamer’s
captain a course to steer to an empty space in the Atlantic. The
U-151 trailed behind the Vindggen. After 150 miles the ship stopped and for the next two days copper was transferred to the U-151, some of which replaced iron ballast in the
submarine. The wife and baby were moved to
U-151 and the rest of the crew took to life boats, which were towed by the submarine, while the Vindeggen was sunk. That evening the U-151 stopped and sank the steamer Heinrich Lund.  Her life
boats were added to the string being towed. When an allied patrol boat was sighted, the life boats were cast off and all of the crewmen, as well as the wife and baby were picked up by the patrol boat, while
U-151 sped off.
So far the submarine had sunk 14 ships but von Nositz decided it was time to return to Germany. A couple of days after turning east the U-151 encountered the schooner Samoa and sailing ship Kringsia, which were dispatched. On June 18 the
Dvinsk was sighted. Von Nositz saw that the Dvinsk was armed and sank her with a torpedo without giving a warning. The crew took to the life boats but they were 400 miles from the nearest land. Only two of the life boats were recovered
and the British government later branded von Nositz a war crimial because of this. After this the
U-151 came across the former German passenger liner Kronprinz Wilhelm. After the torpedo fired by U-151 missed the liner, the Kronprinz Wilhelm
turned towards
U-151 to ram. Von Nositz submerged and as the liner passed she started dropping depth charges. Apparently von Nositz did not realize that the liner had been converted into an armed auxiliary cruiser and renamed USS Von Steuben.
U-151 went deep but suddenly she was out of control and going down. Although the boat had a maximum test depth of 150 feet, the U-151 was soon at 180-feet and still sinking. When the submarine reached 273-feet von Nositz ordered all of the
tanks to be blown. The
U-151 started rising faster and faster. She porpoised on the service and the crew scrambled out to man their deck guns to fight the expected confrontation with the Kronprinz Wilhelm. However, the auxiliary cruiser had already
cleared the area. As she closed the British Isles
U-151 was on the surface in a fog. Suddenly the RMS Mauretania was sighted but von Nositz declined to attack the liner. U-151 reached Kiel on July 20, 1918, having traveled 10,915 miles on her
American Tour. In all 23 ships totaling 61,000 tons were sunk with another four ships sunk by the mines laid by the submarine.

One of the officers of the
U-151 on the American Tour was Frederick Korner. He proved to be a prophet when he stated at the end of the cruise, “To those who can see into the future surely this is a warning what later wars may bring. For the day
will come when submarines will think no more of a voyage across the Atlantic than they do now of a raid across the North Sea...America’s isolation is now a thing of the past.
” (The Killing Time by Edwyn A. Gray, Charles Scribner’s Sons
1972, at page 196) The US didn’t learn from the depredations of the
U-151 because a quarter of a century later in the spring of 1942, the U-boats of the Second World War encountered the same blazing city lights and lax discipline off the American
east coast in what the German crews called “The Happy Time”. During the war
U-151 made four war patrols, sinking 34 ships for a total tonnage of 88,395 tons and damaging a further 7 ships of a total of 14,292 tons. With the end of the war U-151
put in at Brest, France. She was expended as a target for the French Navy on June 7, 1921. Bulk of history from:
The Killing Time by Edwyn A. Gray, Charles Scribner’s Sons 1972.
The Combrig 1:700 Scale U-Kreuzer U-151 - Combrig has a knack of picking obscure subjects for their kits. Who would have thought that we would see a World War One German submarine? Combrig has at least three, the Deutschland as civilian
merchant cruiser, the
U-155, which was the renamed Deutschland after conversion into a U-Kreuzer and U-151 the name boat of the class. I’ll call this kit a full hull model, as the kit comes with the upper hull for those that prefer that format and a
separate lower hull for those that like that format. In the
U-151 a full hull build is well worth consideration, as the lower hull has very unusual lines. This small model is multimedia with fine resin parts and a full brass photo-etch fret. The upper hull has
its share of pleasing lines and packed detail. First of all it has a narrow flat centerline deck and then a short drop the the wide hull bulges. Hull side detail is more significant than what you would normally find on a submarine model. There are a couple of
short horizontal strakes, one at the bow and one at the stern. The bow has a slight sheer and recessed anchor positions on the starboard. The stern has a cutaway appearance. Amidships the center portion of the deck has splinter shielding and sponsons
for the 88mm gun positions. Locater holes are present for anchor guards at the bow and propeller guards at the stern. Deck detail is extensive. The most spectacular is the decking circling the centerline 5.9-inch guns. Other deck detail includes the
88mm gun deck plates, antenna plates, ammunition lockers, small twin bollard fittings, what appears as ventilation hatches on each side of the sail, unidentified fittings at the bow and stern and locater holes for antennas, forward anchor windlass and aft
flag staff. The resin casting quality is good with only a little clean up along the waterline required.

The lower hull half has very unique lines, There are bulges every where. The centerline bulge extends 60% the length of the hull and sharply extends downward from the side bulges. On either side are two strakes with three air tank slots in between the
strakes. These slots even have interior detail. The stern has concentrated detail with a top plate at the rudder positions, crenelated rudder attachment points, propeller shaft skegs and locater circles for the aft dive planes. These locater circles are also
found at the bow for the forward dive planes. Smaller resin parts are found on two runners. One runner contains the sail, two 5.9-inch guns and a bottom up ship’s boat, which attaches on the aft deck. The sail and the guns have very fine details. The
other runner has the two 88mm guns, anchor, rudder, dive plane posts, and propeller shafts and hubs. The medium size brass photo-etch fret concentrates mainly on deck railing, which are more safety lines than railing. There are six runs of safety lines
designed to attach at specific points on the deck. They have open end stanchions, which in the case of the
U-151 is certainly appropriate over railing with a bottom bar. Additionally two more runs of safety railing fit on the raised splinter shielding on
either side of the sail. Other brass parts included are bulkhead tops at the 88mm gun positions, sail shelf bar, dive planes, propellers, flag staff, periscopes, propeller guards, anchor guard, and sail navigational/observation fittings. There is no relief-etched
brass parts. The tall antennas and main periscope have to be cut from plastic rod with the antennas and periscope tapered. The instructions are simple, consisting of two back printed sheets. They are disappointing in spite of the low parts count. Page
one has a plan and profile with brass fret laydown. Page two has the lower hull assembly, resin runner laydown and plastic rod template. It is disappointing that
Combrig did not number the resin parts in their laydown. Page three is the upper hull
assembly and page four has a drawing of the finished model.
The very large U-Kreuzer of World War One with their tremendous range, were the harbingers of the far ranging submarine operations of World War Two. With the Combrig 1:700 scale U-151 U-Kreuzer, you can have your own Happy Time off
New York City and Baltimore on the submarine’s America Tour of 1918.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama