U-529: A Brief History

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A screenshot photo of the U-529 at its moorings in the U-boat pens in the German navy (Kriegsmarine) base in Trondheim, Norway in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA).

U-529 sits at its moorings in the U-boat pens in Trondheim.

So far, I’ve been impressed with the attention to both historical and aesthetic detail in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. It makes the experience much more enjoyable when the player can tell that the designers expended a lot of effort on the game.

However, if I were to grade 2015 Inc.’s handling of U-529, they’d get a B. Sure, there were plenty of things about this mission that I liked, but there were a few details that I think could have been checked out a little better.

Of course, I have no way of knowing how much of the information available to me in 2010 was available to them before 2002. Nor am I a U-boat expert, so I turned to the best source on the Internet for everything U-boat: uboat.net.

This site, maintained and continually expanded by a team of researchers, says that U-529 was built by Deutsche Werft in Hamburg, Germany, between Nov. 26, 1941 and July 15, 1942, when it was first launched. It was commissioned on Sept. 30, 1942 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Georg-Werner Fraatz. On Feb. 1, 1943, it left Kiel, Germany, on its only war patrol. It was sunk with no survivors on Feb. 15, 1943 by a British B-24 Liberator.

A screenshot photo of the torpedo room in the bow of the U-529 after Lt. Powell has infiltrated it in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA).

The torpedo room in the bow of the U-529.

U-529 was a Type IXC/40 U-boat, one of 87 built during WWII. These boats were 252 feet long and meant for long patrols in the open ocean. IXC boats were given space for an additional 43 tonnes of fuel, which would allow them to patrol the eastern coast of the United States.

At the time of Allied Assault’s release, the U-529 was a good choice for the mission. Until 2009, when Dr. Axel Niestlé discovered otherwise, it was believed that the boat went missing on Feb. 12, 1943 – the same day Lt. Mike Powell scuttles the boat in the game. Here’s where I have to congratulate the game developers on finding a U-boat that went missing within the timeline of the game. Even though the U-529 does not seem to be connected to Trondheim, Norway – it sailed from Kiel and its 10th Flotilla was based in Lorient, France – the boat could have ended up at the Norway base for one reason or another. There were also no other U-boats with better ties to Trondheim that went missing between Powell’s action in Arzew and the next mission, D-Day.

While I’m impressed with the homework they did to choose a boat that plausibly fit the storyline, they missed a few details in the construction of the boat. The IXC series had six torpedo tubes: four in the bow and two in the stern. The U-529 has only five – four in the bow and one in the stern – though there is a panel in the bow that lists six tubes.

A screenshot photo of the radio room on the U-529 in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA).

The radio room on the U-529.

The IX series had two periscopes in the tower, something that the in-game U-529 has, but an additional periscope in the control room was removed for the IXC series and every subsequent series. The in-game U-529 still has a periscope in the control room.

Still, the interior of the U-529 was very detailed, down to labels on gauges, boxes and control panels. I spent about 30 minutes on what should be a one-to-two-minute mission, just exploring the boat’s interior and translating the German text (I’m a nerd, whatever). Even though the perfectionist inside me would have liked the U-529 to have been a spot-on depiction of a Type IXC/40 U-boat, I’m not going to complain too much about a missing torpedo tube and an extra periscope.


~ by John on December 27, 2010.

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