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  I-52 Japanese Submarine 伊52
Type C-3
Cargo Submarine

2,564 Tons (surfaced)
3,644 Tons (submerged)
356' x 31' x 17'
6 x torpedo tubes
2 x 140mm naval guns
(one removed Feb 1944)
2 x 25mm AA guns
Cargo: 300 metric tons

Ship History
Built at Kure Navy Yard in Kure. Laid down March 18, 1942. Renumbered I-52 and provisionally attached to Kure Naval District on August 20, 1942. Launched November 10, 1942. Commissioned December 28, 1943. Assigned to SubRon 11, Sixth Fleet with Commander Kameo Uno as captain.

Wartime History
On January 6, 1944 I-52 refuels at Tokuyama in the 3rd Fuel Depot. On January 24, 1944 Admiral Koga Mineichi issues Special Naval Order (Taikai-rei) No. 322 announcing I-52 will depart via the Inland Sea to Europe in early March 1944. During February 1944, the stern deck gun was removed and replaced with a pair of 25mm anti-aircraft gun. Also, a Type 22 air-search radar is installed forward of the conning tower.


Sinking History
On June 23, 1944 roughly 870 miles off Cape Verde Islands approximately Lat 15N, Long 40W and around 9:15pm rendezvous with U-530 and I-52 embarks a German officer KpLt. (Cdr) Alfred Schäfer, two German radio operators, OFkMt. Kurt Schultze and Rolf Behrendt with German naval code and a FuMB 7 "Naxos" radar detector. During the transfer, the radar detector falls into the sea but is retrieved by a Japanese sailor. Afterwards, U-530 departs for Trinidad and I-52 departs for Lorient running on the surface.

At 11:39, a TBF Avenger piloted by LtCdr Jesse D. Taylor from VC-69 aboard USS Bogue spots I-52 on radar at roughly Lat 15-16N, Long 39-55W and drops flares then two Mark 54 depth charges. The submarine dives and evades that attack. Afterwards, the Avenger drops sonar buoys and tracks the submarine before releasing a Mark 24 "Fido" acoustic homing torpedo. At 11:50 the Avenger hears a large explosion.

Sinking History
On June 24, 1944 at 12:54am another TBF Avenger piloted by Lt. William D. Gordon arrives and drops more sonar buoys and hear the damaged submarine. At 1:54am drops another Mark 24 "Fido" acoustic homing torpedo that hits and they hear the submarine breaking up at 2:13am. I-52 was sunk with the entire crew of 95 plus 14 passengers plus three German sailors at roughly Lat 15-16N, Long 39-55W. This submarine was officially struck on December 10, 1944.

Later that morning, USS Janssen DE-396, USS Haverfield DE-393 observe a large oil slick where the submarine had sunk. USS Janssen recovered a ton of raw rubber bales, a rubber sandal, a piece of Philippine mahogany, black silk fishing line and other debris on the surface and sharks are observed in the area.

On July 30, 1944 a radio signal is received by a German radio near Lorient indicating I-52 is 36 hours from Lorient. The next day, two identical signals are received. On August 1, 1944 three German M-Class minesweepers and a T-class torpedo arrived at Point Leben awaiting to provide escort for I-52, but the submarine never makes contact or arrives. At Lorient, 35-40 tons of cargo await the submarine including secret, T-5 acoustic torpedoes, a Jumo 213-A engine for the FW-190D-9, radars, vacuum tubes, ball bearings, bomb sights, chemicals, alloy steel, optical glass and 1,000 lb of uranium oxide. On August 8, 1944 due to the Allied D-Day landings at Normandy, France directs I-52 to proceed to Norway instead.

On August 39, 1944 the German Navy declares I-52 presumed as sunk on July 25, 1944 in Bay of Biscay. On December 10, 1944 this submarine was officially removed from the Japanese Navy List. This was the last attempt by the Imperial Japanese Navy to send a submarine to Europe.

On May 3, 1995, a team of Americans led by Paul Tidwell that charter the Russian research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldyshy using a MAK-1M side scan sonar and located the I-52 virtually intact at a depth of 17,000' roughly 1,200 miles west of the Cape Verde islands.

Combined Fleet - IJN Submarine I-52: Tabular Record of Movement
Lost Subs - From the Hunley to the Kursk, the greatest submarines ever lost and found pages 130-133

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018



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