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"German Large Pneumatic Boat" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on a pneumatic boat used by the German military during WWII was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


This German pneumatic boat is 31 1/2 feet long. It is similar to their 18-foot type, except that both ends are prow-shaped, and have a rake. The weight is approximately 800 pounds. (See accompanying sketch).

When deflated the boat rolls up into a cylinder 8 feet 6 inches long, and 2 feet 9 inches in diameter. The floor boards fold into a square bundle 2 1/2 by 2 by 3 1/2 feet.

The boat contained the following equipment: a number of plugs for temporary repair; 4 paddles, each 5 feet 3 inches long; two bellows-type footpumps for inflating; and wooden gratings for stiffening the floor.

[German Large Pneumatic Boat]

The method of inflation is by using footpumps attached to the two inflation valves, one of which is located at each end of the boat. It is possible, however, to inflate the boat by using only one of the valves. The boat has eight compartments, each of which is fitted with a valve to permit passage of air from the adjacent compartment. During inflation all valves are open, but upon completion of inflation these valves are closed, thereby separating the boat into compartments. Should one compartment become damaged, the hole can be repaired, and a balanced pressure obtained by opening all valves.

As a result of trials, the boat was found to have a capacity of 26 men. Estimated capacity for men with full pack was 24.

Using 10 paddles, the boat made 2 knots in calm water, with 24 men aboard. An additional paddle was used for steering.

The boat was towed with 24 men aboard, one operating a steering paddle, at various speeds up to 9 knots. Above that speed, the boat had a pronounced tendency to buckle and was no longer safe.

Comment: The design of the boat, with tapered prow and rake, does not lend itself to the attachment of an outboard motor as easily as does the flat-bottomed 18-foot German boat. The rake undoubtedly helps in rough water.

The skids under the bottom seem to provide a definite advantage in beaching, under conditions when the boat is used either in assault crossings or landing operations. These skids are made of ordinary garden hose, seated in a rubber base so that they will fit flush against the bottom of the boat. The base and hose, after attachment to the bottom of the boat, are covered with a strip of fabric about 6 inches wide, which effectively seals the skid to the bottom of the boat.

It was not possible to determine if the material from which the boat was made was rubber or synthetic rubber. It was repaired, however, with ordinary rubber patches. There were no cementing troubles. The boat is not vulcanized.


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