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Thor was launched as Santa Cruz. Photo

Built. 1938

Tonnage. 3862

Length. 122 m

Beam. 16,7 m


Main Battery. 6 x 155 mm

Secondary Battery.  2 x 37 mm

Torpedo Tubes. 4

Aircraft.  1 Arado AR 196 Floatplane

Above the Floatplane Arado AR 196 used by Raider Thor in search for allied merchants. Its endurance was nearly 1,000 km.

Speed. 17 Kts

Endurance. 40,000 nautical miles

Complement. 349

The raider KMS Thor, also known as Schiff (Ship) 10, was the fourth to leave Germany. Thor was originally the freighter Santa Cruz and built in 1938 by Deutsche Werft AG. On 6th June 1940, captain Otto Kähler took Thor out of harbor to embark on her 329-long day long first cruise, probably the most violent of all the raiders'. Kähler sank his first six victims in 17 days, without special incidents. On 28th July, Thor was confronted by the Armored Merchant Cruiser (AMC) HMS Alcantara. Alcantara radioed for reinforcement and a tough fight ensued. Thor scored the first hit, but was hit by the Britisher later. Thirty-five minutes after the first salvo, Kähler ordered smoke and left the scene, not taking chances with his slightly damaged ship to finish off the battered AMC. Kähler was able to sink only two ships in the next four months.

On 5th December, Thor encountered the AMC HMS Carnarvon Castle. Kähler tried to run but the AMC closed in quickly. He decided to keep the AMC astern by sailing in circles, meanwhile making good use of Thor's three stern guns, a unique feature among the raiders. Thor registered several hits into the AMC, which suffered serious damage. An hour later Carnarvon Castle fled from the scene to Montevideo. Both Berlin and London claimed success, but the fact was that the British had to request an extension to the normal 24 hours allowed for warships in a neutral port to make the AMC seaworthy again. Thor left the engagement intact.

Another four months went by with Kähler having sunk just two more ships. On 4th April 1941, Thor engaged the AMC HMS Voltaire. Kähler, determined to finish off his opponent this time, pumped shells after shells into the Britisher. After a long and vicious fight, Voltaire was sunk; Thor once again was undamaged. Kähler, with more than half his ammunition expended, decided to head home, but not before sinking his last victim. On 6th June, Thor docked safely near Hamburg and Kähler hosted a big beer party, ending the ship's first cruise.

Thor, this time commanded by captain Günther Gumprich, started his 324-day long second cruise on 20th November 1941. Equipped with radar and new guns, Thor hunted for the Antarctic whalers but found nothing. On 23rd March 1942, Gumprich sank his first ship in the South Atlantic, where he sank four more in a little more than half a month. Gumprich shifted his operational area to the Indian Ocean, where he got five more victims in about two months. Life on board was monotonous, only broken by the birth of a Chinese boy name Fritz, after his deliverer, Dr. Fritz Lehmann.

Eventually it became harder to sink ships, and even harder to be supplied. After sinking his tenth victim in a dramatic fashion, and having depleted much of his fuel and ammunition, Gumprich was ordered to Japan. Thor arrived at Yokohoma on 10th October and there she remained; the oil-short Japan could not spare any fuel. On 30th November, Thor was tied alongside the tanker Uckermark when the latter exploded into a huge fireball, sending flame and chunks of steel into the air. Thor was seriously burned out and sank with 13 crewmen. The cause of the explosion was unknown. Gumprich survived to command another raider, KMS Michel.

In south Atlantic the Raider Thor sunk 15 ships with a total of 106,892 Grt / 143,829 Dwt.

Raider Thor seen while somewhere in the Atlantic while replenishing one Uboat.