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The Gruppenhorchgerät ('group listening device', abbreviated GHG) was a hydrophone array which was used on Nazi Germany's U-boats in World War II.


In World War I carbon microphones were still used as sound receivers. The individual receivers were mostly placed in the front part of the vessel along the hull sides to have enough distance from the screw and the noise they emitted. The individual microphones were arranged in groups and each was oriented in a different direction. The individual microphones had to be connected manually to take bearings. They were not very reliable, so other transducers were experimented with. Dynamic microphones were also discarded. At the end of the process, the piezoelectric principle was deemed the most suitable. This was discovered by Pierre Curie in 1880. The quartz crystals generate electric voltage depending on the pressure acting on it.

In collaboration with the Imperial German Navy, Atlas Werke AG in Bremen and Electroacustik (ELAC) in Kiel worked on piezoelectric transducers and the development of detectors and amplifiers in general. They experimented with different kinds of crystals, or combinations of several of them. The best result rendered the Seignette crystal, which is formed from a mixture of different salts. From 1935 crystal receivers were permanently installed on all German submarines. Modern submarines still use electrostriction and barium titanate converters today.

Group listening device

The group listening device (''Gruppenhorchgerät''), abbreviated "GHG", consisted of two groups of 24 sensors (one group on each side of the ship). Each sensor had a tube preamplifier. These 48 low frequency signals were then routed to a switching matrix in the main unit. The sonar operator could determine the ship's side and the exact direction of the sound source. To improve the resolution, there were three switchable crossover with 1, 3 and 6 kHz center frequency. A disadvantage of the side mounting, was a dead zone of 40 ° to fore and aft. Range: 20 km to individual drivers, 100 km against Convoy

Search area: 2 × 140 ° Resolution: <1 ° at 6 kHz, 1.5 ° for 3 kHz, 4 ° for 1 kHz; without crossover 8 °

In May 1942 U 570 was captured by the British Royal Navy. The submarine's ELAC equipment was thoroughly analyzed; the above resolution values were determined.


The GHG fitted to early U-boats could not be used effectively at periscope depth. To solve this, a new listening device, known as Balkon ('balcony'), fitted to a second, lower hull, was successfully tested on U-194 in January 1943.[1]


  • Die Sonaranlagen der deutschen U-Boote, Entwicklung, Erprobung, Einsatz und Wirkung akustischer Ortungs- und Täuschungseinrichtungen der deutschen Unterseeboote. Bernard & Graefe, September 2006, ISBN 3-7637-6272-8
  • Eberhard Rössler: Die deutschen U-Boote und ihre Werften. Bernard & Graefe, 1990, ISBN 3-7637-5879-8
  • Heinrich Stenzel: Leitfaden zur Berechnung von Schallvorgängen. Holt, 1947 Seiten 678-679
  • Willem Hackmann: Seek & Strike Sonar, anti-submarine warfare and the Royal Navy 1914-54. Science Museum, London 1984, ISBN 0-1129-0423-8
  • L. E. Holt: The German Use of Sonic listening, July 1947, U.S. Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory, Fort Trumbull, New London, Connecticut. The Journal of the acoustical society of America. Volume 19, number 4, July 1947, doi:10.1121/1.1916561
  • Eberhard Rössler: Die Sonaranlagen der deutschen Unterseeboote. Koehler, Herford, 1991, 2. Auflage, ISBN 3-7637-6272-8
  • Beschreibung einer K.D.B.-Anlage für Oberflächenschiffe, Atlas-Werke Aktiengesellschaft (Herausg.), Nr. 472, (K.D.B. = Kristall-Dreh-Basis = Empfängerbasis), Bremen, 1938, Halbleineneinband, Großformat, 49 Seiten, 81 Falttafeln, Anlagen, GEHEIM,
  • Verfahren zur Richtungsbestimmung von Schallsignalen, Reichspatentamt, Nr. 320/29 im August 1918
  • Über Hörempfindungen im Ultraschallgebiet bei Knochenleitung, Atlas-Werke AG., Bremen 1940

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