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75 facts for 75 years

75 Facts About the U-505

The Exhibit

The U-505 exhibit extends 42 feet below ground.

When the story broke that the Museum was getting a submarine, former German U-boat crewmen who had immigrated to the United States volunteered their knowledge to the Museum, and even offered to visit and lend a hand. Visiting U-boat crewmen helped decipher what the equipment was and where it belonged in the boat.

The Museum has received donated packs of cigarettes found on the U-505. On display in the new exhibit is a box of NIL cigarettes still containing 11 cigarettes.

It was Daniel Gallery's brother, Father John Ireland Gallery, who had the idea to bring U-505 to Chicago as a war memorial.

At the time that Father Gallery mentioned the idea of bringing U-505 to the Museum, MSI already had a file dating back 24 years, filled with repeated requests to the US Navy for an obsolete submarine for display.

The fundraising goal set by the U.S. Navy to move U-505 the 3,000 miles to Chicago was $250,000 in 1953 (approximately $2.4M in today's money).

Half of the funds raised to move the U-505 were in-kind donations, involving everything from plaques and free towing to six weeks' use of the only floating dry dock in the entire Great Lakes area. Sun Oil even donated the time of their employee-boarding party member Earl Trosino-to help safely operate and navigate U-505 through the Great Lakes.

Once safely ashore, U-505 had to be raised four feet, four inches in order to bring her up high enough to clear Lake Shore Drive (now DuSable Lake Shore Drive).

U-505 was moved across Lake Shore Drive on Friday, September 3—done at night to minimize traffic disturbance. Traffic was shut down at 7 p.m. and the boat had cleared Lake Shore Drive by 4:15 a.m.

U-505 was formally dedicated on September 25, 1954 as a war memorial to the 55,000 Americans that had died in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Reunions of the German and American crew were held at MSI in 1954, 1964, 1974, 1979, 1982, 1994 and 2004.

The boat was towed down from Portsmouth, NH on the St Lawrence River and across four of the five Great Lakes to Chicago, a distance of 3,000 miles.

The reunion of American and German submariners in 1982 was the first time the German crew of the U-505 had seen their boat since the war.

Paint colors were historically matched by conservators during a nearly two-year-long conservation effort. Cabinets and walls in the sub were restored to their original grays and the circular hatches were restored using the white called "misty air."

On September 25, 1954, the U-505 was formally dedicated as a war memorial and a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Film of the U-505's engine room was included in the 2000 movie "U-571" starring Matthew McConaughey.

Did you read all 75 facts? That's just the beginning.

Be sure to visit the U-505 Submarine exhibit, featuring optional onboard tours daily, as well as our temporary 75th anniversary exhibit, U-505 Submarine: 75 Stories.

These U-505 exhibits are included in Museum Entry, while the optional On-board Tour requires an additional purchase of a timed-entry ticket.