Thursday, September 08, 2016

WW1: Uboat View

The Uboat was deadly and efficient. It was the perfect weapon for the dark waters of the Atlantic. Above is a point of view shot from a Uboat as it sank a british merchant ship in 1915. The Germans did not learn the lesson of their importance in WW1, and Hitler did not devote as many resources to building his Uboat fleet until after the war had begun and initial success in the Atlantic showed their value. The Great War showed their value.


craig said...

Hitler probably lost his best chance to win the war when he decided to build white elephants like the Bismark and Tirpitz. More U-boats would have been a much better use of resources.

Fenton Skeegs said...

U-Boats were successful as long as the United States wasn't able to throw it's enormous industrial capacity into anti-submarine warfare. For all the vaunted heroism involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, it really was a situation of the allies (U.S.) throwing resources at the problem until the tide turned. Even if Hitler had Type XXIs in 1942, they still wouldn't have solved the problems with wolfpack tactics, weakness with enigma, airborne radar, hedgehogs, jeep carriers, homing torpedos, air bombardment of submarine pens naval patrol planes with sono-buoys etc.

If you look at the record of sinkings, U-Boat effectiveness in both wars waned after a bright start as the courageous U-Boat aces were progressively killed off leaving more timid skippers to replace them.

Peter Blood said...

The U-boat war was a tonnage war, and the Germans were losing ground right from the start--the Allies' tonnage was always growing, despite the losses, and the technology gains blew out the U-boats by May 1943. It was never really in doubt, although some of the numbers were frightening at times.

The US navy submarine force, on the other hand, ran out of targets in the Pacific before the war was over. Japan was effectively blockaded. US subs were going after junks and coastal barges, that was all that was left.

Anonymous said...

The U boat also has value as a mark of our progress. Before the First World War, Admiral Sir John Fisher made a prescient warning to the Cabinet that Germany would resort to unrestricted submarine warfare; i.e. that they would torpedo ships without warning and leave crews and passengers to die.

The warning was ignored. In Arthur Marder's words, it was thought "fantastic that any civilized people would resort to such savagely ruthless tactics."

Fenton Skeegs said...

The U-Boat was a nuisance weapon that worked as long as the opponent couldn't stage a comprehensive response. For all of it's successes, nobody paid attention to the U-Boat menace and they kept building capital ships. The Battle of Jutland had way more of an influence on interwar warship design and doctrine than anything else.