OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (Full Version)

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jmalter -> OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/22/2013 6:53:52 AM)

i'd purchased Clay Blair's "Hitler's U-boat War (vol. 1, The Hunters, 1939-1942)" awhile back, but after 80 pages or so it somehow got stuck into a cabinet & i've only this week got it out again.

i was astonished to learn that the U-boat force suffered torpedo-performance problems analagous to those suffered by USN subs in the Pacific:
- unreliable contact detonators
- unreliable magnetic detonators
- unreliable depth-control, the torps would run below their set depth.

while the actual technical faults weren't identical, the practical results were the same - skilled sub commanders would return from patrol in a highly-steamed condition, asking their commanders "why send us to sea w/ ineffective weapons?"




margeorg -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/22/2013 9:23:05 AM)

Yeah,


the german subs hat tons of chances to sink capital ships during the first year of the war, and had almost no success due to the highly unreliable torpedos with magnetic detonators. As an example during the Narvik sea campaign on April 13th, on 2 separate occasions Warspite did run into a perfect shooting position, but the torps fired were all duds. Similar stuff happened with other BBs, the CV Ark Royal, and several cruisers.




tk208 -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/22/2013 10:43:15 AM)

Yeah excellent books the hunters 39-42 and the hunted 42-45




spence -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/22/2013 11:38:56 AM)

I seem to remember something about the high latitudes of Northern Norway (and either the relative proximity to the magnetic pole or the strength of earth's magnetic field) having an aggravating negative effect on the German's magnetic exploder.




pompack -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/22/2013 3:30:39 PM)

I have seen speculation (sorry, don't remember the references) that either the Germans stole the American design or vice-versa since the two exploder designs were VERY similar as were the faults. The Germans did have even worse problems than the Americans because of the magnetic field vectors in the high latitudes and the American fleet boats rarely hunted that high; most of the subs in the Aleutians were S-boats which used a different torpedo with a totally different (and reliable) exploder design.




Terminus -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/22/2013 4:55:58 PM)

Volume 1 of Blair is good. Volume 2 is the most boring pile of dross you can imagine. It's like reading a spreadsheet about bellybutton fluff.




crsutton -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/23/2013 6:37:32 PM)

Gunther Prien told Donitz that he “could hardly be expected to fight with a dummy rifle” in reference to the torpedo failures.




Terminus -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/23/2013 7:59:09 PM)

And the magnetic exploder failed far earlier than the KM sent its boats into the Arctic. In fact, the U-Boats went into the Norwegian campaign having been assured by the torpedo directorate that the problems had been "fixed".




JeffK -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/23/2013 9:15:42 PM)

I almost agree with T here.

Silent Victory was a labour of love for Clay Blair, its a fantastic book that weaves the story and the facts. Very Highly Recommended.

Both of the volumes on the Atlantic War just seemed to be a labour. There isnt a story being told, its a series of statistics, short stories about convoys. Maybe this was a very different war from that in the Pacific. Maybe it was a bit rushed so as to be finished before his sad death.

Still, its a must for the shelves even if only for the stats he has assembled.




jmalter -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 12:03:41 AM)

well, T has a point - much of 'Silent Victory' was kinda formulaic reporting of routine patrols that didn't accomplish much other than downgrading the sub's captain in his commander's eye for 'insufficient aggressiveness'. so i'll assume that his diss of 'U-boat War vol. 2' is a response to more of that.

still, i'm interested in the USN actions of CVE hunter-killer groups against the milch-cows, so i will buy it if i can find it at a reasonable price, & just gloss over the bellybutton lint stuff.




JeffK -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 12:17:31 AM)

Misunderstanding here

there are 3 books.

Silent Victory (PTO)

Hitlers UBoat War vol I- The Hunters
Hitlers UBoat War vol II - The Hunted.




Bullwinkle58 -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 1:03:57 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: JeffK

I almost agree with T here.

Silent Victory was a labour of love for Clay Blair, its a fantastic book that weaves the story and the facts. Very Highly Recommended.

Both of the volumes on the Atlantic War just seemed to be a labour. There isnt a story being told, its a series of statistics, short stories about convoys. Maybe this was a very different war from that in the Pacific. Maybe it was a bit rushed so as to be finished before his sad death.

Still, its a must for the shelves even if only for the stats he has assembled.


I think it was less a "story" book for him than a careful, statistic-by-statistic building of a case which demolishes the almost universal notion that the U-boats almost beat the British Empire in WWII. That the Battle of the Atlantic was ever in doubt or that Britain was ever against the wall. It's been over ten years since I read them, but I recall very strenuous arguments over this theory while he was still alive. Some of the reviews were scathing. I read it more for the facts of the sub operaitons themselves than to get too deep into the geopolitics of the campaign, but from what I remember his stats looked pretty tight. He built up from the ships and cargoes, not down from a POV of disproving a conclusion.




jmalter -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 2:18:23 AM)

Blair notes that Churchill was a bit overwrought by the U-boat war, but records that imports to Britain declined steadily during the 39-42 time-frame. near-draconian civil rationing & a major success in repairing damaged transports in UK ports during '41 made a big difference. still, when Churchill wrote that the Battle of the Atlantic was his greatest fear, i'm inclined to take him at his word - the guy had ample opportunity to get seriously frightened by events, but remained steady in guiding the convoy life-lines.





Bullwinkle58 -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 4:00:43 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: jmalter

Blair notes that Churchill was a bit overwrought by the U-boat war, but records that imports to Britain declined steadily during the 39-42 time-frame. near-draconian civil rationing & a major success in repairing damaged transports in UK ports during '41 made a big difference. still, when Churchill wrote that the Battle of the Atlantic was his greatest fear, i'm inclined to take him at his word - the guy had ample opportunity to get seriously frightened by events, but remained steady in guiding the convoy life-lines.




Yes, but did he have the stats? [:)]




jmalter -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 5:14:37 AM)

another thing, that really boggles me, is the global scale of the Atlantic war. mebbe not as big in distance as the Pacific war, but it extended from Freetown to Pola to Archangelsk to Argentia, then Trinidad & Sao Paolo got added in. & every item (bootlaces, toothpaste, underpants, bullets, bombs, or 105 arty shells) had to be created from stock, moved to the ports, then loaded on to ships, convoyed to Britain, unloaded, distributed, then reloaded for the D-day assault.

Terminus can moan about how reading some of this history is boring. 's true, 97% of history ain't very interesting, & won't make a good read. but say you spent your war making tires for B-26 bombers, or mebbe you spent your war allocating shipping-space for tires, that's a dull read, too - Terminus can yawn. 'cept that those tires were made, shipped, & fitted to bomber sqns on the front-edge, that needed continuous supply of bombs and underpants, as well as personal mail, tools & toothpaste.

in AE, if you establish a forward base, you've got to push supplies in, and bring the nav support ships.




JeffK -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 5:15:26 AM)

Of course, 70 years later we think we know exactly what the situation was.

Clay Blair had the position to sit back with his lists and computers and debunk what the people at the time truly believed.

What he does do is prove taht, except for a blip, that the UBoats were beaten a few months earlier than usually beieved, but of course he has both sides of the ledger to compare.

Something in his books that annoyed me mildly was despite his concern for the UBoat crews was his almost lack of concern for the Merchant Ship crews who suffered and died through the campaign.




Terminus -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 6:25:13 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: JeffK

I almost agree with T here.

Silent Victory was a labour of love for Clay Blair, its a fantastic book that weaves the story and the facts. Very Highly Recommended.

Both of the volumes on the Atlantic War just seemed to be a labour. There isnt a story being told, its a series of statistics, short stories about convoys. Maybe this was a very different war from that in the Pacific. Maybe it was a bit rushed so as to be finished before his sad death.

Still, its a must for the shelves even if only for the stats he has assembled.


For that alone, they're worth having. Vol 1 is still more interesting for the story it tells about individual campaigns. Vol 2 is just a long line of "U-xxx sailed out and nothing was ever heard from it again".




gradenko_2000 -> RE: OT - U-boat war in the North Atlantic (1/24/2013 7:10:25 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: spence
I seem to remember something about the high latitudes of Northern Norway (and either the relative proximity to the magnetic pole or the strength of earth's magnetic field) having an aggravating negative effect on the German's magnetic exploder.

That's correct. Besides the latitude, the iron deposits along the bottom of the Norwegian Sea/Coast also had an effect on the magnetic exploders.

It just so happened that Admiral Donitz had a lot more clout with regards to weapons development and was able to push fixes to be made.




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