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What if the Germans used u-boats as a supply vessels in Sealion

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  • #31
    The fact is that submarine supply in the Pacific was a case of little gain for a lot of expense, using submarines to supply an invasion would not be practicable. It may bring some food, small arms and mortar rounds but not the ammunition for artillery, spares for tanks, massive quantities of fuel, etc. They were not used for long because the were not cost effective. The idea of 100 tons per day is not realistic since the mauch larger Japanese subs never came close to these totals in their efforts in the Pacific. A normal load at Gudalcanal was little more than 20-30 tons per sub and this was mainly rice that had to be manhandled ashore,...if they could get to the shore. Submarine supply generally failed because of vulnerability during the day forced the unloading at night. The night runs were often engaged by surface forces and prevented from surfacing to unload while their offensive capabilities were hampered by the supplies being carried above and below deck.

    The quote of 6th Army needing 500 tons per day was a *minimum* requirement that would allow for the eating of the horses, no offensive opperations or operational movement of troops and no movement of vehicles at all. For a German infantry division to be properly supplied for continuous offensive opperations required somthing in the area of 180-200 tons per division/per day. This includes fooder for horses, without which the division does not move much more than its rifles and machineguns.

    You may wish to consult van Creveld's "Supplying War" in general or texts such as Richard Frank's "Guadalcanal" about submarine supply.
    Last edited by The Purist; 18 Nov 06, 15:57.
    The Purist

    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by leopold View Post
      No it doesn't. Finding a submerged submarine from a plane in an open sea is literally like finding a needle in a haystack. That is so becouse of the reflection properties of the water.
      Not if you know where they are headed, and from where they departed - both of which would be known.

      Dr. S.
      Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by leopold View Post
        No it doesn't. Finding a submerged submarine from a plane in an open sea is literally like finding a needle in a haystack. That is so becouse of the reflection properties of the water.
        Not in this case. The width of the German beachead would be small and, as the good doctor has already stated, if you know the departure point and the destination it becomes a lot easier to find what you are looking for. Of course, the Germans could start taking different, longer, routes, but that would mean longer trips and, therefore, fewer supplies.

        Tell me what part of the calculation you disagree with so I can address it..
        All of it. The u-boats just could not supply enough supplies - especially of important items such as fuel and artillery shells. With the supplies carried by the u-boats the Germans would be capable of little more than defensive operations. So why invade when all you are going to do is defend the beaches?

        RMA didn't use u-boats, but only merchant ships in the wargame and concluded that this would have led to defeat and surrnder for the german invasion force.
        The same result as if you used u-boats then.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by The Purist View Post
          The fact is that submarine supply in the Pacific was a case of little gain for a lot of expense, using submarines to supply an invasion would not be practicable. It may bring some food, small arms and mortar rounds but not the ammunition for artillery, spares for tanks, massive quantities of fuel, etc. They were not used for long because the were not cost effective. The idea of 100 tons per day is not realistic since the mauch larger Japanese subs never came close to these totals in their efforts in the Pacific. A normal load at Gudalcanal was little more than 20-30 tons per sub and this was mainly rice that had to be manhandled ashore,...if they could get to the shore. Submarine supply generally failed because of vulnerability during the day forced the unloading at night. The night runs were often engaged by surface forces and prevented from surfacing to unload while their offensive capabilities were hampered by the supplies being carried above and below deck.

          The quote of 6th Army needing 500 tons per day was a *minimum* requirement that would allow for the eating of the horses, no offensive opperations or operational movement of troops and no movement of vehicles at all. For a German infantry division to be properly supplied for continuous offensive opperations required somthing in the area of 180-200 tons per division/per day. This includes fooder for horses, without which the division does not move much more than its rifles and machineguns.

          You may wish to consult van Creveld's "Supplying War" in general or texts such as Richard Frank's "Guadalcanal" about submarine supply.
          You seem to have missed the posts where I suggest using a towed 100 ton containers, which are swapped at the end of each run thus eliminating the argument of slow unloading and sub vulnerability. - this is a major part of my suggestion.
          Also you must take notice of the specifics of the english channel - i.e. the distances are incomparably shorter than those in US and Japanese sub supply routes and the fact that the LW was in no way inferior to the RAF over the channel.
          My calculations so far are sound : 28 sub runs per day*100 tons = 2800tons + 200 tons by other means = 3000 tons per day = ~300 tons per division , per day - more than enough for offensive operations.
          BTW. wouldn't the horses be able to find grass or hay in England?
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          • #35
            Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
            Not if you know where they are headed, and from where they departed - both of which would be known.

            Dr. S.
            So you're talking of attacks inside the ports.
            I allready answered to that ,but I'll repeat it again:
            a) the cargo containers will be detached by u-boats thus minimizing the surfaced time in dangerous ports.
            b) The LW role is much more simple - instead of protecting convoys through the entire channel, protect only ports and then only for the limited duration of the u-boats surfacing. With the occasional help of some AA guns.
            c) The u-boats can prearange random departing points close to the english beaches where they'll leave the containers to be unloaded by small boats under some smoke cover.
            d) Assuming all british think like you do, they would not have considered u-boat supplies a threat -thus not directing their efforts against it too strongly.
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            • #36
              Originally posted by michammer View Post
              Not in this case. The width of the German beachead would be small and, as the good doctor has already stated, if you know the departure point and the destination it becomes a lot easier to find what you are looking for. Of course, the Germans could start taking different, longer, routes, but that would mean longer trips and, therefore, fewer supplies.
              .
              The width of the german landins zone was to be more than 150 km. That's long enough for the limited number of RAF bombers under constant LW threat.

              Originally posted by michammer View Post
              All of it. The u-boats just could not supply enough supplies - especially of important items such as fuel and artillery shells. With the supplies carried by the u-boats the Germans would be capable of little more than defensive operations. So why invade when all you are going to do is defend the beaches?
              All of it?? So you argue that there even WERE u-boats in WWII?
              Either make a factually and logically supported argument or be ignored...
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              • #37
                Originally posted by leopold View Post
                d) Assuming all british think like you do, they would not have considered u-boat supplies a threat -thus not directing their efforts against it too strongly.
                Given that national survival would be at stake, once it becomes apparent that this is even being considered, what's to stop the Royal Navy pinging the hell out of the Channel with their ASDIC systems to pick up the U-Boats in order to obliterate them? After all, the U-boats are suddenly towing supplies, and are not in a fit state to attack the ships hunting them. It would be a very one-sided battle.

                Furthermore, life for the German troops at the beachheads isn't going to be a bed of roses - I believe Churchill made it clear that he would use poison gas on any German troops who landed on British soil - for the same reasons of national (and Western democracy) survival stated above.

                Dr. S.
                Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

                www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

                www.tabletown.co.uk

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                  Given that national survival would be at stake, once it becomes apparent that this is even being considered, what's to stop the Royal Navy pinging the hell out of the Channel with their ASDIC systems to pick up the U-Boats in order to obliterate them? After all, the U-boats are suddenly towing supplies, and are not in a fit state to attack the ships hunting them. It would be a very one-sided battle.
                  Not at all. You forget that that was the so called "happy time" for the german u-boats. They were very, very, difficult to detect by the allies, even when they were known to be in the vicinity of a convoy. The sonar equipment was not nearly as effective as you suggest. Besides as I said the moment that u-boat feels threatened it may release it's cargo (Maybe even with some 1 ton preset booby trap inside for a nice suprise..)

                  Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                  Furthermore, life for the German troops at the beachheads isn't going to be a bed of roses - I believe Churchill made it clear that he would use poison gas on any German troops who landed on British soil - for the same reasons of national (and Western democracy) survival stated above.
                  Dr. S.
                  That's correct , but they weren't supposed to expect one either.
                  If the Churchill was to use gas surely the nazis would have resorted to their - tabun , sarin etc. , but that's entirely different discussion.
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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by leopold View Post
                    Not at all. You forget that that was the so called "happy time" for the german u-boats. They were very, very, difficult to detect by the allies, even when they were known to be in the vicinity of a convoy. The sonar equipment was not nearly as effective as you suggest. Besides as I said the moment that u-boat feels threatened it may release it's cargo (Maybe even with some 1 ton preset booby trap inside for a nice suprise.)
                    So now you're reducing the carrying capacity even further by loading the cargo containers with explosive and using them as some kind of mine?

                    As regards U-boat detection, they may be difficult to locate in thousands of square miles of the Atlantic, but in a narrow channel 20 miles wide, with air cover and saturation by the Royal Navy, no problem at all.

                    You're also forgetting the minefields.

                    And finally, German troops resorting to chemical weapons in retaliation isn't going to bring back their dead, or extend their beachhead any further. Case closed.

                    Dr. S.
                    Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

                    www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

                    www.tabletown.co.uk

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                      So now you're reducing the carrying capacity even further by loading the cargo containers with explosive and using them as some kind of mine?
                      That was just a though - germans were notorious for leaving booby traps in case the enemy is too curious...

                      Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                      As regards U-boat detection, they may be difficult to locate in thousands of square miles of the Atlantic, but in a narrow channel 20 miles wide, with air cover and saturation by the Royal Navy, no problem at all.
                      The channel is 20 miles in it's narrowest part. On average it's more like 120 km (transfer it to miles alone, I hate doing that)
                      The area to be searching for u-boats will be more like 80000 square km. The home fleet had ~50 destroyers (not all with sonars) . How on earth do these
                      saturate 80000 square km?
                      Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                      You're also forgetting the minefields.
                      You are forgeting them too. Germans also had mines.

                      Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                      And finally, German troops resorting to chemical weapons in retaliation isn't going to bring back their dead, or extend their beachhead any further. Case closed.
                      Dr. S.
                      So you want to go to the gas argument? Ok.
                      All german soldiers had standard issue gas masks. These were effective against mustard gas. The british soldiers and factory workers however, had nothing effective against the nazi nerve gasses. If brits used chemical gas attack that would have been their surest way not only to lose the war, but to pay very high civilian casualties price.
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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by leopold View Post
                        That was just a though - germans were notorious for leaving booby traps in case the enemy is too curious...
                        It's still reducing your cargo capacity, and introducing yet another requirement into these truly amazing containers you have devised.

                        Originally posted by leopold View Post
                        The channel is 20 miles in it's narrowest part. On average it's more like 120 km (transfer it to miles alone, I hate doing that)
                        The area to be searching for u-boats will be more like 80000 square km. The home fleet had ~50 destroyers (not all with sonars) . How on earth do these saturate 80000 square km?
                        They don't need to, they just have to sit near the coastal ports and wait. They know precisely where the Germans are headed.

                        Originally posted by leopold View Post
                        You are forgeting them too. Germans also had mines.
                        Your point? These are yet more obstacles for the U-Boats to navigate.

                        Originally posted by leopold View Post
                        So you want to go to the gas argument? Ok.
                        All german soldiers had standard issue gas masks. These were effective against mustard gas. The british soldiers and factory workers however, had nothing effective against the nazi nerve gasses. If brits used chemical gas attack that would have been their surest way not only to lose the war, but to pay very high civilian casualties price.
                        So you divert the LW from coastal protection to saturation bombing of the British cities in retaliation; result, the outcome is the same as the BoB, the Germans don't gain control of Britain. I'd call that a victory for the UK.

                        Dr. S.
                        Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

                        www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

                        www.tabletown.co.uk

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                        • #42
                          Leopold, you are placing too much faith into the Sandhurst Exercises of Sealion. At first glance, it might seem a preety clear issue. However, after doing some more research on it, I have found several errors regarding the Exercise regarding both studied sides of the operation. So I wouldn`t place too much faith into its conclusions.
                          "Beneath its gilded beauty, though, there lies a poorly designed game which rewards the greedy and violent, and punishes the hardworking and honest; and if you think about it, that's a good representation of capitalism" - Nightfreeze about Eve Online

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Tom Phoenix View Post
                            Leopold, you are placing too much faith into the Sandhurst Exercises of Sealion. At first glance, it might seem a preety clear issue. However, after doing some more research on it, I have found several errors regarding the Exercise regarding both studied sides of the operation. So I wouldn`t place too much faith into its conclusions.
                            Would you care to elaborate on that? What were the errors?
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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                              It's still reducing your cargo capacity, and introducing yet another requirement into these truly amazing containers you have devised.
                              .
                              Come on. That was just a side remark by me. It was ment to be amusing. Lighten up..

                              Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                              They don't need to, they just have to sit near the coastal ports and wait. They know precisely where the Germans are headed.
                              If they sit around the ports then the u-boats will detach cargo containers close to the beach. If they start dispersing close to beaches the u-boats will go for the ports. Since the LW can easily observe the disposition of the RN and provide radio notice the u-boats will always outsmart the RN in a ~150 km area. Besides destroyers sitting close to ports for too long will be a sitting ducks for LW target practice.

                              Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                              Your point? These are yet more obstacles for the U-Boats to navigate.
                              My point is that the rest of the Kriegsmarine u-boat fleet can also participate in the excersise - place mines torpedo destoyers. Give headaches. Destroyers are succeptable to mines no less than subs.

                              Originally posted by Doctor Sinister View Post
                              So you divert the LW from coastal protection to saturation bombing of the British cities in retaliation; result, the outcome is the same as the BoB, the Germans don't gain control of Britain. I'd call that a victory for the UK.
                              Dr. S.
                              I divert nothing. The LW was to assist the invasion advance anyway.
                              Helping it would have been some captured airfields.
                              Besides I told you - I'm not interested in discussing the nerve gas issue in this thread. It's a theme by itself - lets leave it to a separate thread discussion.
                              If you believe, you receive.
                              If you doubt, you go without.

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                              • #45
                                Any submarine engineers available to discuss the pros & cons of attaching a "100 ton" conatiner to a submarine? Then diving & navigating with it? It must have some sort of provision for nuetral bouyancy, or variable bouancy with cargos of variable weight, so the submarine can maintain control when diving and surfacing. After all ramming the bottom at thirty meters is a bad day.

                                Looking at a navigation chart of the Channel I've become skeptical the submarines could spend 40% of their transit time (not distance but time) submerged. While the channel basin reaches depths of 45+ meters large portions are under 20 meters. The channels to the ports are often under twenty meters. Neither would I consider submerged navigation with the tides indicated as low risk.

                                The idea that a submarine submerged is automaticly invisable is false. From aircraft they are visable at depths of over fifty meters depending on the silt & organics in the water. Even fifteen meters visability means a bottom of 30+ meters is needed to navigate at low risk. Historically submarine minelaying operations in Channel had to be run at night or under fog as the aircraft threat made daylight operations extremely risky.

                                "d) From the reaction of people on this forum one can conclude that the british would not consider u-boat transports a serious threat. This coupled with a concurent effort to pass supplies in the usual way (through merchant ships) would have focused all the RN effort against the conventional supply targets while the u-boats quietly do their work."

                                Easy to conclude, but wrong. The British assumed submarines would be heavily involved in the Channel crossing. Anti submarine operations were a important part of the battle plan.
                                Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 19 Nov 06, 13:26.

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