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  • #16
    I have my doubts
    1 U Boats : 3 lines of patrol zones demand more U Boats than the Germans had in the HTL.And more U Boats do not mean more sinkings : there were more U Boats in 1941 than in 1940 with as result less sinkings .
    2 LW : more interventions from the LW means more aircraft ,which were not available,and more information from the LW does not mean more observations of convoys and more observations of convoys does not mean more sinkings by U Boats.
    3 The surface fleet : the Bismarck was eliminated by the RAF , thus a sortie from the Bismarck and the other ships to Groenland would be very dangerous .Besides the distance from Brest to Groenland was that big ( 2000km to Iceland ) that it would take several days for the Germans to come close to a convoy ,and fast convoys were faster than U Boats and faster than the Bismarck . And they had to return to Brest .
    The Bismarck could not remain in the middle of the Atlantic,but had to remain in Brest and leave its basis only when it could intercept a convoy .The German ships who remained at Brest after the loss of the Bismarck,remained idle in Brest and did not attack the convoys .

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    • #17
      By and large I agree. In May, 1941 on any one day, there were only 24 boats at sea. During the Bismarck action, there were only 2 anywhere near her. The number rose slightly by the end of 41, the peak being 38 in November, but this had dropped to 25 on December. Certainly, fewer boats achieved greater success in 1940, largely because the Admiralty had withdrawn most Atlantic escorts to provide defence against invasion ( despite the usual nonsense on BBC yesterday about the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain day, including the usual drivel about 'a handful of gallant airman who alone stood between Britain and certain invasion.' Presumably, around 70 destroyers & cruisers and over 500 smaller warships didn't count, then?). Sorry to become side tracked!

      Where I would disagree is concerning convoy speeds, as the 'fast' HX convoys were generally making, at most, 13 knots, and generally less, whereas a surfaced Type VIIc could make 16-17 knots.

      Comment


      • #18
        2 points
        1 Was it not so that fast convoys could sail ( and did sail ) without escorts ? The Queen Elizabeth could sail at a speed of 33 miles per hour and did not need an escort .OTOH did slow convoys have escorts ? .
        2 About the speed of a surfacing U Boat : how much % of the sailing of a U Boat was done by surfacing and how much was done by submerging ? Probably a U boat was surfacing by night and submerging
        by day .And the speed of a submerged U Boat was only 8.7 knots,half of a surfaced U Boat .

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by ljadw View Post
          2 points
          1 Was it not so that fast convoys could sail ( and did sail ) without escorts ? The Queen Elizabeth could sail at a speed of 33 miles per hour and did not need an escort .OTOH did slow convoys have escorts ? .
          2 About the speed of a surfacing U Boat : how much % of the sailing of a U Boat was done by surfacing and how much was done by submerging ? Probably a U boat was surfacing by night and submerging
          by day .And the speed of a submerged U Boat was only 8.7 knots,half of a surfaced U Boat .
          1. No. A small number of very fast ships, such as the big transatlantic liners, did sail independently. The Queens, for example, were capable of almost 30 knots, and were much safer using this speed rather than being attractive targets in the middle of a convoy, which, at best, managed, in the case of the HXs, 15 knots, but usually nearer 10 or 11. Both fast & slow convoys had escorts, usually, earlier in the war, a mixture of older destroyers, corvettes, and ex US coastguard cutters. The corvettes had a top speed of around 16 knots, and the destroyers, even after having boilers removed to increase range (in the case of the ex American 'Towns' and the V & Ws,) could still achieve in the mid 20s.

          2. U-Boats tried to stay on the surface for as long as long as possible. Using their diesels, they could, in the case of the Type VIIc, manage over 17 knots, but submerged, on battery power, could manage, at best, around 7 knots, and even then for short periods only. Early in the war, this wasn't particularly a problem, as they operated for much of the time in the Black Pit, the Atlantic Air Gap. However, once this was closed by VLR aircraft such as the Liberator, U-Boat operations were seriously hampered.

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          • #20
            We have to agree that we disagree .

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by ljadw View Post
              We have to agree that we disagree .
              Disagree about what? I don't think I have expressed any particular opinions, only stated facts.

              Comment


              • #22
                I am not convinced of the importance of the Atlantic Air Gap :the Air Gap existed in 1940 and in 1941, but the MV losses decreased in 1941 . Thus ..
                I am also not convinced of the importance of the Allied land-based and even ship-bases aircraft : these were good for 250 UB,the escorts for 262 UB, but most of the UB losses by aircraft happened outside the Atlantic Gap:in the Mediterranean and in the Bay of Biscay. The same of most of the MV losses .
                I remain unconvinced by the claim that the VLR aircraft hampered seriously the UB war . It is not so that,because the Liberator could fly longer than an other aircraft, he would kill more U Boats. Besides, when they became available,the Germans had already lost the UB war.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Well, to put it simply, between June & October, 1940, the convoys had very little in the way of escort, because the Admiralty were concentrating their destroyer resources in Home Waters as part of their anti-invasion planning. From November onwards, most of these were released back into the Western Approaches. My view rather supports that of Sir Charles Forbes, who argued that the Admiralty rather overinsured against invasion, and many of the destroyers should have remained on escort duty, before being recalled if necessary.

                  The Air Gap remained in 1942, when 1322 merchantmen were lost, in exchange for 86 U-boats, but was closed in May, 1943, with the result that, in 1943, for 582 ships lost, 241 U-boats were sunk. Of course, other factors were also important, particularly the arrival of more modern escorts, better A/S techniques, and the establishment of specialist hunter-killer escort groups, but the closing of the Gap was undoubtedly a major factor. Where, by the way, do you reach the conclusion that most of the MV losses (I take this to mean merchant vessels, by the way. If it doesn't please correct me) were in the Bay of Biscay & the Mediterranean?

                  The importance of the VLR aircraft was not in the number of U-boats it sank, or even attacked, but the fact that, once it arrived, U-boats could no longer spend hours each day, in comparative safety, shadowing convoys and recharging batteries, but must always be aware of the possibility of attack, or at least of an aircraft passing positional information to an escort or support group.

                  If you believe that the U-boats had lost their campaign by the time the Gap was closed in May, 1943, how do you explain the fact that merchant ship losses in March 1943 were, at 131, the third highest monthly figure in the whole war? After April, 1943, the highest monthly figure until the end of the war was 62, and the next highest 31.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    About the U Boats having failed already before May 1943 , one should not use the MV losses as an indication that the U Boats were winning or losing .Thus, March 1943 is irrelevant .
                    Why ?
                    Look at the allied tonnage losses by U Boats :
                    1939 : 600000 ton
                    1940 :2.3 million ton (In 1940 the Gap was open)
                    1941 :2.2 million ton (Gap open )
                    1942 :5,8 million ton ( Gap open )
                    1943 :2.3 million ton (Gap closed )
                    1944 :600000 ton (Gap closed )
                    1945 : 200000 ton (Gap closed )
                    If the MV losses were depending on the opening or closing of the Gap,why were the 1943 losses still as high as the 1940 losses ?
                    About the U Boats : their mission was NOT to sink always more and more MV.
                    Britain needed to receive every month an amount of supplies (less than before the war ) to survive .
                    How many supplies ? No one could forecast this,it depended on the situation . And as Germany also did not know it, there was no way that they could force Britain to give up .
                    What was deciding was NOT how much was lost underway, but how much arrived and if this was enough .How much arrived was in first instance depending on how much was produced, on how much was sent to the east coast of the US,on how much was stored,unloaded, loaded at the US ports and ,on all these points,the Germans had no influence .
                    It was the same for NA,and for Antwerp .
                    It is even so that less imports would not necessarily hurt Britain ( it imported less in 1945 than in 1943 ) and more imports would not automatically benefit Britain : there was a limit to the goods that could be unloaded and stored at Liverpool and that could leave Liverpool . Supplies in Liverpool were useless, as were supplies in Tripoli or Antwerp .
                    The submarine attacks were only a minor fact ,the other facts were more important and Germany had no influence on them .
                    The biggest problem is that ,while we know the monthly M V loss numbers, we have only fragmentary information on the amounts of goods that arrived in Britain and no information on the number of goods that left Liverpool and how long it took them to do it .
                    If US/Canada said to Britain : we can send 1000 ton, but Britain said : we need 980 ton,but we can discharge,store and transport out of Liverpool only 950 ton,only 950 ton would be sent and the losses underway would not be deciding . Losses of 1000 ton could hurt more than losses of 500 ton .
                    The losses of March 1943 were high, but what was the effect of these losses on Briton's economic,food and military situation ?
                    The needs did vary every month .Thus low losses could hurt more than high losses .
                    The KM should have known ( and maybe/probably they knew it ) that the their claim that they could force Britain to give up,was nonsense .

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Doveton Sturdee View Post

                      Where, by the way, do you reach the conclusion that most of the MV losses (I take this to mean merchant vessels, by the way. If it doesn't please correct me) were in the Bay of Biscay & the Mediterranea
                      It was badly formulated : I meant that most M V losses (as U Boat losses ) happened outside the Atlantic Gap,not that most M V losses happened in the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean .
                      In May 1943 42 U Boats were lost of which 23 by aircraft and 19 by ships, but only 13 of the U Boats lost by aircraft ,were lost in the Atlantic Gap .
                      It is also not so,as a lot of people are writing ( or copying from each other ) that after May 1943,Dönitz sent the U Boats back to Germany and stopped the U Boat war .
                      2 proofs :
                      the number of sailing U Boats was higher in June 1944(100 ) than in June 1943 ( 80 )
                      U Boat losses in 1943
                      January : 4
                      February : 15
                      March : 12
                      April : 14
                      May : 42
                      June : 16
                      July : 34
                      August : 20
                      September : 6
                      October : 23
                      November : 16
                      December : 5

                      First half of 1943 : 103 U Boats lost
                      ​​​​​​​Second half of 1943 : 104 U boats lost .

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                        About the U Boats having failed already before May 1943 , one should not use the MV losses as an indication that the U Boats were winning or losing .Thus, March 1943 is irrelevant .
                        Why ?
                        Look at the allied tonnage losses by U Boats :
                        1939 : 600000 ton
                        1940 :2.3 million ton (In 1940 the Gap was open)
                        1941 :2.2 million ton (Gap open )
                        1942 :5,8 million ton ( Gap open )
                        1943 :2.3 million ton (Gap closed )
                        1944 :600000 ton (Gap closed )
                        1945 : 200000 ton (Gap closed )
                        If the MV losses were depending on the opening or closing of the Gap,why were the 1943 losses still as high as the 1940 losses ?
                        About the U Boats : their mission was NOT to sink always more and more MV.
                        Britain needed to receive every month an amount of supplies (less than before the war ) to survive .
                        How many supplies ? No one could forecast this,it depended on the situation . And as Germany also did not know it, there was no way that they could force Britain to give up .
                        What was deciding was NOT how much was lost underway, but how much arrived and if this was enough .How much arrived was in first instance depending on how much was produced, on how much was sent to the east coast of the US,on how much was stored,unloaded, loaded at the US ports and ,on all these points,the Germans had no influence .
                        It was the same for NA,and for Antwerp .
                        It is even so that less imports would not necessarily hurt Britain ( it imported less in 1945 than in 1943 ) and more imports would not automatically benefit Britain : there was a limit to the goods that could be unloaded and stored at Liverpool and that could leave Liverpool . Supplies in Liverpool were useless, as were supplies in Tripoli or Antwerp .
                        The submarine attacks were only a minor fact ,the other facts were more important and Germany had no influence on them .
                        The biggest problem is that ,while we know the monthly M V loss numbers, we have only fragmentary information on the amounts of goods that arrived in Britain and no information on the number of goods that left Liverpool and how long it took them to do it .
                        If US/Canada said to Britain : we can send 1000 ton, but Britain said : we need 980 ton,but we can discharge,store and transport out of Liverpool only 950 ton,only 950 ton would be sent and the losses underway would not be deciding . Losses of 1000 ton could hurt more than losses of 500 ton .
                        The losses of March 1943 were high, but what was the effect of these losses on Briton's economic,food and military situation ?
                        The needs did vary every month .Thus low losses could hurt more than high losses .
                        The KM should have known ( and maybe/probably they knew it ) that the their claim that they could force Britain to give up,was nonsense .
                        Losses in 1940 : 2.3 million tons. At the beginning of 1940, there were 54 boats in commission, of which 33 were frontboote, the rest being training boats or new boats working up. In December 1940, there were 83 boats in commission, of which 27 were frontboote. The highest number of frontboote in any one month was 35 in February, and the lowest 24 in November. On a day by day basis, the highest average number of boats at sea was 24 in April, and the lowest 8 in May. The average number of boats at sea on any one day in the whole of 1940 was 13.25. Multiply that by 365, and that leaves you with 4836 operations by U-boats during 1940. In other words, each of these operations resulted in sinkings of 476 tons. Are you with me so far?

                        Losses in 1943 : 2.3 million tons. At the beginning of 1943, there were 419 boats in commission, of which 149 were frontboote. In December, 1943, there were 452 boats in commission, of which 159 were frontboote. The highest average number of frontboote was 214 in June, 1943, and the lowest 149 in January. The highest average number of boats at sea on any one day was 105 in March, and the lowest 59 in August. The average number of boats at sea on any one day in 1943 was 84. Multiply that by 365, and that gives you 30660 operations by U boats in 1943. In other words each of these operations resulted in 75 tons.

                        Therefore, the difference is that between 476 tons per boat per day in 1940, and 75 tons per boat per day in 1943. Surely you appreciated that the U-boat fleet in 1943 was larger than that of 1940? I notice also that you haven't commented on the 1942 figures. With 26280 boat days, 5,800,000 tons of losses, which equates to 221 tons per boat per day. How would you explain the drop from 221 tons to 75 tons, when the U-boat fleet had actually increased? Are you sure closing the gap for 8 months of 1943 played no part?

                        If the mission of the U-boats was not to sink as much tonnage as possible, someone should have told Doenitz, because he thought that was precisely what it was. Why, otherwise, did he seek to send his boats to areas were Allied defences were perceived to be weakest, such as off Freetown, or off the US Atlantic coast in early 1942, and why was he so critical of Hitler's decision to send boats to the Mediterranean? Why do you think the purpose of the U-boat fleet was, as a matter of interest?

                        If there was a limit to the amount of goods that British ports could accept, please tell me the source of your information. I don't recall any references to laden merchantmen standing idle awaiting discharging. As to distribution, Britain had, at the time, the densest railway network in the world.

                        In point of fact, the Germans had already lost the U-boat war on 3 September, 1939. They never had a realistic chance of reaching the levels of sinkings likely to be anything more than an inconvenience to the British, but their boats were still, on a convoy by convoy basis, a threat which needed to be countered, and it wasn't until the air gap closed that they were reduced from a nuisance to an irrelevance.
                        Last edited by Doveton Sturdee; 22 Sep 20, 11:16.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          There was no such thing as THE air gap,but there were several air gaps and they did not disappear suddenly, but were decreasing .And, when they were closed, there were still M V losses .
                          About the mission of the U Boats : Freetown ,neither Drumbeat were helping Germany .The only way to force Britain to give up was to encircle it by a line of U Boats not far from the British eastern coast .
                          About the distribution : only a part of the supplies arriving in Liverpool were transported out of Liverpool by British Rail : a big part was transported by coastal shipping .And it is more than possible that if more supplies arrived this would block Liverpool and not benefit but hurt Britain .

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                            It was badly formulated : I meant that most M V losses (as U Boat losses ) happened outside the Atlantic Gap,not that most M V losses happened in the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean .
                            In May 1943 42 U Boats were lost of which 23 by aircraft and 19 by ships, but only 13 of the U Boats lost by aircraft ,were lost in the Atlantic Gap .
                            It is also not so,as a lot of people are writing ( or copying from each other ) that after May 1943,Dönitz sent the U Boats back to Germany and stopped the U Boat war .
                            2 proofs :
                            the number of sailing U Boats was higher in June 1944(100 ) than in June 1943 ( 80 )
                            U Boat losses in 1943
                            January : 4
                            February : 15
                            March : 12
                            April : 14
                            May : 42
                            June : 16
                            July : 34
                            August : 20
                            September : 6
                            October : 23
                            November : 16
                            December : 5

                            First half of 1943 : 103 U Boats lost
                            ​​​​​​​Second half of 1943 : 104 U boats lost .
                            Firstly, I feel I should correct your errors:

                            U - Boat Losses, 1943.

                            January, 6, Feb., 19, March, 16, April, 15, May, 41, June, 17, July, 37, August, 25, Sept., 10, October, 26, Nov., 20, Dec., 8.

                            Total 240, averaging at 14 per month up to the end of April, and 23 per month from May to December.



                            Equally relevantly, ship losses : Jan., 44, Feb., 67, March, 110, April, 50 ( average per month, therefore, 68). May 45, June 17, July 42, August 20, Sept., 16, Oct., 20, Nov., 9, December, 9. ( average per month, therefore, 22). I wonder what happened in May 1943?

                            U-Boats, June, 1943: 428 boats in commission, 214 frontboote, average at sea per day, 86.
                            U-Boats, June, 1944: 435 boats in commission, 178 frontboote, average at sea per day, 47.

                            'Only' 13 of 41 boats lost in May, 1943 were lost to aircraft in the Air Gap? Since when, by any rational analysis, does 32% merit the qualification 'only?'

                            Who has ever said that Doenitz stopped the U-Boat war, by the way? Have you actually read Doenitz' war diary, in which he refers to a 'temporary shifting of operations to areas less endangered by aircraft. The Caribbean sea, the area off Trinidad, the area off the Brazilian and West African coasts...' Between June and September, boats were fitted with enhanced AA capability, and returned to the North Atlantic from mid September, 1943. It is all in his war diary, should anyone choose to read it.

                            The figures and statistics, by the way, are from V.E. Tennant's 'The U-Bpat Offensive, 1914-1945' which lists every lost boat, the date, and the circumstances.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                              There was no such thing as THE air gap,but there were several air gaps and they did not disappear suddenly, but were decreasing .And, when they were closed, there were still M V losses .
                              About the mission of the U Boats : Freetown ,neither Drumbeat were helping Germany .The only way to force Britain to give up was to encircle it by a line of U Boats not far from the British eastern coast .
                              About the distribution : only a part of the supplies arriving in Liverpool were transported out of Liverpool by British Rail : a big part was transported by coastal shipping .And it is more than possible that if more supplies arrived this would block Liverpool and not benefit but hurt Britain .
                              Seriously, of course there were still losses, but at a much lesser rate. read the figures and statistics I posted earlier. Not one item which arrived in Liverpool, or any other British port, was moved by British Rail. Look at the list of British coastal convoys in WW2 and tell me which sailed from Liverpool, or look in Nick Hewitt's excellent 'Coastal Convoys, 1939-1945,' You will not find a single reference to these convoys, because they did not exist.

                              'It is more than possible that if more supplies arrived this would block Liverpool and not benefit but hurt Britain.' Which actually reads, 'I have no evidence for this at all; I am making it up as I go along.'

                              Time to retire from the field whilst you still have a little dignity left, I suggest?

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Doveton Sturdee View Post

                                Seriously, of course there were still losses, but at a much lesser rate. read the figures and statistics I posted earlier. Not one item which arrived in Liverpool, or any other British port, was moved by British Rail. Look at the list of British coastal convoys in WW2 and tell me which sailed from Liverpool, or look in Nick Hewitt's excellent 'Coastal Convoys, 1939-1945,' You will not find a single reference to these convoys, because they did not exist.

                                'It is more than possible that if more supplies arrived this would block Liverpool and not benefit but hurt Britain.' Which actually reads, 'I have no evidence for this at all; I am making it up as I go along.'

                                Time to retire from the field whilst you still have a little dignity left, I suggest?
                                The number of supplies that was unloaded at Liverpool,was determined not only by the number that arrived at Liverpool,but also by the capacity of the port to unload them, the possibility to store them and ,last but essential, the possibility to move them .
                                If 100 could be stored,10 could be moved daily,only 10 could arrive every day .
                                If in 1942 not 5,8 million ton were lost, but 3,8 million,how would Liverpool unload , store and move away 2 million more ton of supplies ?
                                Is it not more than possible that less losses could result in a congestion of the port of Liverpool ?

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