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Bismarck Makes It To Brest

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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 Certainly, fewer boats achieved greater success in 1940, largely because the Admiralty had withdrawn most Atlantic escorts to provide defence against invasion ( despite the usual nonsense on BBC yesterday about the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain day,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.

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      • #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 .

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        • #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 .

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            • #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.

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              • #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.

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                • #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.

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