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  • #31
    Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post
    Otherwise why were 56% of all ships sunk by just 83 commanders?)
    I basically agree with you: its the man, not the machine but the majority of ships sunk by U-boats were sunk in two specific periods: the first and second happy times. First happy time was June 40 - Feb 41 which was a combination of british destroyers being diverterted out of the Atlantic and the U-boats getting bay of biscay bases. 2nd Happy time (otherwise known as Drumbeat jan '42-June 42) was the Americans being remarkably dumb with their coastal shipping. Due to the remarkably small amount of U-boats at sea at anyone time a small number of captains had the opportunity to rack up a lot of kills quickly. Outside these two periods the allies had more effective convoys operating and far better anti-sub weapons and aircraft so a commander in late 44 is having a far harder time pressing home an attack and surviving than one in early 42.

    Actually the Luftwaffe had a similar ratio: 5% of pilots got 95% of the kills. A few real aces do disproportionate damage but there's only so much one mortal can do against overwhelming enemy force.

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    • #32
      With all this said, the Electroboats were remarkable pieces of equipment. They required new methods of construction, new training methods and new tactics. http://uboat.net/technical/electroboats.htm There direct decendents were the Soviet "Whiskey", "Zulu" and "Foxtrot" classes. Although their designs had influence in the west as well.

      Had they been introduced earlier the North Atlantic would have been very bloody indeed, for a while at least. But Newton's Third Law applies.

      Would sonar/asdic with higher power have been enough to overcome the threat? Had the idea of Variable Depth Sonar (VDS) been advanced by this time (i.e. towing the sonar on a cable to get beneath the 'layer')?

      How advanced was magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) by that time? I know, it's short range and requires very sensitive detectors but were the allies actively pursuing it at that time? If so, how good was it in localizing the contact?

      Would the allies have been forced to make advances in passive sonar technology? Does anyone know the state of that art in the early '40's for surface ships?

      What about the development of sonobuoys? I believe the UK had primitive versions of these in use by 1944.

      The problem with these 'super weapon' what-ifs is that the projects the allies had going on in parallel are rarely as widely known. In fact, the results of some of these are still classified to varying degrees.
      Last edited by Roadkiller; 22 Jul 09, 13:28.
      Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by peter_sym View Post
        I never accused them of a lack of aggression. What I objected to was the comment about 'attacking at every opportunity leading to their losses'. Thats incorrect. They often didn't attack for tactical reasons and they took their heaviest losses when they weren't expecting to be hit.
        Hi Peter,
        Sorry to have not understood your point about Aggression. However, you did "quote" my sentences dealing with that point, as well as my final point "they attacked whenever they could." It comes back to the second point I made here http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ad.php?t=80449 dealing with the request to change forum rules. This is an example of what I was talking about. If you "quote" a long passage with more than 1 point, how is it possible to identify which 1 of those points are being argued. Once again I hope that contributors try to make things a little easier on each other by being more specific. Please don't "quote" a whole block of text if you are only going to argue a small part of it.
        Last edited by At ease; 22 Jul 09, 17:32.
        "It's like shooting rats in a barrel."
        "You'll be in a barrel if you don't watch out for the fighters!"

        "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease."
        — Sergei(son of Igor) Sikorsky, 'AOPA Pilot' magazine February 2003.

        Comment


        • #34
          We're circling around each other here

          I am trying to find the reference wherein Doenitz expressed concern about the aggression of his boats later in the war.

          Aggression is not just attacking, and in fact is a slippery topic to grab. An example would be operating in foul weather, fairly common in the north Atlantic. Remembering that communications and visual sightings require the boat to be on the surface, when does a boat give up and dive to ride out the storm? By doing so, it has effectively removed itself from the pursuit, isn't that lack of aggression?
          Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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          • #35
            The majority of U-boats were sunk by aircraft alone (250 of 1144 losses) or working in concert with surface ships (another 37 boats). Ships alone sank 264 boats. Call it even http://uboat.net/fates/losses/cause.htm

            One things this demonstrates is that the speed of a submarine is essentially irrelevent to its' survival against aircraft, it simply cannot outrun such an opponent. It is a major reason modern destroyers and frigates carry helicopters as their major ASW weapons system.
            If the type XXI had have entered service earlier then the sinkings attributed to ASW aircraft would have fallen away dramatically until new countermeasures (and such countermeasures would be in development) were introduced.

            If the XXI's were able to transit such vulnerable choke points such as the Bay of Biscay submerged, then one of Coastal Command's main hunting grounds would have dried up.

            In fact one such countermeasure, the Mk 24 Mine (in reality a torpedo) had started development in the USA in late 1941 and went on to be deployed with considerable success from (I think) 1943, being supplied also to the Canadian and British armed forces.

            In a way the development of the Mk24 illustrates perfectly the difference between the Allied and German sides. The need for such a weapon was not (on the face of it), apparently obvious or urgent but foresighted individuals foresaw the need and as a result the weapon was ready for deployment in useful numbers at a time when it could make a difference. Contrast that with Germany's constant squandering of developments and concepts (not just Electroboats but the jet engine, the need to develop a worthwhile heavy bomber, the list goes on) even when initially they have the lead in the field. All such opportunities were either ignored in the most short sighted of ways as not being necessary or else they were pursued in a half baked fashion. It is lucky for the free world that Nazi Germany was fundamentally ill equipped and incapable of pursuing 'Total War' which in itself played a part in their own eventual defeat.

            The Nazis were no supermen.
            HONNEUR ET FIDÉLITÉ

            "Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." - Duke of Wellington at Waterloo.

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            • #36
              Since we had fielded the Fido torpedo, I can't see the Germans having much success with their subs...

              The Mark 24 Mine (also known as FIDO or Fido) was a US air-dropped passive acoustic homing anti-submarine torpedo used during the Second World War against German and Japanese submarines. It entered service in March 1943 and continued in service with the US Navy until 1948. Approximately 4,000 torpedoes were produced, sinking 37 and damaging a further 18 submarines out of a total of 204 fired. The torpedo was also supplied to the British and Canadian forces.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_24_FIDO_Torpedo

              You beat me to it Dogsbody67...
              Last edited by Bwaha; 22 Jul 09, 18:12.
              Credo quia absurdum.


              Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post

                Aggression is not just attacking, and in fact is a slippery topic to grab. An example would be operating in foul weather, fairly common in the north Atlantic. Remembering that communications and visual sightings require the boat to be on the surface, when does a boat give up and dive to ride out the storm? By doing so, it has effectively removed itself from the pursuit, isn't that lack of aggression?
                Don't you think that's a bit harsh. If the weather is really bad, you risk losing men overboard, and possibly damaging the boat, sighting targets much more difficult(you wont be seeing any smoke on the horizon, salt spray covering binoculars), firing torpedoes more difficult. And if you have a look at the Uboat.net source you quoted(good site btw) and do a month by month analysis of Allied ships sunk, you will see a definate pattern influenced by the weather. Winter months in the North Atlantic(bad weather)- low sinkings. Summer months - higher sinkings. This pattern is evident for each year.
                Last edited by At ease; 23 Jul 09, 11:29.
                "It's like shooting rats in a barrel."
                "You'll be in a barrel if you don't watch out for the fighters!"

                "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease."
                — Sergei(son of Igor) Sikorsky, 'AOPA Pilot' magazine February 2003.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by Bwaha View Post
                  Since we had fielded the Fido torpedo, I can't see the Germans having much success with their subs...

                  The Mark 24 Mine (also known as FIDO or Fido) was a US air-dropped passive acoustic homing anti-submarine torpedo used during the Second World War against German and Japanese submarines. It entered service in March 1943 and continued in service with the US Navy until 1948. Approximately 4,000 torpedoes were produced, sinking 37 and damaging a further 18 submarines out of a total of 204 fired. The torpedo was also supplied to the British and Canadian forces.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_24_FIDO_Torpedo

                  You beat me to it Dogsbody67...
                  If you're going to quote an article as a source to support a countervailing opinion, then you should at least read it...

                  Copied and pasted from the Wiki article at your link:

                  The torpedo's relatively low speed was kept secret since, while U-boats could not outrun the torpedo underwater, they could outrun it on the surface
                  Sounds to me like it would have a hard time catching a Typ XXI... if the Walther powered boat is operational? Not a hope...

                  Qualifier:
                  Not to say that refined versions of this homing torpedo system wouldn't have been given a very high development priority, if our little scenario here had taken place...

                  As another poster pointed out, the Nazi "wonder weapons" seem to get all of the best press, while the Allied countermeasures are less well known. Can anyone on here recommend a decently written/researched book on the subject?

                  Cheers, Ron
                  48 trips 'round the sun on this sh*tball we call home...and still learning...
                  __________________________________________________ __________________

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    At Ease, that's just it, the balance between aggression and humanitarianism. I would expect a green CO to dive too soon, or too late.

                    There are plenty of times when the sea state is very high, but visibility is quite good. Waves don't stop when the wind dies down, they do carry on.

                    Also, don't forget that many ships were coal fired or burned "bunker C" in those days, plenty of smoke from a convoy. It's just as important to report a siting, even if you can't get into firing postion.

                    I will cite the example of HMCS RESTIGOUCHE who was ordered to join a convoy in December of of 1941. I know there are plenty of similar examples with U-boats but my area of "expertise" is the Royal Canadian Navy At the link there are a number of annecdotes of the RCN, the one beginning with the line "In early December 1941, while in Iceland, HMCS Restigouche was ordered to join a convoy bound for Halifax.", it's about 1/2 way down the page. http://www.airmuseum.ca/rcn/prat01.html

                    When should the CO have thrown in the towel and run before the storm? When the wardroom required shoring, when tiller flats was flooded? Remember he was disobeying orders and leaving the convoy to its' fate. He did eventually turn and run, the discussion continues today

                    The same would apply to a u-boat, when was the weather bad enough that the safety of the boat became more important than the mission? Less aggressive CO's make that call earlier.

                    Prien's penetration of Scapa Flow may be one of the most daring submarine attacks of all time. However, such aggressiveness disipated over time. Due to the incredible casualty rate, new U-boat skippers did not have the opportunity to learn at the hands of the masters. Each boat was essentially starting over from scratch, while the allies were building on the experience of their predecesors.

                    Aggressiveness in a military commander is essentially knowing when to take a calculated risk. As the war dragged on, u-boat commanders had fewer and fewer tools to use in making that calculation.
                    Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Roadkiller View Post

                      There are plenty of times when the sea state is very high, but visibility is quite good. Waves don't stop when the wind dies down, they do carry on.

                      Also, don't forget that many ships were coal fired or burned "bunker C" in those days, plenty of smoke from a convoy. It's just as important to report a siting, even if you can't get into firing postion.
                      Yes you have a good point, but foul weather to me means wind and rough seas. The wind would be dispersing the smoke(blowing horizontal rather than rising steadily).
                      "It's like shooting rats in a barrel."
                      "You'll be in a barrel if you don't watch out for the fighters!"

                      "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease."
                      — Sergei(son of Igor) Sikorsky, 'AOPA Pilot' magazine February 2003.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by iron View Post
                        Qualifier:
                        1.Not to say that refined versions of this homing torpedo system wouldn't have been given a very high development priority, if our little scenario here had taken place...

                        2.As another poster pointed out, the Nazi "wonder weapons" seem to get all of the best press, while the Allied countermeasures are less well known. Can anyone on here recommend a decently written/researched book on the subject?

                        Cheers, Ron
                        1.I looked at the wiki site dealing with the later Mk27 for use by submarines in the Pacific. Still the very same slow speed of 12kt. I cant understand why they are so slow in comparison with most other torpedoes.
                        2. I looked at a wiki site dealing with MAD. The lack of publicity may have been for security reasons.
                        "Function
                        There is some misunderstanding of the mechanism of detection of submarines in water using the MAD boom system. Magnetic moment displacement is ostensibly the main disturbance, yet submarines are detectable even when oriented parallel to the earth's magnetic field, despite construction with non-ferromagnetic hulls. For example, the Soviet-Russian Alfa class submarine, whose hull is constructed out of titanium to give dramatic submerged performance and protection from detection by MAD sensors, is still detectable.

                        The Alfa's detectability has led some analysts to deduce that the MAD's name is an intentional deception, so effective that the Soviet Union decided to construct the Alfa and even consider building the Typhoon class submarine SSBN out of titanium at one point. Since titanium structures are detectable, MAD sensors do not directly detect deviations in the earth's magnetic field. Instead, they may be described as long-range electric and electromagnetic field detector arrays of great sensitivity." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_anomaly_detector
                        "It's like shooting rats in a barrel."
                        "You'll be in a barrel if you don't watch out for the fighters!"

                        "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease."
                        — Sergei(son of Igor) Sikorsky, 'AOPA Pilot' magazine February 2003.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          [quote] The torpedo's relatively low speed was kept secret since, while U-boats could not outrun the torpedo underwater, they could outrun it on the surface [\quote]

                          That would take a phenomenal Captain making a hell of a gamble to take that risk.... its the WW2 equivalent of 'hunt for red october's' charge into the path of the torpedo and trusting it won't have the distance to arm. All it takes is TWO aircraft (a torpedo armed swordfish and one with rockets for instance) and the U-boat is dead no matter what it does. The other problem would be the U-boat detecting the torpedo drop in the first place. What was their listening gear like?

                          We certainly had reasonably effective sonarboys. I remember reading in National Geographic about one of the long range U-boats sunk en route to Japan being hunted by Grumman Avengers dropping sonar boys and then a guided torpedo to kill it. It stuck in my mind as being incredible technology for WW2.

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