During WWII, did the Kriegsmarine have a surface fleet formidable as the UK and US

Sam-Nary

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Jun 2012
6,855
At present SD, USA
They shouldn't have wasted so much steel and labor building the Bismarck and Tirpitz. Had they invested all that in Type IX construction they could've had 80 or so extra long-range boats to massacre US shipping early in '42. That might've affected the course of the war drastically.
I think the author in "Black May" made the commentary that the Type VII was actually a better submarine given the missions they had and the need to strike quickly at British commerce, as it could dive quicker than the Type IX... and even if the Type IX was the better boat, 80 was no where NEAR enough. Donitz estimated that Germany would need around 300 submarines to be able to have an appropriate impact on British trade and strategically hurt them...

And since Germany had closer to 50 U-boats in 1939 than 300, they had no where NEAR enough. By the time Germany had closer to that number of submarines active, British anti-submarine weapons, tactics, and technology caught up with what advances Germany had made between 1918 and 1939.

Now, had they not focused on their surface fleet and built more U-boats that might have worked... but Britain and France were well aware of what Germany was doing, and many of their ships were built to provide some counter. Which would mean that if Germany invested more in U-boats than battleships, Britain and France probably would have invested more in destroyers and anti-submarine weapons/tactics than they did in history... It's where we can't really change one thing and expect nothing else to change as a consequence.
 
Jun 2014
1,221
VA
No offence fella but that is a really basic question which nearly everyone with any general knowledge will know. Have a good read of a book or two

Or am I getting old?
You aren't getting old you are getting impatient, what exactly did you gain by flaming the op for posting here?

I think the author in "Black May" made the commentary that the Type VII was actually a better submarine given the missions they had and the need to strike quickly at British commerce, as it could dive quicker than the Type IX... and even if the Type IX was the better boat, 80 was no where NEAR enough. Donitz estimated that Germany would need around 300 submarines to be able to have an appropriate impact on British trade and strategically hurt them...

And since Germany had closer to 50 U-boats in 1939 than 300, they had no where NEAR enough. By the time Germany had closer to that number of submarines active, British anti-submarine weapons, tactics, and technology caught up with what advances Germany had made between 1918 and 1939.

Now, had they not focused on their surface fleet and built more U-boats that might have worked... but Britain and France were well aware of what Germany was doing, and many of their ships were built to provide some counter. Which would mean that if Germany invested more in U-boats than battleships, Britain and France probably would have invested more in destroyers and anti-submarine weapons/tactics than they did in history... It's where we can't really change one thing and expect nothing else to change as a consequence.
But if the Germans had known the British had many more anti-submarine destroyers would they not have tried to change tactics accordingly?
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,855
At present SD, USA
On the contrary. They learned from WW1 that if a surface fleet-in-being is sufficiently large, it can keep the enemy's larger fleets at bay for a good period of time. In the short wars Hitler envisaged, this was adequate. The Kriegsmarine didn't have to win a war, it just had to be big enough to not lose it.
That's largely the strategy that the Imperial German Navy tried. It was big enough to threaten the Royal Navy around Britain and largely to protect Germany's coastline from direct invasion...

But in the end, in a contest against an island nation who is likely to build up their navy more than their army... Germany needed a fleet large enough to defeat the Royal Navy... or they would never get a real shot at defeating Britain completely.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,855
At present SD, USA
But if the Germans had known the British had many more anti-submarine destroyers would they not have tried to change tactics accordingly?
In pure theory, yes. The problem though, is that battleships take time to build and train their crews... and making them good generally depends on good design testing...

In history, German battleship production ceased with the First World War and when Nazi Germany began building battleships again, they had no work in the 20s or early 30s to build off of. So they went back to the old Bayern Class for their starting point.

Which created the strange obsolescence of the Bismarck class. It's belt and guns were better than the Bayern, but various critical systems hadn't been upgraded or protected from the old Bayern design and left the Bismarck class, particularly the Bismarck itself, with major design flaws...

Having them switch tactics later to counter British anti-submarine moves would leave the Germans with the exact same problems they had in history but with an even later start... which by the time the war started it would be too late for that sort of change as the war would require more material than Germany would have to fight a war and something that the war would take time away training crews for... And it isn't as if Britain would be completely without knowledge or skill against battleships as they still had to be concerned with Japan in the Pacific and even the possibility of the US in the Atlantic...

Which means it wouldn't be a great situation for Germany either way...
 
Feb 2011
509
I think the author in "Black May" made the commentary that the Type VII was actually a better submarine given the missions they had and the need to strike quickly at British commerce, as it could dive quicker than the Type IX... and even if the Type IX was the better boat, 80 was no where NEAR enough. Donitz estimated that Germany would need around 300 submarines to be able to have an appropriate impact on British trade and strategically hurt them...

And since Germany had closer to 50 U-boats in 1939 than 300, they had no where NEAR enough. By the time Germany had closer to that number of submarines active, British anti-submarine weapons, tactics, and technology caught up with what advances Germany had made between 1918 and 1939.

Now, had they not focused on their surface fleet and built more U-boats that might have worked... but Britain and France were well aware of what Germany was doing, and many of their ships were built to provide some counter. Which would mean that if Germany invested more in U-boats than battleships, Britain and France probably would have invested more in destroyers and anti-submarine weapons/tactics than they did in history... It's where we can't really change one thing and expect nothing else to change as a consequence.
But if the Germans had known the British had many more anti-submarine destroyers would they not have tried to change tactics accordingly?
Britain let its A/S force lanquish and never funded it between the wars, so much so that for the first two years the bulk of A/S escort work was actually carried out by the 'Lilliput Fleet' the converted AS/MS trawlers later backed up by purpose built 'trawlers' same with the minesweepers (some being used on the Arctic Convoys and off the coast of the US due to the lack of anything better)

Long range maritime patrol aircraft, reduction on German aerial reconnaissance ability also helped lessen the effects of the U-Boats before enough Corvettes and Destroyers were produced to fill the roles.

A lamentable situation really considering how close Britain had come to being effectively blockaded during WW1 with the German Submarine arm then.
 

Tercios Espanoles

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Mar 2014
6,680
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
Britain let its A/S force lanquish and never funded it between the wars, so much so that for the first two years the bulk of A/S escort work was actually carried out by the 'Lilliput Fleet' the converted AS/MS trawlers later backed up by purpose built 'trawlers' same with the minesweepers (some being used on the Arctic Convoys and off the coast of the US due to the lack of anything better)

Long range maritime patrol aircraft, reduction on German aerial reconnaissance ability also helped lessen the effects of the U-Boats before enough Corvettes and Destroyers were produced to fill the roles.

A lamentable situation really considering how close Britain had come to being effectively blockaded during WW1 with the German Submarine arm then.
Yes, but the point being made by others is that if Germany was building submarines instead of battleships pre-war, Britain would not have let its ASW forces languish to such an extent, and I think that point is a fair one.
 
Feb 2011
509
Yes, but the point being made by others is that if Germany was building submarines instead of battleships pre-war, Britain would not have let its ASW forces languish to such an extent, and I think that point is a fair one.
Britain knew Germany was building new submarines - but it had finite money - it had let large parts of the RN rot in storage/reserve and so required a lot of the budget (which had been cut in the early 1930's year after year) - the Admirals of the time had choices to make and they chose to make its existing ships better or at least combat worthy (like the old V&W Class conversions to escorts).

It started to call up Trawlers and convert them to the AS/MS roles with the RNPS in 1938 initially as that was the cheaper and quicker option.

Dedicated ships like the Flower Class Corvettes, Black Swan Sloops, Tree Class, Isles Class, Shakespeare Class Trawlers were all started in 1938/40 with design and construction - once it was seen that war was inevitable so proper measures had to be taken.

They were in response to a known threat from the U Boat arm - but one that was not seen as 'dashing' or as impressive as Carriers and Battleships so was largely neglected until almost too late.
 

starman

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Jan 2014
4,127
Connecticut
I think the author in "Black May" made the commentary that the Type VII was actually a better submarine given the missions they had and the need to strike quickly at British commerce, as it could dive quicker than the Type IX...
The Type VII was better for convoy operations where an encounter with escorts or aircraft was most likely, hence rapid and deep diving ability was vital. But the bulk of merchant ships sunk were actually unescorted vessels, usually in remote peripheral areas, and the longer ranged IXs were better at that.

and even if the Type IX was the better boat, 80 was no where NEAR enough. Donitz estimated that Germany would need around 300 submarines to be able to have an appropriate impact on British trade and strategically hurt them...
Remember Hardegan's belief, in OPERATION DRUMBEAT, that if 30 boats had been available off Cape Hatteras on a certain night, each could've had its fill? Had 80 IXs been available for the opening phase of Drumbeat, they could've nailed maybe 1.5 million tons instead of 150,000. Subsequently, in the Carribean and Cape of Good Hope areas later that year, an awful lot more could've been sunk. Even as it was shipping losses alarmed allied strategists by June 1942. Had the Germans built 80 extra IXs instead of the Bismarck and Tirpitz, shipping losses (to subs) in 1942 probably would've been double what was sunk historically.

And since Germany had closer to 50 U-boats in 1939 than 300, they had no where NEAR enough. By the time Germany had closer to that number of submarines active, British anti-submarine weapons, tactics, and technology caught up with what advances Germany had made between 1918 and 1939.
Sure but mostly in the North Atlantic.

Now, had they not focused on their surface fleet and built more U-boats that might have worked... but Britain and France were well aware of what Germany was doing, and many of their ships were built to provide some counter. Which would mean that if Germany invested more in U-boats than battleships, Britain and France probably would have invested more in destroyers and anti-submarine weapons/tactics than they did in history... It's where we can't really change one thing and expect nothing else to change as a consequence.
Yes of course. It's interesting though, that even 3-4 years after the start of the war, or u-boat operations, when North Atlantic convoys had become tough enough, the peripheral areas were still what Doenitz called soft spots. Thanks to far-flung IX operations, shipping losses reached an all-time high in November 1942--the very moment the allies had achieved a turning point in the war generally. What if available IXs had been about an order of magnitude more numerous? It may not have won the war but it could've made the allied war effort anemic.