What if the German Navy concentrated on U Boats?

Nov 2014
382
ph
#1
What if the German Navy concentrated on building U Boats instead of surface warhships from 1939 onwards, could they have done damage to the British merchant fleet to force the UK into an armistice?
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,693
Stockport Cheshire UK
#2
After late 1938 that is what they did.
At Munich in 1938 Hitler realised that Britain was not going to let him have a free hand in Eastern Europe, therefore he ordered Reader the head of his navy to prioritise U boat production.
However increasing U-boat production was not like switching on a light switch, it needs time and investment as there were only a few yards capable of building U- boats
 
Last edited:
Apr 2018
517
India
#3
Like in a scenario in which unrestricted submarine begins right with the beginning of the war? Hood would have been torpedoed even before Mars El Kebir but number of survivors would most likely have been more than three. Then Bismarck would have sunk both Prince of Wales and Ramillies before going down (Churchill would have made sure of that with the butt of his umbrella had the RN failed). Courageous and Royal Oak would have met the same fate. Britain would have learnt subkilling tactics quicker and subsequently the Battle of Atlantic would also have ended quicker. :)

PS - Illegal divers from Malaysia would have had one less wreck to steal propellers from.
 
Nov 2010
7,547
Cornwall
#6
Like in a scenario in which unrestricted submarine begins right with the beginning of the war? Hood would have been torpedoed even before Mars El Kebir but number of survivors would most likely have been more than three. Then Bismarck would have sunk both Prince of Wales and Ramillies before going down (Churchill would have made sure of that with the butt of his umbrella had the RN failed). Courageous and Royal Oak would have met the same fate. Britain would have learnt subkilling tactics quicker and subsequently the Battle of Atlantic would also have ended quicker. :)

PS - Illegal divers from Malaysia would have had one less wreck to steal propellers from.
So Courageous and Royal Oak were torpedoed. There was no restriction. Why wasn't Hood torpedoed? Because of escorts and the dangerous existence of U Boats as well as their limited range early on.

'Unrestricted submarine warfare' is about sinking neutral ships so they can't supply Britain. Unfortunately in both wars the plan made our US friends unhappy!
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,231
Wirral
#7
Britain would have realized what Germany was up to and built more destroyers.
Indeed and presumably, although I’ve no idea of the quantities involved, the RN had to devote significant resources to deal with a risk of a break out by the likes of the Tirpitz.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,223
#8
WW2 was mostly won by planes. So, real game changer could be only early production of jet planes in great numbers.
I disagree. The war was won by industrial capacity and the Axis lack of resources relative to the Allies, plus the effect of strategic gambles. Bear in mind that German jet engines were crude in comparison to the British developments. German engines had issues with flame-outs, fires, and needed replacing after 25hrs of use. Although much is made of German technology the truth is that it was comparable to the Allies, advanced in some areas like aerodynamics, much less so in terms of things like nuclear power. By the time the Germans were putting jet aircraft into service the Luftwaffe was desperately short of pilots and running out of recruits to train. Most of the flying schools shut in mid-1944 to release experienced aviators to the front line. The He162 Salamander (also called the "People's Fighter") was intended to be flown in operational use by kids and old men after a few hours gliding training. The aeroplane was however not one for the neophyte, demanding careful and smooth control inputs. Captain Eric Brown liked it when he flew one, but then, he was an expert.

Early production? How was that possible? The Germans put jet aircraft into service as soon as they could. Willy Messerschmitt was under intense pressure to get the Me262 ready for combat but he wanted an aeroplane that worked, so he finished his work properly (incidentially, the story of Hitler obstructing development by demanding it carried bombs is a fallacy. All German fighters had to carry bombs by order of Mr Hitler at that stage and Messerschmitt wanted his fighter to be a pure interceptor so he fobbed off Goering every time the issue arose, though he later gave in).
 
Jan 2015
3,253
Front Lines of the Pig War
#9
What if the German Navy concentrated on building U Boats instead of surface warhships from 1939 onwards, could they have done damage to the British merchant fleet to force the UK into an armistice?
Both Bismarck and Tirpitz were launched in early 1939, should they have been scrapped?
Which surface warships do you imagine they could cancel?
 

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