What if the German Navy concentrated on U Boats?

Apr 2018
745
India
There's one thing to keep in mind though, that it was the easy access to the French coast that made the Atlantic War possible. Without the panes of St. Nazaire, La Rochelle and Lorient such large scale commerce raiding against Britain would never have been possible. Even Trondheim wasn't enough. So it was not possible, under any circumstances to actually release the Wolfpacks on convoys that easily before The Battle of France.
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,325
Both Bismarck and Tirpitz were launched in early 1939, should they have been scrapped?
Which surface warships do you imagine they could cancel?
The German capital ships were very powerful vessels and of great concern to Britain because they could overwhelm opposition at long range 0 and indeed, the Bismarck showed this capacity albeit sheer weight of numbers against it told. The Kriegsmarine could not capitalise on either vessel properly because they did not have the escort capacity they needed. please note Churchill's actions against the French Navy in 1940 designed to prevent the strong French fleet from getting into German hands (although the Vichy Navy did scuttle ships in 1942 when the Germans extended their occupation). The German battleships had been built from the start as propaganda assets rather than weapons with an actual strategic purpose.
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,422
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
The German capital ships were very powerful vessels and of great concern to Britain because they could overwhelm opposition at long range 0 and indeed, the Bismarck showed this capacity albeit sheer weight of numbers against it told. The Kriegsmarine could not capitalise on either vessel properly because they did not have the escort capacity they needed. please note Churchill's actions against the French Navy in 1940 designed to prevent the strong French fleet from getting into German hands (although the Vichy Navy did scuttle ships in 1942 when the Germans extended their occupation). The German battleships had been built from the start as propaganda assets rather than weapons with an actual strategic purpose.
Oh I agree with you about the utility of German capital ships, I was just questioning the OP on what he meant by cancelling surface ship program in 1939.

The ships may have been part propaganda, but were also part of a program to challenge RN supremacy.

If Germany could have put together a smaller but powerful fleet. (4BB, 6CA, 6CL) they might have a chance to push an invasion fleet across the channel, with total air superiority.

Obviously during the BoB the Bismarcks weren't ready and the rest had been badly mauled in the Norway campaign
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,422
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
once again the impact of Pearl Harbor is seen. US entrance hugely added to ship capacity, merchant
??
US entrance to the war doesn't add to ship capacity in the war in Europe, it's a net minus.
Not until 1943 is the US capacity a net positive.

US entrance hugely added to ship capacity and escort.
No escort help either. ?
The US has very little in the way of escort available in 1941, so the US entry is a big net negative for escort coverage.
 

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,422
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
how many U-boats would have been needed to change the course of the war.
The Germans start the war with 57 Uboats, about 26 are coastal/training boats, and about 31 Atlantic boats, type I, VII or IX.

Realistically they'd need double or triple to have a serious impact.
 
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redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,861
Stockport Cheshire UK
German aircraft sank 8 RN cruisers and about 35 RN destroyers which sailed to within reach of the limited range of german aircraft. They had to stay out of range or have their own air escort.
Of which only possibly 2 were sunk by German torpedo bombers.
Before 1941 the only torpedo bombers the Luftwaffe had were the He 59 and the He 115 and the torpedoes they used were highly unreliable ( I fishing boat sunk in 1939 and about 7 or 8 merchant ships sunk in 1940)
 

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
5,219
Of which only possibly 2 were sunk by German torpedo bombers.
Before 1941 the only torpedo bombers the Luftwaffe had were the He 59 and the He 115 and the torpedoes they used were highly unreliable ( I fishing boat sunk in 1939 and about 7 or 8 merchant ships sunk in 1940)
The point is, they were effective without thm. German aircraft were more constrained by range than by weapons systems.
 
Oct 2016
1,174
Merryland
??
US entrance to the war doesn't add to ship capacity in the war in Europe, it's a net minus.
Not until 1943 is the US capacity a net positive.

No escort help either. ?
The US has very little in the way of escort available in 1941, so the US entry is a big net negative for escort coverage.
"In 1942 the United States Atlantic Fleet consisted of seven battleships, one fleet and seven escort carriers, three heavy and nine light cruisers, and 76 destroyers.
A major problem facing the Navy planners was the allocation of resources: to many Americans the Pacific was the most important area of operations and although the Atlantic was not stinted of supplies, the main effort was justifiably devoted to the Pacific Command. Nevertheless, by 1944 seven escort carrier groups had been formed with 7 carriers and 97 destroyers."
source: US Navy in late 1941


not to mention the 100 lend-lease destroyers
(bolded by original source, not me)
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Germany had only.some 57 submarines at the start of the war from what I read, mostly the smaller and more limited Type II coastal U-boats. Had they larger numbers of more capable U-boats early in the war, it might have had an effect on the outcome.

For the resources it took to.build the Bismark, lot of U-boats could have been built, especially more capable longer range U-boats. If Germany had 60 more Type VII units available at the start of the war, they could have done more damage. German surface ships did stretch British resources to hunt them down, but the question was a Bismark worth the 50 or submarines that could have been built instead?

57 U-boats, if that was what they started the war, seems rather far too few. I suspect the Germans could have built far more U-boats in secret before the war if they had chosen to. It was easier to hide the building of a submarine than a battleship. If Germany had started the war with a couple hundred long range submarines , they could have severely crippled the British war effort before all their anti-submarine policies were fully implemented.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
Of which only possibly 2 were sunk by German torpedo bombers.
Before 1941 the only torpedo bombers the Luftwaffe had were the He 59 and the He 115 and the torpedoes they used were highly unreliable ( I fishing boat sunk in 1939 and about 7 or 8 merchant ships sunk in 1940)
If the Japanese had been willing to share technogy, the Germans could have had much more effective torpedoes.

More effective torpedoes would have made their aircraft more deadly against shipping. It seems to me the Germans hadn't given enough planning on war with Britain and what it would require, and did not have a good strategy planned. The Germans did not have the kind of bombers required to bomb Britain into submission, and they didn't have enough of the right craft, both in the air or in the sea, to conduct the kind of warfare to strangle Britain into submission.
 
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