What if the German Navy concentrated on U Boats?

authun

Ad Honorem
Aug 2011
4,927
#31
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.
It seems about right, below is a graph of the number at sea at any one time. It's not until Aug. 1942 that they first achieve 100 U Boots at sea at the same time.




I guess that by 'on patrol' they mean in position and where they are supposed to be. By May 1943, this is 160. The rule of thumb is that you need three times the number for every one that is active. One is 'one patrol', one is either sailing to or returning from position and one is in dock for servicing. There is a list of types including year of production here: List of U-boat types - Wikipedia
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,048
#32
It seems about right, below is a graph of the number at sea at any one time. It's not until Aug. 1942 that they first achieve 100 U Boots at sea at the same time.




I guess that by 'on patrol' they mean in position and where they are supposed to be. By May 1943, this is 160. The rule of thumb is that you need three times the number for every one that is active. One is 'one patrol', one is either sailing to or returning from position and one is in dock for servicing. There is a list of types including year of production here: List of U-boat types - Wikipedia
By 1943 the Allied anti-submarine procedures were fully in effect. If Germany had had 3 times the submarines at the start of the war, especially long range submarines than primarily coastal ones, they might have succeeded in strangling Britain before their anti-submarine procedures were fully implemented.
 
Apr 2014
317
Istanbul Turkey
#33
If Germany violated 1935 Anglo-German Naval Treaty and built more U-boats (as Hitler said "I will built more more and more U-BOATS in 1941) British goverment instantly would begin a massive escort ship construction programme , expand RAF Coastal Command and start coordinated air/naval cooperation excercises a lot earlier and equip all anti submarine forces a lot better. They remembered what U-Boat ware cost them between 1914-1918
 
#34
If Germany violated 1935 Anglo-German Naval Treaty and built more U-boats (as Hitler said "I will built more more and more U-BOATS in 1941) British goverment instantly would begin a massive escort ship construction programme , expand RAF Coastal Command and start coordinated air/naval cooperation excercises a lot earlier and equip all anti submarine forces a lot better. They remembered what U-Boat ware cost them between 1914-1918
It’s doubtful that the UK would instantly respond.

1. While it’s hard to hide the development of a battleship, it’s a lot easier to make two dozen submarines rather than one dozen.

2. UK was still suffering from the Great Depression in the mid thirties. There wasn’t money for a mass anti submarine program.

3. The UK didn’t seriously start rearming until 1938. In 1935 a rearmament would have been rather unpopular.


But in regards to the argument that Germany should have built more submarines, more submarines means less warships. (Aside from tanks and all the defensive uses of steel: Fortifications and building in general.)


With a smaller surface fleet, Germany might not have been able to pull off Weserubung in 1940, and beat the UK to occupying Norway.
 
Nov 2009
3,859
Outer world
#35
Had Dönitz had the number of u-boot he wanted, then Britain may have been strangled out: realistically, Germany could hope to win at max within the end of 1942, after that the US shipyards were producing at full force and thus only having hundreds of type XXI and XXIII would have tipped the balance (but that's like saying why didn't Hitler had fully operational jets in 1939, easy to say now).
That being said, there were a number of measures that the Kriegsmarine could have implemented much better and beforehand:
1) To quickly solve the torpedo issues that were emerging in late 1939 rather than trying to shifting blame on u-boots' crews
2) Standardising production and switching to modular industrial procedures, thus accelerating the production of u-boots
3) Better allocation of resources (schnorkel was already known by 1935 if I remember well; Germans could have invested more in other measures like better radar detectors, better radars, better electric engines and so forth)--> I know it's easy to say in hindsight but after all it was actually doable
4) No "flak ubooat"
5) Implement a serious cooperation with the Luftwaffe
6) Switch as early as possible to the research of the Elektroboot, which was a real submarine rather than a surface vessel able to submerge
7) Earlier production of Milchkühen
This is a very what-if-ish question, but imagine if the Germans had collaborated with the Japanese and convinced them to put their excellent submarine fleet to use against the Allied merchant fleets as soon as the war started in 1941: the double impact on the Allies would have been tremendous, especially in the Indian Ocean.
 
Likes: sailorsam
Apr 2014
317
Istanbul Turkey
#36
It’s doubtful that the UK would instantly respond.

1. While it’s hard to hide the development of a battleship, it’s a lot easier to make two dozen submarines rather than one dozen.

2. UK was still suffering from the Great Depression in the mid thirties. There wasn’t money for a mass anti submarine program.

3. The UK didn’t seriously start rearming until 1938. In 1935 a rearmament would have been rather unpopular.


But in regards to the argument that Germany should have built more submarines, more submarines means less warships. (Aside from tanks and all the defensive uses of steel: Fortifications and building in general.)


With a smaller surface fleet, Germany might not have been able to pull off Weserubung in 1940, and beat the UK to occupying Norway.
1) U-Boat construction would be hard to hide also. Especially if German govermernt said they have no naval re armament program while building more submarines. That would speak malicious intent for international community and not only annual Anglo-German Naval Treaty but would make British foreign policy on whole towards Germany a lot more hostile (just like between 1898 - 1911 before Great War when Germans began building a High Seas Fleet that alarmed Britain. This was not a mistake Hitler wished to repreat , he would like to make Britain a friend in 1930'ies not adversary)
2) Great Deppression hit Germany as well and unlike Britain they had no overseas raw material resources and markets to depend upon. Rearmament progrram of Third Reich should have been (and actually ) done according to strategic short term war requirements according to Hitler's strategy : which was a short land war with air power support. Under those conditions German Navy would get a short shift in rearmament and resource priorty no matter what compared to Wehrmacht and Lufwaffe.
3) RAF began to expand in 1937 after Baldwin goverment gone. And if Germans began a naval re armament programme in violation of Anglo-German Naval Agreement , some of those resources would also go to Royal Navy. It was relative weakness of German Navy compared to Royal Navy between 1934 - 1939 that allowed British goverment to pour more resources to RAF
 
Last edited:

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,049
#37
It’s doubtful that the UK would instantly respond.
.
I think the UK is bound to repsond. Naval matters were very importnat. Militarily and psychologically

1. While it’s hard to hide the development of a battleship, it’s a lot easier to make two dozen submarines rather than one dozen.
Not possibel at all.


2. UK was still suffering from the Great Depression in the mid thirties. There wasn’t money for a mass anti submarine program.
there was.

3. The UK didn’t seriously start rearming until 1938. In 1935 a rearmament would have been rather unpopular.
It is a critical weakness of much hypotherical alterntibe hoistory speculatin that so many are admanat that actor X will take the exact same action regardless of changed circumstances,

Differnet circumstance, different actions are likely

But in regards to the argument that Germany should have built more submarines, more submarines means less warships. (Aside from tanks and all the defensive uses of steel: Fortifications and building in general.)


With a smaller surface fleet, Germany might not have been able to pull off Weserubung in 1940, and beat the UK to occupying Norway.
How about Britain not rolling over at Munich? If Germany starts building U boats on large scale British forbearance of German aggression is going to be less. Maybe much less.
 

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