What if the German Navy concentrated on U Boats?

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,978
Dispargum
It is interesting that the Germans encountered the same problems with torpedoes as the US Navy (depth setting, magnetic and contact exploders, unresponsive ordnance organizations). Was it because tight budgets in the 20's and 30's prevented adequate testing?
As far as magnetic exploders, every navy that tried to develop one had the same problem. Everyone assumed the Earth's magnetic field was constant, but it isn't. Torpedoes were all developed and tested near each navy's torpedo facility. Even just a few hundred miles away, the Earth's magnetic field is sufficiently different to trip the exploder whether there's a ship present or not. In the 1940s, no one had yet mapped the Earth's magnetic field.
 
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janusdviveidis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
2,015
Lithuania
Does anyone know what Japanese used for their very successful Type 93 torpedo, fast search on internet finds nothing about detonators used. What Germans could achieve if they had this technology before start of WW2? They were exchanging some technology, why not torpedoes?
 
Jan 2020
130
cumberstone
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
Britain had more Uboats than Germany.
Type XXI submarines had the technology and capability to crack trans-atlantic trade and military transports, but it was finished relatively late.
As the English proverb goes: It was "too little (few) and too late."

 
Last edited:
Oct 2015
999
Virginia
Britain had more Uboats than Germany.
Type XXI submarines had the technology and capability to crack trans-atlantic trade and military transports, but it was finished relatively late.
As the English proverb goes: It was "too little (few) and too late."

Clay Blair (author of "Silent Victory", and a veteran US Submariner) in the preface to "Hitler's Submarine War" gives a less optimistic evaluation of the Type XXI, based on the US Navy report to the Chief Of Naval Operations on their inspection of a captured "electro-boat" . The USN experts observed:
(1) Poor structural integrity due to hurried prefabrication by factories with no experience in submarine construction.
(2) Underpowered diesel engines due to poor design and manufacture which made the superchargers un-useable and yielded a surface speed of only 15.5 knots.
(3) Impractical hydraulic system that was complex, delicate and located outside the pressure hull and thus vulnerable to leakage, corrosion and damage.
(4) Imperfect and hazardous Snorkel that was often submerged in even moderate seas. This resulted in flooding which had to be discharged using noisy pumps, and air being sucked into the diesels from inside the boat, causing carbon monoxide to back up resulting in discomfort to the crew and respiratory illness.

Like the jets, rockets, Panthers and Tigers et al these marvels of German science and engineering were rushed into production and service before the natural bugs and flaws could even be be discovered, let alone evaluated or begin to be corrected. Due to lack of capacity much construction had to be farmed out to sub contractors without the skills or experience required to produce such complex machines, and still they were all much too few and late to influence the result.
 
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Jan 2020
130
cumberstone
Clay Blair (author of "Silent Victory", and a veteran US Submariner) in the preface to "Hitler's Submarine War" gives a less optimistic evaluation of the Type XXI, based on the US Navy report to the Chief Of Naval Operations on their inspection of a captured "electro-boat" . The USN experts observed:
(1) Poor structural integrity due to hurried prefabrication by factories with no experience in submarine construction.
(2) Underpowered diesel engines due to poor design and manufacture which made the superchargers un-useable and yielded a surface speed of only 15.5 knots.
(3) Impractical hydraulic system that was complex, delicate and located outside the pressure hull and thus vulnerable to leakage, corrosion and damage.
(4) Imperfect and hazardous Snorkel that was often submerged in even moderate seas. This resulted in flooding which had to be discharged using noisy pumps, and air being sucked into the diesels from inside the boat, causing carbon monoxide to back up resulting in discomfort to the crew and respiratory illness.

Like the jets, rockets, Panthers and Tigers et al these marvels of German science and engineering were rushed into production and service before the natural bugs and flaws could even be be discovered, let alone evaluated or begin to be corrected. Due to lack of capacity much construction had to be farmed out to sub contractors without the skills or experience required to produce such complex machines, and still they were all much too few and late to influence the result.
Was that inspection a public version (made for the press in the anti-German post WW2 era) or was it a real/secret-version military inspection? You must remember, the level of the American metallurgy had (and still have) inferior quality because of traditionally backward technology regarding to production of metal stuffs. You know, generally speaking, the American industrial products were famous from their quantity rather than their quality (similar to modern day China). Why? Because the rapidly growing 20th century American industry developed / was built upon the cheap and vast ammount of American raw materials rather than a true international competition. I believe that American metallurgy and industrial products were better than communist/Soviet technology and products, but I firmly belive that it was very backward in a comparison with Western European metallurgy and industrial products.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2015
999
Virginia
It was a CLASSIFIED report to the CNO. What part of the "public" would be interested in a technical evaluation of a defunct Nazi boat? Besides, the Navy experimented with several of the German innovations in its own post war submarines and kept the information classified.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,960
San Antonio, Tx
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.
I have read on a number of occasions that the Japanese submarine service wasn’t very interested in attacking merchant ships which wasn’t “honorable”as a target. Enemy warships were considered honorable targets.
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,809
Australia
I have read on a number of occasions that the Japanese submarine service wasn’t very interested in attacking merchant ships which wasn’t “honorable”as a target. Enemy warships were considered honorable targets.
This did not seem to be the case in the SW Pacific/Indian Ocean. Around 35 merchant ships were sunk off the Australian coast by Japanese submarines, including one hospital ship.

 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,978
Dispargum
The German surface fleet makes a lot more sense if Hitler had been able to achieve his fantasy of keeping the British neutral. (Wilhelm II had the same fantasy/delusion.) In a war between only Germany and the Soviet Union the German fleet would have dominated the Baltic. In a war against any one or even all three Scandinavian countries simultaneously again, the German Navy would have done very well. Even in a war between Germany and France with a neutral Britain, the German surface fleet could have cut France off from trade with America by operating in the North Atlantic. The German surface fleet only looks like a dumb idea in a war with Britain or possibly the US.