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The current time is: 9/24/2018 3:54:25 PM
 Naval WWII
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Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3916

How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 6/29/2017 7:27:04 PM
As you can see some awesome surface ships, and we know about the excellent U-Boat arm! So why did they lose??

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Perhaps virtually no Luftwaffe support! They needed their own Naval Air Arm!?

What else? What say you??
MD

BTW They had a great Naval Song!

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and a great U-Boat Commander!


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as they say know your enemy!
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 7835

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 6/29/2017 8:44:09 PM
Other than the u-boat arm, how formidable was the surface fleet after the first two and a half years of the war?

Where did the big ship surface fleet go after the sinking of Bismarck? Up until that point, surface ships had been hunting everywhere.

I think only a couple of Kreigsmarine big ships were still afloat by the end of the war.

They had been destroyed by aircraft and by RN subs and by mines laid outside of ports where the big ships were. The Germans scuttled a few.

In one case, the RN destroyed the locks at St. Nazaire in a famous raid meaning that there was no safe haven in Europe for the battleship Tirpitz.

Midget subs eventually damaged her in port. Trondheim, Norway I think. Tirpitz wasn't sunk though until 1944.

The German surface fleet had not expanded sufficiently to be able to challenge the RN by 1939. Their Plan Z called for parity but the war started before they could match.

I think though that the existence of the big ships occupied a lot of the thinking of the RN and many assets were devoted to hunting down the German ships or pinning them in port.



As for the u-boats, they destroyed a lot of allied shipping as we know but technological advances and long range aircraft made the submarines vulnerable.

By late 1942, the allies began to kill u-boats. 87 boats lost and most of those in the last half of the year.

By 1943, the tied had turned. 243 u-boats lost in that year. 249 in 1944. 120 lost from Jan. 1945 to the end of the war. (source: U-boat.net)

Markus Becker
Westphalia, Germany
top 60
E-3 Private First Class


Posts: 45

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 6/30/2017 7:21:29 AM
Not even the U-boats were formidable when the war started.

AFAIK the KM had two dozen Type 7, a similar number of Type 2 costal subs and some big minelayers.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3916

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 7/8/2017 7:47:46 AM
Hi Markus,

Things obviously got worse for the U Boats as the war progressed!?

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Except for the "Happy Time" at the beginning!
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 764

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 7/8/2017 12:38:25 PM
Heavy surface ship's such as the Bismarck were best operated as part of mutually supporting task forces. Alone, they get hunted down and destroyed.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

MartinST81
Prague, Czech Republic
New User
E-2 Private


Posts: 3

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 8/15/2017 3:54:12 AM
In my opinion, Kriegsmarine was not as formidable as it seemed. In a long term, it could hardly face any of the "big guys", it means Royal Navy, US Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy. These were bigger and better. As mentioned above, Germans had to use their dreadnoughtd only as pirates, but how long they could stay against RN going after them? And to the U-boats: this fleet could not stay against the industrial might of the US in the later stages of the war. I do not have my books at hand to write the numbers but transport capacity and number of new destroyers build in the US alone was much higher than U-boat fleet could, even theoreticaly, handle. And another thing: German navy had difficult approach to the ocean in all stages of war. Even with French ports, the routes to the Atlantic were available to the allied naval search from the UK. Hitler was never a big fan of the navy and with fleet if such size, they had no chance to win the war at sea...
---------------
"One hawk chases away many crows" 313th RAF squadron (Czechoslovak) motto

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3916

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 8/15/2017 8:14:40 AM

Quote:
Heavy surface ship's such as the Bismarck were best operated as part of mutually supporting task forces. Alone, they get hunted down and destroyed.
--Jim Cameron




So Jim,

Why were large German Warships sent out virtually alone or in 2's ????
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

Lightning
Glasgow, UK
top 20
E-7 Sgt First Class


Posts: 517

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 8/15/2017 9:49:09 AM

Quote:
Why were large German Warships sent out virtually alone or in 2's ????
--Michigan Dave


One or two heavy capital ships could absolutely annihilate convoys, as the convoys seldom had the firepower to fend off the bigger classes of warship. The difficulty for the raiders was once they had done so (or once they had made sail to do so), every available Allied capital ship was then sent out to destroy them, which is pretty much what happened to Bismarck.

Nazi Germany should have stuck to building submarines.

Cheers,

Colin
---------------
"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 764

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 8/15/2017 12:52:11 PM

Quote:

Quote:
Heavy surface ship's such as the Bismarck were best operated as part of mutually supporting task forces. Alone, they get hunted down and destroyed.
--Jim Cameron




So Jim,

Why were large German Warships sent out virtually alone or in 2's ????
--Michigan Dave


Germany lacked the means to deploy task forces and supporting trains such as the U.S. Navy could. And once out of range of land based air support, there was no air cover. A couple of large ship's at a time, and perhaps a few destroyers, was about it.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 764

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 8/15/2017 12:57:48 PM

Quote:

Quote:
Why were large German Warships sent out virtually alone or in 2's ????
--Michigan Dave


One or two heavy capital ships could absolutely annihilate convoys, as the convoys seldom had the firepower to fend off the bigger classes of warship. The difficulty for the raiders was once they had done so (or once they had made sail to do so), every available Allied capital ship was then sent out to destroy them, which is pretty much what happened to Bismarck.

Nazi Germany should have stuck to building submarines.

Cheers,

Colin
--Lightning


Also, surface units faced much the same problem as submarines, where convoys were concerned. A convoy was not a large target. And while searching for it, heavy surface units were much more vulnerable to detection by air cover than a submarine.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

Killroy63
Pinson, AL, USA
top 50
E-4 Specialist
Posts: 89

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 1/21/2018 1:10:08 PM
Hitler had no real connection to his navy, as he was, by all accounts, rather intimidated by the sea.

I recall a quote of his saying something along the lines of, "On land, I am a hero. On water, I am a coward."

He did have a plan for a "modern" navy to consist of multiple large carriers, more battleships and other heavy surface units and necessary escort and support units, with completion to be finished sometime in....1946. Which would have been great...had he not gone to war 7 years prior to then.

My guess is that he did not really expect to need a large navy, or at least not a large surface navy. He could deal with his continental enemies without one (France and the USSR). If he managed to defeat France, how could England possibly stay in the war alone? There would be no need to invade if an armistice could be signed. If at some point he had to deal with the United States, well surely that could be put off until 1946 when he had a formidable surface fleet.

Also bear in mind that the refusal to continue to fight in World War 1, while not beginning with the navy, certainly had many adherents within the fleet. Hitler might well have ascribed the refusal to fight to "socialists and communists" in the High Seas Fleet and thus had some element of distrust and resentment towards the navy.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 2013

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 1/21/2018 6:46:21 PM
Dave, re: U-boats. As Markus notes, the U-boat fleet was small on Sept 1, 1939, and stayed relatively small through the first ten months of the war. On Sept 1, 38 boats were at sea, a large percentage of the available fleet. At points near Christmas 1939 there were as few as 2 boats at sea.

Seen a different way, take today's date, January 21. Here are the numbers of boats at sea for each year of the war on this date:
1940 17
1941 10
1942 68
1943 106
1944 72
1945 55

"What ifs" don't really count, of course. But It might have been a different war had the U-boat fleet been twice or thrice the size (say, 100 boats) at war's start. Until April 1940 the war was one of blockade and embargo. All three belligerents suffered, and by the winter of 1940 Germany had rather severe rationing in place, with Britain just beginning a systematic ration program. France was least affected, IIUC. But Germany was still receiving at least a promise of continued supplies of food, grain and fuel from Russia, and France was able to maintain contact with its dependencies and/or colonies ringing the Mediterranean. Britain relied on imports, and was unequipped to supply effective convoy protection much outside home waters. Further, there remained many neutral merchantmen who continued to sail outside the convoy system.

As is often the case, ordnance was at issue during the early months of the war. Bombs were too small to be effective, or had faulty mechanisms; a/c were found to be inadequate to the task assigned them; torpedos on either side were prone to malfunction. A good weapon could multiply the effect of a delivery system many-fold. I would argue that the German magnetic mine was such a weapon, demonstrating its quality until Britain began degaussing her ships in mid January. The ratio of damage for effort by German minelaying destroyers and submarines was probably higher than the torpedo effects of U-boats, with one or two notable exceptions. To face potential depth-charging as the price o sinking an armed trawler of 300 tons does not compare to sinking 50,000 tons of varied shipping sunk by placing a minefield in the approaches to a port.

As the war progressed, I totally agree with Martin ST81 (welcome to MHO, Martin) that the odds against any U-boat grew steeper. But IIRC, most of that came after the entry of he US into the war, and after three years' development of new weapons systems, better air cover, and the introduction of the longer-ranged vessels of the US Navy.

I agree with Jim Cameron about big ships functioning best in task forces or fleets. I think every major navy of World War II learned that the hard way. Germany was, of course, not a naval nation. Not only that, but Hitler did not truly trust the navy, which had mutinied in 1918 and hence hastened the collapse of Imperial Germany.

At the same time, I think the ships of the German navy were bye-and-large good ships, no matter the size. The major vessels were built under the constrictions of various international naval agreements agreed to during the inter-war years, and were by definition limited in size and number compared to British or US equivalents, but they were an excellent balance of speed, armour and weight of shot. Ultimately, there were too few of them, and they were used incorrectly. Nevertheless, they were considered – certainly, by WSC – a real threat until late in the war, even as their numbers were reduced through attrition.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3916

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 1/21/2018 7:29:15 PM
Hi Brian,

Your figures on operational U-Boats increasing so much from 1942 to 1943, would indicate that the officers and sailors also had to increase, meaning a lot of inexperience in the U-Boat Corps! Quite a drop off in U-Boats from 43 to 44, probably in part from improved tactics protecting Convoys by the Allies! This inexperience compares much to the air-arm of the IJN after Midway, The Japanese could not replace the experience and expertise of the pilots they lost, I think the same thing happened to the German U-Boat Corps!?

BTW You have become quite an expert on WWII, thanks to your monster thread on WWII Daily developments!

Well done!
Cheers,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 2013

Re: How could such a formidable Kreigsmarine lose??
Posted on: 1/23/2018 7:35:56 PM
MD, I suspect you're right, though whether the reasons are the same would be interesting to find.

You mention:
• U-boat division of the Kriegsmarine.
• IJN aviation wing.

I would think, for a variety of reasons, we could also consider:
• Canadian Army concerns over the use of "zombies'.
• RCN navy weaknesses that displayed themselves in (I believe) 1942, which led in part to U-boat "happy times".
• Luftwaffe weaknesses, particularly after mid-1944.
Probably a host of other instances might be raised as well. Did the USMC, e.g., feel degraded as a fighting force when it began taking draftees?

I know nothing about the training procedures for officers or men, to be honest. I believe that Kriegsmarine officers and men were trained as a general naval branch, but believe that at least officers might be transferred from one branch to another as need demanded. What extra training officers and men might receive when being moved to U-boat service I do not know; there are a lot of specialties involved in U-boat work. What I do know is that the Kriegsmarine had plans for a vastly expanded U-boat fleet before the war began.

The difference, at least early in the war, was between the number of U-boats ordered and the number whose keels were laid. It could be – I don't know – that the restrictions on U-boat construction reflected German military priorities of the time. Until the German rapid conquest of western Europe, perhaps all the metal was needed for tanks and a/c. Perhaps the two major U-boat bases (Kiel and Welhelmshaven) had insufficient facilities to support a larger U-boat fleet. Helgoland seems to have been an "emergency" base of sorts, and would have been a challenge to support. Perhaps it took the realization of having bases from the Spanish border to northern Norway for Hitler's advisors to see how effective a concernted U-boat offense might be.

A note on what you call my "monster thread on WWII Daily developments." It's not "my thread". Anybody can make a submission. Anyone is welcome to take over an entire part of the conflict – e.g., "the fighter war in the west"; "Franco-German military issues until the fall of France"; "Boffins in Britain and Germany"; "US involvement before the German declaration of war"; I could go on and on. The only point is that the few members who imagined this thread saw it as a chronicle. Literally, a day-to-day almanac.

I'd welcome any help anyone wants to join the thread. Let's face it: my interest is RAF Bomber Command. And so far Bomber Command is trying to figure out what the hell it's responsibility is. That too is, I believe, a story of the early years of war-making by democracies. At the same time, I know there are folks out there with specific interests that will need to be covered.

Anybody want to join in, just gimme a PM for more information or take the leap and post a commitment.

Cheers
Brian G

---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

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