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How close to successful was Doenitz's U-boat campaign?

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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 2:27:31 PM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
I'd rather not diss their technical prowess. They were way, way ahead of the Allies in this field.

And, like I said, I wouldn't have wanted to give them additional time to create stuff like a submarine-based platform that could conceivably have dropped a load on Manhattan.

And the fact that von Braun ended up working on the U.S. space program underlines it.

It's easy to say they could've been pummeled in hindsight. They were a dangerous, adaptable and cunning foe at the time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 2:33:07 PM PST
IGS says:

I think that we have discussed this before. We agreed that the US could have taken down more than just Germany, but indeed, everyone else in the world combined, as long as we could obtain a secure operating base. England was that base in the ETO.

The issue is whether the US would have the stomach for two million dead for someone else's war. That is a very legitimate question. 5-10 million casualties is astronomical but well within the likely outcome. Yeah, we needed the USSR. 20 million dead Soviets, complete focus of the Luftwaffe on the RAF and USAAF, tripling of front line troop strength in the west, no, it would have been very nasty business and the idea of facing the Germans and Japanese with only Britain would have posed an "unappetizing" dilemma. I do think the US would have prevailed, I do believe that eventually the US would have got the stomach for it. On some level I dearly hope that the German and Japanese mindsets are forever altered. Nothing they could have gained could have merited such a catastrophe. I can only think of the modern Islamic movements as aspiring to that sort of messianic expansion. Not even the Chinese think this way.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 3:57:14 PM PST
"There is no doubt in my mind the the true winner of WWII was Rosie the riveter, the other allies were doomed to defeat without US war production and food supplies."

Agreed. It's all about the logistics, which I why I believe that the US is going to dominate for quite some time to come-- undefeatable logistics.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 4:08:06 PM PST
How could Germany possibly have made V-2s rain down on London? Rockets are incredibly inefficient, in terms of fuel per pound of payload. Even when using bombers, which are far more efficient in terms of fuel consumption per pound of payload, it is an extremely costly proposition to make bombs rain town on an enemy town. There is no way that Germany could have fueled enough rockets to 'rain' them on London. And then, there is the problem of where to launch those rockets from, and transporting the rockets to lauch sites. Without absolute control over the skies, which those rockets could not provide, they simply wouldn't be able to get very many rockets of the ground.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 4:11:05 PM PST
I see that you have pretty much covered the ground that I came along and posted about. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 4:33:14 PM PST
The Chinese think in the long term. Their plans are for anywhere from one to several hundred years out. I doubt that the PRC will hold together long enough for any of their plans to come to fruition, it's a, dare I say, b.a.s.t.e.r.d.i.z.a.t.i.o.n. of a free market economy coupled with a communist demand economy. If they weren't very different than westerers the wheels would have come off already.

The Islamics, on the other hand, are a real danger in the short term. The fanatics who control Iran and soon will have Pakistan and probably Turkey as well really believe that Allah is on their side and will do anything to make the caliphate happen. I'm sure they would be willing to start a nuclear war and depend on Allah's will to protect them from the consequences.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 5:21:33 PM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
They had a shoot 'n' scoot system with the V-2s. They'd drive them to a launch location, pour some concrete as a launch pad, fire and disappear. The missiles could be fired from anywhere. And they were much faster than any fighter of that time.

Re the frequency of firing, I don't want to get hung up on the use of the word 'rain', like you are.

They had a sustained rate of fire of 350 per week. So 50 per day. Possibly a peak rate of 100 a day. Which translates into one every 15 mins. Considering there was no early warning system, the disruption to everyday life would be considerable.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:31:51 PM PST
Bubba says:
"Could a concentration on heavier type IX and other U-cruisers, which would have allowed the boats to operate further afield and out of range of allied air cover have made a difference?"

The PBY Catalina ASW aircraft had more than enough range to fly non-stop from New York to London. Qantas regularly flew a Catalina non-stop between Perth and Colombo, a distance of 3,500 miles, which took about 30 hours. They also had long loiter times, they could remain aloft for up to about 100 hours. As they were air boats, they could have conceivably refueled, re-armed, and changed crews at sea if necessary.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:36:54 PM PST
Bubba says:
The V2s were ballistic missiles, unlike the V1s which flew to their target and could be taken down by fighters.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 6:42:37 PM PST
R. Largess says:
What could Doenitz have done to win the U-boat war? In WWI the Allies had very little ability to interfere with the U-boats until the institution of convoys. Convoys were extremely difficult for U-boats to find, approach, and attack - especially with air cover. Doenitz' achievement was the "Rudeltaktik" to defeat convoys. U-boats would form patrol lines in the Atlantic beyond land-based air cover. When a convoy was found, U-boat command would concentrate subs on it by radio; the subs would then use their good surface speed to attack on the surface at night, in numbers and repeatedly, overwhelming the escorts. Then they would trail the convoy on the surface by day, ready to attack again the next night. I would say that the two developments which defeated the Rudeltaktik were, first the provision of surface radar to the escorts, which ended the U-boats' ability to penetrate the convoys undetected on the surface at night, and second, the extension of air cover to the entire Atlantic, which ended the U-boats ability to trail the convoys on the surface by day.
Adm. Gorschkov sought to analyze the failure of the Germans' U-boat war in WWII, and he saw the reason in their failure to support the U-boats with their air force and surface fleet. Thus his navy of the 60's-80's was based on submarines supported by antiship missile-carrying bombers and surface ships - which would have required nothing less than a carrier battle group for convoy defense. His goal was not Doenitz' "tonnage war" of attrition but to close off the Atlantic supply line completely. Unfortunately he never got a chance to try it so we don't know if it would have worked.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2013 9:25:28 PM PST
Without aerial supremacy the Germans would only have been able to launch at night. Moving the very vulnerable missiles during the day would have resulted in most being destroyed prior to firing. Plus you are assuming that there would have been fuel for 350 V2s a week. There was no room in German agriculture for expansion to meet the alcohol needs of the V2s. The much smaller number that they actually managed to fire used up a full third of Germany's total alcohol production. The V2 was wasted effort. It was , at best, an area effect weapon to kill civilians and if WWII taught us anything, it's that you can't win a war by killing civilians.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 6:50:08 AM PST
R. Largess:

re: " Unfortunately he never got a chance to try it so we don't know if it would have worked."

I'm not so sure that was "unfortunate!"

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:06:39 AM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
That's true. The V-1s or doodlebugs made a distinctive noise in flight. You could hear the propulsion sputtering before it ran out of fuel and gravity then did the last bit of the navigation. So you'd have a fighting chance to run for cover. That wasn't the case with the V-2s, of course. They'd hit before you heard anything at all.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:24:52 AM PST
The "sputtering" wasn't the V1 running out of fuel, it was how the pulse jet that powered the V1 operated. As the name suggests, the pluse jet does not provide steady thrust but a series of bursts or pulses of thrust. It is a very crude engine that manages to provide thrust without turbine blades and very little in the way of precision engineering or manufacturing. The pulse jet works by having a set of spring loaded door close on the combustion chamber as the kerosine fuel is injected. When the fuel/air mixture is ignited it momentarily overcomes the power of the springs, opening the door and providing a pulse of thrust. When the pressure drops, the doors close and the cycle repeats. There used to be a working V1 engine at the Los Angeles Country Museum of Science and Industry with a diagram of how it worked. The simplicity of the design impressed me, especially since it was designed by a German. The Germans rarely designed simple machines.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:36:04 AM PST
You ignored the fuel problem. And they were hardly shoot n scoot. They were incredibly vulnerable on the ground. You just don't understand the logistics of moving that much material around, to launch a single, largely ineffective attack. The V-2s were logistical nightmares.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:38:32 AM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
'While this was originally intended to be a power dive, in practice the dive caused the fuel flow to cease, which stopped the engine. The sudden silence after the buzzing alerted listeners of the impending impact. The fuel problem was quickly fixed, and when the last V-1s fell, the majority hit under power.'


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:40:50 AM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
Well, I'm repeating what I just watched on a docu about RAF Medmenham.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:49:24 AM PST
I sometimes think that one of Germany's greatest weaknesses, was actually German scientists. They pretty much used the war as a pre-texts to play with some very expensive experimental toys. I mean, look how much of Germany's resources were squandered on the V-2s. And the V-1 had basically the same problem, despite their technological simplicity-- the massive fuel consumption per pound of payload. I don't think that they thought that they could really make the V-2s into a realistic strategic asset, during the war.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:50:47 AM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
They couldn't even have gone to war in the first place without synthetic fuels developed by their scientists.

What are you talking about?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:55:27 AM PST
Yes, I had a general idea of what your sources were. Start learning about logistics, which is a really, really useful thing to know in real life, anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:56:52 AM PST
Yeah, I had a general idea of where your ideas were coming from. Learn about logistics, which is really, really useful in real life, anyway.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 8:58:36 AM PST
Wulfwig Fox says:
The missiles were assembled in a vast underground complex in the Harz mountains after Peenemünde had been pummeled. Then they could be driven by truck to the launch locations.

I've read a bunch of books on logistics in my time.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 9:42:32 AM PST
R. Largess says:
JN - Just kidding about unfortunate. But perhaps Gorschkov did have a point about the failure of the Germans to support the U-boats with other arms. For example, the FW-200's were very effective in providing reconnaisance for the U-boats and attacking shipping themselves, but there were never enough of them and they were, indeed, a makeshift. The Germans also had some extremely long-ranged diesel-engined aircraft, such as the BV-222 six-engined flying boat; could such aircraft have been developed to support the U-boats at very great distances, and could this have made a difference?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 9:49:48 AM PST
It wasn't just the missile. There was the missile transporter, that needed a 12 ton halftrack to move it, there was one tanker for the T Stoff (alcohol fuel), another for the C Stoff (peroxide oxidizer), another halftrack, either an modifed 8 ton or 12 ton for the launch command vehicle, a mobile crane to help erect the missile on the launch pad, and several trucks or halftracks to carry the crew. All soft targets for a bomber or fighter bomber, and very obvious. Once the allies determined the maximum range of the V2, all they had to do was scout along that arc and watch for signs of vehicle traffic. Then hunt down the convoys and destroy them. All those specialized vehicles were expensive and hard to replace as were the crews. Working with hydrogen peroxide is very dangerous and requires a high level of training on the part of the crews. Look at all the accidents with the Me163 Komet which used the same fuel and oxidizer.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 9:52:01 AM PST
The Luftwaffe never really cooperated with the Kriegsmarine. If it had, the Luftwaffe's bombers could have probably saved the Bismarck by attacking the British Home fleet and driving it away until the Bismarck could make repairs to her rudder, or get tugs out to tow her to Brest.
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Discussion in:  History forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  179
Initial post:  Jan 2, 2013
Latest post:  Jun 29, 2015

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