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About unristricted Submarine warfare

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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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    Posted: 19 Nov 2011 at 19:08
Hello to you all
 
All of us who read about WWII must have had some idea about the battle of the Atlantic and the devastating losses the U-boats caused the merchant marines of both the US and the UK and their general effect on the conduct of the war.
 
Yet when I was reading about WWI's unristricted submarine warfare I remembered something Graham wrote here some years ago and found that it was actually true and that is the losses of the UK merchant marine during WWI were much greater than those in WWII. Indeed a quick look at the submarine aces of both wars we see that the top five positions are all for WWI aces and if we compare the top 10 list of both war the WWI aces have almost double the tally of their younger counterparts.
 
When I dug a little deeper I found sources that describe the UK's situation in early 1917 as extremely desparate with no more than a few weeks of supplies left, a situation that I found no comparison to in WWII at least to my knowledge.
 
Could it be that the volume of shipping in WWII was less than that in WWI which made the effect even greater or is it just a problem of collective memory?
 
Also did the Germans conduct warfare close to US shore back in WWI as they did in WWII or did they just keep to the North Atlantic?
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Nov 2011 at 01:33
I'd say just offhand that changes in technology made all the difference. The inherent advantage of submarines was about the same in both wars- mainly the ability to slip beneath the waves and out of sight. In the second war however, vast strides were made to counteract subs. Sonar, and perhaps more importantly, air power had a large effect. By the latter stages of the Battle of the Atlantic, air patrols reached across the entire North Atlantic, making it very difficult for any sub to surface (which they had to do in those days, from time to time). Communications is another weak link with subs. They are are at their most vulnerable when sending signals, which can be intercepted. Even receiving signals is not that easy, and the British broke the German's naval code, which gave them a huge advantage.
 
Also during the second war, the US joined into the naval conflict quite a bit earlier. By early 1941, they were already escorting convoys, a much different situation from WW1, when US participation came in the final year of conflict. Canada also industrialized much more during the second war, and was able to provide a greater naval presence in the North Atlantic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Nov 2011 at 17:01
Actually 88mm deck gun was very usefull during WWI due to torpidoes was very limited (even a type VIIC can carry 14 torpedoes in WWII). Many ships sunk by submarine deck guns during WWI. But aircraft dominated seas during WWII. 56 percent of u-boots sunk by aircraft during WWII. Normally when a u-boot spot an aircraft it must dive as fast as possible. Which takes 30 seconds for a type VIIC. But when deck gun is loaded you have to unload it when you gonna dive, which takes far more time. Also merchants became armed after 1941, which rendered deck gun even more useless.

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

By the latter stages of the Battle of the Atlantic, air patrols reached across the entire North Atlantic, making it very difficult for any sub to surface (which they had to do in those days, from time to time).

WWII submarines only dived for ambush or escaping danger. They normally went surfaced. They only can few hours stay submerged. Only submarines designed to go mainly submerged was type XXI "elektroboot" during WWII. Only two of them operational when Germany surrendered. Interesting enough 108 of them already produced at that time. But it was too late for them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Nov 2011 at 22:28
Captain Vancouver, to add to your excellent post, I would say that by WWII, the submarine was a well known threat. Naval doctrine had been developed to deal with it, and that doctrine and its associated tactics and platforms were refined throughout the war.  The depth charge was developed during WWI, significantly improved, and those improvements continued throughout the interwar period and into WWII. Likewise, the 'Tin Can' destroyers came into their own, and by WWII were a major component of convoy escort and anti-submarine operations. But even with those improvements, the Battle of the Atlantic was very much a hotly contested fight that could have ended in a German victory.

I confess to being land-oriented. My uncle served throughout the war as a crewman on a 'Tin Can', and while he was alive, much to my regret, I never as much as asked him about his service.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Nov 2011 at 08:36
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

'Tin Can' destroyers

You mean corvettes or destroyer escorts. They are builded in civilian shipyards which made mass production of them possible at cost of quality. But they don't even need guns (but they have guns for in case, though not really armed like fleet destroyers), their only work was hunting submarines. Two depth charge racks and a sonar equipment enough for them.

However, they are only responsible of sunking 30 u-boots, which is very little. Despite, even a flower class corvette builded an amount of nearly 300. Their main job was keeping submarines under pressure.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Nov 2011 at 15:25
I thought the 'tin can' destroyers referred to those lent by the US to Britain under Lend-Lease?
 
Maybe it's a question of UK/US terminology.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Nov 2011 at 15:52
I made a little research. It seems Americans refer all destroyers as "tin can destroyers". I don't understand the logic behind of it. Destroyers supposed to be light and fast. Was there a non-tin can destroyer in that case? Confused
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Nov 2011 at 14:21
"Tin Can" is merely a nick-name. I could not open up the U.S. Destroyer Assn.'s home page to verify this, but I think the name 'tin cans' came from the shape of the depth charges, and the ship's anti-submarine mission as seen by the sailors: I.e., "to go in harm's way and toss 'tin cans' at the enemy."  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Nov 2011 at 16:01
Hmm, there might be a conjuction. Corvettes and destroyer escorts purely for anti submarine warfare not for screening larger vessels unlike fleet destroyers. But indeed they used in that role when in state of necessity. Example; unplanned Battle of Samar, it might be origin of "Tin Can"s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_off_Samar

Japanese acted too cautiously. If just one battleship was pushed forward, whole American fleet probably would be slaughtered LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Nov 2011 at 16:48
Blame the sailors for the origin of the term "tin can" as a description of the fighting ships of the Destroyer Class. The advent of this type of vessel had two phases: The Torpedo Boat Destroyer (1890-1901--culminating in the USS Bainbridge) and the later remodeled design that more-or-less reproduced the modern profile of the DD class. Originally, these vessels were perfected as a defense again the torpedo boats that proved effective in the Chilean War of 1894 and the Sino-Japanese War also of that year. The sobriquet "tin can" arose because the original destroyers had hull plating distinctly thinner than those of larger vessels so as to enjoy higher speeds and greater maneuverability. In effect the term is an Americanism derived from the sailors of World War II, even though "disparagement" was already common prior to that with respect to ship board conditions.
 
 
Suffice it to say that by 1945 "Tin Can" was synonymous with the destroyers of that era:
 
"'Tin Cans' Can Dish it Out. Popular Science. July, 1945.


Edited by drgonzaga - 23 Nov 2011 at 16:49
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