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A German Type VII http://en.wikipedia.


The Battle of the Atlantic

Alex Parra

The Atlantic Convoy Routes http://www.naval-history.net/WW2CampaignsAtlanticDev.htm

Karl Doenitz , leader of the UbW http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERdoenitz .htm

The Battle of the Atlantic, also known as the second Battle of the Atlantic because of a similar conflict happening during the First World War, was the longest running conflict of WWII, running from the very beginning of the war in 1939 to the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945. Winston Churchill coined the term Battle of the Atlantic and said at one point the only thing that ever frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril (Sheffield). The Battle of the Atlantic was fought between the German Kriegsmarine and the Allies convoys and navies, the role of the British Royal Navy was the most significant. The Battle of the Atlantic took place due to the fact that the Allies were unable to adequately supply Britain and Russia by air and thus were at the mercy of successfully supplying the enormous amounts of provisions and men by sea, because the Allies needed to amass troops and supplies in Britain for an assault on the European mainland, and because the Germans understood how to use the distance between Britain, her North American allies and continental Europe to their advantage for years and were often successful in leveraging the geographical challenges for the allies in order to delay, or stop the troops and supplies from reaching their intended destination. Although this battle featured many swings in momentum, ultimately, the allies were to achieve the strategic victory, because they were able to supply Britain and Russia, and they were ultimately able to launch their attack on mainland Europe and Nazi Germany. Because the battle of the Atlantic took place over six years, there were many phases and swings in the action of the battle. From the very beginning of the war, skirmishes took place between the German forces and the Allied navies, and there were many notable occurrences during this opening period of the battle. After the invasion of France in

1940, the German forces were extremely successful for a period, called the Happy Time, lasting until about 1942. It was during this period that the German U-boats showed their effectiveness and achieved much of their success, and during this time the Germans showed the Allies what a threat the U-boats were. Also during this time, the Allies tactics and strategies for dealing with the u-boats were flawed, allowing more success for the Germans. During this period, the Allies perceived main threat was the Germans surface ships, and these were very successful, however, by 1942, the threat of Germans surface ships to the allies was over. After the happy time being dominated by the Germans, the Allies improved their tactics and their technology, changing how they organized the convoys and gaining new equipment for the detection of submarines. The introduction of the US into the war saw the use of U-boats off of the coast of the US, and the Germans were able to use their u-boats to great effect against the US soon after their entry into the war. After this period where the U-boats were trying to attack either near the US or nearer to Britain, the battle again moved back to the Mid-Atlantic. During this period, the Allies made great strides in their defense of the convoys, both with new tactics such as the support groups, and with new weapons, such as the Hedgehog mortar and the Leigh Light. In 1943, the battle reached a climax point during the spring, where the German U-boat Arm, and by May, the Germans realized that their U-boat tactics were no longer an advantage, and May became known as Black May. During the final years of the battle, late 1943 through 1945, the Germans still made efforts to attack the supply convoys, but it was clear that their current U-boats were obsolete, and they couldnt compete with the weapons that the Allies had designed to combat them.

The man who was in charge of the German U-boat arm, which was the most active part of the German navy in the battle, was Karl Doenitz. Doenitz grew up in Berlin, and joined the Imperial German Navy in 1910. During WWI, Doenitz served on a light cruiser, and, after his ship was sold to the Ottoman Navy, served during the early part of the war in Istanbul. When his ship was docked for repairs, in 1916, he transferred into the submarine forces, and served the rest of the war on U-boats. His boat was sunk and he finished out the war as a prisoner of the British. During the period between the wars, Doenitz continued to serve in the Navy, but because the Germans were not allowed to have submarines, he was a commander of torpedo boats. IN 1935, he was made the commander of the first of Germanys new U-boat flotilla, and then he joined the new Kriegsmarine, which took the place of the small inter war Reichsmarine. After his promotion to commander of the U-boat forces, he pushed for the German navy to be transformed into a navy of U-boats. During WWII, Doenitz commanded the U-boat forces, and pioneered the wolf pack strategy that was so effective during the early part of the war against the allied shipping. After the war in the Atlantic turned against the Germans, Doenitz continued to push for the continued development of the U-boat forces, believing that if he was given more boats, and more advanced boats, he could defeat the British. In 1943, Doenitz was made the commander in chief of the German Navy. After Hitler committed suicide, Doenitz was surprisingly named his successor, and it was Doenitz that finally surrendered to the Allies. He was convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials, and served ten years in prison. Karl Doenitz died on December 24th, 1980.

One of the main weapons used by the Germans during the Battle of the Atlantic was the U-boat Type VII. The U-boat Type VII was the most prevalent of the Germans submarines during the war, being the only German ocean-going sub at the beginning of the war. The Type VII was based on designs dating back to the First World War, and was designed by the Dutch company Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw den Haag, which was set up by the Germans after WWI to keep their submarine knowledge from being lost. The Type VII had many different forms, with seven total forms of the sub being made during the war in response to deficiencies in the original design. The Type VII was the most used submarine class during WWII, and in fact, they were the most produced submarines ever, with 709 being made.

The Battle of the Atlantic was one of the most important and longest running conflicts of the war. It was the results of the Allies desire to supply Britain and Russia, and of the Germans desire to starve these two nations of supplies. The main belligerents of this battle were the German Kriegsmarine, specifically the Unterseeboot Waffe, or Uboat Arm, and the British Royal Navy. At the beginning of the War, the German Navy was in no way prepared to compete with the Royal Navy and the French Navy for control of the seas. The German naval plan, called the Z-plan, was predicated on the war starting in 1945, and at this point, it would have been up to full strength. However, in 1939, the navy was very small, and therefore was unable to combat the superior forces of the British and French. Consequentially, the German naval strategy revolved around commerce raiding.

In August of 1939, the Germans sent their pocket battle ships and U-boats out into the Atlantic to start fighting the British and German. One of the first actions of the war was the sinking of the S.S Athenia only a few hours after the start of the war. At the beginning of the war, the British, who had already started to convoy their shipping, decided that they needed a more offensive strategy to combat the Germans, and the Royal Navy formed submarine hunting groups to hunt for U-boats. This strategy would ultimately fail because the U-boats were too small to see well, and they were able to get away from the hunting parties. This transfer of forces caused the convoys to be less protected, and this strategy greatly backfired on the British, causing them to suffer heavy losses in the early stages of the battle. Two of the British Navys carriers were involved in incidents stemming from this strategy, with the HMS Courageous being lost to a Uboats torpedo. Also during this early period of the war, the Germans surface ships were very effective. The pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee sank nine ships with over 50,000 tons of cargo in the first three months of the war alone. The Admiral Graf Spee managed to avoid attack by the Allies for months, but was finally put out of action in December of 1939, off of the coast of South America. However, because of the smaller size of their surface fleet, they couldnt sustain losses such as the loss of the Admiral Graf Spree in 1939 and the battleship Bismarck lost in 1941. Because of their surface navys inability to compete effectively with the British Navy, the Germans soon realized that their best option to compete with the Allies was through submarine warfare. From the start of the war, Karl Donitz, leader of the U-boat Arm, pushed for the navy to commit to U-boats. Doenitz believed that if the Germans

had a U-boat force of 300 boats, the Germans would be able to blockade Britain, and cause her to lose the war. Doenitz wanted to use these 300 boats in a new, revolutionary tactic, known as the Rudeltaktik, or in English, the wolf pack. From 1940 to 1941, the submarines enjoyed a field day in the Atlantic, leading to this period of the war being called the Happy Time by the German U-boat commanders. The Germans were very successful during this period because of two things: The British lost France, and because of this, the Allies combined navies suddenly became much smaller, secondly, the Germans now had direct access to the Atlantic Ocean, which allowed them to go out much further when raiding. During the year of 1940, the German U-boats sank 471 ships, and the next year 432 ships were sunk by Uboats (Trueman). To make matters worse, during this time period, the British did not have enough ships to deal with the U-boats, although 50 US destroyers loaned to the British in 1940 alleviated this problem. The British began during this period to sue new tactics so as to combat the U-boats better. The British knew that they needed to combat the U-boats more effectively, and to do this they began developing many different weapons to combat the U-boats. One of the first important developments was the development of Corvettes, small ships that were easily produced, helping to fill the hole in ships fighting the U-boats. Also, another thing that the British used to combat the Germans was ASDIC, an early version of sonar. However, the British also continued to use obsolete tactics for combating the U-boats, such as sending out specific U-boat hunting parties. As the British improved their technology and tactics, the Happy Time For the Germans ended. The British finally had enough support ships to have full time convoy

protection, and this greatly helped the British combat the U-boats. There were also several other important occurrences that happened during 1941: the Americans became more involved in the war, helping to cover half of the Atlantic, the High-Frequency Direction-Finding equipment for ships was perfected, allowing the Allies to better locate the U-boats, and, in addition to this, The German naval Enigma machine was cracked. Another thing that helped the allied cause during this period was that Hitler would not allow Doenitz to devote his entire submarine force to the Atlantic, instead ordering him to use most of his boats supporting Germanys operations in the Mediterranean. This created a situation where the German U-boats still in the Atlantic were unable to score any major victories during this time. However, even though the Allies were no longer taking heavy losses left and right, they still were unable to defeat the U-boats effectively. In early 1942, after the US had entered the war on the Allies side, Doenitz extended his U-boat attack all the way to the US coastline, in an operation known as Operation Drumbeat. This was a very successful move for the Germans, because the US navy was not experienced in fighting submarines, and also because the US navy refused to learn from the British Navys earlier mistakes. Finally the Americans started using convoys, which greatly lowered their losses. An important effect of this battle was that Doenitz strategy was seen to be effective by Hitler, and Doenitz was promoted to Grand Admiral of the fleet. After the Americans tactics were changed for more effective ones, the battle moved back out into the mid-Atlantic, and, from late 1942-1943, the Americans and the British developed many successful strategies for combating the U-boats. Doenitz moved all his boats back to the mid-Atlantic, and for a short time, Allied losses moved back up.

The Allies were able to combat this through some changes in strategy, and also through some key new inventions. By this time, the allies had enough ships in constant convoy protection that they were able to organize support groups which were used to reinforce convoys being attacked. This allowed the Allies to have greater freedom in combating the U-boats. Also the Allies developed two key weapons during this period, the Hedgehog mortar and the Leigh Light. The Hedgehog mortar gave the allies a weapon that, instead of going off at a preset depth like depth charges, only exploded on contact, which allowed the allies to track targets better while attacking. The Leigh light, which was a powerful spotlight attached to aircraft and synchronized with radar, allowed the allied planes to find and destroy U-boats at night, which previously had been a safe period for the U-boats. Although planes had before this been able to find U-boats, they were never able to attack at night, and the Leigh light soon made no time safe for the Uboats. The battle reached its peak in early 1943, with May of this year being known as Black May. At this point, the fighting in the Atlantic was at an all time high, and the British were fearful that they might be defeated. However, during the Month of May, the U-boat Arm lost 25% of its U-boats, 43, and Admiral Doenitz halted all U-boat activity in the Atlantic. This was caused by a combination of more effective technologies, such as the Leigh light and Hedgehog mortar, but it was particularly caused by the MidAtlantic Air gap being covered by the new high tech planes being produced. This allowed the Allies to continue their effective hunting of U-boats by planes, and effectively made the entire Atlantic unsafe for the U-boats. At this point the Battle was won, but it continued with minor action until the end of the war. The Germans tried to

introduce new submarines that were much more effective than their old ones in the final years of the war, but these came too little, too late. The Battle of the Atlantic was a strategic victory for the Allies, although it came at a much higher cost to their side. The allies lost over 3,500 ships to the Germans during the war, while the Germans only lost almost 800 submarines. However, the victory in the battle of the Atlantic lead to the successful invasion of Normandy, and thus the defeat of Germany.

The man, who almost won the war for the Germans, by almost winning the Battle of the Atlantic, was Karl Donitz. Karl Doenitz was one of the most successful of the German military commanders during the war, and was also one of the most important figures of the wars end. It was Doenitz that finally surrendered to the Allies, after being appointed head of the German government after Hitlers suicide. Karl Doenitz was born on September 16th, 1891, near Berlin, Germany. He was the youngest son of an engineer, Emil Donitz, and had one older brother. He enlisted in the German Navy in 1910, and began his career aboard the SMS Breslau. When WWI began, he was commissioned a second Lieutenant, and was sent along with his ship to the Mediterranean Sea. Early in the war, His ship, along with one other ship, were sold to the Ottoman Empire, and he was ordered to serve aboard his ship, now operating out of Istanbul, fighting the Russians. In 1916, Doenitz was promoted to First Lieutenant and was transferred into the submarine forces. He first served as a watch officer, and took his first command in 1918. He lost his boat during a failed dive, and was capture by the British

towards the end of 1918. He then was a prisoner of war for 18 months. He returned to Germany in 1920, and rejoined the German Navy, although it had now been severely cut down, and U-boats were no longer allowed to be part of it. During the interwar years, Doenitz first served as the commander of a series of torpedo boats, and continued to rise in rank, becoming a Lieutenant-Commander in 1928. In 1933, he became a full commander, and in 1934, was put in charge of the cruiser Emden, which was the training ship for German cadets. When, after sailing his ship around the world for a year, Doenitz returned to Germany, he was given the order to rebuild the German U-boat forces. He was made a Captain in 1935, and put in charge of the first U-boat Flotilla Wediggen. In 1936, he was made the Fuhrer de Unterseeboot, but this title was soon changed, because using Fuhrer in the title was given only to Hitler. He began to build up the German forces, and also refined the German tactics, practically inventing the concept of the wolf pack. Donitzs strategy, the Rudeltaktik, was derived from German ideas of submarine groups from WWI, but he took it to a whole new level. Before this strategy, the prevailing uses for submarines had been as coastal raiders, ships that hid outside enemy harbors and shot their ships coming in and out, or as boats attached to the larger fleets, working in coordination with the surface ships. The idea of the wolf pack was to use the submarines essentially to attack convoys. The basic strategy was to send a line of submarines into the path of a convoy and have the submarines attack the convoys. This would allow the submarines to potentially sink entire convoys and to cut off an enemy,

specifically Great Britain, from the supplies it needed. Doenitz believed that he would need 300 of the Type VII U-boats to achieve a total blockade of Britain. These views put Doenitz at odds with his commander, Erich Raeder, the commander of the entire German Navy. Raeder believed that U-boat warfare was cowardly, and so he was at odds with Doenitz the entire time that Doenitz was commander of the U-boat Arm. In addition to looking down upon U-boats, Raeder also believed that the war, unless pushed back for years, would be a disaster for the German Navy. He was banking on a war that wouldnt start until 1945, at which point the German Navy would be able to effectively combat the Royal Navy. Doenitz believe that this made U-boats even more important, because they would be the Germans only hope for naval victory once the war started. In 1939, Doenitz was promoted to Commodore. At the start of the war, Doenitz was promoted again, this time to Rear Admiral. At the beginning of the war, while being ordered to attack the British fleet directly, Doenitz had mixed success, sinking two of the British ships, an aircraft carrier and a battleship, and damaging two more, but also losing some of his U-boats, reducing an already undermanned force of 57 boats. He was also attacking shipping at this time, but could not commit his entire force to this. However, as the war went on, more of the advanced Type VII, an ocean going U-boat, were delivered, and the pressure on the British economy became very great. Doenitz soon took his warfare to higher levels as the war went on. In 1941, when the US entered the war, he attacked the US coastline during Operation Drumbeat, which showed Hitler how effective the U-boat warfare was, and finally lead to Doenitz being given control over where he could send the U-boats. By 1942, Doenitz finally had

enough U-boats to fully implement his Rudeltaktic, and it was during this phase of the war where the Allied losses were highest. In 1943, as the war in the Atlantic turned against the Germans, Doenitz continued to push for U-boat development, and, because of this, would finish the war, with the most highly developed submarine force by far. Doenitz was also promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, in 1943, replacing Raeder. Doenitz was, surprisingly, selected to replace Hitler as the head of the German state, after Hitler committed suicide on April 30th, 1945. At this point, the war was effectively over. Donitz, spent his time in charge trying to ensure that the Germans would surrender to the British or Americans. His government was known as the Flensburg Government, because of its location in Flensburg, near the Dutch border. He surrendered to the Allies on May 7th, 1945. After the war, Doenitz was charged with war crimes for his participation in the war. He was charged at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, for committing acts of unrestricted submarine warfare against neutral shipping. He was released from prison in 1956, and for the rest of his life, lived in Aumuhle, Germany, and died of a heart attack on December 24th, 1980.

The most important weapon to the Germans during the Battle of the Atlantic was the Type VII U-boat. The Type VII was the most widely used of the German U-boats during the war, and was the most produced submarine of all time. The Type VII was revised many times during the war, and was refined many times, being produced in seven different designs and modified designs throughout the war.

The Type VII was developed by the Dutch company Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw den Haag. This company was actually set up by Germans, to get around the restrictions of the treaty of Versailles, so that the German knowledge of U-boats would not be lost. The company started to develop the Type VII in 1933, and was based on the WWI U-boat Type III. The Type VII was soon chosen to be the main sub of the new U-boat force. The Type VII was chosen to be the main sub of the German forces because of its range, its armament, and its good maneuverability. It went through many different forms throughout the war. The first Type VII was the Type VIIA. This was the first one made, beginning in 1939, with ten of this model getting made. It was decided that the Type VIIA would be used as the basis for further development. The Type VIIA had a range of 4300 miles and could carry eleven torpedoes. The Type VIIB was the first improvement on the class. It was made to have a larger fuel capacity to increase the range, and on this model, the range was increased from 4300 miles to 6500 miles. It was also faster than the VIIA and could hold three more torpedoes. 24 of this design were made during the war. The next version of this type was the Type VIIC, which was the most prevelant submarine of the type, with over 500 being made during the war. This is the workhorse of the fleet, and these submarines featured very little change from the previous model except for the addition of sonar equipment and some minor mechanical upgrades. Four more models of the type were made the Type VIID, VIIF, VIIC 41, and VIIC-Flak. The VIID was a mine laying sub, which featured design elements that made it look like a modern ballistic missile sub; six were made of this model. The VIIF was

built mainly as a torpedo transport ship. They were the largest of the Type VII, and four were made of this type. The VIIC 41 was an improved version of the VIIC, with the only difference an improved hull for a greater dive depth; 91 of these were built. The VIIC-Flak, was also the same as the VIIC, except this had more anti-air armament, to protect other subs from the Allied U-boat hunting planes. Four of these were made. After the war, the majority of the Type VIIs were destroyed, per the Allies demands at the end of the war. These German subs had a great influence on later design, such as the both the later American and Soviet subs. The Type VII is definitely one of the most influential submarines of all time, both because of the large number of production and its success during the war.

The Battle of the Atlantic was possibly the most important battle of World War II. It was the longest running conflict of WWII, stretching from the beginning of the war in 1939, right until the end in 1945. The Battle of the Atlantic was fought between the German Kriegsmarine, specifically the U-boot Waffe (U-boat Arm); and the Allied Navy and convoys, especially the British Royal Navy. The Battle took place because of the Allies need to supply Britain and Russia, and because of the need to amass troops and supplies in Britain for the Normandy Invasions. The Battle took place over a span of six years, and because of this, there were many swings in the momentum of the battle. For the first year of the war, The Germans had a decisive advantage in the Battle, because of Britains poor tactics and lack of preparation for anti-submarine warfare. During this time, up until 1941, the Germans had great success with their U-boats, and this time was called by the German U-boat captains, the Happy Time. In 1941, the Germans finally

had the number of U-boats necessary to fully implement their wolf packs, but the allies better preparation and tactics allowed the Battle to be more even at this time. After the US joined the war, Operation Drumbeat, the Germans submarine operation off of the US coast line, was so successful, that it led Hitler to give Doenitz complete control over the U-boats. During the next year, as the Battle moved back to the Mid-Atlantic, the hardest fighting of the Battle took place, and finally, in the spring of 1943, the battle reached its critical point. In May of 1943, the Allies essentially ended the German threat of the Uboats, through superior technology and through the number of anti-submarine weapons that were used during this time. From this point on, the Battle of the Atlantic was essentially over, but the Germans continued to harass the Allies with U-boats until the end of the war. Karl Doenitz was the commander of the U-boat forces, and, with his revolutionary submarine warfare ideas, almost won the Battle of the Atlantic for the Germans. He was the originator of the wolf pack strategy, which allowed the U-boats to do a considerable amount of damage to Allied convoys. Doenitz joined the German navy before WWI, and served in the Mediterranean during the war. In 1916, Doenitz joined the German U-boat forces, and in 1918 was captured by the British, and was a POW for the rest of the war. He served in the Navy during the inter-war years, and, in 1935, he was promoted to the head of the new German U-boat forces. He pushed for the development of U-boats, which allowed Germany to have the most advanced submarines in the world. Doenitz was promoted to Grand Admiral and Commander of the Navy in 1943 for his successes in the war, and he was made Hitlers successor after Hitlers suicide. Doenitz was

convicted of war crimes after the war, and served ten years in prison, before living out the rest of his life in relative obscurity. The Type VII submarine was the most used sub of the war, and also the largest class of submarines ever, in terms of numbers made. It was developed by the Germans, through their Dutch dummy company, during the inter war years, and was based off of WWI designs. Its first prototypes were made in 1933, and it served as the basis for many later German designs. There were seven classes of the submarine that were used during the war: The VIIA, VIIB, VIIC, VIIC-Flak, VIIC-41, VIID, and VIIF. The VIIA was the main prototype of the sub. The VIIB was a much improved version of the original that was greatly used during the first year of the war. The VIIC was the most widely produces version of the Type VII, and formed the backbone of the submarine forces. The VIIC-Flak and VIIC-41 were improved versions of the C class, with the Flak being an anti-air sub and the 41 being better designed for evading attack through a superior dive depth. The VIID was a mine laying submarine, and was not used very extensively during the war. The VIIF was the largest submarine of the Type VIIs and it was a torpedo transport ship. All in all, this was one of the most important battles of the war, determining the fate of the rest of the war, and allowed the Allies to win.

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