The massacre as the formation of a class of submarines

You know, and at the end of the 19 - the beginning of the 20 centuries, more than one novel was written about what the world war will be like. Yes, they were somewhat fantastic, but the authors tried to foresee in them what would begin. More precisely, what began after some 10 years.

I do not mean treatises on strategy and tactics, but semi-fantastic novels. He flipped through several, Tuckman, Julie and Junger, and realized that people at the beginning of the last century had absolutely no idea of ​​the nightmare that would occur on the battlefields.

Everything turned out to be wrong. Cavalry lost to machine guns, infantry generally turned out to be consumables in games with artillery and gases, giants zeppelins, bringing death to cities, lost to rattle biplanes made of boards and ropes. Even tanks, which no one knew at all, were not something so imbalanced.

But no one even in a terrible unscientific fantasy could imagine what would happen at sea. It was precisely on the seas of battles, not on the fields, that progress hinged conservatism to the maximum.

You can talk a lot about the battles of the First World War, many are still discussing Jutland, the last (and, in principle, the first) large-scale battle of the giants, but now we will not talk about it.

The events that I want to talk about and reason about were not as epic as Jutland, but in my opinion they had such an impact on military technology that, perhaps, not much of the military stories.

It's about ... a battle to call it a language does not turn. The battle is Dogger Bank, this is Jutland, this is when two parties are at war. Dealing damage to each other and so on.

And we will talk about beating. Perhaps this word is most suitable.

It all happened on September 22 1914 of the year in the North Sea, 18 miles off the coast of Holland. The event, the essence of which was not only the humiliation of Britain as a sea power, although this was the place to be, because in an hour Britain lost more personnel than during the Battle of Trafalgar, but also the birth of a new class of military vehicles.

Everyone already understood that this was about submarines and the massacre that was arranged by Otto Veddigen with the crew of his U-9.

Three armored cruisers, “Hog”, “Kressi” and “Abukir”, could not oppose the German submarine and simply drowned as a result of a very well-aimed shooting of the German crew.

Cressy. The whole series was named after him.

Submarines. Although at that time it would be correct to call them diving, since under the water they could be very little in time.

There is something in any submarine ... Probably, the understanding that today it can sink, and come up tomorrow for a thousand kilometers. Or not to surface, which also happens.

But if we are talking about the First World War, then TE submarines - it was something. The real weapon suicide bombers, well aware that if anything - salvation does not wait. The aviators piloting strange tarakhtelki, at least had primitive, but parachutes. The submariners had nothing, until the invention of the scuba gear there were still 50 years left.

So at the start of World War I, the submarines were toys. Expensive and dangerous, because the technology of that time - you yourself understand, this is something. No normal diesel engines, no batteries, no air regeneration systems - nothing.

Accordingly, the attitude towards them was such to itself ... Marine penal battalion. If you behave badly (very badly), we will send it to the “kerosene”.

Prior to WWI, in previous wars, submarines did not show themselves at all. In the Russo-Japanese War, neither Russian nor Japanese submarines did anything at all. Therefore, their effective as weapons was considered insignificant.

The British thought about the same. "Vile and damn not English weapons" - such was the opinion of one of the British admirals.

The Germans looked at the submarines in exactly the same way. Moreover, the great von Tirpitz himself did not want to finance the construction of these ships, which he considered completely useless. And, in general, Germany entered the war, having in the 28 fleet of submarines. The British had twice as many - 59.

What was a submarine of that time?

In general, they developed by leaps and bounds.

U-1 submarine

Judge for yourself: U1 had a displacement of 238 tons above water and 283 tons underwater, length - 42,3 meters, width - 3,75, draft - 3,17. Two petrol engines for surface movement in 400 hp and two electric motors for movement under water.

The boat could develop the speed of the 10,8 node under water and the 8,7 node under water and dive as many as 30 meters. The power reserve was 1500 miles, which is generally very good, but the armament is rather weak: one bow torpedo tube and three torpedoes. But then they did not know how to reload a torpedo tube in an underwater position. The hero of our story was the first to do this.

Artillery? Machine guns? Well, still, the beginning of the century in the yard ... There was nothing.

But this is 1904 year. But let's look at the boat of the hero of our story, Weddigen, U-9. Six years later, the boat was already somewhat larger.

U9 joined the fleet with the following parameters: displacement - 493 (surface) / 611 (submarine) tons, length - 57,38 meters, width - 6,00, draft - 3,15, immersion depth - 50 meters, speed - 14,2 / 8,1 knots, cruising range - 3000 miles.

Gasoline engines were replaced by two Korting kerosene engines (on the surface) and two electric motors under water.

But the armament was quite: 4 torpedo tubes with ammunition 6 torpedoes and deck gun (retractable) caliber 105 millimeters. According to the staff list, the crew consisted of 35 people.

Well, the crews were preparing from the heart. Survivors later wrote about this in memoirs.

But in Germany, as well as in Great Britain, France and Russia, they were convinced that the fate of a future war at sea would be decided by huge armored ships armed with long-range artillery of the highest caliber possible.

In principle, this is how it started, but then the time has come for what? That's right, in Britain they decided to block Germany and lock up its "High Seas Fleet" in the bases.

This was done using proven means, that is, with the help of all the same dreadnought / battleships and other ships like battlecruisers and destroyers. The British sailors had experience of such operations, so they were able to organize the blockade very qualitatively. So that no German ship could slip unnoticed.

A ship, but we're talking about boats ... Diving ...

So this blockade did not concern submarines at all. And, looking a little ahead, I will say that in the Second World War German submariners gave the British a very strong headache with their actions. And already Britain was on the verge of a complete blockade.

But in the First World War, the goal of German submariners was not primarily the British merchant fleet, but the military. The blockade had to be lifted.

It so happened that one of the units of the British ships blocking the Dutch coast was made up of five large armored cruisers of the Kressi type.

The massacre as the formation of a class of submarines

On the one hand, the blockade is energy-intensive and requires a lot of ships. On the other hand, do not write off the weather. Light cruisers and destroyers, of course, are more suitable for such tasks, but the trouble is - great excitement nullified the entire effectiveness of these ships.

Because of this, heavy, but seaworthy Cressi irons could be on patrol in any weather, unlike destroyers. It is clear that in the British Admiralty there were no illusions about the fate of the battleships, if they happened to meet new German ships. Everything was clear and understandable here.

The group even earned the nickname "live bait squadron". And it was supposed to catch the ships of the Hohseeflot. And then already collapse on them with all the ships of the main forces.

But these ships were certainly not “whipping boys” either. We look at the characteristics.

Type "Cressi". They were built not so long ago, in the interval from 1898 to 1902 years. Displacement 12 000 tons, slightly less battleships, but that’s a bit.

Length - 143,9 meters, width - 21,2, draft - 7,6. Two steam engines (30 boilers) developed power in 21 thousand horsepower and speed up to 21 knot.

Armament: 2 guns of the caliber 233 mm, 12 x 152 mm, 14 x 76 mm, 18 x 37 mm. Plus 2 torpedo tubes. The thickness of the armor belt is 152 millimeters. The team consisted of 760 people.

In general, such a five could perplex anyone, with the possible exception of guys like Von der Tann and his comrades.

So what happened next?

And then a storm began in the patrolled sector. And the British destroyers were forced to leave their heavy cruisers and go to base.

In general, it was believed in theory that under such excitement, submarines cannot work, and a short and high wave will interfere. Nevertheless, the cruisers had to walk at variable speeds with a speed of at least 12 nodes.

But two things happened at once. The first - the British neglected one and the other rule. And they walked along the sector in a direct course at a speed of 8 nodes. Coal, apparently, was cherished. The second - Veddigen did not know that with such excitement his boat could not attack enemy ships. Because he went to sea.

True, the U-9 also got excited. The boat went astray and miraculously did not run aground due to a broken gyrocompass. But on 22 of September 1914 of the year the sea calmed down, and the weather was very good.

Having noticed smokes on the horizon, on the U-9 they shut off the engines and plunged to periscope depth. Soon, the Germans saw and identified three British cruisers, marching at intervals of two miles. Having calculated the course, speed and probability of deviation, Weddigen fired the first torpedo with 500 meters, one might say, point blank. After 31 a second, the boat shook: a torpedo hit the target.

It was an Abukir. The team, "missed" the torpedo, considered that the ship was the victim of an unknown minefield. The cruiser began to roll to the starboard side. When the roll reached 20 degrees, an attempt was made to straighten the ship, flooding the opposite compartments, which did not help, but only accelerated the death.

“Hog”, in accordance with the instructions, went to the “Abukir”, stalled in two cable and lowered the boats. When the boats rolled off the side, two torpedoes crashed into a stopped cruiser, and from the left side a submarine suddenly flew to the surface of the sea.

While the Abukir understood what had happened and fought for survivability, Veddigen managed to reload the torpedo tube and went around the Abukir under water. And he was in two cable from the "Hog." U-9 fired two torpedoes and began to go into the depths and work out the engines back. But this maneuver was not enough, and the boat, with its nose up, went up. They did not know how to compensate for the weight of torpedoes.

But Weddigen was really a cool commander and was able to level the boat, forcing free crew members to run inside, using people as moving ballast. Even in a modern submarine, this will be another exercise, but in a submarine of the beginning of the last century ...

In general, everything went a little out of plan, and it turned out that the roll was leveled, but the boat was on the surface. According to the law of meanness, some three hundred meters from the Hog. Yes, the cruiser, stocked with two torpedoes, was drowning, but it was a British cruiser. With British sailors on board.

Therefore, it is not surprising that with the Hog, which remained on an even keel, fired on the boat. After a while, the boat went under water. The British were sure that she sank. But the same law of meanness worked, and not a single shell hit the target. It’s just that the Germans were still able to fill the ballast tanks and go to the depths.

“Abukir” had already rolled over and sank by that time, and “Hog” sank almost immediately. On the U-9, the electric batteries were almost exhausted, there was nothing to breathe, but Veddigen and his team, entering into a rage, decided to attack the last cruiser.

Turning stern to the target, the Germans fired two torpedoes from a distance all the same 2 cable from their rear tubes. That is, again point blank. But at Kressi they already realized that they were dealing with a submarine, and yet they spotted a trail of torpedoes. The cruiser tried to dodge, and one torpedo even passed, but the second hit the starboard side. The damage was not fatal, the ship remained on an even keel, and its guns opened fire at the place where the boat was supposedly located. And with the same success as the Hog.

And Veddigen still had another torpedo and a mountain of adrenaline not spent. The Germans reloaded the torpedo tubes for the second time during the battle, which in itself was either a feat or an achievement. At a ten-meter depth, the U-9 walked around the Kressy, climbed to the periscope depth and hit the cruiser with the last torpedo.

And that is all. Being a good commander, Weddigen did not wait for the return of the British destroyers, but with maximum speed pulled towards the base.

In this ... battle? Rather, in this battle, Britain lost 1459 sailors, which is almost three times more than in the Battle of Trafalgar.

The funny thing is that Weddigen thought he was attacking the Birmingham class light cruisers. When they arrived at the base, the submariners learned that they had sent three heavy armored cruisers with a displacement of 36 000 tons to the bottom.

When September X-NUMX U-23 arrived in Wilhelmshaven, all of Germany already knew what had happened. Otto Veddigen was awarded the Iron Crosses of the first and second classes, and the entire crew - Iron Crosses of the second class.

In Britain, the loss of three large warships caused a shock. The Admiralty, always reluctant to believe the obvious facts, insisted that several submarines took part in the attack. And even when the details of the battle became known, the Lords of the Admiralty stubbornly refused to recognize the skill of the German submariners.

The general opinion was expressed by the commander of the British submarine fleet, Roger Keyes:
"In the first months of the war, sinking surface ships with submarines was no more difficult than hunting ambush hand-held elephants tied to trees."

However, the main result of the U-9 battle was not the sinking of three large cruisers, but a grandiose demonstration of the capabilities of the submarine fleet.

Many later said that cruisers of the Kressi type were obsolete, it was not difficult to sink them, but forgive me, you might think that sonars were not standing on the latest dreadnoughts or destroyers of that time, and even new ships were completely defenseless against submarines.

As for Germany, the victory of U-9 gave it a powerful impetus to the development of the submarine fleet. The country rushed to build submarines. Until the end of the war, the Germans put into operation the 375 submarines of seven different types.

In general, after the battle of Jutland and the subsequent complete blockade of German bases by ships of the British fleet, submarines became the only effective weapon for waging war at sea.

During World War I, British shipping from the attacks of German submarines lost ships with a total carrying capacity of 6 million 692 thousand tons.

In total, in the 1914-1918 years, German submarines destroyed 5 708 ships with a carrying capacity of 11 million 18 thousand tons.

Plus, it is impossible to take into account how many ships died on the mines set by submarines.

During this time, the German submarine fleet lost 202 submarines, 515 officers and 4894 sailors. Killed every third submariner in Germany.

However, another new class of warships was born, which went through two world wars and many local wars. And today, submarines are considered one of the most effective types of weapons.

It’s funny, but once nobody believed in “kerosene” ...
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