... We did our best, but the slippery black death was ahead of us.
We introduced a convoy system, but this only spurred their excitement - they gathered in flocks and pursued us even more. In the afternoon they disappeared. But as soon as twilight was gathering, tenacious paws snapped at the throat and carried them to the seabed.
Angry fishes came to know about our secrets and changed tactics - now, having discovered a convoy, they surfaced and followed a parallel course with him, focusing on the smoke of ships. Enigma chattering furiously, invisible electric lightning pierced the airwaves — after an hour other creatures shuffled to the area, gradually surrounding us and leaving our ships to intercept. And then they rushed at us, and the terrible began ...
We created a centimeter range radar for total control of the ocean surface. Their response was the "Maltese cross" - a sensitive anti-radar, cut off the radiation of our radar long before the operators began to see the flare from a large surface object. When the patrol "Sunderland" went into the given square, the black death managed to sink and disappear without a trace in the thickness of the sea water.
We put 76 000 sea mines on the approaches to their bases in the North Sea and the English Channel, mined the Kiel Canal, the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits. In dangerous raids, 500 production planes were lost, but all in vain - during the entire war only thirty-two of them became victims of our mines, the remaining 800 skillfully bypassed the barricades and went into the ocean to engage in robbery.
We regularly bombed their bases and shipyards where predatory fish were born, dropping a total of 100 000 tons of bombs. All in vain - their losses were minimal. Total 59 steel demons. The others, after waiting the raid, immediately climbed out of their reinforced concrete shelters and spread across the Atlantic.
We broke into the Enigma and began to read their conversations. It did some good, but it increased the feeling of fear — they were everywhere, but we could not do anything about it.
We increased the number of escort forces, built 350 corvettes of the “Hunt” and “Flower” types in two years, which became our “T-34” in the vast Atlantic. We armed the transport and fishing vessels, attracted cruisers and destroyers of the Royal Navy to combat the underwater threat. The naval command requisitioned from 1240 shipowners yachts, trawlers and whaling ships, turning them into hunters for the black death - with a set of sonar equipment and a stock of depth charges on board.
We created a sonar - ASDIK, capable of shining through the depths of the sea and calculating the prowling creatures. Alas, with clenched teeth, they, as before, overtook the caravans of ships and stubbornly choked Britain, leaving us without the essentials. Blood gushing from both sides, but their rage was stronger than high technology.
Underwater killers boldly rushed forward without fear of our instruments - they knew that a primitive ASDIK has a too small capture angle, and its effective range in the echolocation mode does not exceed one mile and decreases rapidly with deteriorating weather and an increase in the speed of an anti-submarine ship. On 16 nodes, the sonar became completely deaf.
As soon as the persecution began, we immediately lost contact with them.
We developed new noise-finders and ultrasonic observation devices, installed coastal acoustic stations at the mouths of the rivers, every port and naval base ... all in vain!
Slippery black monsters, too, have continuously improved. They reduced the level of intrinsic noise by applying damping mechanisms and means to interfere with the operation of our sonar equipment. They learned to quickly change the depth of the dive, making our anti-submarine weapon and depth charges are ineffective.
They had new dangerous toys - FAT and LUT maneuvering devices for torpedo weapons, the simplest mechanisms that allowed attacking convoys from any position. And then there were acoustic self-guided torpedoes Т4 "Falke" and Т5 "Tsakunönig". Any of our ships who risked engaging in an open battle with a steel fish, could at any moment be hit.
We equipped our ships with towed noise traps, but they immediately created a noise-proof guidance system for acoustic torpedoes.
We felt, literally felt with our salted skin, that a new threat was approaching - new, even more menacing underwater monsters were conceived in the German shipyards ...
"Electrobots". Type XXI and XXIII. Boats designed to be permanently submerged. Optimized contours and an increased number of batteries allowed them to accelerate under water to 15 nodes - their pursuit by our anti-submarine ships was almost impossible, at such a speed, the ASDIK did not work. Equipped with snorkels, they could not appear on the surface for weeks; and the sophisticated hydroacoustics complex provided them with exceptional opportunities to control the marine environment.
Then we did not know all this. There was only an oppressive feeling of danger and impotence.
Britain was preparing for the worst ...
... yes, 1942 was a great year. The glorious submariners managed to triple the achievements of all the previous years of the war, sinking 1149 ships and ships of the enemy with a total tonnage of 6,2 million gross registered tons for the year. Fantastish!
The list of victories includes a pair of noble trophies - the Eagle aircraft carrier (11.08.1942 sunk by U-73 submarine) and the cruiser Edinburgh with a cargo of gold on board (shot down by 2.05.1942 in the Barents Sea by U-473 submarine). In addition, the “sea wolves” bit the legendary PQ-17 convoy, carried out the “Wunderland” operation in the Kara Sea, sank the 2 cruisers and 13 enemy destroyers. Sergut
Strait of Kirk Sound, Scapa Flow, Scotland. Here, on a dark night from 13 to 14 in October 1939, climbed, barely scratching the bottom of the hull, the U-47 submarine, commanded by Gunter Prien. How did he do it? Das ist fiction. However, for the battleship "Royal Oak" and 833, the man of his crew this night was the last. Having carried out a pogrom in the harbor of the most protected British base, U-47, under the roar of anti-aircraft guns, I got out the same way and returned home safely.
In order to avoid a repetition of the next Pearl Harbor with a German accent, the British urgently partitioned the strait with a stone dam.
Bright events hide the gray everyday life of war. Our submariners have clear guidelines - if possible, do not touch warships, focusing on merchant ships fleet. It’s not profitable for a submarine to chase a high-speed destroyer - it’s too mobile and maneuverable, the destroyer is able to dodge the fired torpedoes and launch a counterattack.
The laws of the naval war are far from common misconceptions about the "smoke of sea battles." People do not live in the open ocean. The blue-green water surface cannot be captured or destroyed. The ocean is used only as a transport artery through which Britain receives critical goods, raw materials and equipment.
And if so - then why should the boat take such a long time to carefully aim, engage in a useless and dangerous duel with escort forces of the convoy? It’s much more efficient and useful to shoot low-speed tankers and transports with airplanes, tanks, machines, mechanisms, loads of ore and rubber, uniforms and food ...
Let then the high-speed destroyer rushes in a circle, and his commander tears his hair out - the fragments of transports sink into the water, the task is failed. Upon arrival at the base, the destroyer crew will have nothing to eat, and the destroyer, left without fuel, will independently get immobilized. Exhausted Britain sooner or later will sign a surrender.
Here it is, the surest way to victory! And we continued to increase strikes in the chosen direction ...
American sentence Kriegsmarine
... We will build ships faster than the enemy can sink them. We will DAILY launch two combat ships of the main classes (aircraft carrier, battleship, cruiser, destroyer, or submarine) and put into operation three vehicles each.
The production of anti-submarine equipment should be immediately launched - thousands of hunters and corvettes, escort aircraft carriers on the basis of transport ships and the base marine aviation - Catalina seaplanes, PB4Y-1 and PB4Y-2 Privetir long-range reconnaissance aircraft (modification of Flying Fortresses).
We will deploy dozens of airfields and hydroacoustic stations in the northern part of the Atlantic - on the coast of Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
We will compensate ANY loss of the merchant fleet - the number of built Liberty transports will exceed the value of 2700 units by the end of the war. No matter how atrocious the German submariners are, our allies (first of all - Britain) are guaranteed to receive their standard of goods, equipment and raw materials for the continuation of the war.
We will "pump up" the fleet of Her Majesty with anti-submarine technology, handing over several dozen escort aircraft carriers, hundreds of destroyers and thousands of patrol ships to British sailors. We will re-arm British naval aviation with the Catalins and the Air Force.
Military-industrial anecdote: "The Yankees go to war." Actually, this explains why the Germans started having a hard time with 1943.
Relying on American industrial power, Britain will rise and continue to develop its own aviation and fleet. Acting together, we will fill up the ocean with anti-submarine technology. And while the American sonars are still inferior to the British models, the quantity will soon turn into quality. The "wolf flocks" of grand-admiral Dönitz choke in the cold water, without the ability to float on the surface - the air will be buzzed by the allied aviation, and the sea surface will be decorated with patterns of anti-submarine ship groups.
So it happened. The turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic occurred in the spring of 1943 - the “black May” became a formidable warning for German sailors - within a month the Kriegsmarine lost 43 submarines. Then it was only worse. The results of the combat work of the boats for 1943 year were a complete disappointment for the German leadership - only 2,5 million tons of cargo sunk.
U-134 comes to an end
In 1944, the situation took a catastrophic turn: losses, compared with 1940, increased by a factor of 11! Boats died en masse, sometimes not even managing to get close to convoys. Submarine bases on the coast of France were lost. Kriegsmarine was left without target designation - the use of Condor and Grif long-range sea reconnaissance aircraft became impossible due to the Allies absolute superiority in the air. Interruptions in the supply of fuel and spare parts, hacked naval ciphers, continuous raids by strategic bombers ... the result was logical - in 1944, the tonnage of ships sunk by U-bots was “only” 765 000 br. reg. tons.
By this time, the American industrial monster was completely out of control and continued to thresh the equipment in completely paranormal quantities. The average rate of construction of the Liberty transports was just 24 of the day (the record holder was Robert E. Piri, from the moment it was laid down and before the 135-meter vessel got under load, the 4 of the day and 15 hours passed).
Liberty is not the only commercial vessel built during that period. In parallel, the Yankees launched 534 transport type "Victory", about 500 tankers type "T2", etc. etc. If necessary, the Americans prepared to cast the hulls of ships entirely from reinforced concrete (concrete ship) - cheap and cheerful. And most importantly - extremely massive.
Fritz were doomed - they simply would not have enough torpedoes for so many enemies.
130 escort aircraft carriers, 850 destroyers, 2710 transports "Liberty" ... for the sake of laughter, the Yankees carried out "ideological sabotage" in Germany, scattering leaflets from the aircraft with statistical data on their own industry. American humor was incomprehensible to the inhabitants of the Old World - Nazi propaganda confidently declared these figures "nonsense."
Seven are not afraid of one
The losses of the German submariners during the war years amounted to 768 sunk and destroyed boats. More than 20 000 people were locked in steel coffins at the bottom of the Atlantic, Arctic and Indian oceans.
The losses of the allies look no less frightening - more than 2700 of sunken ships with a total tonnage of 14,5 MILLION TONS
In addition, the submariners Kriegsmarine warships destroyed 123, among whom were the British battleship 2, 3 4 shock and escort carriers, cruisers and 8 33 destroyer (the remaining loss - anti-submarine corvettes, frigates, sloops, submarines and naval tankers).
The battle for the Atlantic is clearly divided into two periods:
The first period (September 1939 - the end of 1942 of the year) is Germany’s sure victory. The magnificent British fleet was powerless before the submarine power of Kriegsmarine, none of the adopted measures of technical and organizational nature could save the British from defeat, the Germans had their own answer to every British "trick".
The British "sea wolves" were lucky that they had an ally in the face of the United States (could it have been otherwise? After all, the Anglo-Saxon brothers). It is also worth considering that the main headache of the Reich was still connected with the Eastern Front - the fleet of Her Majesty and the powerful US Navy received a considerable time bonus for the development of their own anti-submarine weapons. Obviously, in a "fair fight", one on one, German boats could completely destroy the British fleet and strangle Britain at the beginning of the 1940s.
The spring of 1943 of the year became a break for the sailors of Christmarine - henceforth the boats lost the initiative, in the long term the fascist fleet expected inevitable defeat.
But who was the true fighter of the Battle of the Atlantic? The answer will seem somewhat strange to you: for example, this young black girl, a shipyard worker in Richmond, Virginia.
The battle for the Atlantic was another confirmation of the well-known wisdom of the "seven are not afraid of one." There were no super-ships, brilliant tactics and wonder weapons - the same flimsy corvettes and patrol seaplanes, with the same radars and Asdik, who regularly lost to submarines in 1939-1943, suddenly gained strength, clutched the German fleet and tore him to shreds. The paradox has a simple explanation: anti-submarine ships and airplanes have become more 10 times.
Only the absolute quantitative superiority of the allies in ships, aircraft and resources allowed them to hold out under the blows of German submarines. The American industry won the war on the sea - the Yankees simply crushed Kriegsmarine with their enormous amount of equipment, like a steamroller rolling a helpless frog on the asphalt. Brute strength and nothing more.
15 January 1945, the British escort aircraft carrier HMS Thane was torpedoed at the mouth of the Clyde River - the damage was so heavy that the ship was sent for scrapping.
7 May 1945, the German submariners achieved their last victory - the Electrobot U-2353 slammed two ships in one gulp - the Norwegian Sneland I and the British Avondale Park right in the Firth of Clyde.
Terrible echoes of 1939-1942's events ...
Surprisingly, even in the conditions of absolute domination of the allies at sea and in the air, hacked ciphers, endless bombings, interruptions in supply and other unfavorable circumstances, German submarines operated right under the enemy’s nose and continued to inflict sensitive blows on him - direct confirmation of fantastic secrecy and the highest combat stability of the submarine fleet.
U-218 leaves Kiel
Captured U-175 crew aboard USCGC Spencer
Statistical data are taken from the monograph “Actions of German submarines during the Second World War on sea communications”, Vershinin, D. A., Eremeev L. M., Shergin A. P., Voenizdat, 1956