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Pocket battleships or U-boats?

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  • Pocket battleships or U-boats?

    If Hitler had deployed the pocket battleships effectively as commerce raiders, would they have been more or less effective than the U-boats. Seems to me the U-boats were better from a benefit of cost effectiveness.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Captain Worley View Post
    If Hitler had deployed the pocket battleships effectively as commerce raiders, would they have been more or less effective than the U-boats. Seems to me the U-boats were better from a benefit of cost effectiveness.
    Likely correct, IMO. Surface warships represent huge investments in infrastructure (building and maintaining them) supplies (beans, bullets and bunker fuel) crew (hundreds) and vulnerabilities (limited to no ability to hide from air and surface attack).

    If Germany had started the war with the U-boat numbers that Dönitz envisioned, and there hadn't been the high command interference, the Battle of the Atlantic would've been a very different affair.
    “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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    • #3
      Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
      Likely correct, IMO. Surface warships represent huge investments in infrastructure (building and maintaining them) supplies (beans, bullets and bunker fuel) crew (hundreds) and vulnerabilities (limited to no ability to hide from air and surface attack).

      If Germany had started the war with the U-boat numbers that Dönitz envisioned, and there hadn't been the high command interference, the Battle of the Atlantic would've been a very different affair.
      If Germany had abandoned the deck gun and railings and gone with a tear dropped shaped hull...

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      • #4
        Originally posted by zraver View Post
        If Germany had abandoned the deck gun and railings and gone with a tear dropped shaped hull...
        Perfect example of fighting the last war.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Captain Worley View Post
          Perfect example of fighting the last war.
          True for the Battle of the Atlantic but deck guns were very very useful in the Pacific, especially as Japan's seaborne transportation fell to smaller and smaller ships.
          “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
          ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

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          • #6
            ^Good point.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Captain Worley View Post
              If Hitler had deployed the pocket battleships effectively as commerce raiders, would they have been more or less effective than the U-boats. Seems to me the U-boats were better from a benefit of cost effectiveness.
              I think you're right from a cost effectiveness point of view, CW.

              Unable to ever face the RN in a fleet action, the surface ships were hunted down one by one during their raiding missions and eliminated. The steel that went into them would have been better served in U-boats - but only the right sort - larger and ocean going.

              Remember, the reason Admiral Raeder did his ship building program the way he did in the 30s was that after coming to power, Hitler stitched up what he thought was effectively a non-aggression treaty with Britain, and told Raeder that the upcoming war would be a long way off and be against the Soviet Union or France.

              This is why the navy appeared as it did in 1939, with a limited number of ships and boats that were designed to operate defensively in either the Baltic or the North Sea, not a large ocean going fleet that would project power.

              That the war broke out so quickly in 1939, and included Britain, traumatized Raeder.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by zraver View Post
                If Germany had abandoned the deck gun and railings and gone with a tear dropped shaped hull...
                Deck gun was important and sunk more vessels than tropedo in the early time, tropedos will always be so limited for a long cruise

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                • #9
                  What if the Germans had started the war with all the surface ships that they wanted/planned to have?

                  The battle for the Atlantic would have been much different. No longer a DD/DE/CVE war.

                  Just look at the RN assets that were tied up keeping what few ships the Germans had bottled up.

                  US structure for both Lant and Pac would have been much different.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by vadupleix View Post
                    Deck gun was important and sunk more vessels than tropedo in the early time, tropedos will always be so limited for a long cruise
                    By going with a clear deck no guns, no cables etc and a tear dropped shaped hull (which was the first submarine design as well as the design of modern nuclear boats) underwater speed for a given battery charge could have effectively been doubled. If a u-boat could have done 15knots submerged for 2 hours or 4 knots till the crew had to surface for air to breathe and the range of options open to the U-boat commander increases. 15 knots submerged is as fast as most escorts were on the surface.

                    Subs so configured could also have transited more or all of the bay of Biscay submerged. More subs in the Atlantic means more ships sunk.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Gun Grape View Post
                      What if the Germans had started the war with all the surface ships that they wanted/planned to have?

                      The battle for the Atlantic would have been much different. No longer a DD/DE/CVE war.

                      Just look at the RN assets that were tied up keeping what few ships the Germans had bottled up.

                      US structure for both Lant and Pac would have been much different.
                      Not so sure, it depends how many are still afloat on Dec 7, 1941. A powerful German surface fleet when the Us enters the war changes things. A powerful German surface fleet that is sunk before the US enters the war has far less impact.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by zraver View Post
                        Not so sure, it depends how many are still afloat on Dec 7, 1941. A powerful German surface fleet when the Us enters the war changes things. A powerful German surface fleet that is sunk before the US enters the war has far less impact.
                        Looking at engagements like First Narvik where the Kriegsmarine had relative parity in surface forces with the British, I have to think even a much larger than historical German surface fleet would have spent the war bottled up in the Jade or some fjords in Norway (those that weren't turned into new artificial reefs somewhere in the North Sea, anyway).
                        "Nature abhors a moron." - H.L. Mencken

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                        • #13
                          Hitler and the Kaiser weren't all that different about their capital ship fleet - both hesitated to risk it, though Hitler, unlike the Kaiser, wanted to scrape it after a while. I think the U-boats would have done a better jobs for them, had they spent those resources spent on capital ships on submarines instead.
                          sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                          If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by zraver View Post
                            If Germany had abandoned the deck gun and railings and gone with a tear dropped shaped hull...
                            Eventually, they did, but it was too late in the War to make a difference; look at the Type XXIII. Basically, a "modern" submarine, but too late and too little to make a difference. Doenitz was ALWAYS complaining about a lack of resources for the U-boot fleet, right up until the end of the War; IMO, if they had taken all of the resources they wasted on the Tirpitz and the Prince Eugen and the Bismark and the Graf Spee and used them on the U-boot fleet, Germany would've won the War of the Atlantic.

                            Type XXIII Elektro boats - U-boat Types - German U-boats of WWII - Kriegsmarine - uboat.net
                            "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Stitch View Post
                              Eventually, they did, but it was too late in the War to make a difference; look at the Type XXIII. Basically, a "modern" submarine, but too late and too little to make a difference.
                              One thing that always struck me on the XXI and subsequent subs based on that design was why not go to a single diesel and screw. I would think by that point the drivetrains were reliable enough to do without the redundancy and it would free a LOT of design space.

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