(9/12) Battlefield I: The Battle of the Atlantic Episode 3 (GDH)





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Published on Dec 21, 2008

Battlefield I: The Battle of the Atlantic Episode 3 (GDH)

UPDATED WEEKLY Many consider the Battle of the Atlantic the most important front of the entire war. The very survival of Great Britain relied on oversees trade. U-Boats and surface raiders, very nearly won the battle. By 1943 British and American tactics and technology had turned the tide. By 1945 790 U-boats were sunk by ASW ships, planes and mines.

The Kriegsmarines Unterseeboot (submarine) flotilla or better known as the U-boat, was commanded by Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote (Commander of Submarines) Konteradmiral(Rear Admiral 2 star) Karl Dönitz. Dönitz was a seasoned World War I U-boat commander. In World War I he was given command of UC-25, which was sunk in the Atlantic. Dönitz was captured and spent from 1916-18 in a British POW camp. By 1942 U-boat strength reached a point where Dönitz could deploy his strategy of attacking convoys on mass. The Rudel or Wolfsrudel (Wolf pack) tactic would generate havoc amongst convoys in route to Great Britain.

Shipping losses crossing the Atlantic became critical from 1940-1943. U-boat tactics were highly effective against convoys. Many U-boat commanders would surface within the convoy at night and torpedo ships. The Royal Navys escort was never large enough.

During the early years of the battle, the Allies had a significant advantage over the Kriegsmarine. The 3 rotor naval enigma machine had been broken. Convoys could be easily shifted to different routes and avoid the wolf packs. However, Dönitz became suspicious of espionage with the German intelligence community. U-boats began receiving the new 4 rotor enigma. Bletchley Park lost its ability to read Kriegsmarine message for 10 months.

The turning point came in 1943. All the experience and knowledge battling the U-boat, developed into innovative tactics and technology. Eight-centimeter radar could locate a U-boat without the U-boat sensing the waves. Huff/Duff could locate U-boats radio waves and give a general location of the transmitting U-boat. Aircraft with search lights, hunted surfaced U-boats re-charging their batteries. Hedge Hogs could spread lethal charges over a vast area and explode on contact. Finally convoys had aircraft escort from the length of their journey with escort carrier protection. The Allies became so competent at ASW warfare that Hunter/Killer groups hunted the hunters. By 1944 more U-boats were sunk in the Atlantic than merchantmen.

Enjoy this excellent episode of Battlefield: The Battle of the Atlantic.

World War II The Battle of the Atlantic U-boat German Kriegsmarine Royal Navy Great Britain Allies Convoy ASW Enigma Convoys Torpedo Wolf Pack

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