The Battle of Atlantic

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 22-04-15 14:31

Why did German utilise U-Boats so much?

  • The German Navy was weak as it hadn't been given priority compared to other sections of the military such as the Luftwaffe. The Navy only had 3 battleships and 8 cruisers. After the sinking of Bismark (May 1941) and Graf Spee, Hitler had moved the navy from the Atlantic keeping them in the Norwegian and Baltic Coast. The Capital ships required more money and time to make compared to the U-Boats. 
  • Doenitz was keen on the idea of the U-Boats and had suggested in 1940 that he would only need 300 U-Boats to bring Britain to his kneww. If he had those numbers of U-Boat then it could have became a real possibility. 
  • The U-Boats at the start of the war proved to be high successful. Between July-October1940, 144 unescorted vessels and 73 convoys were sunked at the lost of only two U-Boats. 
  • U-Boats at the begging suceeded where the Luftwaffe had failed and it planned to keep Britain and the US at arm length whilst the Germans finished Russia and depleted Britain of supplies. 

Ship losses due to U-Boats

February 1942: 65              March 1942: 86            April 1942: 69             May 1942: 111

June 1942: 121                     March 1943: 108 ships sunk

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What was the U-Boat Tactic?

July-October 1940: Targetted at British shipping 

October 1940 and onwards: Conducted the Wolf-Pack tactic 

December 1941: Hitler declares war on the US so Doenitz moves the U-Boats to the American coast, however, has to move them to the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean America adopting a convoy system. 

By June 1942: Doenitz moved to a place called the 'Black Gap' in the mid-Atlantic where air escort was no possible. At this stage, Doenitz had 100 U-Boats with 250 in construction. 

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How did the Allies win the Battle of Atlantic?

  • The Breaking of the enigma code which allowed the Royal Navy to locate and reroute convoys in 1941. However in 1942, Germany added a new a fourth wheel making it impossible until the end of 1942. 
  • The Royal Navy also changes its code due to the fact that in 1943, they had realised the Germans had been able to read their codes for all that time. 
  • Technological advancement. Had the Long-range Liberator with short wave radar and a searchlight to detect U-Boats on the surface at night. Small aircraft carrier used to protect convoys when Liberator not availabe or out of range. Support group of destroyers which would locate and destroy U-Boats. 
  • High Frequency direction finder aka 'Huff-Duff' which tracked short wave radio messages between U-Boats, something that the Germans never caught onto. 
  • Hedgehog bombs which helped bomb subamarines. 
  • However it can be said that Liberators were not used to their advanatages as at first it was used by Bomber Commander Harris who used it for strategic bombing who didn't allow it to be used by the Navy until 1942. 
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What were some of the success during the Battle of

  • November 1940: Aircrafts from carriers illustrious sink half the Italian fleet at Taranto. 
  • March 1941- five warships destroyed off Cape Matapan. 
  • May 1941- navy destroy German inavsion transport heading for Creete, however, didn't prevent German paratroops from landing. The sinking of the Bismarck removed the threat of surface raiders. 
  • September 1941- Navy provides escorts for Russia via the Artic to Munmansk where 12 convoys arrived without incident. However, by June 1942, Germans attacked and 26 out of 32 ships were los. Wasn't until November 1943 where 720 out of 811 merchant ships reached Russia safely with 5,000 tanks and 7,000 aircrafts. 
  • Amount of U-Boats sunk by Allies

May 1943: between 30 and 40

June-July 1943-54

July-Decmber  1943: 141 submarines lost for only 57 ships. 

September-May 1944: 119

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Why did the Germans lose the Battle of Atlantic?

  • Unable to keep up with the technological advancement or developed too late. The Type VII was replaced by the long range IX in 1942. Schnorkel developed in 1944 where it allowed U-Boats to run their engines underwater. The XXI which was three times faster was only ready in 1945 when the war was already lost. 
  • Doenitz couldn't compete with the US and Candian ship building. At the beggining of the Second World War, Canda only had 6 ocean-going ships and 3,500 personnels. By the end, it had one of the largest navy's in the world with 4345 commissioned vessels, 95,000 men and women. From 1941-1945, Cana produced 403 merchant ships, 281 fighting ships, 206 minesweep, 254 tugs and 3,200 landing craft. Admiral Leonard Murray was the only Candian to take over the post of air and naval forces in the North West Atlantic.
  • America shipbuilding increased from 1,160,000 in 1941 to 13,500,000 in 1943. 
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What were the consequences of the Battle of Atlant

  • The U-Boat had been unable to bring Britain to its kneww. 75% of the 40,000 U-Boat fleet had been killed. 
  • The U-Boat failed to prevent men and materials from the US to Britain making the invasion of France possible. 
  • Britain was weakened as in 1942, the output of Britain shipbuiliding was 1.3 million tonnes with losses exceeding 4 million and the output continued to decrease. In 1943, it decreased to 1.2 million tonnes and in 1944, it was just over a million. 
  • Without the victory in Battle of Atlantic, Britain would have been starved into surrendering. 
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