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THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC. SEPTEMBER, 1939 – MAY, 1945. BASIC FACTS. THE LONGEST CONTINUOS MILITARY CAMPAIGN OF WWII (9/39-8/45) WHERE? N.ATLANTIC S. ATLANTIC CARIBBEAN SEA GULF OF MEXICO WHO? AXIS: GERMAN KRIEGSMARINE

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THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC


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    1. THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC SEPTEMBER, 1939 – MAY, 1945

    2. BASIC FACTS • THE LONGEST CONTINUOS MILITARY CAMPAIGN OF WWII (9/39-8/45) • WHERE? • N.ATLANTIC • S. ATLANTIC • CARIBBEAN SEA • GULF OF MEXICO • WHO? • AXIS: GERMAN KRIEGSMARINE • ALLIES: ROYAL NAVY (U.K.), ROYAL NAVY (CANADA), U.S. NAVY • WHAT? • 100+ CONVOY BATTLES • 1000 SINGLE-SHIP BATTLES

    3. MAJOR ADVANCES & WEAPONS • GERMANS: • U-BOATS (UNTERZEEBOOT): GERMAN SUBMARINES • SURFACE RAIDERS: SURFACE SHIPS USED TO ATTACK CONVOYS • POCKET BATTLESHIPS: SMALLER-SIZED BATTLESHIPS USED TO ATTACK CONVOYS • ENIGMA MACHINES: MESSAGE ENCODING MACHINE • SCHNORKEL: SUBMARINE-MOUNTED AIR /VENTILATION DEVICE • ALLIES: • DESTROYERS: SMALL, FAST, AGILE WARSHIPS USED FOR CONVOY ESCORTING AND SUBMARINE HUNTING • A.S.D.I.C.: ALLIED SONAR • DEPTH CHARGE: PRESSURE / DEPTH DETONATED UNDERWATER EXPLOSIVE • ESCORT CARRIERS: SMALL-SIZED ARICRAFT CARRIERS USED FOR SUBMARINE HUNTING • M.A.C SHIPS: MERCHANT AIRCRAFT CARRIERS • HF/DF (ALSO CALLED “HUFF-DUFF”): HIGH FREQUENCY DIRECTION FINDER (RADAR) • HEDGEHOG: SHIP-MOUNTED UNDERWATER EXPLOSIVE MORTAR • LEIGH-LIGHT: RADAR-GUIDED AERIAL SEARCH LIGHT • B-24 LIBERATOR: LONG-RANGE U.S. BOMBER USED FOR SUBMARINE HUNTING

    4. KEY INDIVIDUALS & STRATEGY • GERMANS: • GRAND ADMIRAL ERICH RADER: COMMANDER, KRIEGSMARINE • VICE-ADMIRAL KARL DONITZ: COMMANDER OF U-BOATS • ALLIES: • U.K.: • ADMIRAL SIR PERCY NOBLE • ADMIRAL SIR MAX HORTON • U.S: • ADMIRAL ERNEST KING, COMMANDER, U.S. FLEET • STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES: • GERMANS: • DISRUPT/CUT OFF SUPPLIES & SHIPPING THAT ALLOWED BRITAIN TO FIGHT • FORCE BRITS. TO SIGN PEACE TREATY • PREVENT SECOND FRONT • ALLIES: • KEEP ATLANTIC SHIPPING LANES OPEN • KEEP BRITS. SUPPLIED • U.S. WANTS TO KEEP BRITS. “ALIVE” UNTIL U.S. ENTERS WAR • ELIMINATE GERMAN NAVAL THREAT BEFORE EVENTUAL INVASION OF EUROPE

    5. THE NORTH ATLANTIC & MAJOR PORTS

    6. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES • STRENGTHS: • AXIS: • EXPERIENCED NAVAL CREWS • GOOD NAVAL SHIP DESIGNS • INITIATIVE / MOMENTUM AFTER GERMAN SUCCESS OF 1939 • ALLIES: • NUMBER OF SHIPS • IMPROVING ANTI-SUBMARINE TECHNOLOGY (ex. A.S.D.I.C. sonar) • AERIAL SUPREMACY • AIRCRAFT CARRIERS • WEAKNESSES: • AXIS: • LACK OF AERIAL COVER • LACK OF SURFACE SHIPS • ALLIES: • DISTANCE OF VOYAGE • SIZE OF CONVOYS • VULNERABILITY OF MERCHANT SHIPS • “AIR GAP” IN ATLANTIC

    7. VICE-ADMIRALKARL DONITZ,KRIEGSMARINECOMMANDER OFU-BOATS

    8. ADMIRAL ERNEST J. KING, U.S.N. COMMANDER IN CHIEF, U.S. FLEET

    9. WINSTON CHURCHILL, BRITISH P.M. ADMIRAL SIR PERCY NOBLE, R.N.

    10. WWII WAR BOND POSTERS

    11. COURSE OF BATTLE • INITIAL BASIC TACTICS (Sept.,’39 – May,’40) • GERMANS: • ATTACK MERCHANT SHIPS • HOW? U-BOATS, SURFACE RAIDERS, PLANES, etc. • WHY? U-BOAT FLEET IS SMALL AT FIRST • ALSO MINE BRITISH PORT CITIES • BRITISH: • “CONVOY” SYSTEM CREATED • ***“ESCORT” SHIPS USED TO PROTECT CONVOYS • ***DEFINE “ESCORT”: SMALLER, FASTER NAVAL SHIPS USED TO HUNT / ATTACK SUBMARINES • (EX.: “DESTROYERS”) • PROBLEM: CHURCHILL WANTS MORE AGGRESSIVE STRATEGY • RESULT? • ANTI-SUBMARINE HUNTING GROUPS FORMED • AIRCRAFT CARRIER GROUPS USED TO HUNT U-BOATS • PROBLEM (again): • U-BOATS TOO ELUSIVE FOR A.C. GROUPS • ALLIED SONAR NOT ADVANCED ENOUGH YET

    12. ALLIED ATLANTIC CONVOY

    13. WWII ROYAL NAVY DESTROYER

    14. ROYAL NAVY DESTROYERS

    15. WATCH DUTY, NORTH ATLANTIC CONVOY

    16. GERMAN SUCCESS • “THE HAPPY TIME”: JUNE, 1940-FEB., 1941 • OCCUPATION OF FRANCE = DIRECT ACCESS TO ATLANTIC PORTS FOR KRIEGSMARINE • EFFECT? • U-BOAT RANGE INTO ATLANTIC INCREASES • BRITS LOSE BIGGEST ALLY (AT THAT TIME) • BRITS. HAVE TO DIVERT MORE FORCES TO MEDITERRANEAN SEA • RESULT? • FEWER SHIPS AVAILABLE FOR CONVOY ESCORT • U-BOATS ATTACKS VERY SUCCESSFUL • EXAMPLE: • JUNE – OCT., 1940 = 270 ALLIED SHIPS SUNK • WHY? GERMAN “WOLFPACK SYSTEM”

    17. THE WOLFPACK SYSTEM • DEFINITION: • MULTIPLE U-BOAT ATTACKS ON CONVOYS • ORIGIN: • GERMANS HAD DECYPHERED BRIT. NAVAL CODES • MOVEMENT / LOCATION OF CONVOYS COULD BE MORE EASILY PREDICTED • TACTIC: • U-BOATS SPREAD OUT IN LINE ACROSS EXPECTED PATH OF CONVOY • U-BOAT FIRST TO SIGHT CONVOY SIGNALS TO OTHER U-BOATS • U-BOATS MOVE TO GATHER FOR ATTACK • ATTACKS OFTEN MADE AT NIGHT • RESULT? • VERY SUCCESSFUL – BECOMES PRIMARY GERMAN ATTACK METHOD • EX.: 9/21/40 – CONVOY HX 72 (42 MERCHANT SHIPS) ATTACKED 4 U-BOATS • LOSSES = 11 SHIPS, 2 BADLY DAMAGED

    18. GERMAN U-BOATACE, OTTO KRETSCHMER47 SHIPS SUNK274,333 TONS OF SHIPPING

    19. SURFACE RAIDERS • DEFINE: SURFACE SHIPS (naval and disguised merchant ships) USED TO ATTACK CONVOYS • USED MOSTLY FROM LATE 1940 – EARLY 1942 • NOMRALLY OPERATED IN GROUPS OF 2-3 • TYPES OF SURFACE RAIDERS: • “POCKET BATTLESHIPS” (smaller, less heavily armed naval versions of full-scale battleships) • FULL SIZED BATTLESHIPS (ex. BATTLESHIP BISMARCK) • ARMED MERCHANT SHIPS • GERMAN BATTLESHIPS WERE BOTH FAST & HAD EXCELLENT NAVAL ARTILLERY (“GUNNERY”) • EX.: BATTLE OF THE DENMARK STRAIT, May 1941 • BISMARCK SINKS H.M.S. HOOD • 1415 KIA ON H.M.S HOOD, 3 SURVIVORS • SURFACE RAIDER THREAT EFFECTIVELY ENDS W/ SINKING OF BISMARCK, May 1941 • 2200 KIA ON BISMARCK, 100 P.O.W.

    20. GERMAN POCKET BATTLESHIP GRAF SPEE

    21. GERMAN SURFACE RAIDER

    22. GERMAN BATTLESHIP BISMARCK

    23. BATTLESHIP BISMARCK

    24. ROYAL NAVY BATTLESHIP H.M.S. HOOD

    25. HMS HOOD(R) EXPLODES AFTER BEING HIT BY BISMARK’S SHELLS

    26. EXPLOSION & SINKING OF H.M.S. HOOD, Sat., May 24, 1941

    27. ALLIED ADVANCES • SONAR: “A.S.D.I.C.” • ALLIED SUBMARINE DETECTION INVESTIGATION COMMITTEE • USED BY DESTROYERS TO FIX U-BOAT LOCATION BEFORE ATTACK BEGAN • M.A.C.s: MERCHANT AIRCRAFT CARRIERS • MERCHANT SHIPS CONVERTED INTO CATAPULT-LAUNCHING AIRCRAFT CARRIERS • “HEDGEHOG”: SHIP-MOUNTED, MULTIPLE WARHEAD, ANTI-SUB MORTAR LAUNCHER • “LEIGH-LIGHT”: AIRCRAFT-MOUNTED, RADAR OPERATED SEARCHLIGHT • HF/DF (“HUFF-DUFF”) – HIGH FREQUENCY, DIRECTION FINDER; RADAR SYSYEM USED TO LOCATE U-BOATS

    28. DEPTH CHARGEHEDGEHOG

    29. DEPTH CHARGE ATTACK

    30. LEIGH-LIGHT ATTACK ON U-BOAT

    31. OPERATION DRUMBEAT • JAN. – JUNE, 1942 • WHAT? EXTENSION OF U-BOAT ATTACKS TO N. AMERICAN COAST & MED. SEA • CAUSES? • ALLIED SUCCESSES IN MID/LATE 1941 • U.S. ENTERS WAR AFTER PEARL HARBOR ATTACK • GERMANS HAVE TO CHANGE TACTICS • RESULTS: • GERMANS ATTACK U.S. COAST • SUCCESS – MERCHANT SHIPS HEAVILY TARGETED • 157,000 TONS OF SHIPPING SUNK • U.S. FORCED TO USE CONVOYS W/ BRITS. & CANADA

    32. ALLIES GAIN THE UPPER HAND • WHY? • IMPROVED TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS MORE ACCURATE ANTI-SUB. ATTACKS • GROWING INVOLVEMENT OF… • U.S. NAVY • CANADIAN ROYAL NAVY • U.S. ENTRY INTO WAR (& MILITARY POWER & SUPPLIES ) • U-BOAT LOSSES INCREASE (ESPECIALLY AFTER MID-1942) • “BLACK MAY”,MARCH – MAY, 1943 • SERIES OF VISCIOUS BATTLES IN N. ATLANTIC • MARCH – MAY = 70 U-BOATS SUNK • DONITZ HALTS U-BOAT OPS. IN N. ATLANTIC • BATTLE OF ATLANTIC IS NOW IN ALLIES FAVOR