Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Five Things to Know About Germany's U-Boats-- Part 2: Hard to Handle

2.  A FORMIDABLE FORCE:  As the U-boats took their toll on Allied shipping, they also played a role in Germany's propaganda effort.  An early success for Adolf Hitler came when the U-47 slipped into the British naval base at Scapa Flow, Scotland, and sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak.

The United States Navy, stretched out because of its losses at Pearl Harbor, was hard pressed to track down U-boats off the U.S. east coast in 1942.  Only after U.S. shipyards began turning out massive numbers of escort vessels along with patrol planes and new tactics did the Navy get the upper hand on them.

3.  THE U-166:  War records show that Germany built more than 1,000 U-boats during the war.  The U-166 joined the fleet in March 1942 and was prowling the Gulf of Mexico when it torpedoed and sank the passenger vessel SS Robert E. Lee.

An escort ship quickly moved in and dropped depth charges, sending the submarine to the bottom.

The U-166 was slow, traveling underwater at only about 9 mph, and vulnerable to quicker surface ships.  Modern U.S. nuclear-powered submarines can travel under water at more than 35 mph.

What's That in the Water?  --GreGen

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