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View Full Version : Wolf packs : a double edged sword?



Iron Yeoman
10-05-2008, 04:47 PM
It came to me the other day as I was reading a John Keegan book about naval warfare that the wolf pack strategy could be viewed very much as a double edged sword. The premise of wolf pack strategem being that upon sighting a convoy the sighting u-boat would signal the rest of his pack and they would all converge on the target and their combined numbers would make short work of the convoy.

However, could this not work to a Allied naval commander's advantage whereby using a convoy as bait they lure in a wolf pack and then set about destroying the gathered wolf pack, a hunter becoming the hunted scenario. Now if I thought of this surely some bright spark in the admiralty thought of this too? I haven't found any evidence of this yet but i'm going to endeavour to do so, has anyone else heard of a example of this counter-tactic being used? Or am I letting my imagination run away with itself again?

aly j
10-05-2008, 06:29 PM
It came to me the other day as I was reading a John Keegan book about naval warfare that the wolf pack strategy could be viewed very much as a double edged sword. The premise of wolf pack strategem being that upon sighting a convoy the sighting u-boat would signal the rest of his pack and they would all converge on the target and their combined numbers would make short work of the convoy.

However, could this not work to a Allied naval commander's advantage whereby using a convoy as bait they lure in a wolf pack and then set about destroying the gathered wolf pack, a hunter becoming the hunted scenario. Now if I thought of this surely some bright spark in the admiralty thought of this too? I haven't found any evidence of this yet but i'm going to endeavour to do so, has anyone else heard of a example of this counter-tactic being used? Or am I letting my imagination run away with itself again?

Thats a good point- This is what im thinking now,so its not fact.
The u-boats had surprise on there side, ,the convoye or ships may not have the same addvatage and would not be worth it to the high Generals of the Allies. Its not youre imagination, ist it the point of being here.:D

gunner-B
10-06-2008, 05:05 PM
The Royal Navy 4 & 5 digit code was broken by the Germans. The German Kreigsmarine Enigma was being read by the British at Bletchley Park. So the Naval strategists would devise tactics to counter the enemies moves.

Paul

pdf27
10-06-2008, 05:26 PM
Now if I thought of this surely some bright spark in the admiralty thought of this too? I haven't found any evidence of this yet but i'm going to endeavour to do so, has anyone else heard of a example of this counter-tactic being used? Or am I letting my imagination run away with itself again?
That is essentially what tactics were at the end of the war - support groups would attach themselves to convoys, using the convoys as a honeypot to draw in U-boats and as soon as they latched on to one they would continue prosecuting it until they sank or lost it, not worrying about keeping up with the convoy. The problem with adopting this was it seemed excessively defensive to the likes of Churchill, who really wanted the destroyers charging around the seas searcing for U-boats, and IIRC was only dissuaded from this with some difficulty.

ww11freak34
10-06-2008, 05:53 PM
this is interesting

Iron Yeoman
10-07-2008, 03:12 PM
Cheers for the reply chaps, glad to see i'm not a stark raving loon fantasist type. Of course by the end stages of the war the yanks were churning out so many liberty ships that there was no way the u-boats could hope to make much a dent in supplies getting through to Europe, especially after the loss of the French atlantic ports.

flamethrowerguy
10-07-2008, 04:53 PM
Cheers for the reply chaps, glad to see i'm not a stark raving loon fantasist type. Of course by the end stages of the war the yanks were churning out so many liberty ships that there was no way the u-boats could hope to make much a dent in supplies getting through to Europe, especially after the loss of the French atlantic ports.

The wolfpack tactics were pretty much dead with the technically maturing of Radar and Sonar by late 1942. Before that countermeasures were quite a problem. The common tactics of the wolfpacks had been attacks on the surface and by dusk/night time. Under this circumstances it would be hard to hunt a group of maybe 4 or more subs successfully.

32Bravo
10-18-2008, 07:43 AM
Survivor of U-boat attack is laid to rest in sunken battleship in which 800 of his comrades died

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1077867/Survivor-U-boat-attack-laid-rest-sunken-battleship-800-comrades-died.html

Carl Schwamberger
10-19-2008, 02:48 PM
That is essentially what tactics were at the end of the war - support groups would attach themselves to convoys, using the convoys as a honeypot to draw in U-boats and as soon as they latched on to one they would continue prosecuting it until they sank or lost it, not worrying about keeping up with the convoy. The problem with adopting this was it seemed excessively defensive to the likes of Churchill, who really wanted the destroyers charging around the seas searcing for U-boats, and IIRC was only dissuaded from this with some difficulty.

Adm King & several other USN Adm. thought the same thing. They judged convoys too much troublle and ineffcient in moving cargo. So they started their war in December 1941 with no convoys on the US East coast or Carribbein and the US ASW assets attempting to search out the subs. The few German subs operating in those waters eluded the 'hunters' and sank unprotected cargo ships. Then in early 1942 the Germans kicked off Operation Drumbeat which stationed a dozen subs in US coastal waters. The unescourted cargo ships were massacred. King and his supporters were embarrassed and after severe losses convoys were instituted in US waters.

redcoat
10-22-2008, 06:09 PM
The wolfpack tactics were pretty much dead with the technically maturing of Radar and Sonar by late 1942. .
Another problem with the wolf pack tactic was that in order to bring the pack into contact with a convoy it needed regular radio massages between the submarines and their headquarters, this enabled the Allied forces to pin-point the position of the submarines using 'Huff-Duff' radio direction finding . The Allies would track the orgin of a radio message from two different points, the point at which the two tracks crossed would show them the position of the submarine

alephh
10-24-2008, 08:51 AM
Well, wolf packs may have their weaknesses, but considering the alternative (one u-boat taking down just one or two ships from a huge convoy) I would still prefer them.

Remember: Had Germany had more u-boats at the start of the war, UK would have been defeated by wolf packs.

In essense, other things affected so much to the success of wolf packs: too low number of produced u-boats, quality of radars, convoy countermeasures, code-breaking...

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