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The Channel is not the best environment for u-boats. It is fairly shallow. Until the Germans conquered France and u-boat bases were transferred to Brest, Lorient, Saint Nazaire and La Rochelle on the French Atlantic coast, u-boats were based in Kiel and Hamburg. And to reach their hunting grounds in the Atlantic ocean, they travelled around the British isles, avoiding the Channel completely. It was a very dangerous area with little chances to escape if detected.

Besides at this stage of the war u-boats had become more preys than hunters, being harassed by air patrols often as soon as they left their pens. Destroyers in hunter killer groups exacted a heavy tolls on them when they tried to attack convoys etc.

I don't know how many u-boats were tasked with patrolling the Channel before D-Day, but it can't have been a very pleasant assignment. And even if they managed to spot the invading fleet, they wouldn't have stood to chance to inflict any significant damage with all the escorting crafts. The waters must have been teeming with asdic equipped destroyers. And in order to contact their base to warn them of the attack, they would probably have had to surface. I know they had snorkels but not sure whether they could transmit or not while using them.

As far as surface boats are concerned, wasn't most of the German fleet confined to harbours at this stage of the war?  Apart from the occasional night raids to lay mines and a couple of torpedo boats and mine sweepers staying in close proximity to the ports, I doubt they ventured out too far at sea.

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So many parts of the German defeat seem to come back to lack of air superiority. I wonder if Germans simply underestimated how much airpower had developed from WWI to WWII and failed to take it into account in their strategic planning until it was too late?

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Just a spotting by a sub isn't really enough.  It has to at least come to the surface to send a signal ... it would have been hard enough to survive in the Channel.  I don't even know if u-boats needed to come to periscope depth or surface to transmit.  Then, when did the allies get radar that could spot just a periscope?  I think by then, the allies had already won The Battle of The Atlantic due to decryption and superior technology.  (also, transmissions can be triangulated)

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Remember that a con man, Goering, was head of the Luftwaffe.  Air superiority was a function of resources, management and overall strategy.  Allies had huge resource advantage obviously.  Germany had very poor upper level management overall, especially w Goering.  And strategy?  Is unnecessary life & death gambling the same as 'strategy'?

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9 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

So many parts of the German defeat seem to come back to lack of air superiority. I wonder if Germans simply underestimated how much airpower had developed from WWI to WWII and failed to take it into account in their strategic planning until it was too late?

I suspect that Axis/Allied manufacturing capabilities played a role here.  As time passed, Allied production outpaced Axis abilities and surpassed aircraft replacement rates.  Here's what Wikepedia shows.

image.png.2b1c0908e4c5a6f23359a017c6fdfb8a.png

Edited by Badger73

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1 hour ago, Badger73 said:

I suspect that Axis/Allied manufacturing capabilities played a role here.  As time passed, Allied production outpaced Axis abilities and surpassed aircraft replacement rates.  Here's what Wikepedia shows.

image.png.2b1c0908e4c5a6f23359a017c6fdfb8a.png

Thanks. I am quite surprised that the Germans were able to hit peak production as late as 1944 and crank out 35,000 planes. But I still wonder why they did not ramp up plane production before starting the war.

Also, with those dismal production numbers in 1939, I wonder how Germans thought they would ever be able to win. Again, it leads me back to my hypothesis that they simply underestimated how big a role air power would play.

Edited by Bulletpoint

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7 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

Thanks. I am quite surprised that the Germans were able to hit peak production as late as 1944 and crank out 35,000 planes. But I still wonder why they did not ramp up plane production before starting the war.

Also, with those dismal production numbers in 1939, I wonder how Germans thought they would ever be able to win. Again, it leads me back to my hypothesis that they simply underestimated how big a role air power would play.

They thought it would be a short war...also the quality of the ones in '44 wasn't that great as they cut as many corners as possible and they had few experienced pilots left.

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3 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Thanks. I am quite surprised that the Germans were able to hit peak production as late as 1944 and crank out 35,000 planes. But I still wonder why they did not ramp up plane production before starting the war.

Also, with those dismal production numbers in 1939, I wonder how Germans thought they would ever be able to win. Again, it leads me back to my hypothesis that they simply underestimated how big a role air power would play.

Sabre rattling/Versailles/nationalism/lebensraum/Failure to get into art school/military tradition. Boils down to ego.

Edited by Anonymous_Jonze

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On 12/10/2019 at 10:28 AM, Bulletpoint said:

I wonder if Germans simply underestimated how much airpower had developed from WWI to WWII

It seems they were sure to defeat Great Britain or at least prevent them to be able to operate properly and didn't count on USA's involvement in the war and their ability to produce a lot of war material quite quickly.

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E-boats based in Cherbourg did try to attack the invasion fleet on the morning of 6th June, but without success thankfully. This was due to the sheer weight of numbers facing them. Earlier in the year at Slapton Sands they caused havoc during a training exercise.

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