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Michael E - "what other choices did the Germans have besides packing up and going home?"

 

The economists have determined that everything the Germans extracted in the Ukraine by force during the occupation only came to about the same amount they imported from the region in the previous period of cooperation between the USSR and Germany, which they had paid for with high valued goods of their own.  All the draconian requisitioning at gunpoint only got what they could have gotten voluntarily with a few expensive cameras and some higher end electrical equipment, that fetched fancy prices in terms of cheap, commodity grain.  That's how stupid force is compared to voluntary cooperation via trade.

 

Just saying.  Evil and ruthless doesn't mean efficient.  It mostly means stone cold dumb.  

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In winter in other titles you get an 'appearance' choice between 'greatcoat' or 'winter' uniforms in the editor. CMRT will be following the same practice. Russian greatcoats have shoulder boards so ra

Michael E - "what other choices did the Germans have besides packing up and going home?"   The economists have determined that everything the Germans extracted in the Ukraine by force during the occ

A relly interesting discussion. When it comes to 4-engine bombers being 'ineffective'--I think that is a very bold and unsupported claim. The strategic bombing of Germany basically shaped the war as a

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Well, sure, but I've never seen anything that breaks it down on a ship-by-ship basis. It's always aggregated to "about 3,500 ships lost" ... which is beyond suspiciously similar to the total that uboat.net gives.

 

Furthermore, I get the distinct impression that the site owner isn't just repeating 'claims as kills'. I'm certain that he has calibrated claims against losses, and has - for example - corrected tonnage claims based on the known characteristics of the Allied ships in question. Most (all?) of the Allied ships have their own page with varying amounts of detail on the ship and it's fate.

 

tl;dr: It's not just a titivated version of the uboat war diaries.

 

See, for example, this page: http://www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/removed.html

 

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 22 Dec 1942  U-565   Cameronia  Troop transport 16,297 flag_united_kingdom_s.png =   At 06.34 hours on 22 December, the ship was damaged by a torpedo from a German Ju88 aircraft (III./KG 26) in convoy KMF-5 and not by the attack of U-565 at 01.24 hours on 21 December. The U-boat apparently missed the intended target, later heard a torpedo detonation and claimed a hit that is not confirmed by Allied sources.

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For instance take this Brazilian ship, selected basically at random:

 

#################

Name Alegrete

Type Steam merchant

Tonnage 5,970 tons

Completed 1906 - Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast 

Owner Cia de Navegação Lloyd Brasileiro, Rio de Janeiro 

Homeport Rio de Janeiro 

Date of attack 1 Jun 1942

Nationality:   flag_brazil_s.png   Brazilian  

Fate Sunk by U-156 (Werner Hartenstein)

Position 13° 40'N, 61° 30'W - Grid ED 6851

Complement 64 (0 dead and 64 survivors).

Convoy Route Belém, Pará - New Orleans 

Cargo General cargo, including coffee, cacao, castor oil and 5000 boxes of chestnut 

History Completed in September 1906 as Salamanca for Hamburg-Amerika Linie (HAPAG), Hamburg. In August 1914 interned in Cabedelo, Brazil. On 1 Jun 1917, seized by the Brazilian Government after several Brazilian merchants had been torpedoed by German U-boats and renamed Alegrete. She was used as training ship for the Brazilian Merchant Marine from 1936 to 1940. 

 

Notes on event

At 23.51 hours on 1 June 1942 the neutral Alegrete (Master Eurico Gomes de Souza) was hit on the port side at hold #5 by a stern torpedo from U-156 between St. Lucia and St. Vincent. The Brazilian flag was only visible from a distance of about 300 metres. At 02.12 hours, the U-boat began shelling the abandoned ship with 20 high-explosive rounds from the deck gun and caused her to sink in flames at 03.00 hours.

All hands abandoned ship in four lifeboats and three of them reached Port of Spain, Trinidad, La Guaira, Venezuela and La Blanquilla Island, Venezuela. On 2 June 19 survivors in the fourth boat were picked up by USS Tarbell (DD 142).

#################

 

Most of that essentially IS taken from Allied sources. The Germans wouldn't have known what the cargo was, what route it was traveling, how many of the crew survived, when they were rescued, or that it was the Tarbell which rescued them.

Edited by JonS
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Sure that's a nice report.  About an item where all the facts are known.  I doubt every ship lost is known that thoroughly. 

You can be completely accurate about known cases and just not have anything on 500 more that happened, but you can't find those details.

But an aggregate arrived at with much less detail - from sailings and arrival data only, for example - might readily notice.  Without ever being able to fill out that form.

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... But an aggregate arrived at with much less detail - from sailings and arrival data only, for example - might readily notice.  Without ever being able to fill out that form.

... but ... that's still Allied-source data! And that's clearly what he's used!

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Again, a ship at random - this one sunk with no survivors:

 

######

Name Abbotsford

Type: Steam merchant

Tonnage 1,585 tons

Completed 1924 - Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co Ltd, Goole 

Owner George Gibson & Co Ltd, Leith 

Homeport Grangemouth 

Date of attack 9 Mar 1940

Nationality:   flag_united_kingdom_s.png   British  

Fate Sunk by U-14 (Herbert Wohlfarth)

Position - Grid AN 8733

Complement 19 (19 dead - no survivors)

Convoy Route Ghent - Grangemouth 

Cargo Steel and flax 

History Completed in October 1924 as Cyrille Danneels for Buck Steam Shipping & Coal Exports, Goole. 1932 renamed Abbotsford for George Gibson & Co Ltd, Leith. 

 

Notes on event

At 23.30 hours on 9 March 1940 the Abbotsford was hit in the foreship by one G7e torpedo from U-14 north of Zeebrugge and caught fire. The Akeld was ahead of the vessel and apparently turned around to help the torpedoed ship, but at 23.45 hours was struck herself amidships by a G7a torpedo from the same U-boat and sank within seconds. At 23.55 hours, the first ship was sunk by a coup de grâce.

The master, 17 crew members and one gunner from the Abbotsford (Master Alexander John Watson) were lost.

 

On board

We have details of 19 people who were on board

#############

Different data - more in some areas, less in others - but still ample, and a lot of it obviously from Allied sources, which is what you say you wanted.

Edited by JonS
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Another. This one damaged, repaired, and later sunk:

 

##########

Name Aelybryn

Type: Steam merchant

Tonnage 4,986 tons

Completed 1938 - Sir James Laing & Sons Ltd, Sunderland 

Owner Ambrose, Davies & Matthews Ltd, Swansea 

Homeport London 

Date of attack 11 Mar 1943

Nationality:   flag_united_kingdom_s.png   British  

Fate Sunk by U-160 (Georg Lassen)

Position 29° 08'S, 34° 05'E - Grid KP 9178

Complement 41 (9 dead and 32 survivors).

Convoy Route Calcutta - Cochin - Durban - UK 

Cargo 7935 tons of general cargo 

History Completed in April 1938

At 04.42 hours on 10 May 1941, U-556 (Wohlfarth) attacked the convoy OB-318 southeast of Cape Farewell in 59°23N/35°25W and reported two ships with 10.000 grt sunk. The xB-Dienst assumed from a SOS message that one of the ships was the Dutch steam merchant Hercules, but in fact the torpedo missed the British steam merchant Chaucer.
In fact, only the Aelybryn (Master Harold William Brockwell) was hit and damaged. The ship was towed to Reykjavik by HMS Hollyhock (K 64) (Lt T.E. Davies, OBE, RNR), arriving on 17 May. One crew member was killed. The master and 43 crew members were picked up by HMS Daneman (FY 123) (Lt. A.H. Ballard, RNR).

 

Notes on event

At 23.10 hours on 11 March 1943 the unescorted Aelybryn (Master Harold William Brockwell) was hit by two G7a torpedoes from U-160 east-northeast of Durban. The ship sank by the stern after being hit by a G7a coup de grâce at 20.32 hours. The Germans questioned the survivors and apparently misunderstood the name, reporting the vessel as the American steam merchant Arian. Nine crew members were lost. The master, 27 crew members and four gunners were picked up by the Portuguese steam passenger ship Lourenço Marques and landed at Capetown.

 

On board

We have details of 11 people who were on board

 

Attack entries for Aelybryn

Date U-boat Commander Loss type Tons Nat.

10 May 1941 U-556 Kptlt. Herbert Wohlfarth Damaged 4,986   flag_united_kingdom_s.png

11 Mar 1943 U-160 Kptlt. Georg Lassen Sunk 4,986   flag_united_kingdom_s.png

############

 

Note specifically the cross checking of sources and explicit error correction. The site is NOT just presenting German data.

Edited by JonS
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To substantiate the number sunk, I have seen individual year figures of 875 losses in 1941 and 1664 in 1942.

Ah, I see the source of the problem. Those figures are from all sources; air attack, surface warships, raiders, mines, accidents, bad weather, other axis forces, etc. Those figures are also also aggregating damaged ships, and hits on warships, with permanent losses of merchantmen.

Edited by JonS
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Thats a very good "if".

Unfortunately it ignores the racial fantasys underlying Nazi policy.

Potentialy Germany could have started the war in the east with twice as many army surgeons if they had not turned on some of their own religious minoritys.

 

Potentially, if you were to look at what I am replying to, you might have a clue as to why I put an "if" there...

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RE: Germany's foreign volunteers.

 

The Allies experienced the "value" of polyglot forces fighting in the Pacific and the Germans did themselves with their Romanian and Hungarian Allies in 1942. The reality was in the era of socially entrenched racism few did well blending racially dissimilar units on the same front. I simply do not believe the Nazis of all people would've been able to turn the war around simply by placing guns in the hands of Slavs and Poles in 1942 instead of 1944. The same people they had been systemically murdering and blathering about the genetic inferiority of since the war started. In order to make these people real effective soldiers you'd have to integrate them into German society in a way totally 180 degrees to the Nazi mindset. The end result was only to create troops of secondary value with middling to petering interest in fighting after a very short time in the Wehrmacht. Look at how great the Ostbattalions *weren't* in Normandy. 

 

RE: The U-Boats

 

I was pretty sure this issue was over and done with by 1962. The U-boats were not a cheap investment. Submarine hulls require very specialized labor to build and the crews aren't just average sailors either. You can't operate a sub fleet cheaply because submarines by their nature are very sophisticated weapons. Those 700+ U-boats the Allies sunk during the war were not a 1:1 trade in ships and manpower. More like 3:1 with the Germans on the losing end. All those sailors the Kriegsmarine lost could have been funneled into the Wehrmacht and made a few more Panzer Divisions that might have made an actual difference when it mattered most in the East. (This of course, would've been a pre-war decision, not a hasty attempt to replace losses by simply putting a K98 in a sailor's hands and telling him to shoot toward the East.) 

 

The whole Kriegsmarine was little more than a propaganda exercise during the war. Something to disinterest the British in the war. The far bigger and better run Kaiserliche Marine couldn't beat Britain in the last war, the smaller, Nazi permeated Kriegsmarine sure as hell wasn't going to do it this time. Not when they were designing ships with AAA batteries so broken they couldn't hit a single wooden biplane because it was flying too slow

 

Meanwhile, the Allies dropped shipping losses to acceptable levels simply by re instituting the convoy system. The Wolf Packs were designed as a counter to convoys, but became a liability once the convoys could be escorted by lots of inexpensive corvettes. Wolf Packs were absolutely out of the question once the Allies sewed up the last airspace gaps over the Atlantic. 

 

The point with all this was the Allies were able to solve every crisis in the Battle of the Atlantic inexpensively while the Germans had to come up with increasingly contrived gimmicks just to keep the situation at "suicide" levels. By 1944 most of the U-boats were getting bombed before they could even sortie and their only tangible effect was throw off invasion time-tables by delays. 

Edited by CaptHawkeye
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The issue about the U-Boats is not that they had a chance to succeed, but that it was a better investment for Germany then building a strategic bomber force. No matter how you calculate, for each U-Boat built, 2.5+ ships representing 10-12k tons were sunk.

Would a German Strategic Bomber force have inflicted economic damage equal or superior to sinking 14.5 million tons of shipping plus all the supplies that were lost? Doubtful.

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The Germans were never going to invade GB in a fleet of u-boats.

 

I take it then that you never heard of the Unterseebootpanzerwaffe? Not surprising as they never reached operational status due to Hitler's losing what little interest in amphibious operations he ever had. The entire program was shut down and the prototypes scrapped just as they were reaching a promising stage. Some of the ideas were applied to modified PzKw IIIs however, and these were used to deep ford the Bug river in Barbarossa. They were however but a shadow of the original conception.

 

Michael

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JonS - I can agree that it is the likely source of the discrepancy, if other sources accounted for 20% of Allied shipping losses.  Seems high to me, but possible.  Mines might be miscounted in that division either way, since most of them are fairly attributed to the u boats that laid them, but weren't around to see the result  At any rate, I don't think it changes the conclusion.  If a u boat got 2.5 merchant ships instead of 3.3 merchant ships, on top of the cost of fielding equal number of escorts to drive them off, it was still costing the allies many times what the u boats cost to field.

 

As for people discussing the relative cost of u boats and merchant ships, a type VIIC (2/3rds of all the boats and the standard model) cost a little under 2 million reichsmarks, or about $450,000.  That is about the price of 2 strategic bombers.  A liberty ship (on the large end of the merchant fleet, but quite numerous etc) cost $2 million, or about the price of 10 strategic bombers.

 

The economic exchange between investment in u boats and the cost and damage they inflicted may be 5-6 times in favor of the u boat (expecting a liberty ship to be about twice as expensive as an average ship sunk by the u boats, in line with the tonnage difference, and perhaps adding 1 times the u boat cost for the escort counters, damage etc).

The economic exchange between investment in strategic bombers and the damage they inflicted may be 3-5 times against the strategic bomber (looking at GDP shares spent etc).

The relative efficiency of the two forms of economic warfare might be somewhere between 15 and 30 times in favor of the u boats, with a figure around 20 times the most likely.

 

There is high confidence that the u boats were at least an order of magnitude more efficient than bombers at costing the enemy resources.

 

Certainly the Germans couldn't continue to get that exchange ratio after mid 1943 and the loss of the campaign against allied ASW techniques etc.

But they still inflicted megatons more damage than they cost - meant literally.  And the Allied strategic bombing campaign against Germany emphatically did not.

 

To Michael - amusing, thanks for that...

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The economic exchange between investment in u boats and the cost and damage they inflicted may be 5-6 times in favor of the u boat (expecting a liberty ship to be about twice as expensive as an average ship sunk by the u boats, in line with the tonnage difference, and perhaps adding 1 times the u boat cost for the escort counters, damage etc).

The economic exchange between investment in strategic bombers and the damage they inflicted may be 3-5 times against the strategic bomber (looking at GDP shares spent etc).

The relative efficiency of the two forms of economic warfare might be somewhere between 15 and 30 times in favor of the u boats, with a figure around 20 times the most likely.

 

Which is one more argument for why it would have been very wise to release more LRBs and VLRBs into ASW service a lot sooner. They might not have sunk many U-boats compared to the surface escorts, but they did hinder their operations to a great extent, and that was enough.

 

Michael

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It would seem that u-boats cost about $2.4M, not $450k.

 

Considering the bombers, and referring to Fig.22 on p.600 of Tooze's Wages of Destruction, the CBO 'cost' the Germans the equivalent of 3.5 months worth of armaments production just in the 9-month period between June-43 and Feb-44, which is well before the 'peak' period of the bomber's effectiveness. That's roughly 33% of production, lost, but is an effect that is opaque to a GDP-based analysis.

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 For example, it would seem that u-boats cost about $2.4M, not $450k.

 

 

 

Figures I have seen peg the cost of a Type VIIc in 1943 at 2-2.5 million RM.  At the official exchange rate in 1940 U.S. $1= 2.5 RM,I get U.S. $ 800,000-1,000,000.

 

Apparently, a US Gato class cost U.S. $2.85 million, but that was a bigger craft, 1525 tons vs 770 tons for a VIIc.

 

However, as Tooze points out in "Wages of Destruction", the Nazis kept the RM at an artificial high exchage rate, its true value was lower.

Edited by Sgt Joch
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Apparently, a US Gato class cost U.S. $2.85 million, but that was a bigger craft, 1525 tons vs 770 tons for a VIIc.

Across all the boats, the average size of the u-boats was around 1,247 tons. Similarly, across all the classes, the average cost was around US$2.4M. You would expect that the long-run boats - namely the VIIc and to a lesser degree the IXc/40 - got cheaper as time went on. The Gato figures you gave give a cost/ton of $2285. Average cost/ton for the German u-boast was $1920. Roughly the same price as a Gato seems reasonable. $420/ton ($450k/1070 ton) does not seem reasonable.

 

However, as Tooze points out in "Wages of Destruction", the Nazis kept the RM at an artificial high exchange rate, its true value was lower.

Yeah, I'm not completely convinced that a dollar comparison between two economies which were closed to each other and operating under wildly different conditions is especially reliable, but it's convenient so *shrug*

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Joch - the RM was highly overvalued, and most economists use 4.2 RM to 1 dollar, not the official exchange rate, to convert them to dollars.  That is the purchasing power parity number.  The VIIC class sub price was 1.9 million to 2 million RMs, depending on the year.

 

Subs were much less expensive than the much larger merchant ships they were sinking.  1200 ton subs take out multiple 5000 to 10000 ton merchant ships.  The price of the sub is higher per ton of displacement, to be sure, but not by enough to make up that 4-8 to 1 size ratio, let alone that ratio times the 2.5 plus to 1 ratio of items sunk.

 

On the GDP way of measuring cost of the air war, the point is the US and UK were spending about equal shares of their much larger combined economies to inflict on the Germans about the same percent of GDP cost.  They have 3 times the combined economy early and 4 times later (after US expansion).  If they and Germany each spend about the same percentage of GDP, the Allies are spending 3-4 times as much absolutely, to accomplish it.  

 

The Allies also aren't really making any great headway that way.  The Allies as a group certainly were able to use their larger total economies to defeat Germany, which means they achieved an average rate of economic attrition well under the ratio of their economies - closer to unity.  That is precisely how they were able to destroy all of Germany's war power while losing only a portion of their own, leaving them with remaining forces in being after Germany's were destroyed.  

 

Therefore, any process or weapon system or campaign that traded resource only *at* the ratio of the rival economies, was under-performing the average strategic exchange efficiency of the whole Allied war effort.  And by a considerable margin, since the Allies ended with large military forces etc.  So not only was the strategic air campaign way less efficient that submarine warfare, it was at least marginally less effective than the rest of the Allied war effort.  Including the ground war above all.  

Edited by JasonC
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Yes, that is all (apart for the economists) fairly uncontroversial. But what that approach misses is that the CBO didn’t just consume GDP of the targeted nation, it prevented it too.
 
Bombing between May/Jun 43 and Jan/Feb 44 destroyed some number of buildings and factories, and saw the loss of x German fighters and y Allied bombers. That much is fairly straightforward and can be easily compared using a GDP-based approach. But bombing during that period also cost the Germans a massive chunk of unrealised production, production they would have expected and planned for. But since it never eventuated, it never became part of the German GDP, and its absence is essentially invisible. This grossly undervalues the effects of the CBO.
 
* Did bombing live up to the claims made for it before and during the war: No, of course it didn’t. But then neither did the Tirpitz, or Tiger, or Op Barbarossa … and neither did the u-boat campaign.
* Was bombing inefficient: Sure. Everything in war is inefficient.
* Despite that was the bombing campaign still a good use of Allied resources in the circumstances as they existed: Yes. Building even more tanks they were going to use wouldn’t have helped the Americans nearly as much as the bombers did.
* Would a strat bombing force have been useful to the Germans: D’uh. Of course.
* Would a strat bombing force have been more useful to the German than spending that money on u-boats: Quite probably, given that we know what actually happened with the u-boats, and we also know that the lack of a strat bombing force helped decide at least one vital operation against the Germans, and possibly two.
* Would a strat bombing force have been less ‘efficient’ than the same money spent on u-boats: probably, but isn’t that asking the wrong question? Efficient != effective, and ‘losing with style’ is still losing.
 
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Edited by JonS
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Seems to me that having a strategic bombing force is a good thing even if it isn't particularly efficient only if the productive capacity that goes into building would not be more useful if dedicated somewhere else. Isn't that caveat obvious, almost a tautology in fact? So then the question becomes whether shifting production onto strategic bombers and away from something else would have been a net gain for Germany's war fighting ability. Not an easy question to answer because the facilities necessary to make bombers are not the same facilities that would be used to make tanks or U-boats, for instance. So a shift in production would have had to be planned for way in advance.

 

The UK and especially the US got away with building large strategic bombing forces because they had excess production capacity that could be devoted to that task without crippling production in other areas. I don't see the Germans as occupying that same happy circumstance. For them, deciding to build a strategic air force would have meant giving up something else, a whole lot of something else. So what could the Germans afford to give up? I guess at the top of that list would have been capital ships. Easily enough seen with hindsight, but how do you know that in 1936? If you mean to seriously take on the British, you're going to need a powerful amphibious capability. How do capital ships fit into that?

 

Frankly, I don't think building a serious amphib capacity is within Germany's capability at all, which raises important questions about their ability to project military power overseas. Which in turn raises serious questions about their ability to prosecute a policy of war at all. Their hope was that they would be able to conquer all contenders on the European continent before overseas opponents could threaten them and then persuade those powers that a reconquest of Europe would come at a cost they would not be willing to pay, or might not even be possible. So does a strategic bombing force help with that strategy? Does it bring victory against the USSR within Germany's grasp? Probably not. One of the things that Germany would most likely have to give up to build a strategic force would be a strong and capable tactical air force, and that hinders the army's ability to destroy the opposing army and capture ground. For the Germans, this is not an attractive option. Also, if building a strategic air force entails elimination or even serious curtailment of the U-boat navy, the buildup of Allied forces is accelerated and they have a freer hand in choosing a time and place to re-enter the Continent.

 

Bottom line: Strategic choices are usually complicated and difficult due to non-obvious factors on top of a whole host of obvious ones. It isn't surprising that a lot of people lost a lot of sleep in trying to make them.

 

Michael

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