- Published on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 08:35 Robin Jenkins
U-Boat War 1939-45
Published by Concord Armour at War Series 7071
U.K. Price £12.99 direct from Casemate
ISBN 962-361-175-7 Paperback 72 pp Illustrated 28.0 x 21.5 x 0.6 cm
It was the longest battle of the second world war; a conflict that started almost on the first day of war and was still underway when war finished; a conflict that cost 50,000 allied lives and 40,000 German ones; almost 3,000 allied warships and merchant vessels and over 700 German naval vessels were lost to different causes; a war in which numbers and tactics battled with advances in technology for the upper hand; a conflict which, if lost, could have caused Britain to sue for peace because of starvation of their nation; this was the U-Boat War, 1939 -45.
The German submarine arm was ill-prepared when war broke out but, through audacity, new tactics, a large increase in the manufacture of new U-Boats and poor tactics on the part of the Allies, the U-Boats made an enormous impact in the early years of the war in the Atlantic. Not only were poorly escorted convoys to blame; with hindsight, actions such as sending aircraft carriers to hunt submarines escorted only by a handful of destroyers (which lead to the loss of the carrier H.M.S. Courageous) and refusal to black out shoreline illuminations (leading to carnage amongst tankers off the south east of the USA in early 1942) can be seen as absolute folly. Only with properly escorted convoy systems, new technology, the use of aircraft and increasing the numbers of escort vessels did the Allies slowly overcome the tactics of the "wolfpack", where large numbers of submarines closed on a single convoy to maximise damage.
By the end of the war, although new, truly groundbreaking submarines were being developed, the loss of naval bases together with the Allied air and surface supremacy meant that U-Boat losses were extremely high and the German submarines could no longer threaten the Allies to anywhere near the level they once had.
As will be known, the Concord range of books have a standard approach hat lends them to being seen as reference material rather than comprehensive works of history, strategy and tactics. This latest volume has a short history of the war and is then followed by a very large number of photographs of U-Boats, both at base and at sea; most of these are new to me. There are also a small number of colour profiles in the centre of the book.
My selection of pages from this volume is as follows: some atmospheric shots of the coning towers of various U-Boats (below);
some photos of training exercises and of two famous U-Boats, U-47 and U-552 (above); several pictures of the U-Boat decks, along with a superb shot of a submarine in dry-dock (below)
some colour illustrations of torpedo types used by the submarines during the conflict and a cross section of a Type VIIC U-Boat (above); and, finally, colour profiles of representatives of the U-Boat classes Type VIIC and VIID (below).
I have to say that for the submarine modeller, this volume offers an excellent selection of reference material at about the right price for such a book. To those looking for such reference, I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
So What Do We Think?
For its price, it offers just about the best selection of reference material on U-Boats currently available in print.
An excellent reference for the U-Boat modeller
Our thanks to Casemate for the review copy. To purchase directly, click THIS link.