there was an arms race as the restrictions were lifted, or ignored by Hitler, as Germany planned for war in 1944. By that year, Germany expected to have a strong surface fleet and a large submarine force. When Hitler miscalculated in invading Poland in 1939, German was suddenly at war with few U-Boats in service. All of the designs were based on 1914-1918 War designs. They were all relatively small submarines and many were only coastal types, unsuitable for deployment to the Atlantic from German ports.
NAME: German U-Boats at Sea, Atlantic Missions
CLASSIFICATION: Video, DVD, reviews
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword Military, History Films
MEDIA: One DVD
FORMAT: Dual layer
RUNTIME: 58 minutes
PLAYERS: Personal Computer, Mac Computer, DVD Player
PRICE: GB £15.99
SUBJECT: U-Boats, German submarine numbers, Atlantic, French ports, German home ports, technology, anti-submarine warfare, convoys, extreme weather
DESCRIPTION: This DVD is described as a remium Edition” and includes a bonus archive film and two picture galleries. Having reviewed a number of DVDs published by Pen & Sword and produced by the German History Films production company, the format is now familiar. The story line is firmly German nationalist and the English sound track is a simple translation of the German sound track. The result is that the English language account is ponderous in parts and slow. The main strength of the DVD is the original war film from German archives and, in the case of this DVD, additional footage shot by captains and crew of U-Boats at sea. The result is a collection of rare film, much of it not seen before. Where footage has been used in other television coverage, the complete clips are shown in the DVD rather than the extracts commonly used in TV histories. The arguable weakness is the commentary. Where film is used with its original wartime sound track, a simple translation is logical and authentic. Where the sound track is a new commentary, it is sparse. This is a lost opportunity because most of the footage has no original sound track, some viewers may be fairly new to the subject and not appreciate all of the details shown in the film footage, and a voice commentary will not distract a viewer who is primarily interested in the visual display. There is excellent bonus material in the form of a stills gallery. Inevitably there is some overlap with other History Films U-Boat DVDs but this is small and acceptable. This is a DVD that will appeal strongly to enthusiasts and is well worth its price. The price may be even better because the Pen & Sword on-line shop periodically offers special prices. As the DVD shows, Germany was banned from developing submarines for several years after her defeat in 1918. Then there was an arms race as the restrictions were lifted, or ignored by Hitler, as Germany planned for war in 1944. By that year, Germany expected to have a strong surface fleet and a large submarine force. When Hitler miscalculated in invading Poland in 1939, German was suddenly at war with few U-Boats in service. All of the designs were based on 1914-1918 War designs. They were all relatively small submarines and many were only coastal types, unsuitable for deployment to the Atlantic from German ports. When allowance was made for U-Boats heading out to patrol areas or returning, and then adding the boats that were undergoing extensive refits and repairs, only a handful were actually on patrol and hunting targets. The fall of France helped by providing less restricted ports and shorter distances to patrol lines. The use of supply submarines to provide fuel and torpedoes extended patrols, but the most numerous U-Boat type was the Type VII which was a small vessel unable to remain submerged for long periods and uncomfortable when running on the surface in Atlantic weather. As Allied convoys were formed on newer merchant vessels with higher speeds and protected by larger number of anti-submarine escorts, the increasing numbers of U-Boats enjoyed only short periods of supremacy. The closing of the “air-gap” by increasing the number of Allied land-based patrol aircraft and adding aircraft carriers to convoys rapidly turned the hunters into the hunted and U-Boats loses mounted at an alarming rate. As Allied war production advanced, it became practical to also establish hunter/killer groups of anti-submarine warships and small aircraft carriers that were free to concentrate on hunting submarines rather than escorting merchant vessels. New Allied technology exposed the U-Boats to increasing risks as they left port or returned from patrol and were attacked on the surface by increasing numbers of aircraft. The U-Boat service suffered terrible losses and was only matched by the Allied bombers attacking Germany around the clock. Even then percentage losses of U-Boats and crew were much higher than for the Allied bombers and submarine production accounted for considerable German production resources.