Thereby for example the session information or language setting are stored on your computer. Without cookies the range of the online shop's functionality is limited. If you don't agree, please click here. Williamson, G. Grey Wolf. Manufacturer: Osprey Publishing Manufacturer No. Article in stock. Only some items on stock - order quickly! Delivery time: 1 - 3 days. To cart. Questions about product wish list Please login to add products to the wish list. InStock The sailors of the U-boat arm were courageous, highly skilled seamen, who fought a war in the toughest conditions: subject to immense tension, and forced to cope with the challenges of the Atlantic, life for a U-boat recruit was far from easy.
This title explores the life of a typical U-boat crewman, from recruitment, through training and service conditions, to combat experience throughout the war. This area, known as the Air Gap , was a perfect hunting ground for the wolf packs and from the beginning of August the U-Boats mercilessly struck the convoys. The Germans also modified their Enigma devices, so Britain could no longer decode their communications and intercept transmissions between the U-Boats and their shore command. As Winston Churchill wrote in his memoirs:.
Grey Wolf: U-Boat Crewman of World War II
This U-Boat was said to be faster, stealthier and more dangerous than anything the allied forces had encountered. When WWII broke out, the German fleet was small and weak — especially when compared to the mighty British navy which ruled the seven seas. In particular, the German submarine fleet was a mere shadow of what it once was in the first World War. In July of alone, the U-Boats sunk merchant vessels with the combined weight of over , tons.
The Germans used a number of different submarine models during the war, and the main one was Type VII. It was considered the workhorse of the fleet and carried out most of the patrols and attacks. Type VII subs were considered top quality and reliable, but they had one major drawback — their speed. The main engine was a powerful diesel but — since diesel fuel requires oxygen — it could only be used on the surface. When submerged the U-Boat was powered by an electric motor with relatively weak batteries and that slowed it down.
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Walter had invented an engine that did not require oxygen. Each molecule of Peroxide contains two atoms of hydrogen and two atoms of oxygen. A special system separated the Peroxide into water and pure oxygen and injected the oxygen into the diesel engine, thereby generating combustion. The existing hulls were v-shaped, similar to those of surface ships: this gave the U-Boats improved stability on the surface — at the expense of increased friction which slowed down the submarine.
Walter replaced the v-shaped hull with an elliptical, tear-shaped body that created less friction with the water.
This was faster than any vessel in the Allied navies. On paper, an engine powered by Peroxide was a good idea. BUT when the engineers tried to implement it they encountered many difficulties. For one, peroxide was found to accelerate corrosion in the fuel pipes.
Grey Wolf: U-Boat Crewman of World War II by Gordon Williamson
For another thing, peroxide fuel was really dangerous: if there was a sharp bend in a pipe, the increased pressure generated at that bend sometimes caused spontaneous combustion of the peroxide. This phenomenon forced the engineers to redesign the fuel system of the entire submarine. Their prediction for how long it would take to complete development was — not encouraging and the project seemed to be in danger of cancellation.
However, two engineers who were taking part in the discussions proposed a surprising idea. The two engineers suggested removing the peroxide engine and its fuel tank, and in their place, installing two regular engines: one an air-based diesel engine and the other electric. The space that the peroxide engine had occupied would be filled with batteries for the electric engine. And most important — the new design was based on existing engines and proven technology, so its development could be completed in a few months instead of a few years.
Such a fast submarine would be able to attack its target at very close range and then dive and speed away before the enemy ships had time to launch a counter-attack. These new, highly innovative submarines would be able to impose a naval blockade on Great Britain! And cut off its supply of raw materials and bring its armaments industries to a standstill. As the engineers predicted, within only six months the development process was complete.
While the new submarines were becoming a reality, the Allies again seemed to be winning the war. On October 30, , a British patrol plane spotted submarine U in the east basin of the Mediterranean, about 90 miles north of Egypt. A number of destroyers attacked it, causing serious damage and forcing its crew to abandon ship. Three British sailors rushed to enter it before it sank and managed to salvage an Enigma device and secret codes. Two of the British sailors went down with the sub, but their sacrifice — was not in vain.
And the supply convoys once again eluded the German U-Boats that lay in ambush for them. At the same time, the Allied warships that escorted convoys were equipped with a new weapon that was more effective than depth charges: the Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar , which fired barrages of a few dozen mortars from the front of the ship.
These mortars fell toward the sea bottom like lethal rain that detonated upon contact with the body of a submarine. The chances of making a direct hit on a U-Boat were small, but the enormous number of mortars made them a serious threat to the Germans.
But out of all the technological innovations adopted by the British and Americans during , there were three that had a crucial effect on the course of the war. Each of these was revolutionary in itself — in combination?
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Imagine standing on the shore of a lake and watching such ripples. Radio Waves behave in much the same way.
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So when a submarine sent out a radio transmission, the allied receiver could detect the general direction the transmission was coming from — but not how far away the submarine actually was. Each finder will discover the direction of the antenna — i.
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At the end of , the Allies installed Huff-Duff finders on numerous warships and thus enjoyed a distinct advantage over the Germans. Even if the wireless communications were encrypted, Allied ships could still identify the source of the broadcast. The second innovation was the radar. The Germans even developed a device that could recognize Radar transmissions, allowing the U-Boats to identify the approaching threat in time to dive to safety. But in the British and the Americans began using a new kind of Radar that transmitted radio waves at higher frequencies than were used in earlier designs.
This new Radar was not only more efficient and powerful than its predecessors — it was also invisible to the German devices. The third innovation was a new aircraft: the B24 Liberator. At the height of production, the US turned out a new plane every 55 minutes. The British quickly used it to close the Air Gap in the mid-Atlantic — the area in which Allied ships had been most vulnerable, without any support from patrol planes, and where the German U-Boats had hit them the hardest.
Some Germans were concerned that the Allies might succeed in installing Radar systems on their planes, but German scientists dismissed those fears, believing that existing Radar systems were too heavy and cumbersome for an aircraft to carry. The German experts had based their assumptions on their own development attempts, but they were far behind the British, who, even before the war had placed the highest priority on the development of Radar technology.
Beginning in March the Liberator aircraft were equipped with Radar, and the combination of a long-distance patrol plane, massive armaments, and the ability to locate submarines, both during the day and at night, turned out to be a deadly combination for the German submarine fleet. As mentioned before, March was the most successful month for the submarines — but within just two months, thanks to the Liberator, the Huff Duff, and Radar, the tables had turned.
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Many of the U-Boats were destroyed in the bay before even making it to the ocean.