In the post-WWII years Winston Churchill once famously said “The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril”, this was largely because of how reliant Britain was on supplies, manpower and equipment from Canada, the USA, Australia and further afield. If Hitler had successfully managed to close off the resupply of Britain across the North Atlantic, he could potentially secured victory in Europe in a matter of months.
The early years of the war would later become known as die glückliche Zeit or “the happy time” by German U-boat personnel, allied shipping hadn’t yet developed effective counter-strategies for dealing with subs, and for the U-boat commanders it was all to easy to sink heavily-laden ships bound for the west coast of England.
As the war progressed, the Admiralty managed to turn the tides on the U-boats, all in-bound shipping arrived in heavily guarded convoys which were able to strike back and sink submarines with a high level of accuracy. Further help was provided by the cracking of the Enigma, high-frequency direction finding radar, active sonar, and ASW spigot mortars. By the latter stages of the war the U-boat fleet had the highest fatality rate of all of the German forces, and by war’s end 793 U-boats had been sunk.
This high-resolution U-boat blueprint is exceptionally well detailed, so if you have an interest in such things you can click the download button below to take a closer look.