Is it possible to move capital ships over inland waterways?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Civettone, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I was reading up on Axis submarines in the Mediterranean. It seems that after 1941 or definitely 1942, they were no longer able to move their U-boats from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic. There seem to be two reasons for this. First, the naval screen the Allies had put up around Gibraltar. Second, the underwater stream went into the opposite direction, which meant that subs had to sail on the surface.

    Anyway, it got me thinking if it wasn't possible to transport submarines over occupied France into the Atlantic by using the rivers and canals.

    Are these canals too small? A Type VII U-boat had a length of 67 m and a beam of 6,2 m. Rather shallow depth.

    http://stanfords.s3.amazonaws.com/grid/SI00000908_single_grid.gif

    Kris
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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  3. subkraft

    subkraft Member

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    The smaller Type 11's were taken by rail to the Black Sea I think.....
     
  4. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Thanks guys !

    Any comment on the 2 reasons why subs couldn't leave the Mediterranean?

    Kris
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Type VII is small enough that I think prefabricated sections could have been transported to a Mediterranean shipyard for final assembly. But why bother? Italy had a decent size submarine fleet and could have built more.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #7 tyrodtom, Jun 27, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2013
    The WW1 subs probably did the exit on the surface at night or bad weather.
    With radar in WW2, that's not something you can attempt.
    Meaning you'd have to do it submerged, on a lot less power.

    62 U-boats made the Atlantic to Med. passage, none made it back out.
     
  8. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    My idea was to get them out of the Mediterranean. Italy still had some ocean going ships nearing completion when it surrendered.


    Kris
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A lot of these canals were old, dating to the 1840-1860s and were superseded by railroads for general transportation. This means they were rarely updated and water depth, overhead clearance, width in spots and even length of locks and bends/turns in the canals limited the size of the boats used on them ( many originally used horses/mule/oxen on a path next to canal for towing the boats).

    Here is a picture of a "modern" cruise canal boat in southern France.

    saint-louis_a-300x187.jpg

    Here is a web page Map with some nominal dimensions of French canals.

    Waterway Depths, Heights and Widths | Aboard in France
     
  10. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Thank you Shortround! I notice that the beam length is not even the biggest problem. The permissible height is simply too low !



    Kris
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    That and the draft. Even MK II and XXIII U-Boats took 3.6-3.8 meters and you aren't going to get much smaller than a type XXIII.

    Try googling for French Canals. Some great scenery but low bridges and tunnels and at least one viaduct that carries the canal over a river.

    The southern route route through Toulouse and on to Bordeaux climbs to 158 meters above sea level in Toulouse and descends again making locks VERY important.
     
  12. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Why? They made a large contribution to the Axis war effort by closing the Med to British shipping. They aren't going to accomplish more in the Atlantic.
     
  14. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    By 1943, they were not closing anything anymore. In fact, Italian subs never closed anything.

    And anyway, I was talking about ocean-going subs, like the R-class. Not much use for them in Mediterranean after 1943.

    Kris
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    How many German and Italian submarines with a surface displacement greater then 1,000 tons were in the Mediterranean?
     
  16. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Not many. They were mainly Type VII boats. Most of the bigger Italian subs were already shipped to Bordeaux.

    However, 11 ships of the R-class were under construction. One third of these were lost when Taranto was conquered. But the other ships were being constructed in La Spezia and Trieste, both in the north. The Germans were very much interested in these transport boats, because they were capable of transporting around 650 tons to the Far East. Converted Type IXs were only able to haul 250 tons.


    Kris
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Inexpensive medium range boats. Perfect size for the Med so keep them there. Germany needed Type IX long range boats for Atlantic service.

    I suspect the long range Italian boats were originally intended for Indian Ocean operations from their new sub base in East Africa.
     
  18. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    You are wrong. Typ VII were ocean going boats. Never ever intended for the Mediterranean. There were much less Type IX subs built. These had longer range than the Type VII and were intended for operations beyond the Atlantic.

    Doenitz considered it an error to throw his subs into the Med, knowing quite well that the Med is unsuited for submarine warfare: too clear water and too small for surprise attacks. Also, by 1942, he would not be able to extricate them.

    Kris
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That isn't the real issue.

    Germany had a surprisingly small number of operational submarines at the start of both world wars. Wartime production added more boats but Britain added ASW vessels and aircraft at a faster rate so Germany never caught up. Admiral Donitz didn't want to spread his outnumbered force even thinner by transferring a significant number of boats to the Med. Who can blame him? Let Italy handle submarine warfare in their own backyard.

    As for Med and submarine warfare....
    4. Deadly Mediterranean - The U-boat War in World War One (WWI) - Kaiserliche Marine - uboat.net
    During WWI the Med was single most productive theater of operations for German submarines. Pola Flotilla submarines established records for tonnage sunk per boat which have never been broken.

    U32.
    .....106,034 tons sunk.
    .....18,554 tons damaged.
    .....1 prize ship. 1,115 tons.
    .....1 warship sunk. 14,000 tons.

    U33.
    .....194,131 tons sunk.
    .....36,452 tons damaged.
    .....1 prize ship. 453 tons.

    U34.
    .....257,652 tons sunk.
    .....14,208 tons damaged.

    U35. Most successful submarine in history. A record that has stood for almost 100 years.
    .....535,700 tons sunk.
    .....36,439 tons damaged.
    .....1 warship damaged. 450 tons.

    U38.
    .....292,445 tons sunk.
    .....26,139 tons damaged.
    .....3 prize ships. 3,550 tons.
    .....1 warship sunk. 680 tons.
    .....1 warship damaged. 10,850 tons.

    U39.
    .....405,035 tons sunk.
    .....30,552 tons damaged.
    .....1 prize ship. 798 tons.
    .....1 warship sunk. 1,290 tons.
     
  20. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Not all of the U-35's tonnage was sunk in the Mediterranean Sea, and I suspect some of the other submarines you've listed are the same.
     
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