Paper on the German U-Boat - A Huge Turning Point in the War for the Allies from 1940 to 1943

Paper on the German U-Boat - A Huge Turning Point in the War for the Allies from 1940 to 1943

From 1940 to 1943 there was a huge turning point in the war for the Allies. The German U-Boat was a force that the British could not figure out how to defeat. Maritime ships would come across the sea from America with supplies that the British desperately needed, only to be sank in the Atlantic by the German U-Boat. Winston Churchill wrote Roosevelt “ the skeptical of all these splendid ships being built, sent to sea crammed with priceless food and munitions, and being sunk-three or four a day- torments me day and night” (Millet & Maslowski, 1994, p. 435).

In 1942 the Germans took the lead in the war for the Atlantic. With most battleships being tied up fighting the war for the Pacific it left the U-Boat to dominate the Atlantic. With less ships, and aircraft available for the Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) effort it wasn’t that difficult for the U-Boat to take control of the sea. The Allies had lost the ability to interpret the German U-Boat code also. The Germans sank one-hundred ships a month average throughout the year of 1942. This was also a loss of 500,000 tons a month. This onslaught only cost the Germans 21 U-Boats which they had no problem replacing with the 128 submarines that they had built throughout that year.

The Allies had to find a way to combat this huge problem they had. In 1942 the U.S. tripled its carrying weight of its ships from three-million tons to nine-million tons. With this when one ship made it to it was as if three ships of the past had. The second plan that came up was the convoy as it worked in WW1. The Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) also contributed to the ASW. By reconnaissance and even bombing raids when U-Boats were in repair or docking.

The convoys of the time averaged about fifty vessels and covered a twenty-four square mile of the Atlantic. They were also surrounded by patrol ships for protection of the convoy. In the summer of 1943 it became obvious that the Allies had won the war for the Atlantic. The technological advances during the war also assisted the Allies in winning the Battle for the Atlantic. With more advanced sonar made it capable for the Allies to find the U-Boats and either avoid them or pursue them. The code breaking capabilities of the time advanced also which allowed the Allies to break the code and the location of U-Boats. In April 1943 a “wolfpack” was known to be in a certain area which allowed the Allied convoy to be redirected around the U-Boats.

The Germans continued to fight till the end of the war but did not have any huge victories losing 753 of the 863 submarines. The war for the Atlantic was hard and long but in the end with technological advances and American know how. The end of the Battle meant a victory for America and the Allies.


Millet, A. R. & Maslowski, P. (1994). For the common defense. A military history of the United States of America (1st ed). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster- The Free Press