"Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

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uboatresearcher
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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by uboatresearcher » 02 Oct 2010 19:26

I thought I would try this thread for a request: does anyone know of any sources for U-441 converted to U-Flak 1 or any of the other U-Flak boats? Thanks, Paul

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by Nautilus » 19 Sep 2018 22:12

Mark V wrote:
07 Oct 2009 19:49
But i fail to understand how studies would had improved situation much. By 1942 Germans were well aware that submerged endurance and speed were good medicine to avoiding to be attacked at first place, and greatly enhanced possibilities of breaking contact (and made search area after initial contact MUCH larger, and thus more difficult to effectively covered).
There's a misguided opinion when dealing with What If scenarios - that professional naval officers and naval engineers did not, for some unknown reason, think back then the brilliant idea of a modern Armchair Admiral :)

German naval commanders operated under the constraint of a small number of boats over a giant ocean area. This meant a much harder job for each boat captain. And each torpedo was valuable as gold, since the next chance to rearm was back at the base. Cross the Biscay Bay of Death going out, cross it back on return. Double the risk for little gain.

So the proposal says like this:

Drop the aft torpedo room and the aft torpedo reserve, to increase the battery-capacity by about 50%. As there was barely time to re-engineer the electric motors, keep the same submerged speed (like a bicycle) to increase underwater range by about 50%.

The next logical step of professional naval officers was: why not use a snorkel, which is much easier to fit, and increase the underwater range by thousands of miles? While keeping the same armament and torpedo capacity?

The result: half of the boats on the French coast had snorkels. No Electroboat ever sunk an enemy ship.

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by Plain Old Dave » 21 Sep 2018 17:34

Been reading this whole thread. Honestly, it looks like the OP thinks Product Improved electroboats would be a game changer. Electric Boat in Groton along with Commander, Submarine Forces spent a good bit of time and research (along with much deeper pockets than the KM) on this topic post-war. The GUPPY program only resulted in marginal improvement in diesel-Electric boats; there's only so much space in a WW2 fleet submarine and the point of diminishing returns was reached quickly postwar with more efficient electrical propulsion.

There's something to comments regarding range/speed too. Boats moving faster move more water and there's more opportunities for noise for clever sonarmen to pick up. Range submerged is another questionable benefit too. A workable oxygen recycling system to increase loiter time, THAT might be interesting.

Really, though, the revolution the OP is after happened with the commissioning of USS NAUTILUS, SSN-571, in 1954. That's when submersible craft became true submarines. Nuclear power and a workable oxygen recycling system eliminates the need to surface except pierside.

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by thaddeus_c » 26 Sep 2018 23:51

Nautilus wrote:
19 Sep 2018 22:12
There's a misguided opinion when dealing with What If scenarios - that professional naval officers and naval engineers did not, for some unknown reason, think back then the brilliant idea of a modern Armchair Admiral

So the proposal says like this:

Drop the aft torpedo room and the aft torpedo reserve, to increase the battery-capacity by about 50%. As there was barely time to re-engineer the electric motors, keep the same submerged speed (like a bicycle) to increase underwater range by about 50%.

The next logical step of professional naval officers was: why not use a snorkel, which is much easier to fit, and increase the underwater range by thousands of miles? While keeping the same armament and torpedo capacity?

The result: half of the boats on the French coast had snorkels. No Electroboat ever sunk an enemy ship.
my understanding during use of snorkel the boats had to slow to approx. 6 knots? could this have been improved had the mast been improved or is this nearing limits of hull form underwater?

(i.e. the surface max was approx. 17 - 18 knots, submerged battery powered max approx. 7 - 8 knots with very,very limited range, COULD the diesels have pushed closer to surface max.?) but that is merely a quibble, it is still a brilliant solution.

coupled with streamlined hulls, an attempt at radar and/or radar detection, and the earlier suggestion for personal CO2 scrubbing devices certainly going to extend u-boat war.

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by Plain Old Dave » 27 Sep 2018 03:34

The US Navy, through the already mentioned GUPPY (Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program) boats, spent a great deal of time and money postwar on this very issue. The goals were to improve submerged speed, maneuverability and most importantly endurance of USN fleet submarines. The program met with limited success; there were improvements in all areas, but at the cost of significantly decreased battery life.

The main issue in underwater endurance, oxygen, was never successfully addressed until USS Nautilus, the first true submarine. any conventional boat will have to do something about either CO2 from internal combustion engines or battery fumes. 16 hours submerged is about all that humans can stand in a WW2 sized fleet submarine; USS Billfish stayed down that long during a depth charge attack on November 11, 1943. Charley Odom, one of the Chief Petty Officers on the boat, was from Knoxville and told the story on talk radio one afternoon. It was riveting. The story is also recorded in the book, "War Beneath The Waves."

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by thaddeus_c » 28 Sep 2018 01:17

Plain Old Dave wrote:
27 Sep 2018 03:34
The US Navy, through the already mentioned GUPPY (Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program) boats, spent a great deal of time and money postwar on this very issue. The goals were to improve submerged speed, maneuverability and most importantly endurance of USN fleet submarines. The program met with limited success; there were improvements in all areas, but at the cost of significantly decreased battery life.
my understanding (and question) was that operating with snorkel they were under diesel power? and surfaced the speed employing the diesels was over 17 knots, which was substantially curbed using the snorkel mast (due to its fragility)

simply put COULD the diesels push the u-boat (somewhat) faster with an improved mast?

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by Plain Old Dave » 28 Sep 2018 01:36

thaddeus_c wrote:
28 Sep 2018 01:17


simply put COULD the diesels push the u-boat (somewhat) faster with an improved mast?
Well, maybe. But you're asking the wrong question. Surfaced or periscope depth, cavitation and surface disturbances are huge detrimental factors. A WW2 fleet submarine that wanted to survive needed to quickly dive, run silent, and be able to stay submerged. Battery life and improvements were a wiser strategy.

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by thaddeus_c » 28 Sep 2018 13:02

Plain Old Dave wrote:
28 Sep 2018 01:36
thaddeus_c wrote:
28 Sep 2018 01:17

simply put COULD the diesels push the u-boat (somewhat) faster with an improved mast?
Well, maybe. But you're asking the wrong question. Surfaced or periscope depth, cavitation and surface disturbances are huge detrimental factors. A WW2 fleet submarine that wanted to survive needed to quickly dive, run silent, and be able to stay submerged. Battery life and improvements were a wiser strategy.
yes. agree with you overall, but since we are looking at Germany during WWII, wartime and resource constraints come into play. also the rudimentary radar and radar detecting equipment were mounted with/on the snorkel mast?

just thinking the streamlining of the boats, snorkel, and development of radar/detection were more feasible than Elektroboot? although any advances in battery life and generators could be added as evolutionary changes (and retrofitted within space constraints, i.e. not giving up torpedo space)

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by Plain Old Dave » 28 Sep 2018 19:11

just thinking the streamlining of the boats, snorkel, and development of radar/detection were more feasible than Elektroboot? although any advances in battery life and generators could be added as evolutionary changes (and retrofitted within space constraints, i.e. not giving up torpedo space)
Streamlining would reduce resistance, and give marginal improvement in speed and range. Maybe some in reduced sonar signature. A combined, retractable mast (snorkel/periscope) would help too. Radar sets of the era were bulky, so not sure whether the increased time rigging for diving would justify the reduction in underwater signature; WW2 boats generally ran surfaced and only submerged when required.

Another thought. Torpedoes improved enough to eliminate the deck gun? This was one of the first GUPPY improvements.

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by Nautilus » 18 Dec 2018 08:38

thaddeus_c wrote:
26 Sep 2018 23:51
my understanding during use of snorkel the boats had to slow to approx. 6 knots? could this have been improved had the mast been improved or is this nearing limits of hull form underwater?

(i.e. the surface max was approx. 17 - 18 knots, submerged battery powered max approx. 7 - 8 knots with very,very limited range, COULD the diesels have pushed closer to surface max.?) but that is merely a quibble, it is still a brilliant solution.

coupled with streamlined hulls, an attempt at radar and/or radar detection, and the earlier suggestion for personal CO2 scrubbing devices certainly going to extend u-boat war.
Economical speed under electric propulsion was a great 2 knots. As war novelists used to say, the submerged sub escaped the pursuers in a cyclist's pace.

The use of the snorkel was not in long-range running. A snorkeling sub was practically a deaf sitting duck, due to Diesel engine vibration and noise. But in recharging the batteries while running a few hours per day, without surfacing at all. Side note: sailing underwater without surfacing for many days was very uncomfortable for crews on Type VIIs, whose hulls were not designed for such use.

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by thaddeus_c » 18 Dec 2018 18:37

Nautilus wrote:
18 Dec 2018 08:38
thaddeus_c wrote:
26 Sep 2018 23:51
my understanding during use of snorkel the boats had to slow to approx. 6 knots? could this have been improved had the mast been improved or is this nearing limits of hull form underwater?

(i.e. the surface max was approx. 17 - 18 knots, submerged battery powered max approx. 7 - 8 knots with very,very limited range, COULD the diesels have pushed closer to surface max.?)
The use of the snorkel was not in long-range running. A snorkeling sub was practically a deaf sitting duck, due to Diesel engine vibration and noise. But in recharging the batteries while running a few hours per day, without surfacing at all. Side note: sailing underwater without surfacing for many days was very uncomfortable for crews on Type VIIs, whose hulls were not designed for such use.
probably my question(s) a bit confusing (and/or confused), was just asking simple question if the mast would snap pressing closer to max speed of diesel, so that while using the snorkel they could cover greater distance. under the assumption that the mast would also have at least radar detection? so they would not be unawares of Allied ships and aircraft?

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by thaddeus_c » 18 Dec 2018 19:30

a question. was there any area to cut crew, any automation feasible? my understanding the hydraulic (?) torpedo loading system for Elektro boats was considered unnecessary? unlike with surface ships, the German u-boats crew numbers seem well in line with Allies.

reason for question is oxygen supply, everything else being equal, a reduction in crew would increase underwater time?

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 23 Dec 2018 00:34

Plain Old Dave wrote:
21 Sep 2018 17:34
Been reading this whole thread. Honestly, it looks like the OP thinks Product Improved electroboats would be a game changer. Electric Boat in Groton along with Commander, Submarine Forces spent a good bit of time and research (along with much deeper pockets than the KM) on this topic post-war. The GUPPY program only resulted in marginal improvement in diesel-Electric boats; there's only so much space in a WW2 fleet submarine and the point of diminishing returns was reached quickly postwar with more efficient electrical propulsion.

There's something to comments regarding range/speed too. Boats moving faster move more water and there's more opportunities for noise for clever sonarmen to pick up. Range submerged is another questionable benefit too. A workable oxygen recycling system to increase loiter time, THAT might be interesting.

Really, though, the revolution the OP is after happened with the commissioning of USS NAUTILUS, SSN-571, in 1954. That's when submersible craft became true submarines. Nuclear power and a workable oxygen recycling system eliminates the need to surface except pierside.
The USN with the GUPPY program had US manufacturers also designed a new and better battery with more storage capacity that fit in the same space. They rearranged the hull interior to increase battery capacity. For example, the space for deck gun ammunition and such was turned into additional battery space along with reductions in weight and drag by removing unnecessary fittings. Even the early GUPPY 1 conversions went from 8 knots submerged to 18 by these simple expedients.

So, just by careful redesign of the interior, adding a better battery, and streamlining the hull the US achieved a doubling of underwater speed.

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by Nautilus » 24 Dec 2018 21:00

Battery technology during the 1940s was also rather poor. Lead-acid batteries were the same construction, with acid in liquid state, as patented in 1859.

This means they were limited in practice to 30-40% continuous use of their nominal capacity (anything more and they sulfate), generated flammable gas and needed careful daily maintenance. True deep-cycle batteries in VRLA / AGM / Gel form only came in the 1980s.

So the only way to give better battery capacity to a sub is to increase the number of batteries (Electroboat). Not their construction, which is not possible. No cut of the crew size - each man had a very specific task to do and could not be replaced.

Then come the other parts: more underwater time -> needs crew comfort -> needs better hull design -> needs better production methods to build a more complex hull and so on

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Re: "Bastard" Electro U-boats From Early 1943?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 25 Dec 2018 23:19

Nautilus wrote:
24 Dec 2018 21:00
Battery technology during the 1940s was also rather poor. Lead-acid batteries were the same construction, with acid in liquid state, as patented in 1859.

This means they were limited in practice to 30-40% continuous use of their nominal capacity (anything more and they sulfate), generated flammable gas and needed careful daily maintenance. True deep-cycle batteries in VRLA / AGM / Gel form only came in the 1980s.

So the only way to give better battery capacity to a sub is to increase the number of batteries (Electroboat). Not their construction, which is not possible. No cut of the crew size - each man had a very specific task to do and could not be replaced.

Then come the other parts: more underwater time -> needs crew comfort -> needs better hull design -> needs better production methods to build a more complex hull and so on
Not entirely true, as the USN proved in the late 40's. The GUPPY boats got batteries that used more carefully designed plates that were thinner, greater in number, and purer in quality of material going into them. That increased cell capacity (in terms of ampacity) while keeping the cell the same size. By using new materials like plastics for the shell, they reduced the weight and increased safety as well. In this way, the same size battery could put out more power or last longer.

The USN also in that program, rearranged the interior of the sub to increase efficency of the crew.

Now, the US had the advantage that their boats were larger, and somewhat more redundant, than German boats. For example, on some GUPPY mods, they removed one diesel (out of 4) reducing both surface speed (considered acceptable) and giving more room for other machinery. They simply ran the remaining diesels more and schnorkeled more to keep the batteries charged.
Getting rid of the deck guns and their magazines gave the conversions new space for more batteries. This could be done on something like a Type IX but not on an electroboat.

So, there are things the Germans could have done, even to older designs, to improve underwater performance. Imagine a Type IX that has the deck gun removed, is streamlined as best as possible, has an increased battery capacity by using the magazine and say removing the stern torpedo tubes along with those torpedoes. Maybe some additional rearrangement of things internally as well. Add some air conditioning to improve crew efficency as well. Add the better GHG sonar like the Type XXI got, and you have a pretty going moderately fast underwater sub. It can snorkel and it can outrun slow escorts and has a much better chance of evading depth charges and 18 knot escorts.

Let's assume the result is a 12 knot submerged boat for 1 hour. That's sufficent to render the Flower class obsolete. They are now entirely too slow for ASW work. That's a near paradign shift in a weapons system. That would require the Allies to make big shifts in escort procedures as well as how they attack submarines.

I'd bet that was doable by early 1943.

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