U-Boat Losses in World War II

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
User avatar
José M. Rico
Administrator
Posts: 920
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Madrid, Spain
Contact:

U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by José M. Rico » Sun Apr 13, 2008 4:45 pm

Image

1939 - U-Boats lost: 9

September: 2
October: 5
November: 1
December: 1

1940 - U-Boats lost: 25

January: 1
February: 6
March: 3
April: 5
May: 1
June: 2
July: 1
August: 2
September: 1
October: 1
November: 2
December: -

1941 - U-Boats lost: 35

January: -
February: -
March: 5
April: 2
May: 1
June: 4
July: -
August: 3
September: 2
October: 2
November: 6
December: 10

1942 - U-Boats lost: 85

January: 3
February: 2
March: 6
April: 3
May: 3
June: 3
July: 11
August: 9
September: 11
October: 16
November: 13
December: 5

1943 - U-Boats lost: 236

January: 6
February: 19
March: 17
April: 14
May: 41 (month with more losses of the war)
June: 17
July: 37
August: 25
September: 9
October: 25
November: 19
December: 7

1944 - U-Boats lost: 216

January: 15
February: 19
March: 22
April: 23
May: 23
June: 26
July: 18
August: 25
September: 19
October: 7
November: 5
December: 14

1945 - U-Boats lost: 114

January: 8
February: 20
March: 25
April: 41
May: 20

1939-1945 - Total Losses: 720

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:08 pm

José,

Very good stuff. Is there a way to correlate these figures with the tonage sunk by the U-Boat force so we can have an idea of the battle raged in the Atlantic?

Kind regards, José and thanks for the webpage, the forum and everything.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
José M. Rico
Administrator
Posts: 920
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Madrid, Spain
Contact:

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by José M. Rico » Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:30 pm

You're welcome.

A few years ago, I started drawing a graph similar to the above including the tonnage sunk by u-boats month by month, but I never finished it. It takes considerable research and many times the total tonnage given for a month also includes that sunk by the Luftwaffe and surface riders. Maybe one of these days I sit down and do it. :D

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3075
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Dave Saxton » Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:25 pm

Very good!

Have you seen Jurgen Rohwer's data? Rohwer breaks down losses into sub- catagories, such as where the losses occured and what the U-boat was doing. As your data suggests, losses started to spike in May 1943. This was the time when the Allies began equiping patrol bombers with radars that the Metox could not detect, and using Huff DuFF more effectively. June and July 1943 were very bad for U-boats travelling to and from ports, with 46 lost doing that during this period. After Aug 1st 1943 the U-boats lost going to and from base dramatically declined to an average of about 5 per month.

March, April, and May, 1945 may look worse, because 215 U-boats were scuttled during this period. Does your data include these, or is it just losses to enemy action?
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

User avatar
José M. Rico
Administrator
Posts: 920
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Madrid, Spain
Contact:

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by José M. Rico » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:09 pm

Hello Dave,

No, my graph does not include the mass scuttlings of 1945.

May 1943 was definitely the turning point in the battle of the Atlantic. An unexpected blow to Dönitz, considering that only 2 months earlier the Ubootwaffe sunk an all time record of more than 600,000 tons. After the terrible losses of May, Dönitz withdrew his boats from the North Atlantic.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:05 am

OK. I did some research and the information is quite.. well, different from to another depending to each source. I´ll bring forth two sets of results from two different sources:

1. SEA LANES IN WARTIME: THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. 2nd. edition, Anchor Books, 1968

Total ships sunk North Atlantic

1939: 212
1940: 999
1941: 846
1942: 1,097
1943: 309
1944: 108
1945: 92

Total: 3,663.

2. HITLER U-BOAT WAR: THE HUNTERS, Clay Blair, New York, 1996
HITLER U-BOAT WAR: THE HUNTED, Clay Blair, New York, 1998


Total ships sunk WWII by submarines

1939: 147
1940: 520
1941: 457
1942: 1,155
1943: 452
1944: 125
1945: 63

Total: 2,919

For 720 U-Boats lost there are, at least, 2,919 ships sunk. That´s a 4 to 1 ratio. Even with the allies winning strategically.

Kind regards.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7590
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by RF » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:40 pm

It would be interesting to compare the U-boat losses/Allied ships sunk with the US subs lost/Jap ships sunk in the Pacific.

Another interesting point: do the sinkings of Allied ships include warships, such as Royal Oak and Barham? And by U-boats are we including Italian subs, as some of them, such as Leonardo da Vinci, did achieve substantial sinkings?

Yet another consideration - suppose the Type XXI Electro-boot had started operations in say summer/autumn of 1944, they would presumably have tilted the figures back the other way by spring 1945?
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
José M. Rico
Administrator
Posts: 920
Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2004 10:23 am
Location: Madrid, Spain
Contact:

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by José M. Rico » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:32 pm

I have just checked this again and according to uboat.net the total u-boats lost during the war was 751 including some scuttled and destroyed during air raids, but not counting the 220 u-boats scuttled in May 1945.

http://uboat.net/fates/losses/chart.htm

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3075
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:36 pm

RF wrote:It would be interesting to compare the U-boat losses/Allied ships sunk with the US subs lost/Jap ships sunk in the Pacific.....
It's difficult to make that an apples to apples comparison, because the IJN was not really interested in anti-submarine warfare, and when they did reluctantly attempt ASW, they were particularly bad at it.

The IJN never went to great lengths to protect their shipping from submarines, and being a island nation it was their lifeline, much as the sea lanes were to Britain. They were almost indifferent to the problem. They never really used convoy systems, and they did not develop an array of special ASW tools and methods like the British did.
Last edited by Dave Saxton on Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3075
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:47 pm

Rohwer's data suggests that 630 U-boats were lost in actual combat operations vs Allied shipping. 123 were lost at base or home waters to enemy air raids, mines, and accidents. That's 753, or very close to Jose's result. 11 were captured by the enemy or interned in neutral harbors. 153 were surendered at the end of the war. The 215 scuttled are not part of the above totals.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:32 pm

Very interesting these comments from Dave Saxton, specially those regarding the IJN policy of ASW. I read that Yamamoto himself was indifferent to this particular problem, which is quite confusing: a guy so applied to the modernization of the IJN and aeronaval warfare and, at the same time, having little interest in a new kind of warfare that was hit news in thosed times (1939-1942) because of the German U-Boat campaign.

Kind regards.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3075
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:47 am

Here's some data on USN sub ops in the the Pacific.

A report called JANAC was completed in 1947, although it was accepted that confirming all the claims and coming up with precise data would be impossible. Part of the problem was that many Japanese records needed for comparison were poorly kept or were destroyed. In 1980 the JANAC records were reviewed and revised to try and iron out what claims belonged to to which boats, as there's a lot of duplication. Also some things such as the code breaking were still classified and could not be used in the original JANAC.

It is estimated that 1,100 merchant ships were sunk totalling about 5 million tons. About 200 warships were claimed totaling about 600,000 tons. 185 boats claimed at least one ship sunk. Some boats such as the Tang were credited with dozens of victories with Tang given credit for 33 ships sunk. 52 boats were lost with 37 of those having no survivers. 3,505 submariners are listed as lost.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

dunmunro
Senior Member
Posts: 3940
Joined: Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:25 am
Location: Langley BC Canada

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by dunmunro » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:50 am

"The British lost 75 Submarines, and their underwater Fleet sank 1,500,000 tons of Merchant Shipping, and 169 Warships in all theatres."

User avatar
RF
Senior Member
Posts: 7590
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:15 pm
Location: Wolverhampton, ENGLAND

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by RF » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:28 am

Regarding British submarines, the relatively high loss has to be considered in the light of genuine world wide commitment against three major enemies over the full time span of WW2, whereas the German commiment was Atlantic focussed, with some U-boats in the Indian Ocean and only one U-boat, U862, operated in the Pacific.

The fact that 52 US subs were lost suggests that the Japanese were not as indifferent to ASW as Dave suggests. Japan was more vulnerable to submarine blockade than Britain in view of its persistent rice crop poor harvests over the 1930's and 1940's and unlike Britain did not have any high quality domestic sources of coal.
From the accounts I have read the Japanese used convoys of only a few ships at a time but were short of destroyer escorts and made little use of smaller escort vessels. I am also aware of comments made by the Germans to the IJN during the war concerning lack of diligence on the part of the IJN over the sinking of hilfskreuzer Michel in October 1943 and the lack of proper support given to German U-boats on the ''Monsun'' operation, including a failure to pick up survivors from sunken German vessels in Japanese waters.
But many US war films about US subs in the Pacific do give the impression that the Japanese did aggresively pursue and attack US subs - but usually with single surface ships, not groups of destroyers working together, unlike the British practice in the Atlantic.

Coming back to U862, I believe that this was the only sub in WW2 to sink ships in all three of the the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and conducted the most remarkable voyage of any WW2 submarine, sailing from Kiel to attack the seaways off Australia and New Zealand.
''Give me a Ping and one Ping only'' - Sean Connery.

User avatar
Dave Saxton
Supporter
Posts: 3075
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains USA

Re: U-Boat Losses in World War II

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:27 pm

The Battle of the Atlantic was orders of magnatude greater in scale and intensity compared to these other submarine campaigns. Based on post war evaluations of records, U-boats sank 7.8 million tons of shipping in 1942 alone. This was greater than the Japanese total merchant marine losses. Usually about 40 U-boats were operating in combat zones in the Atlantic at any given time, with ~70 coming and going at any given time. Combined Allied shipping replacement for 1942 was 7.2 million tons.

The top scoring U-boat Ace was Otto Kretschmer with 44 merchant ships totalling 266,629 tons, plus 1 DD. 20 U-boat Aces had more than 23 merchant ship kills. The top 20 U-boat Aces acounted for 3.1 million tons lost. The Germans did not include warships in tonnage destroyed.

"The Battle of the Atlantic, as Churchill named the struggle of the Allies against the U-boats, was without question the most complicated and technical form of warfare the world had ever seen. From relatively quiet beginnings it grew to a raging crescendo both in violence and cunning until Donitz's defeat in 1943, yet continued for two more years. It was a technical battle, but none the less cruel for that" (L Brown)

Credit must go to the Royal Navy, for making it so tough on the U-boats. USN ASW was relatively poor in early 1942, until they learned their bussiness from their mentors.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

Post Reply