Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43, Robert Forczyk

Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43, Robert Forczyk

Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43, Robert Forczyk

Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43, Robert Forczyk

Winston Churchill described the Fw 200 Condor as the 'scourge of the Atlantic', something of an exaggeration even when the Condor was at its most dangerous, but despite this the long range German bomber did represent a serious threat to Allied shipping in the early years of the Second World War, able to launch air attacks on convoys all around the western coast of Britain and Ireland, appearing in areas where nobody had expected to see hostile aircraft.

The Condor was at its most dangerous at the start of its anti-shipping career, a 'happy time' that stretched from the summer of 1940 to the summer of 1941. At this point British convoys had very little protection against aerial attack, with limited numbers of escort ships, very few anti-aircraft guns and no chance of aerial support. This allowed the Condor crews to overcome the serious weakness of their aircraft and make low level attacks that inflicted heavy losses on a series of convoys.

Forczyk traces the British and Allied reaction to these early German successes. These saw an ever-increasing number of anti-aircraft guns fitted to Allied merchant ships and convoy escort ships, but the most effective response was the introduction of effective air cover. This included the one-shot catapult armed CAM ships and large long range aircraft of Coastal Command and the USAAF (I was surprised to learn that the B-24 Liberator served quite effectively in this role), before the appearance of an ever-increasing number of escort carriers and long-range fighter aircraft such as the Beaufighter and Mosquito finally ended the Condor threat.

The book is well illustrated, and the text is supported by two very useful maps, showing sinkings and Condor losses in 1940-41 and 1943. Thes two maps vividly illustrate both the wide-ranging threat posed by the Condor, and the extent of its defeat by 1943.

Forczyk makes it very clear how the Condor's successes were achieved despite the faults of the aircraft rather than because of its strengths. The aircraft's long range was achieved at the expense of structural expense or armour, which made it very vulnerable both to fighter attack and to accidental damage, while most of its successes came before it was equipped with an effective high or even medium level bombsight.

This is a well structured and well illustrated account of a high-profile threat to the crucial Atlantic convoys, and the well coordinated Allied response that finally defeated it.

Chapters
Introduction
Chronology
Design and Development
Strategic Situation
Technical Specifications
The Combatants
Combat
Statistics and Analysis
Conclusion
Further Reading
Glossary

Author: Robert Forczyk
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 80
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2010



Duel in the Clouds

Major John W. Weltman was on alert in the operations building on August 14, 1942, when he received a report that a German Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor had just been spotted over Iceland’s southwest coast, heading for the airport at Reykjavik. Weltman, commanding officer of the U.S. Army Air Forces’ 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, pulled on his helmet and goggles as he ran to his Lockheed P-38F, which was fueled and ready on the flight line, followed by his wingman, Second Lieutenant Elza E. Shahan. There was no time for the usual routine walk-around Weltman started the Allison engines, gave the thumbs-up sign to the ground crew to pull the chocks and taxied onto the runway. He was soon airborne, followed by Shahan in another P-38F. Two Curtiss P-40Cs from the 33rd Fighter Squadron were already in the air, and Operations immediately radioed them a vector on which they could intercept the intruder. It was 10:15 a.m., and the chase was on!

The U.S. Army and Navy had arrived in Iceland in July 1941 to relieve the British in the defense of this strategic North Atlantic island and to protect American aircraft flying to the British Isles. On August 14, the Condor’s crew was no doubt intent on gathering intelligence and taking photos to document the American deployment. Long-range Luftwaffe bombers had been flying near or over Iceland since 1940, and an Fw-200C had dropped bombs in February 1941. Despite the best efforts of the RAF and later the USAAF, the Condors had always managed to escape, often disappearing into overcast skies and continuing on over the icy North Atlantic, where they attacked merchant ships and cooperated with U-boat wolf packs preying on Allied convoys. By August 1942, an improved warning system was in place to better protect the island.

Unlike the Heinkel He-111 and Junkers Ju-86, which were intended to serve as both commercial transports and bombers, the Fw-200 Condor was specifically designed in 1936 by Kurt Tank as a long-range passenger transport for use by Deutsche Lufthansa and airlines world-wide. With its 26-passenger capacity, it proved to be a commercial success. Focke-Wulf’s transport gained widespread publicity on August 10, 1938, when a Condor dubbed Brandenburg flew nonstop from Berlin to New York in 24 hours and 56 minutes. A few years later, in the confusion and uncertainty following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, some American officials—remembering that flight—worried about a German air attack on the eastern United States.

The German high command decided in the mid-1930s to equip the Luftwaffe with fast twin-engine bombers and dive bombers, primarily to support ground forces. When World War II began in September 1939, Luftwaffe leaders realized they had no aircraft capable of long-range reconnaissance that could also be used against shipping—an essential weapon in a war with Britain, a seafaring nation with vital supply lines across the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Since the only four-engine aircraft then in production in Germany was the civilian Condor, Luftwaffe technical experts soon visited the Focke-Wulf factory at Bremen. They determined that the Condor’s light airframe would require considerable modification to make it suitable for military use, to include low-level bombing and vigorous maneuvering. Despite those concerns, the Focke-Wulf engineers proposed a military version, the Fw-200C, which was quickly approved. Civilian production ceased, and manufacture of the Fw-200C began on priority basis. Modifications included strengthening the airframe, installing more-powerful engines, fitting external bomb racks under the new outboard engine nacelles and in a ventral gondola, and adding several defensive gun turrets as well as long-range radios and radar. After that, improvements were continually made based on operational experience.

Deliveries began in the early spring of 1940 to the newly organized I Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 40 (I/KG.40), a bomber group intended especially for antishipping operations. The Germans began attacking British ships in April, as soon as air bases were available during the invasion of Norway. After the fall of France in June, KG.40, which received Fw-200C-1s, was transferred to Bordeaux-Merignac, on the Atlantic coast. Condors flew combat patrols far out over the Atlantic and around Ireland, landing at Trondheim-Vaernes and Stravanger-Sola, Norway. Their ability to locate Allied ships and convoys proved very valuable to U-boat wolf packs.

The improved Fw-200C-4 version entered production in February 1942. More of this model were produced than all the others, although only 84 were delivered that year. Despite the urgent need for Condors at the front, two of the first C-4 models were modified for use as transports by Adolf Hitler.

On August 14 (according to a formerly confidential intelligence report prepared three days later by Navy Operating Base, Iceland), Weltman and Shahan climbed rapidly and started searching for the Condor along the coastline. They soon spotted the big Fw-200 heading east, but then it vanished into the clouds. At the time the Americans had access only to general information about the Condor, though Luftwaffe loss records later identified that airplane as Fw-200C-4 Werke Nr. 000125, markings FB-BB, from Kampfstaffel 2 of I/KG.40, a squadron flying from Vaernes, Norway. It was piloted by Master Sgt. Fritz Kühn, who had been awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class.

Major Weltman radioed the initial sighting to Patterson Field (the name the Americans had given to their Icelandic base), and cruised through tall cloud canyons searching for his elusive foe. The Condor reappeared about 15 miles east of the field, after it first flew over the air base. With a speed of almost 400 mph, Weltman’s P-38F easily caught up to the intruder, then heading north. He charged his guns and closed in to attack, but anti-aircraft fire from a U.S. Navy ship, approximately three miles offshore, forced him to break off contact. The enemy again disappeared into a cloud bank.

Weltman and Shahan were determined to catch the Condor. They did so just after 10:40, when the clouds once more parted. Weltman attacked while it was making a steep evasive turn to the left. The American knew the German pilot had seen him because tracers were heading his way even before he got into firing range. According to the 27th Squadron’s unit history, Weltman engaged in drastic maneuvers to avoid the defensive fire. No hits were claimed on the Condor in the first pass, but both Weltman and Shahan scored hits on two successive passes. The two P-38s expended a total of 35 rounds from their 20mm cannons and 1,800 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition on the Condor.

Suddenly Weltman’s plane shuddered and jerked. One of the Condor’s bullets had struck a propeller blade, and his nose guns were damaged and jammed, forcing him to reluctantly return to base. Shahan then lost contact with the Condor, which had again taken refuge in the clouds—but he kept up the chase.

At 11:13, when Shahan again spotted the enemy emerging from the clouds, he also saw a Bell P-39D Airacobra attacking, along with two Curtiss P-40Cs, all from the 33rd Fighter Squadron. The P-40s apparently scored no hits, but 2nd Lt. Joseph D.R. Shaffer, piloting the P-39, managed to hit the Condor with shells from his 37mm cannon, and tracer, incendiary and armor-piercing bullets from his four .30-caliber machine guns.

Shaffer saw the Fw-200’s left inboard engine catch fire and begin trailing smoke. Meanwhile Shahan was dodging back and forth to avoid defensive fire. The P-38 pilot then executed a chandelle and swept in closer for a deflection shot, closing in from below to only about 100 yards, and scoring direct hits in the fuselage. Shahan intended to attack again from above, but suddenly the Condor’s left wing crumpled and exploded, practically in his face. There was no time to turn Shahan flew on through pieces of flying wreckage that scarred his plane, while the doomed German aircraft tumbled toward the sea in a flaming death-spiral. No parachutes were sighted, and there were no survivors.

On landing at Patterson Field, Shahan and Shaffer were welcomed with cheers. Though both pilots were pleased that they had managed to track down and destroy the Condor, their satisfaction was tempered by the realization that they had just sent seven men to their death in the icy North Atlantic. Shahan and Shaffer both received the Silver Star and were jointly credited with the aerial victory. Major Weltman’s contribution was not included in reports of the August 14 action, but he would be credited with destroying an enemy plane in the Mediterranean theater on December 4, 1942. Master Sergeant Kühn, the German pilot, would be posthumously awarded the German Cross in Gold on September 25.

The Navy sent a fast boat to the scene of the crash, but searchers found only an oil slick, a notebook and minor debris. They did discover half a boot—which strangely enough, according to the 27th Squadron history, bore the trademark of an American manufacturer. It was presented to Major Weltman, who thereafter carried it in his plane for good luck.

The destruction of one enemy airplane may seem minor, considered against the vast backdrop of operations in the European theater. But the Condor was the very first German aircraft shot down by an American pilot, in American uniform, in WWII. According to a July 1945 air intelligence report, the U.S. Army Air Forces destroyed a total of 30,152 German combat aircraft by the time the war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945, compared with 18,418 USAAF aircraft destroyed. It should be noted, however, that most of the Luftwaffe losses were single-engine fighters, while many of the USAAF aircraft downed were two-or four-engine bombers.

The Condor’s significant achievements in WWII as a commerce raider and long-range reconnaissance plane prompted Prime Minister Winston Churchill to call it the “scourge of the Atlantic.” Although the loss of German air bases in France in 1944 curtailed the use of Condors, they continued to operate from Norway, contributing to the destruction of Allied shipping by U-boats. A total of 276 Condors were produced, including prototypes and civilian airliners, with 263 Fw-200Cs delivered to the Luftwaffe. Compare that with U.S. production of 12,725 Boeing B-17s, in several models, for the USAAF.

C.G. Sweeting, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former curator for the National Air and Space Museum, is the author of Hitler’s Squadron and Hitler’s Personal Pilot. Further reading: The Fw200 Condor, by Jerry Scutts and Fw 200 vs Atlantic Convoy: 1941-43, by Robert Forczyk.

Click here to build your own Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor.

Originally published in the January 2013 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.


FW 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43

Up to now, the formula behind Osprey’s successful series of “Duel” books has usually been to compare two contemporary opposing aircraft, warships or armored fighting vehicles. Its latest release has broken the mold in pitting the combined air and seaborne defenses of Britain’s maritime convoys against the depredations of a single notorious type of German patrol bomber. Another unusual aspect of this story is that neither weapons system involves cutting-edge technical innovation so much as adapting existing technology to new uses for which it was never originally intended.

So effective was the Focke-Wulf Fw-200C Condor against Britain’s maritime trade that Winston Churchill dubbed it the “Scourge of the Atlantic.” Yet as Robert Forczyk explains, Germany’s four-engine maritime patrol bomber was really little more than a hasty military adaptation of a prewar civilian airliner. The result was that the Luftwaffe’s terror of the seas had a great many shortcomings: It was underpowered, structurally weak, poorly armed, vulnerable to enemy fire and had an awkward position for the bombardier. As it turned out, the biggest advantage the Fw-200 enjoyed when it first appeared over the Atlantic during the summer of 1940 was that the air defense arrangements provided to British convoys were even more inadequate. The Condor thus gained notoriety largely by virtue of having little or no viable opposition.

Forczyk’s fascinating book explores the measures taken by the British to redress, and eventually reverse, the balance of power over the Atlantic. As with the Fw-200’s development, it was largely a story of improvising new uses for existing technology. Long-range aircraft were pressed into service to counter the Condor threat that had never been designed for that role, such as the Short Sunderland, Lockheed Hudson and Consolidated Liberator.

One of the earliest anti-Condor measures can best be described as near-suicidal. The British fitted a number of merchant ships with catapults from which a Hawker Hurricane could be launched on a one-way interception mission if an Fw-200 appeared in the area. Once the fighter had shot down or driven away the Condor, the “Hurricat” pilot was supposed to bail out or ditch—hopefully to be picked up by one of the convoy’s ships. The loss of the fighter was considered a reasonable exchange for saving merchantmen.

Most important in this struggle was the British conversion of a captured German merchant vessel into the first escort carrier, making fighter cover available all the way across the Atlantic. Although the ship, christened HMS Audacity, was soon sunk by a U-boat, it survived long enough to validate the concept. Eventually enough were built, particularly in the United States, so that at least one escort carrier accompanied every convoy, providing effective air cover against both aerial and submarine attack.

For their part, the Germans developed new antishipping weapons systems of their own, most notably the Henschel Hs-293 glider bomb, essentially the first guided, air-launched stand-off missile. But the Nazi war machine assigned a relatively low priority to Fw-200 production, so that, despite their fearsome reputation, only 267 Condors were ever produced—and many were diverted to other duties, such as VIP transports. As a result, there was never a sufficient number of Condors to counter Allied anti-aircraft developments.

Worse still, the aircraft slated to replace the Condor, the Heinkel He-177, was never available in large numbers either, and proved mechanically unreliable. The Luftwaffe never entirely gave up its attacks on Allied shipping, but with fewer aircraft available, the effect of its efforts became negligible.

Aviation and World War II buffs should enjoy this latest Osprey release, which will prove particularly valuable to scholars of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Originally published in the September 2010 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.


Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoys, 1941-43 - Robert Forczyk (Paperback)

With the fall of France in 1940, Germany suddenly had the opportunity to strike at poorly guarded Allied convoys. The Luftwaffe pressed into service the Fw-200 Condor, a plane that had originally been designed as a civilian airliner and the first plane to fly non-stop from Berlin to New York in 1938. After various modifications, the Fw-200 became the Luftwaffe's long-range maritime patrol and strike bomber. It was devastatingly effective a single attack by five Condors on a convoy in February 1941 resulted in the sinking and damaging of 11 ships. Furthermore, the Condors passed on convoy sightings to the U-boats with devastating effect.

By the summer of 1941, the threat posed by the Condor was so great that Winston Churchill dubbed them "the scourge of the Atlantic." Losses to Condor attacks resulted in various crash efforts to find a solution to the predator. One solution was the Hurricate, a modified Hurricane that was launched by catapult from a converted merchant ship. But a more robust solution was required. This was delivered with the creation of the escort carrier to provide continuous air cover over a threatened convoy. By 1941 the duel for supremacy over the Atlantic began to turn in favor of the Allies and was furthered by the entry of the US into the war. The Germans made a last ditch attempt to turn the tide by equipping Condors with anti-shipping missiles, better defensive armament and airborne radar. But their numbers were too few to combat the ever-increasing might of the Allies.

This volume highlights a classic duel between opposing tactics, doctrine and technology, with the Germans attempting to field an airborne weapon that could intercept the Atlantic convoys, while the Allies attempted to provide an effective defense umbrella over the ships carrying vital war-time supplies.


Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941–43 Book Review

With France&rsquos defeat in 1940, England again faced strangulation by submarine. But to this &ldquoscourge&rdquo, Churchill added air attack. And &ldquomost formidable&rdquo, he warned, was Germany&rsquos Fw 200 maritime patrol and strike bomber.

Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy brilliantly analyzes the Battle of the Atlantic through the prism of these two participants.

After a brief introduction with chronology, author Forczyk discusses design and development of Focke-Wulf&rsquos converted airliner. As Commonwealth countermeasures improved, iterations featured greater armament and performance. Yet Condor success actually peaked in early 1941.

Contents also cover British shipboard antiaircraft defenses and convoy fighter protection schemes. Of these, Fighter Catapult Ships (FCSs) and Catapult Armed Merchant (CAM) vessels plainly proved wasteful stopgaps. Only with the first escort carrier, HMS Audacity – itself a converted captured German merchantman – did the Allies achieve enduring ascendancy over the Luftwaffe threat.

Both sides, the author contends, displayed admirable adaptivity and innovation. But Condor&rsquos &ldquopsychological impact&rdquo, he adds, ultimately outweighed its true value.

Forczyk&rsquos splendid study concludes with illuminating analyses and bibliographic notes. Illustrations, photos, sidebars, charts, maps, and glossary supplement this enormously informative effort.


Contents

Age of Sail Edit

Naval convoys have been in use for centuries, with examples of merchant ships traveling under naval protection dating to the 12th century. [1] The use of organized naval convoys dates from when ships began to be separated into specialist classes and national navies were established. [2]

By the French Revolutionary Wars of the late 18th century, effective naval convoy tactics had been developed to ward off pirates and privateers. Some convoys contained several hundred merchant ships. The most enduring system of convoys were the Spanish treasure fleets, that sailed from the 1520s until 1790.

When merchant ships sailed independently, a privateer could cruise a shipping lane and capture ships as they passed. Ships sailing in convoy presented a much smaller target: a convoy was as hard to find as a single ship. Even if the privateer found a convoy and the wind was favourable for an attack, it could still hope to capture only a handful of ships before the rest managed to escape, and a small escort of warships could easily thwart it. As a result of the convoy system's effectiveness, wartime insurance premiums were consistently lower for ships that sailed in convoys. [2]

Many naval battles in the Age of Sail were fought around convoys, including:

By the end of the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Navy had in place a sophisticated convoy system to protect merchant ships. [2] Losses of ships travelling out of convoy however were so high that no merchant ship was allowed to sail unescorted. [1]

World War I Edit

In the early 20th century, the dreadnought changed the balance of power in convoy battles. Steaming faster than merchant ships and firing at long ranges, a single battleship could destroy many ships in a convoy before the others could scatter over the horizon. To protect a convoy against a capital ship required providing it with an escort of another capital ship, at very high opportunity cost (i.e. potentially tying down multiple capital ships to defend different convoys against one opponent ship).

Battleships were the main reason that the British Admiralty did not adopt convoy tactics at the start of the first Battle of the Atlantic in World War I. But the German capital ships had been bottled up in the North Sea, and the main threat to shipping came from U-boats. From a tactical point of view, World War I–era submarines were similar to privateers in the age of sail. These submarines were only a little faster than the merchant ships they were attacking, and capable of sinking only a small number of vessels in a convoy because of their limited supply of torpedoes and shells. The Admiralty took a long time to respond to this change in the tactical position, and in April 1917 convoys were trialled, before being officially introduced in the Atlantic in September 1917.

Other arguments against convoys were raised. The primary issue was the loss of productivity, as merchant shipping in convoy has to travel at the speed of the slowest vessel in the convoy and spent a considerable amount of time in ports waiting for the next convoy to depart. Further, large convoys were thought to overload port resources.

Actual analysis of shipping losses in World War I disproved all these arguments, at least so far as they applied to transatlantic and other long-distance traffic. Ships sailing in convoys were far less likely to be sunk, even when not provided with an escort. The loss of productivity due to convoy delays was small compared with the loss of productivity due to ships being sunk. Ports could deal more easily with convoys because they tended to arrive on schedule and so loading and unloading could be planned.

In his book On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, Norman Dixon suggested that the hostility towards convoys in the naval establishment were in part caused by a (sub-conscious) perception of convoys as effeminating, due to warships having to care for civilian merchant ships. [3] Convoy duty also exposes the escorting warships to the sometimes hazardous conditions of the North Atlantic, with only rare occurrences of visible achievement (i.e. fending off a submarine assault).

World War II Edit

Atlantic Edit

The British adopted a convoy system, initially voluntary and later compulsory for almost all merchant ships, the moment that World War II was declared. Each convoy consisted of between 30 and 70 mostly unarmed merchant ships. [4] Canadian, and later American, supplies were vital for Britain to continue its war effort. The course of the Battle of the Atlantic was a long struggle as the Germans developed anti-convoy tactics and the British developed counter-tactics to thwart the Germans.

The capability of a heavily armed warship against a convoy was dramatically illustrated by the fate of Convoy HX 84. On November 5, 1940, the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer encountered the convoy. Maiden, Trewellard, and Kenbame Head were quickly destroyed, and Beaverford and Fresno City falling afterwards. Only the sacrifices of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay and the freighter Beaverford to stall the Scheer, in addition to failing light, allowed the rest of the convoy to escape.

The deterrence value of a battleship in protecting a convoy was also dramatically illustrated when the German light battleships (referred by some as battlecruisers) Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, mounting 11 in (28 cm) guns, came upon an eastbound British convoy (HX 106, with 41 ships) in the North Atlantic on February 8, 1941. When the Germans detected the slow but well-protected battleship HMS Ramillies escorting the convoy, they fled the scene rather than risk damage from her 15 in (38 cm) guns.

The enormous number of vessels involved and the frequency of engagements meant that statistical techniques could be applied to evaluate tactics: an early use of operational research in war.

Prior to overt participation in World War II, the US was actively engaged in convoys with the British in the North Atlantic Ocean, primarily supporting British activities in Iceland. [5]

After Germany declared war on the US, the US Navy decided not to organize convoys on the American eastern seaboard. US Fleet Admiral Ernest King ignored advice on this subject from the British, as he had formed a poor opinion of the Royal Navy early in his career. The result was what the U-boat crews called their Second Happy Time, which did not end until convoys were introduced. [2]

Pacific Edit

In the Pacific Theater of World War II, Japanese merchant ships rarely traveled in convoys. Japanese destroyers were generally deficient in antisubmarine weaponry compared to their Allied counterparts, and the Japanese navy did not develop an inexpensive convoy escort like the Allies' destroyer escort/frigate until it was too late. In the early part of the conflict, American submarines in the Pacific were ineffective as they suffered from timid tactics, faulty torpedoes, and poor deployment, while there were only small numbers of British and Dutch boats. U.S. Admiral Charles A. Lockwood's efforts, coupled with strenuous complaints from his captains, rectified these problems and U.S. submarines became much more successful by war's end. As a result, the Japanese merchant fleet was largely destroyed by the end of the war. Japanese submarines, unlike their U.S. and German equivalents, focused on U.S. battle fleets rather than merchant convoys, and while they did manage some early successes, sinking two U.S. carriers, they failed to significantly inhibit the invasion convoys carrying troops and equipment in support of the U.S. island-hopping campaign. [2]

Several notable battles in the South Pacific involved Allied bombers interdicting Japanese troopship convoys which were often defended by Japanese fighters, notable Guadalcanal (13 November 1942), Rabaul (5 January 1943), and the Battle of the Bismarck Sea (2–4 March 1943).

At the Battle off Samar, the effectiveness of the U.S. Navy's escorts was demonstrated when they managed to defend their troop convoy from a much larger and more powerful Japanese battle-fleet. The Japanese force comprised four battleships and numerous heavy cruisers, while the U.S. force consisted of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts. Large numbers of American aircraft (albeit without much anti-ship ordnance other than torpedoes) and aggressive tactics of the destroyers (with their radar-directed gunfire) allowed the U.S. to sink three Japanese heavy cruisers at the cost of one escort carrier and three destroyers.

Tactics Edit

The German anti-convoy tactics included:

  • long-range surveillance aircraft to find convoys
  • strings of U-boats (wolfpacks) that could be directed onto a convoy by radio
  • breaking the British naval codes
  • improved anti-ship weapons, including magnetic detonators and sonic homing torpedoes.

The Allied responses included:

    on the U-boat bases at Brest and La Rochelle
  • converted merchant ships, e.g., Merchant aircraft carriers, Catapult Aircraft Merchantman and armed merchant cruisers , submarine-hunters disguised as unarmed merchant ships to lure submarines into an attack
  • more convoy escorts, including cheaply produced yet effective destroyer escorts/frigates (as corvettes were meant as a stopgap), and escort carriers
  • fighter aircraft (carried by escort carriers and merchant aircraft carriers) that would drive off German bombers and attack U-boats
  • long-range aircraft patrols to find and attack U-boats
  • improved anti-submarine weapons such as the hedgehog
  • larger convoys, allowing more escorts per convoy as well as the extraction of enough escorts to form hunter-killer support groups that were not attached to a particular convoy
  • allocating vessels to convoys according to speed, so that faster ships were less exposed.
  • improved sonar (ASDIC) allowing escort vessels to better track U-boats
  • breaking the German naval cipher
  • improved radar and radio direction finding allowing planes to find and destroy U-boats

Convoy battles Edit

Many naval battles of World War II were fought around convoys, including:

    , May 1942 , June–July 1942 , September 1942 , August 1942
  • The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 1942
  • The Battle of the Barents Sea, December 1942
  • The Battle of the Bismarck Sea, March 1943

The convoy prefix indicates the route of the convoy. For example, 'PQ' would be Iceland to Northern Russia and 'QP' the return route.

Analysis Edit

The success of convoys as an anti-submarine tactic during the world wars can be ascribed to several reasons related to U-boat capabilities, the size of the ocean and convoy escorts.

In practice, Type VII and Type IX U-boats were limited in their capabilities. Submerged speed and endurance was limited and not suited for overhauling many ships. Even a surfaced U-boat could take several hours to gain an attack position. Torpedo capacity was also restricted to around fourteen (Type VII) or 24 (Type IX), thus limiting the number of attacks that could be made, particularly when multiple firings were necessary for a single target. There was a real problem for the U-boats and their adversaries in finding each other with a tiny proportion of the ocean in sight, without intelligence or radar, warships and even aircraft would be fortunate in coming across a submarine. The Royal Navy and later the United States Navy each took time to learn this lesson. Conversely, a U-boat's radius of vision was even smaller and had to be supplemented by regular long-range reconnaissance flights.

For both major allied navies, it had been difficult to grasp that, however large a convoy, its "footprint" (the area within which it could be spotted) was far smaller than if the individual ships had traveled independently. In other words, a submarine had less chance of finding a single convoy than if it were scattered as single ships. Moreover, once an attack had been made, the submarine would need to regain an attack position on the convoy. If, however, an attack were thwarted by escorts, even if the submarine had escaped damage, it would have to remain submerged for its own safety and might only recover its position after many hours' hard work. U-boats patrolling areas with constant and predictable flows of sea traffic, such as the United States Atlantic coast in early 1942, could dismiss a missed opportunity in the certain knowledge that another would soon present itself.

The destruction of submarines required their discovery, an improbable occurrence on aggressive patrols, by chance alone. Convoys, however, presented irresistible targets and could not be ignored. For this reason, the U-boats presented themselves as targets to the escorts with increasing possibility of destruction. In this way, the Ubootwaffe suffered severe losses, for little gain, when pressing pack attacks on well-defended convoys.

Post-World War II Edit

The largest convoy effort since World War II was Operation Earnest Will, the U.S. Navy's 1987–88 escort of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq War.

In the present day, convoys are used as a tactic by navies to deter pirates off the coast of Somalia from capturing unarmed civilian freighters who would otherwise pose easy targets if they sailed alone.

Humanitarian aid convoys Edit

The word "convoy" is also associated with groups of road vehicles being driven, mostly by volunteers, to deliver humanitarian aid, supplies, and—a stated objective in some cases—"solidarity". [6]

In the 1990s these convoys became common traveling from Western Europe to countries of the former Yugoslavia, in particular Bosnia and Kosovo, to deal with the aftermath of the wars there. They also travel to countries where standards of care in institutions such as orphanages are considered low by Western European standards, such as Romania and where other disasters have led to problems, such as around the Chernobyl disaster in Belarus and Ukraine.

The convoys are made possible partly by the relatively small geographic distances between the stable and affluent countries of Western Europe, and the areas of need in Eastern Europe and, in a few cases, North Africa and even Iraq. They are often justified because although less directly cost-effective than mass freight transport, they emphasise the support of large numbers of small groups, and are quite distinct from multinational organisations such as United Nations humanitarian efforts.

Truckers' convoys Edit

Truckers' convoys consisting of semi-trailer trucks and/or petrol tankers are more similar to a caravan than a military convoy.

Truckers' convoys were created as a byproduct of the USA's national 55 mph speed limit and 18-wheelers becoming the prime targets of speed traps. Most truckers had difficult schedules to keep and as a result had to maintain a speed above the posted speed limit to reach their destinations on time. Convoys were started so that multiple trucks could run together at a high speed with the rationale being that if they passed a speed trap the police would only be able to pull over one of the trucks in the convoy. When driving on a highway, convoys are also useful to conserve fuel by drafting.

The film Convoy, inspired by a 1975 song of the same name, explores the camaraderie between truck drivers, where the culture of the CB radio encourages truck drivers to travel in convoys.


Leningrad 1941-44 (Campaign)

Forczyk, Robert

Published by Osprey Publishing (2009)

From: WeBuyBooks (Rossendale, LANCS, United Kingdom)

About this Item: Paperback. Condition: Good. Dennis, Peter (illustrator). Light foxing to page edges Good condition is defined as: a copy that has been read but remains in clean condition. All of the pages are intact and the cover is intact and the spine may show signs of wear. The book may have minor markings which are not specifically mentioned. Most items will be dispatched the same or the next working day. Seller Inventory # wbb0017199166


Fw 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy

Collana della Osprey Publishing dedicata ai modellisti, giocatori di wargames e agli appassionati di storia militare di ogni età. Ogni volume mette a confronto 2 aerei, o 2 mezzi corazzati, 2 navi, 2 armi, 2 tipi di armamento, ecc. protagonisti del 20° secolo. Ne segue l'origine e lo sviluppo con ampia trattazione delle innovazioni tecnologiche e tattiche introdotte, fornisce tutti i dati tecnici, le caratteristiche e particolari vari. L'iconografia comprende accurati artwork digitali a colori anche degli interni, disegni al tratto e vari "gun sight views" dei mezzi in azione sui campi di battaglia.

After the fall of France in 1940, Germany attempted to strangle Britain into submission by attacking the Atlantic Convoys, which brought much need supplies and war materiel from the USA and Canada. While the U-boats attacked from beneath the seas, the Germans modified a civilian airliner to create the Fw-200 Condor to attack from the skies. By the summer of 1941, the Condor attacks had succeeded to the extent that Winston Churchill called them &lsquothe scourge of the Atlantic&rsquo. This book discusses the development of the Condor, and analyzes the various Allied responses, including the development of the Hurricat, a modified hurricane that could be launched via catapult from modified merchant ships.


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Convoy

A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support. It may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas. Arriving at the scene of a major emergency with a well-ordered unit and intact command structure can be another motivation. [ clarification needed ]

Age of Sail

Naval convoys have been in use for centuries, with examples of merchant ships traveling under naval protection dating to the 12th century. [1] The use of organized naval convoys dates from when ships began to be separated into specialist classes and national navies were established. [2]

By the French Revolutionary Wars of the late 18th century, effective naval convoy tactics had been developed to ward off pirates and privateers. Some convoys contained several hundred merchant ships. The most enduring system of convoys were the Spanish treasure fleets, that sailed from the 1520s until 1790.

When merchant ships sailed independently, a privateer could cruise a shipping lane and capture ships as they passed. Ships sailing in convoy presented a much smaller target: a convoy was as hard to find as a single ship. Even if the privateer found a convoy and the wind was favourable for an attack, it could still hope to capture only a handful of ships before the rest managed to escape, and a small escort of warships could easily thwart it. As a result of the convoy system's effectiveness, wartime insurance premiums were consistently lower for ships that sailed in convoys. [2]

Many naval battles in the Age of Sail were fought around convoys, including:

By the end of the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Navy had in place a sophisticated convoy system to protect merchant ships. [2] Losses of ships travelling out of convoy however were so high that no merchant ship was allowed to sail unescorted. [1]

World War I

In the early 20th century, the dreadnought changed the balance of power in convoy battles. Steaming faster than merchant ships and firing at long ranges, a single battleship could destroy many ships in a convoy before the others could scatter over the horizon. To protect a convoy against a capital ship required providing it with an escort of another capital ship, at very high opportunity cost (i.e. potentially tying down multiple capital ships to defend different convoys against one opponent ship).

Battleships were the main reason that the British Admiralty did not adopt convoy tactics at the start of the first Battle of the Atlantic in World War I. But the German capital ships had been bottled up in the North Sea, and the main threat to shipping came from U-boats. From a tactical point of view, World War I–era submarines were similar to privateers in the age of sail. These submarines were only a little faster than the merchant ships they were attacking, and capable of sinking only a small number of vessels in a convoy because of their limited supply of torpedoes and shells. The Admiralty took a long time to respond to this change in the tactical position, and in April 1917 convoys were trialled, before being officially introduced in the Atlantic in September 1917.

Other arguments against convoys were raised. The primary issue was the loss of productivity, as merchant shipping in convoy has to travel at the speed of the slowest vessel in the convoy and spent a considerable amount of time in ports waiting for the next convoy to depart. Further, large convoys were thought to overload port resources.

Actual analysis of shipping losses in World War I disproved all these arguments, at least so far as they applied to transatlantic and other long-distance traffic. Ships sailing in convoys were far less likely to be sunk, even when not provided with an escort. The loss of productivity due to convoy delays was small compared with the loss of productivity due to ships being sunk. Ports could deal more easily with convoys because they tended to arrive on schedule and so loading and unloading could be planned.

In his book On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, Norman Dixon suggested that the hostility towards convoys in the naval establishment were in part caused by a (sub-conscious) perception of convoys as effeminating, due to warships having to care for civilian merchant ships. [3] Convoy duty also exposes the escorting warships to the sometimes hazardous conditions of the North Atlantic, with only rare occurrences of visible achievement (i.e. fending off a submarine assault).

World War II

Atlantic

The British adopted a convoy system, initially voluntary and later compulsory for almost all merchant ships, the moment that World War II was declared. Each convoy consisted of between 30 and 70 mostly unarmed merchant ships. [4] Canadian, and later American, supplies were vital for Britain to continue its war effort. The course of the Battle of the Atlantic was a long struggle as the Germans developed anti-convoy tactics and the British developed counter-tactics to thwart the Germans.

The capability of a heavily armed warship against a convoy was dramatically illustrated by the fate of Convoy HX 84. On November 5, 1940, the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer encountered the convoy. Maiden, Trewellard, and Kenbame Head were quickly destroyed, and Beaverford and Fresno City falling afterwards. Only the sacrifices of the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay and the freighter Beaverford to stall the Scheer, in addition to failing light, allowed the rest of the convoy to escape.

The deterrence value of a battleship in protecting a convoy was also dramatically illustrated when the German light battleships (referred by some as battlecruisers) Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, mounting 11 in (28 cm) guns, came upon an eastbound British convoy (HX 106, with 41 ships) in the North Atlantic on February 8, 1941. When the Germans detected the slow but well-protected battleship HMS Ramillies escorting the convoy, they fled the scene rather than risk damage from her 15 in (38 cm) guns.

The enormous number of vessels involved and the frequency of engagements meant that statistical techniques could be applied to evaluate tactics: an early use of operational research in war.

Prior to overt participation in World War II, the US was actively engaged in convoys with the British in the North Atlantic Ocean, primarily supporting British activities in Iceland. [5]

After Germany declared war on the US, the US Navy decided not to organize convoys on the American eastern seaboard. US Fleet Admiral Ernest King ignored advice on this subject from the British, as he had formed a poor opinion of the Royal Navy early in his career. The result was what the U-boat crews called their Second Happy Time, which did not end until convoys were introduced. [2]

Pacific

In the Pacific Theater of World War II, Japanese merchant ships rarely traveled in convoys. Japanese destroyers were generally deficient in antisubmarine weaponry compared to their Allied counterparts, and the Japanese navy did not develop an inexpensive convoy escort like the Allies' destroyer escort/frigate until it was too late. In the early part of the conflict, American submarines in the Pacific were ineffective as they suffered from timid tactics, faulty torpedoes, and poor deployment, while there were only small numbers of British and Dutch boats. U.S. Admiral Charles A. Lockwood's efforts, coupled with strenuous complaints from his captains, rectified these problems and U.S. submarines became much more successful by war's end. As a result, the Japanese merchant fleet was largely destroyed by the end of the war. Japanese submarines, unlike their U.S. and German equivalents, focused on U.S. battle fleets rather than merchant convoys, and while they did manage some early successes, sinking two U.S. carriers, they failed to significantly inhibit the invasion convoys carrying troops and equipment in support of the U.S. island-hopping campaign. [2]

Several notable battles in the South Pacific involved Allied bombers interdicting Japanese troopship convoys which were often defended by Japanese fighters, notable Guadalcanal (13 November 1942), Rabaul (5 January 1943), and the Battle of the Bismarck Sea (2–4 March 1943).

At the Battle off Samar, the effectiveness of the U.S. Navy's escorts was demonstrated when they managed to defend their troop convoy from a much larger and more powerful Japanese battle-fleet. The Japanese force comprised four battleships and numerous heavy cruisers, while the U.S. force consisted of escort carriers, destroyers, and destroyer escorts. Large numbers of American aircraft (albeit without much anti-ship ordnance other than torpedoes) and aggressive tactics of the destroyers (with their radar-directed gunfire) allowed the U.S. to sink three Japanese heavy cruisers at the cost of one escort carrier and three destroyers.

Tactics

The German anti-convoy tactics included:

  • long-range surveillance aircraft to find convoys
  • strings of U-boats (wolfpacks) that could be directed onto a convoy by radio
  • breaking the British naval codes
  • improved anti-ship weapons, including magnetic detonators and sonic homing torpedoes.

The Allied responses included:

    on the U-boat bases at Brest and La Rochelle
  • converted merchant ships, e.g., Merchant aircraft carriers, Catapult Aircraft Merchantman and armed merchant cruisers , submarine-hunters disguised as unarmed merchant ships to lure submarines into an attack
  • more convoy escorts, including cheaply produced yet effective destroyer escorts/frigates (as corvettes were meant as a stopgap), and escort carriers
  • fighter aircraft (carried by escort carriers and merchant aircraft carriers) that would drive off German bombers and attack U-boats
  • long-range aircraft patrols to find and attack U-boats
  • improved anti-submarine weapons such as the hedgehog
  • larger convoys, allowing more escorts per convoy as well as the extraction of enough escorts to form hunter-killer support groups that were not attached to a particular convoy
  • allocating vessels to convoys according to speed, so that faster ships were less exposed.

  • improved sonar (ASDIC) allowing escort vessels to better track U-boats
  • breaking the German naval cipher
  • improved

Many naval battles of World War II were fought around convoys, including:

    , May 1942 , June–July 1942 , September 1942 , August 1942
  • The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 1942
  • The Battle of the Barents Sea, December 1942
  • The Battle of the Bismarck Sea, March 1943

The convoy prefix indicates the route of the convoy. For example, 'PQ' would be Iceland to Northern Russia and 'QP' the return route.

Analysis

The success of convoys as an anti-submarine tactic during the world wars can be ascribed to several reasons related to U-boat capabilities, the size of the ocean and convoy escorts.

In practice, Type VII and Type IX U-boats were limited in their capabilities. Submerged speed and endurance was limited and not suited for overhauling many ships. Even a surfaced U-boat could take several hours to gain an attack position. Torpedo capacity was also restricted to around fourteen (Type VII) or 24 (Type IX), thus limiting the number of attacks that could be made, particularly when multiple firings were necessary for a single target. There was a real problem for the U-boats and their adversaries in finding each other with a tiny proportion of the ocean in sight, without intelligence or radar, warships and even aircraft would be fortunate in coming across a submarine. The Royal Navy and later the United States Navy each took time to learn this lesson. Conversely, a U-boat's radius of vision was even smaller and had to be supplemented by regular long-range reconnaissance flights.

For both major allied navies, it had been difficult to grasp that, however large a convoy, its "footprint" (the area within which it could be spotted) was far smaller than if the individual ships had traveled independently. In other words, a submarine had less chance of finding a single convoy than if it were scattered as single ships. Moreover, once an attack had been made, the submarine would need to regain an attack position on the convoy. If, however, an attack were thwarted by escorts, even if the submarine had escaped damage, it would have to remain submerged for its own safety and might only recover its position after many hours' hard work. U-boats patrolling areas with constant and predictable flows of sea traffic, such as the United States Atlantic coast in early 1942, could dismiss a missed opportunity in the certain knowledge that another would soon present itself.

The destruction of submarines required their discovery, an improbable occurrence on aggressive patrols, by chance alone. Convoys, however, presented irresistible targets and could not be ignored. For this reason, the U-boats presented themselves as targets to the escorts with increasing possibility of destruction. In this way, the Ubootwaffe suffered severe losses, for little gain, when pressing pack attacks on well-defended convoys.

Post-World War II

The largest convoy effort since World War II was Operation Earnest Will, the U.S. Navy's 1987–88 escort of reflagged Kuwaiti tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran–Iraq War.

In the present day, convoys are used as a tactic by navies to deter pirates off the coast of Somalia from capturing unarmed civilian freighters who would otherwise pose easy targets if they sailed alone.

Humanitarian aid convoys

The word "convoy" is also associated with groups of road vehicles being driven, mostly by volunteers, to deliver humanitarian aid, supplies, and—a stated objective in some cases—"solidarity". [6]

In the 1990s these convoys became common traveling from Western Europe to countries of the former Yugoslavia, in particular Bosnia and Kosovo, to deal with the aftermath of the wars there. They also travel to countries where standards of care in institutions such as orphanages are considered low by Western European standards, such as Romania and where other disasters have led to problems, such as around the Chernobyl disaster in Belarus and Ukraine.

The convoys are made possible partly by the relatively small geographic distances between the stable and affluent countries of Western Europe, and the areas of need in Eastern Europe and, in a few cases, North Africa and even Iraq. They are often justified because although less directly cost-effective than mass freight transport, they emphasise the support of large numbers of small groups, and are quite distinct from multinational organisations such as United Nations humanitarian efforts.

Truckers' convoys

Truckers' convoys consisting of semi-trailer trucks and/or petrol tankers are more similar to a caravan than a military convoy.

Truckers' convoys were created as a byproduct of the USA's national 55 mph speed limit and 18-wheelers becoming the prime targets of speed traps. Most truckers had difficult schedules to keep and as a result had to maintain a speed above the posted speed limit to reach their destinations on time. Convoys were started so that multiple trucks could run together at a high speed with the rationale being that if they passed a speed trap the police would only be able to pull over one of the trucks in the convoy. When driving on a highway, convoys are also useful to conserve fuel by drafting.

The film Convoy, inspired by a 1975 song of the same name, explores the camaraderie between truck drivers, where the culture of the CB radio encourages truck drivers to travel in convoys.


FW 200 Condor vs Atlantic Convoy 1941-43

Até agora, a fórmula por trás da série bem-sucedida de livros de duelo do Osprey geralmente era comparar duas aeronaves opostas contemporâneas, navios de guerra ou veículos blindados de combate. Seu último lançamento quebrou o molde ao colocar as defesas aéreas e marítimas combinadas dos comboios marítimos da Grã-Bretanha contra as depredações de um único tipo notório de bombardeiro de patrulha alemão. Outro aspecto incomum dessa história é que nenhum dos sistemas de armas envolve tanto inovação técnica de ponta quanto adaptar a tecnologia existente a novos usos para os quais nunca foi originalmente planejada.

Tão eficaz foi o Focke-Wulf Fw-200C Condor contra o comércio marítimo da Grã-Bretanha que Winston Churchill o apelidou de Flagelo do Atlântico. No entanto, como Robert Forczyk explica, o bombardeiro de patrulha marítima de quatro motores da Alemanha era realmente pouco mais do que uma adaptação militar apressada de um avião civil antes da guerra. O resultado foi que o terror dos mares da Luftwaffe tinha muitas deficiências: era fraca, estruturalmente fraca, mal armada, vulnerável ao fogo inimigo e tinha uma posição incômoda para o bombardeiro. Como se viu, a maior vantagem de que o Fw-200 desfrutou quando apareceu pela primeira vez sobre o Atlântico durante o verão de 1940 foi que os arranjos de defesa aérea fornecidos aos comboios britânicos eram ainda mais inadequados. O Condor, portanto, ganhou notoriedade em grande parte em virtude de ter pouca ou nenhuma oposição viável.

O livro fascinante de Forczyk explora as medidas tomadas pelos britânicos para corrigir e, eventualmente, reverter, o equilíbrio de poder sobre o Atlântico. Tal como aconteceu com o desenvolvimento do Fw-200, foi em grande parte uma história de improvisação de novos usos para a tecnologia existente. Aviões de longo alcance foram colocados em serviço para conter a ameaça Condor que nunca havia sido projetada para essa função, como o Short Sunderland, Lockheed Hudson e Consolidated Liberator.

Uma das primeiras medidas anticondoras pode ser melhor descrita como quase suicida. Os britânicos equiparam vários navios mercantes com catapultas a partir das quais um Hawker Hurricane poderia ser lançado em uma missão de interceptação unilateral se um Fw-200 aparecesse na área. Uma vez que o caça abateu ou afugentou o Condor, o piloto do Hurricat deveria saltar ou cavar - com sorte para ser pego por um dos navios do comboio. A perda do lutador foi considerada uma troca razoável para salvar os mercadores.

O mais importante nessa luta foi a conversão britânica de um navio mercante alemão capturado no primeiro porta-aviões de escolta, tornando a cobertura de caça disponível em todo o Atlântico. Embora o navio, batizado HMSAudácia, logo foi afundado por um submarino, sobreviveu o suficiente para validar o conceito. Por fim, foram construídos o suficiente, principalmente nos Estados Unidos, de modo que pelo menos um porta-aviões acompanhasse cada comboio, fornecendo cobertura aérea eficaz contra ataques aéreos e submarinos.

De sua parte, os alemães desenvolveram seus próprios sistemas de armas antinavio, mais notavelmente a bomba planadora Henschel Hs-293, essencialmente o primeiro míssil impasse lançado do ar. Mas a máquina de guerra nazista atribuiu uma prioridade relativamente baixa à produção do Fw-200, de modo que, apesar de sua reputação temível, apenas 267 condores foram produzidos - e muitos foram desviados para outras tarefas, como transportes VIP. Como resultado, nunca houve um número suficiente de condores para conter os desenvolvimentos antiaéreos dos Aliados.

Pior ainda, a aeronave destinada a substituir o Condor, o Heinkel He-177, também nunca esteve disponível em grande número e provou ser mecanicamente não confiável. A Luftwaffe nunca desistiu totalmente de seus ataques aos navios aliados, mas com menos aeronaves disponíveis, o efeito de seus esforços tornou-se insignificante.

Os aficionados da aviação e da Segunda Guerra Mundial devem aproveitar este lançamento mais recente do Osprey, que será particularmente valioso para os estudiosos da Batalha do Atlântico.

Publicado originalmente na edição de setembro de 2010 daHistória da Aviação. Para se inscrever, clique aqui.


Watch the video: IL-2 1946: Fw 200 Condor Convoy Battle