Jump to content
tanknet.org

British Equipment And Generals Suck, Part Deux.


Recommended Posts

On 4/15/2019 at 7:41 PM, Rick said:

Any information out there on what the R.N. taught U.S.N. in regard to A.S.W. and general operating issues in the Arctic and North Atlantic in W.W.2?

It's hard to describe what happened in those terms. I have to point to Terrain's Business in Great Waters, and that the context is wider than WWII.

When the USN turned up in Europe in 1917 the RN taught them everything they knew about ASW - it wasn't hard because they didn't know much and that was mostly what had not worked, nobody knew what did work.
By the end of WWI there was an effective frame for ASW, they didn't have it nailed down, but there was an outline of how to fight a submarine based interdiction campaign against trade. The four or five conceptual pillars that would hold up WWII ASW had been found, and technology was starting to come online -  from fundamental R&D started in 1914, more or less inventing underwater acoustics, long range aircraft, depth charges and such.

So the USN was in on the ground floor with the RN, then everyone broke for half time in 1918. When play resumed in 1939 the USN and RN were not that far apart, having started from the same place and in the absence of any great additional experience, they'd not diverged too far. There were differences but for the most part it was matter of detail and emphasis down at the practical end. 

Between the start of the war and American entry, the RN certainly picked up a few new tricks, but for the most part the lessons they had to pass on were the continued existence and validity of those WWI principals. The nuts and bolts end was in large part about establishing common comms and procedures. 

Edited by Argus
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 754
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

There was one Royal Navy captain who asserted in his book the RN didnt spend much time at all between the wars worrying about ASW, because they figured with Asdic they had it cracked. He even suggested many of the lessons from WW1 were not written down, and had to be learned again, or at the very least, consult the people who did it in WW2 and codefy their lessons.

I was interested to learn the RN had even removed hydrophones from their vessels. Although disconcertingly, most of the senior ranks didnt seem to appreciate that fact....

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/24/2020 at 5:14 PM, Stuart Galbraith said:

There was one Royal Navy captain who asserted in his book the RN didnt spend much time at all between the wars worrying about ASW, because they figured with Asdic they had it cracked. He even suggested many of the lessons from WW1 were not written down, and had to be learned again, or at the very least, consult the people who did it in WW2 and codefy their lessons.

I was interested to learn the RN had even removed hydrophones from their vessels. Although disconcertingly, most of the senior ranks didnt seem to appreciate that fact....

There's plenty of sources for that sort of comment and the problem is its mostly bollocks. 

There's no argument that the RN's early war ASW was inadequate, but its like their AA, sure it wasn't good enough on the day but it's not like anyone else did it better and most didn't come close. In ASW terms blaming the Admiralty for negligence, apathy and hind bound bind stupidity isn't just unfair, but when coming from the fleet more than a little disingenuous. 

The Admiralty sank a ton of resources into ASW between the wars, 1917 had scared everyone spitless and they did not forget that level of terror in the warm fuzzy glow of Versailles and the WNT. There was an experimental Sqn at Portland that spent 1920-1939 doing nothing but running submarines against destroyers trailing, tactics, techniques and the R&D coming out of the Admiralty labs - then publishing their findings in reports to the fleet. Bound copies of these 'Portland Papers' could be found in the confidential section of every fleet library for the perusal of officers with the appropriate clearance. The problem being obvious, no bastard in the fleet ever read them. Destroyers did not carry fleet libraries, and the pressure wasn't there to force people to go the extra mile. In fairness ASW was very difficult to train out in the fleet, where most everything else could be exercised well enough with a flotilla's own resources. They had Portland as a 'centre of excellence' and the idea was that cycling ships through would train the trainers and spread the good news, but it wasn't enough, and the skillset was so concentrated a ship's proficiency wouldn't survive much disruption particularly a change of command. It wasn't until the wartime push to get all the new rush of ships up to speed that they learned how to train ASW properly. In the meantime there was that whole peacetime cohort, who'd spent their rare evenings alongside dockyard or depotship digesting pink gins rather than the Portland Papers, wallowing in ignorance assuming the knowledge they wanted didn't exist.    

As for hydrophones.... the hydrophone built into the ASDIC set was as good or better than any stand alone unit. Admittedly the RN dropped the ball with the proto-GHG set Atlas sold them before the war, but even then the insistence on fitting it to a destroyer rather than a sub shows how deeply the bias towards ASW was. Senior officers not keeping up with the latest terminology, using obsolete terms carried over from their formative years in that field, let alone the generic terms for highly classified bits of kit... oh say it is not so! :)

 

Shane  

Link to post
Share on other sites

The ONLY reason I give such assertions credence, is that it was in U Boat Killer by Donald McIntyre. McIntyre was the man who killed Joachim Schepke, and sank Otto Kretchmer. It doesnt make him right, but it does illustrate that such views had taken hold by 1956 when he wrote it.

I dont disagree on the rest.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely Stuart, its not like there was some revelation from on high or an Admiralty circular 'To our beloved and trusty etc, the tactical insight you desperately crave is filed under P at your nearest purveyor of confidential books." Rather those passing thought the new ASW mill started turning up with the knowledge and their new training publications and I'm sure it looked very much like that sort of hasty catch up, and don't get me wrong some of it was, the Portland guys didn't get it all right by any means... as far as we know, I don't believe there is a copy of the Portland Papers in captivity alas. 

 

Edited by Argus
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...