This book focuses on the three main modesl of U-boats in German service during the Second World War, the coastal Type II, the Type VII of which more were built than any other model of submarine, and the longer range Type IX. These were all pre-war designs, which owed much to the design of the best First World War era U-boats,
The main strength of this book is the three chapters on the external features, internal features and crew positions of these U-boats. These all contain an impressive range of details I hadn’t encountered elsewhere, which help give a more realistic picture of life in these cramped boats. This includes combat related details such as the exact type of deck guns features, but also more unusual items like the retractable docking bollards, and the impressive use made of the space between the pressure hull and the outer hull. A series of hatches on the decks gave access to spare torpedos, small boats and all sorts of unexpected items, all of which had to be waterproofed to cope with regular flooding.
The internal pictures are the best I’ve seen, giving a real impressive of just how cramped these boats were. Just about the entire boat comes across as being very cramped, but the pictures looking down the tiny gap between the banks of diesel engines are the most claustrophobic. I hadn’t realised just how finely balanced these U-boats were – even one man walking from one end to the other could affect their balance, and the trimming controls were amongst the most important on the boat – again we get excellent photographs of these controls (known as the ‘Christmas tree’).
The detailed rundown of the key crew positions and their exact roles is also of great interest, once again providing lots of details I haven’t seen elsewhere. The focus on these three classes (and to a great extent on the Type VII) means that there is the space to give much more detail than in more general books on the U-boats, giving an excellent idea of what life was like in these notorious vessels.
1 – Attack U-Boats of the Second World War
2 – Lessons Learned from the First World War
3 – The Aftermath of the First World War
4 – Early Developments
5 – The Second World War in a Nutshell
6 – 1935: The New Generation of Attack U-Boats
7 – Attack U-boats: Their Main External Features
8 – Internal Features of a Type VIIC
9 – The Crew: Key U-boat Positions
10 – Operational Command
Author: Jak P. Mallmann Showell