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Subject: Wolfpacks rss

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Mike Wall
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Jus a matter of historical interest.

Did the US commonly use the term wolfpack in WWII to describe their forming a small group of submarines to patrol together?
 
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Aaron B
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From the half-dozen or so books I've read on the US submarine actions in the Pacific. I do not recall any of the captains using that term. In fact, I don't particularly recall a lot of discussion related to them operating in groups at all.

...most of what I read suggested the captains were operating pretty autonomously.

Additionally, when the Germans engaged in trans-atlantic operations against the US, I believe they typically used the larger Type-IX Uboats. I tend to associate "Wolfpack" ops with the smaller and more prolific Type-VII B/C Uboats.

The US Fleetboat was a larger boat, more on par with the German Type-IX, but bigger by 50ft. ...compared to the VIIC, the US boat was about 90ft longer.
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Dan Beckler
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I hadn't really read much about US wolf packs either... but I did find this article written in recent months:

http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Media/News/Article/643229/the-americ...

Here's a summarizing passage:
"The American approach rejected the rigid, centralized theater command and ad hoc tactical structure of the Germans. Consistent with its culture, the U.S. Navy took the opposite approach. CAGs comprised three to four boats under a common tactical commander who was present on scene. Unlike the Germans, these attack groups trained and deployed together as a distinctive element. They patrolled in a designated area under a senior commander and followed a generic attack plan. Other than intelligence regarding potential target convoys, orders came from the senior tactical commander on scene and not from the fleet commander. This tactical doctrine called for successive rather than swarming attacks. Subsequently scholars have been critical of these deliberate and sequential attack tactics, which negated surprise and simplified the job of Japanese escorts." -- Dr. F.G. Hoffman pub Jan 1, 2016
 
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Mike Wall
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Many thanks for the information. It was mainly the terminology I was questioning, as I have never read anything that used the word "wolfpack" to describe American groupings of subs. So, I'd wondered why DVG had chosen to use the word in its rules other than as a simple way of handling the concept and as a cross-fertilisation from U-Boat Leader rules.
 
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Ernie Olsen
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I'm pretty sure the British/Americans/Canadians wouldn't have used the term 'Rudeltaktik' (Pack Tactic) until after the war, since it is the name coined by Dönitz referring to a specific strategy.

I doubt even that the German captains/crew of the U-Boats used the term much during the war because they wouldn't have much direct contact (other than orders) with Donitz and weren't privy to his strategic thinking.
 
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Mike Wall
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Yes, I tend to think that wolfpack is a post-war term and had always thought that it had been assigned purely to describing German tactics, but just wondered if had become applied by Americans to their own tactics seeing that it was bein used in the game rules.
 
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Dan
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The Americans called them "coordinated attack groups", usually consisting of about 3-5 submarines with 3 being more common. One of the participating subs would be designated "group commander" and would coordinate attacks. They weren't very common during the war. Japanese convoys were smaller than Allied convoys in the Atlantic. A bigger war theater and smaller enemy convoys meant that it befitted US submarines to spread out and operate independently.

Initially the german U-boats acted independently too, but as Allied convoys grew in size it advantaged the U-boats to attack in groups. Massive convoys would be mauled by multiple wolfpack attacks as they crossed the atlantic. One example of this massive scale was the spring 1942 convoy battle of HX 229 SC 122. These two massive allied convoys crossed somewhat together and were set upon by 3 large wolfpacks. A total of 38 german U-boats would be involved in this convoy battle. The allies lost 22 ships while the germans lost 1 U-boat.
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