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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The lairs of Hitler's steel sharks - a real story sometimes stranger than science-fiction, 2 Dec 2011
Darth Maciek "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
This review is from: U-boat Bases and Bunkers 1940-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
One of the most succesful achievements of Nazi war machine were the colossal bunkers build for U-Boats, mainly in Germany, France and Norway. Those cyclopean structures resisted every attempt to destroy them, causing during the whole war an indescriptible fury and frustration amongst Allies war leaders. Some of those build in occupied France were used for many years after war by French submarine force - and French military still uses most of them today.

This book describes very well and in a very interesting way the story of their conception and construction, the way they were used, repaired and improved, as well as the efforts of allies to destroy them - and how those attempts failed. The defenses of U-Boat bases (radars, guns, fighter patrols, naval mine fields, anti-aircraft balloons, etc.) are described in detail, as is daily life of people who lived and worked there. All of this illustrated with a great number of very well selected war time images.

There are also colour plates, but they are not all satisfying. The first two (long range defenses and construction of a base) do not present any interest and are a waste of place. The third one, illustrating short range defences of a base, is a very well done and very instructive one. The plate number four, "Inside a U Boat base" is also a good one, resuming in one image the unique atmosphere of those places. The plate number five, showing the monstrous "Bruno" bunker in Bergen (Norway) is very impressive, as well as the plate number six (on double page), describing the most gigantic U-Boat base in Lorient (France). The plate number seven shows an installation almost as impressive - a bunker-based shipyard in Bremen (Germany) where the super modern type XXI U Boats were supposed to be build in great numbers (the war ended a couple of days before the first one was completed in this facility).

There is also a chapter listing and commenting all the U-Boat bases and facilities (not always as strongly fortified) during WWII, from command post for Arctic in Narvik (Norway) beyond the polar circle, and Libau (Latvia), home of 25 Flotilla close to Leningrad, to naval base of 12 Flotilla at Bordeaux (southern France). The list includes also some very surprising places: Pola (today in Croatia) and Salamis (Greece) which were the bases for 29 Flotilla, Constanza (Romania) and Feodosia (today in Ukraine), homes for 30 Flotilla, but also Singapore, Penang (Malaysia), Batavia (today Jakarta, capital of Indonesia) and even Kobe (Japan)!

This is a little book, but very well conceived and filled with well presented data and also some interesting anecdotes. I think that anybody interested in WWII history, naval history, submarine warfare or fortifications will find it irresistible. I certainly enjoyed studying it and I learned a lot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does the job despite few minus, 22 July 2012
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This review is from: U-boat Bases and Bunkers 1940-45 (Fortress) (Paperback)
Despite its small size, the book covers quite a vast area.
It certainly does the job its intended to and provides a well documented account of one of Hitler's most efficient war weapon.

the structures are simply monumental with roof slab reaching 7m thickness in some places. It is also quite amazing to see this bunker intact after heavy bombardments from the RAF or USAAF and see the lunar landscape surrounding.
Another surprising part was to read about Uboats acting in Singapour, Penang or even Kobe. One Uboat is said to have come back from the far east to its base in France just in time for the armistice.

Some of the colour plate as pointed out in other reviews could have easily been ommited or with a smaller size : e.g. first one for "long range defense"
Some other are quite stunning and plunge you back 50yrs in the past.

Otherwise the book could seem a bit repetitive as the author review all the bases giving length, width, etc. of each structures which makes it a heavy reading sometimes.
Why not a page dedicated to a table summarising of these facts? Easier to read and easily skipped if one not interested in preciste technical details.

In the end, despite few minus, a very good book that does a decent job.
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U-boat Bases and Bunkers 1940-45 (Fortress)
U-boat Bases and Bunkers 1940-45 (Fortress) by Gordon Williamson (Paperback - 19 Feb 2003)
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