Type VII U-Boats Hardcover – 30 Mar 1991
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The Type VII U Boat was probably the most successful submarine of all time. It was Gunther Prien in U47 which sank HMS Royal Oak right at the beginning of WW2 and Otto Kretschmer with his U99 who established the record for tonnage sunk during that same war - and the sinking of ships was the primary role of this type of craft). Today, some 65 years after the Type VII fired it's last torpedo in war, there are websites clubs in many different languages dedicated to the finest detail of this specific weapon of war and every aspect of the battles they fought. For all those ardent enthusiasts plus those with a more general interest in WW2, ships or shipwrecks, this is an excellent addition to the bookshelf.
Commencing with the boat's evolution and design (all submarines are `boats' and not ships!), the author then takes the reader through the vital characteristics which made this craft exactly what is was and why. This includes fascinating detail from history and the lessons learned from WW1. Part Two covers; The hull, propulsion, crew, provisions and even sanitation. The third part provides a complete explanation of the various weapons. Commencing with the obvious; Torpedoes, mines, deck and flak guns, we are then treated to an interesting insight into some experimental weapons. Often overlooked, Part Four includes the real cutting-edge technology of the day; Radio, radar, radar detectors, hydrophones and infra-red sensors. The final part of this complete assessment moves from the offensive to the defensive with; Anti-radar coatings, anti-radar decoys, anti-sonar coatings and anti-sonar decoys - something which reveals the exhaustive nature of the research undertaken by this author. The book concludes with equally informative appendices on; General appearance, Admiral Dönitz and a table of Hull numbers which shows when and where each boat was made and includes those projects which were never completed.
The work is well supported throughout with an excellent and plentiful selection of black and white photographs showing all aspects of boats, people, construction, war, weapons, life on board and so forth in addition to an equally outstanding compilation of plans and profiles.
If I may be permitted one very minor criticism; Most readers will know that the German word for submarine is Unterseeboot (undersea boat) or U Boat for short. In the German language, there never was a hyphen between the letter "U" and the word "Boat" and no hyphen appears in any of Germany's official records on the U Boat at any time. The hyphen was added by those who translated various German documents into English. Consequently (e.g.); U Boat and U68 are correct whereas U-Boat and U-68 are incorrect. As I say, a very small point and not one which will mar your enjoyment of a truly accomplished study.