Monday, July 30, 2012
Little Ones Make a Difference
The Soviet version of the Seahund #28 renamed the Babushka2 raised it periscope at the prescribed time and the commander of the 2 man crew turned to gaze due West. It was 5 minutes before the scheduled time but he did not want to be late. For the last 2 days they had seen nothing and would be going back to port with nothing to show for their 4 day voyage. A long way from the Uboat captains and their months long cruises with 10s of thousands of sunk shipping in their log.
In talking with his other Seehund commanders, while waiting to go out again, he was always disheartened at the lack of success reported by all. The NKVD commander heaped praise on them for all the messages they brought back but it seemed like little consolation for living in a tin can submerged for days at a time dodging those damn planes and patrol boats. Very few ships had tasted the touch of their torpedoes. He himself had had only one chance and the firing mechanism on the torpedo tube had failed. He was so frustrated he screamed scaring the piss out of Victor...literally. It did not help the atmosphere in the crowded hull. The target missed was a beautiful Liberty ship full of who knows what. What a fat and tempting target.
It passed within easy torpedo range and by the time he was to attempt to shoot with the second shot it had slid out of correct resolution and when he had tried to correct the settings the knob had fallen off and with the periscope raised he could not reach it in time without putting the periscope down which by the time he was able to accomplish this it was too late. 14,000 tons sliding by within easy reach of his torpedoes and nothing to show for it.
He had heard similar stories from other commanders. It seemed like something always fell apart or failed to function at the most critical moment. He knew of at least two dozen stories of Little Sausages being in perfect position for an easy shot and something falling off or failing to connect etc. Thank goodness the Germans had worked out the basic hull integrity and surfacing abilities that keep the vessel safe and virtually undetectable when submerged. But the little things still plagued the machines and shrinking by Seehunds were rare.
On the bright side it did keep the British busy trying to hunt them down and the appearance of the Little Ones in the Irish Sea must have been a major surprise to the Royal Navy. Their commanders insisted that their mere threat was enough to justify their cost but he was not convinced. He wanted to sink capitalist vessels and their supplies that were being used to kill countrymen and comrades. He was happy that he did not have to experience the 8 day missions to the far reaches of the British Isles made possible by the refueling at sea of the Seehunds. The larger subs would leave you in a flash if they even imagined a destroyer or heard a rumor of a plane.
One commander said a sea gull had cut his fueling short. Imagine the idiot Captain's thoughts when he figured that out.
Some the Little Ones were being trained to surface and loose what was probably a radio beacon for the upcoming battle for the skies of Britain or was it England? Who cares he was not involved. He couldn't even pickup any downed pilots. They were too small.
He had heard that some beacons would be placed in a special torpedo that would stop and float after a 500 meters and then the beacon would ping away until some Limey tried to destroy it. If they got too close it would start up again and start to circle. I bet that would scare the crap out of you. I wonder if they will let any of the Seehunds wait around to see if they can put a torpedo into a nice destroyer. He hated destroyers. Too many depth charges and too fast.