Term of Award

Summer 2010

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of History

Committee Chair

Charles S. Thomas

Committee Member 1

Alan C. Downs

Committee Member 2

William Thomas Allison III


The "Torpedo Crisis," or "Torpedokrise" as referred to by the Germans, is the name given to the period of the first few years during the Second World War during which time the German U-boat arm experienced catastrophic technical malfunctions with their torpedoes. These malfunctions robbed the Germans of tremendous success during the most critical period of the Second World War - the opening years during which Allied anti-submarine measures were at their poorest and German prospects for success concomitantly at their greatest. By the time the Germans finally succeeded in removing all of these problems and realized the true potential of the torpedo envisioned during the prewar years, Allied antisubmarine warfare tactics and especially technology had advanced to such a degree that it could not be overcome despite the best efforts of the U-bootwaffe. Seen through this light, the Torpedo Crisis assumes great importance as being a significant obstacle that slowed the German march to potential victory and thus perhaps buying the Allied additional time to perfect their methods of combating the U-boat menace. Using the war diaries of U-boat commander-in-chief Karl Donitz and different U-boat commanders, as well as select microfilm records of the German Naval High Command and various secondary sources, I attempt in this study to reconstruct the story of the torpedo crisis and the events that caused it, in the hope of raising the reader's awareness of this crucial yet little known chapter of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Research Data and Supplementary Material