How the Battle of the Atlantic Changed Course for the US

“US Destroyers vs German U-Boats” demonstrates how technological advancements provided the winning edge during World War II sea battles.
How the Battle of the Atlantic Changed Course for the US
"US Destroyers Vs. German U-Boats: The Atlantic 1941–45," by Mark Lardas.
Dustin Bass
If you’ve watched submarine thrillers like “The Hunt for Red October” or “U-571,” you might wonder why submarine captains made specific decisions in combat. In Mark Lardas’s new book, “US Destroyers vs German U-Boats: The Atlantic 1941–45,” readers have their questions answered while they learn about the history of German submarines and American destroyers.
Mr. Lardas fills his pages with information about the builds, capabilities, and limitations of the U-boats and destroyers through the decades covering the pre-World War I and World War II eras. He describes the engine types, the speed, the surface and below-surface ranges, as well as the weaponry of each vessel. It is within these descriptions that many questions, such as, why a submarine would surface while being chased, or why a submarine would dive so deep as to risk implosion, are answered.
The author provides a chronology of destroyer/destroyer escort and U-boat interactions throughout the decade of 1935 to 1945. Furthermore, the book includes a map of sea battles indicating whether a destroyer or a U-boat was successful. Submarines are often viewed as an all-but-invincible naval vessels, while destroyers aren’t considered as deadly, but a glance at this map corrects that assumption. Mr. Lardas iterates this point, writing, “While in 1942 it appeared the U-boats were invincible, by 1944 they were on the run.”

Technology Wins

Mr. Lardas’s book proves that to win in war, it comes down to who advances most quickly in military technology. As the U-boats advanced technologically, so did U.S. Navy destroyers. Destroyers became faster, and their advancement in weaponry, from increasing the depth limit and sink speed of depth charges to the introduction of the Hedgehog, a projectile method which proved five times more effective than depth charges, helped turn the tide. Mr. Lardas notes that U.S. destroyers were built specifically for a different environment, stating, “Range was critical because the U.S. Navy operated their destroyers in oceans. The rest of the world’s navies intended their destroyers to operate in seas.”
The most important technological advances, however, were the use of radar and sonar. The author demonstrates how the ongoing effort by the U.S. Navy to provide their destroyers and destroyer escorts with technology effective to locate U-boats quicker and at further distances helped change the war in the Atlantic. 

Art and Storytelling

The publisher, Osprey Publishing, is known for its use of art renderings with descriptions. “US Destroyers vs German U-Boats” puts these renderings to great use by providing visual depictions of World War II’s various destroyers and U-boats. There are also visual demonstrations of how the destroyers utilized their depth charges and projectiles, and how U-boats conducted their tactics to elude their enemy.
Mr. Lardas ultimately chronicles all of this through four battles, beginning shortly before America joined the war in October 1941 and ending May 6, 1945, two days before the German surrender. All four battles, though briefly recounted, still include elements of suspense, which makes for fun reading. Mr. Lardas, who has written more than 40 books and contributes to The Epoch Times, seamlessly encompasses the turn of the 20th-century history of both the American and German navies, their sailors and commanders, and the types of vessels (all highly detailed) they rode. He then ties them altogether in the very visual and entertaining context of sea battles.
For World War II and naval enthusiasts, “US Destroyers vs German U-Boats” is a fine work that provides a brief, yet detailed history on these two naval vessels. It’s chock full of design and statistical information, as well as renderings and maps. For the average layman unfamiliar with submarine specifics, Mr. Lardas’s book is a can’t-miss.
"US Destroyers Vs. German U-Boats: The Atlantic 1941–45," by Mark Lardas.
"US Destroyers Vs. German U-Boats: The Atlantic 1941–45," by Mark Lardas.
‘US Destroyers Vs. German U-Boats: The Atlantic 1941–45’ by Mark Lardas Osprey Publishing, April 25, 2023 Paperback: 80 pages
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Dustin Bass is an author and co-host of The Sons of History podcast. He also writes two weekly series for The Epoch Times: Profiles in History and This Week in History.
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