JF Ptak Science Books Post 937
In the midst of a massive building campaign by Germany and a building-response by England the French journal L’Illustration published these two side-by-side pictorial comparisons of their two navies, which wound up being reprinted in the Illustrated London News soon afterwards in June 1912. [Royal Navy, left; German Navy right]
Germany began a rebuilding campaign in 1902 which by 1908/9 was seen by the British Admiralty as a “stab at the heart” of England’s military supremacy, and so the construction wars were undertaken. It’s a complicated period and a complex race, which I just can’t get into in a short post, so let’s just say that the Brits wound up the winners of the competition when these images were printed in June 1912.
The hidden element of some great importance, a trump card that would played in just 750 days, would be the small dot-like drawings labeled “sous marins”. These would be the submarines, and it would be the subs that would be perhaps the most significant aspect of the entire German navy.
This was true in spite of what looks like an overwhelming preponderance of subs in favor of the Royal; Navy, where the count was 68 to Germany’s 24. It was really a question the type of sub, and as it turns out there were only 8 or 9 of the English count that could’ve been considered for blue water ops.
Germany began the war with 24 submarines in 1914; they recognized the ship’s importance and by war’s end ramped up production, winding up with 351 in total production and with 178 in action in 1918 alone. Of that overall number fully half (178) had been destroyed in combat, with another 11% sunk via other means. There were more than 12 million tons of Allied shipping destroyed by the German sub forces from 1914-1918 (half of that in 1917).
So these two illustrations do portray an overwhelming Royal Navy, but they certainly do not give any hit whatsoever to the coming importance of the German submarine fleet.