The Eboat Weapon

 

S 29, 2. S-Flottille © M. Laarman

During the Second World War the Eboats or Schnellboote represented the German version of the MTB concept. Their origins went back to a large luxery speedboat design, which was fully developped into a very fast, heavily armed fighting machine, that made its combat debut in the North Sea in May 1940. There they were a constant threat until April 1945. They fought their own war, crossed the North Sea on sorties from their bases in occupied Holland and pressed home their attacks on British coastal traffic. Sometimes succesfully, sometimes in vain. They also laid mines, running into the thousands. Out of both tactics they selected the wrong one...

Eboats had their operational limitations, they were apt to mechanical failures and weak in some respects, and therefore had to operate under cover of complete darkness and had to depend on concrete shelters to protect them from allied bombs. Although they were heavier armed than their opponents and were better seaboats the Eboats were always at a disadvantage because they lacked radar...

Despite their shortcomings they were a thorn in the side of British coastal traffic, from Ymuiden, Rotterdam and later in the war, from Den Helder, Belgian Ostende and from Cherbourg in France. Their main targets were the supply convoys to London and later on, Antwerp. Holland was always the pivoting point for those operations, sometimes slowed down because of arguments within the Kriegsmarine leadership, or by bad weather, or by the growing strength of an ingeneous enemy, both at sea and in the air. The Eboats were responsible for thousands of victims in destroyed ships, and forced the allies to keep a large naval presence in the Narrow Seas. Nevertheless, both during and after the war the general public's interest was mainly focused on the Battle of the Atlantic and other theatres of operations.

One of WGKM's founding fathers, Mr. Jac. J. Baart, wrote a standard volume on this subject. Please see our books page for more information.