This is coolbert:
Arctic convoys. Gauntlet!
Those allied convoys [PQ.17 the archetype in this particular instance] sailing that route from Icelandic and British ports to Murmansk and Archangel and return under continuous, remorseless, ceaseless and relentless German attack - - a gauntlet consisting of:
1. German U-boats forming a wolf pack [ Ice Devil pack]. Nine boats on station at the sailing of PQ.17, two additional boats " later attached to the for the attack".
* U-88 (Bohmann); * U-251 (Timm); * U-255 (Reche); * U-334 (Siemon); * U-355 (La Baume); * U-376 (Marks); U-408 (von Hymmen); * U-456 (Teichert); * U-457 (Brandenburg). * U-657 (Göllnitz) and * U-703 (Bielfeld).
Nine of those boats actually tallying a "kill" during the attack on PQ.17.
2. German Navy surface vessels, that combination of threat from capital ships in combination with flotillas of destroyers. A naval surface threat as posed to PQ.17 to include:
* Tirpitz. Battleship.
* Hipper. Heavy cruiser.
* "the Fifth and Sixth Destroyer Flotillas"
* Lützow [“pocket-battleship”]
* Scheer [“pocket-battleship”]
* "the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla"
3. German Air Force [Luftwaffe]. A strike force, that proper tactically tailored combination of horizontal bombers, dive bombers, torpedo bombers augmented by a large contingent of reconnaissance aircraft. This was designated by the German as the Fifth Air Force.
"By the time PQ.17 finally sailed, toward the end of June, the German Air Force had amassed a mighty attacking force of aircraft in the vicinity of North Cape under the commanding general of the Fifth Air Force, Colonel-General Stumpff." An air armada to include:
* "103 twin-engined Junkers 88 bombers"
* "fifteen Heinkel 115 torpedo-bombers on floats"
* "thirty Junkers 87 dive bombers [Stuka]"
* "seventy-four reconnaissance aircraft, including:
[four-engined Focke-Wulf 200– the “Condor” – the Junkers 88 and the Blohm & Voss 138.]
* "forty-two Heinkel 111 torpedo-bombers"
"Stumpff thus disposed of 264 operational combat aircraft for the strike."
4. Mine fields, friendly and foe. Thanks to the David Irving book: "The Destruction of PQ.17" we have a description of a RETURN convoy [QP.13] which suffered severe damage from AN ALLIED MINEFIELD!
[QP.13 westward bound at the same time PQ.17 eastward bound!]
"half of convoy QP.13 had continued to the United Kingdom, while the other half had just been rounding the 'home stretch' on the west coast of Iceland on 5 July, in a thick fog. Within three minutes the Senior
Officer’s ship and four merchantmen blew up, and two more were seriously damaged in explosions. The convoy had been guided into an Allied minefield off Iceland by mistake."
“At 2040 [5 July], QP.13 and British escorts struck the minefield off the North-West tip of Iceland. O-in-C unable to determine exact location of safe channel. Due to ‘thick’ weather . . . and faulty instruments convoy entered minefield. Ships sunk were: Hybert (US), Massmar (US), Heffron (US), John Randolph (US), Rodina (Rus.), and Niger (Bf.). Ships damaged were: Richard H. Lee (US), Exterminator(Pan.), and Capira (Pan.). All damaged ships were brought to port and repaired."
[PQ.17 did include as an integral part of the convoy mine-sweepers!]
Enemy attack in all cases exacerbated by the horrible and continually wretched climatic condition of the far Arctic north. NO surcease at any time, the strain on ships and crew extreme, those convoys a "cold bear" under all circumstances!! A gauntlet!