I’ve been doing some reading lately on the various armed merchant raiders and q-ships of naval history. Interesting stuff. Names like Alabama, Shenandoah, Moewe, Wolf, Seeadler, and Kormoran evoke stories of modern swashbucklers. Unfortunately though they always seem to be on the loosing side… The CSA and Germany were the two biggest proponents of converted surface raiders and we all know how that worked out… I don’t think this says as much about the quality of the work the raiders did as much as it does about the superiors calling the shots. There may be a correlation between the two, but not necessarily any causation. Why the more victorious powers (US and UK for example) didn’t make as much widespread use of merchant raiders I’m not sure, but it may be for the same reason they ended up winning: they had the resources to sustain large conventional fleets. That being said, I believe these raiders still have a place in naval combat and even post-war British historians have said that based on the success of what few raiders the Germans used, they couldn’t believe they didn’t use more of them.
Does any one know of any examples since the end of World War II of merchant ships being converted for use as auxiliary cruisers or commerce raiders? I can’t think of too many conflicts in the last 71 years that might warrant such a thing but you never know. Merchant ships have changed a great deal since 1945 and I wonder how the mechanics of using such a vessel for such a purpose would be affected today.
C.Captain was right, we need a maritime history section of the forum.