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(Last updated on 2 November 2001)

Silent Hunter from SSI is a game recreating the submarine war against the Japanese during World War II. Command one of several classes of submarines as you try to sink Japanese merchant and capital ships...and evade the depth charges of their escorts.

Touched up shot of ship sinking

Another touched up shot of ship sinking

Frequently asked questions.

Please read these before sending me mail. If you send me mail about one of these questions, I will not respond.

Links to general info

Many of these links are broken...but I'm leaving them here for historical purposes...i.e. I'm too lazy to remove them.

Playing style and tips

I prefer to play in career mode rather than playing the single missions. I keep meaning to play the single missions and never quite get around to it. What I've been trying to do is see how high a tonnage I can get in a single career lasting four to five patrols. (Most of the American sub commanders in WW II were allowed no more than four patrols, with a few exceptions.) This means that I allow most ships to pass by and go after only large ships that sink with few torpedoes, mainly oil tankers. (See the book by Calvert about sub commanders being ordered to give a priority to oil tankers.) I also take on any carriers, battleships, and heavy cruisers that I encounter. Waiting for big ships can take a fair amount of real time. But even waiting for big ships results in shorter patrols than is historically accurate: My longest time on patrol is about 10 days, not counting transit time, much less than most WW II sub patrols. If I shot at every ship that passed my way, I could usually exhaust my torpedoes in less than a day.

My highest tonnage so far for a career where I retired is 70 ships for about 940,000 tons in 5 patrols at 115% realism, in mid-1944. I started in 1941 and am working my way through the war. Until recently, if I lived through five patrols, I retired and then started a new career at the retirement date of the previous career. However, after some posts on Jim Atkins's site, I decided to try a few more patrols to see if I could win the Medal of Honor. I'm up to the middle of 1944 right now, starting over with a green crew after being destroyed by a patrol craft on my 8th patrol when I got too cocky.

Some playing tips

Jim Atkins's Academy Broken! has in-depth tutorials on most aspects of the game. What follows are things that I've found in addition to what he has there. Think of it as sitting at the bar at the Royal Hawaiian swapping stories with another crew back from patrol.



Torpedoes, Radar, and TDC


So you wanna complete a photo recon...

To complete a photo mission, you must get close enough to the requested point to take a picture (the periscope will have a blinking red square on one side when the cross-hairs of the requested point is visible) and it must be day time. Hit the TAB button to take the picture.

Missions I've created

Note that it is NOT necessary to have patrol disk #2 in order to play custom missions. Simply copy the missions into the same directory as the historical missions (c:\whatever\silent\scen). You may have to name them "histxx.scn" as well, where xx is 00-99, but be sure not to overwrite missions that are already there. You may have trouble if the missions take place in a patrol area that you don't have, though.

I've found a couple of the "historical" missions from SSI to be quite different from the accounts of them by crew members of the subs involved. For example, SSI's "Jack the Tanker Killer" takes place in the Strait of Malacca, while Calvert's map of that action shows it to be northwest of the Philippines. Similarly for the action by Fluckey which I have recreated below. I suppose some of the differences stem from some geographical areas not being available in the game. I've tried to keep my "historical" scenarios as faithful to the available accounts as possible. Keep in mind that this is just a game, not a simulator.

  1. A recreation of Fluckey's attack at Namkwan Harbor. While SSI included a version of this on their second patrol disk, they got the date wrong, the place wrong, and the outcome wrong. So I did a little homework and tried to recreate it more faithfully using the account in Fluckey's book. This is the same scenario that I submitted to Jim Atkins's download area.
    Added July 8, 1997.

  2. A beta version of the Batfish's record-setting patrol off the Philippines, where she sank three Japanese subs in three days. I'm still not happy with this one. Let me know if you can think of any way to improve it.
    Added July 8, 1997.

  3. The latest version of a hypothetical mission pitting you against a top-notch patrol in the Bungo Suido.
    Added April 25, 1998.

  4. Wahoo watches a big one go Over the Hill. On her first patrol, Wahoo missed a chance at the CV Ryujo due to an approach that "lacked aggressiveness," according her captain, Lt. Cmdr. Kennedy. Historical mission taken from Wahoo's report on her first patrol and O'Kane's book. (Note: My scenario occurs at the longitude and latitude given in both references. However, from the description in the references, this encounter occurred northwest of Truk, not northeast. My only guess is that the latitudes and longitudes are incorrect on SH's map. Also, O'Kane claims that it was the Ryujo sighted, but the Ryujo had been sunk by this time. So I used the Ryuho instead.)
    Added April 25, 1998.

  5. Flying Blind, a hypothetical mission based upon an incident in one of my careers. The Flier was patrolling in the South China Sea, both her surface radar and radio out of commission from a heavy depth-charging several days earlier. A heavy fog was on, so without her radar, she was patrolling blind when sonar reported a high-speed contact.
    Try this at 115% realism.
    Added April 25, 1998.

  6. Dust on the Sea, a hypothetical mission based upon Beach's Dust on the Sea. A convoy of experienced troops and their supplies is leaving Tsingtao to reinforce Japanese-held islands in the Pacific. ComSubPac has sent you an Ultra saying that the convoy, escorted by a crack anti-submarine group, will hug the Chinese coast before dashing across the Yellow Sea to Korea, where they will again hug the coast. Your job is to make sure that neither the troops nor their supplies arrive.
    Added May 7, 1998.

  7. One Last Fish, a mission based upon an incident in one of my careers. On February 5, 1944, Apogon was patrolling near Saipan with only one torpedo left when she had a radar contact. She went to battle stations, wanting to make that last torpedo count.
    Added July 13, 1998.

  8. Night Surface Attack, a mission based upon an incident in one of my careers. After dark on August 14, 1944, Apogon made radar contact with a large convoy with escorts off the coast of Japan. With no moon, it was a perfect time for a night surface attack.
    Added July 13, 1998.

    (The following are a series of historical missions involving the gathering of the Japanese fleet at Tawi Tawi island in the spring of 1944. Blair did not give the exact longitude and latitude of the contacts, but I do have them located in the correct general area. I've also taken liberties with initial contact distances to make the missions more playable. I have them listed in chronological order.)

  9. Submariner's Dream, a historical mission from Blair's Silent Victory. Lowell Stone in Lapon was lying off the west coast of Borneo when he made contact with a large group of capital ships steaming from Singapore to Tawi Tawi.
    Added July 14, 1998.

  10. Fuel for Tawi Tawi, a historical mission from Blair's Silent Victory. Bonefish, captained by Tom Hogan, was ordered to Tawi Tawi island off the coast of Borneo in order to confirm that the bulk of the Japanese Navy was assembling there. On his way to Tawi Tawi, he encountered a convoy of tankers with escorts carrying fuel for the fleet.
    Added July 13, 1998.

  11. Surabaya Recon, a semi-historical mission from Blair's Silent Victory. Surabaya was the target of an aircraft strike on May 17, 1944. Several submarines were ordered nearby for lifeguard duty and to attack any fleeing ships. However, no pilots were rescued nor were any of the fleeing vessels attacked. The submarines would probably have been better deployed several hundred miles away on the approaches to Tawi Tawi, where the Japanese fleet was gathering at the time. This semi-historical mission requires you to transit the heavily patrolled Lombok Strait in order to perform a recon mission followed by lifeguard duty at Surabaya.
    Added July 29, 1998.

  12. Puffer's Disney Show, a historical mission from Blair's Silent Victory. Gordon Selby in Puffer was patrolling near Tawi Tawi when he encountered two aircraft carriers training pilots. "The general effect," he wrote, "was similar to the dazzling speed with which participants in a Walt Disney cartoon sizzle past and disappear in a cloud of vapor."
    Added July 29, 1998.

Good reading to help with the game

The following list of books is not meant to be exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order. These are simply the books I've read since I started playing the game. Most are personal accounts of life on submarines and U-boats during World War II. Many of them explain tactics that I've tried in the game. (O'Kane's books are particularly good at explaining tactics.) Others, like Doenitz's memoirs and Blair's Silent Victory, give a broader view historically, which I happen to like but may not be for you if you're just looking to improve your game. I have them listed in the order in which I read them, not by how good I thought they were.

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The text of this page is copyright © 1998-2001 Tom Martin

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