Watch Hell Below

A new Smithsonian Channel series will chart the stealthy game of undersea warfare from the greatest submarine campaigns of World War II. It profiles the strategic masterminds behind the brutal tactics of Nazi U-boats and reveals the extraordinary feats of Allied subs in the Atlantic and Pacific. Both the Axis and Allies employed unrestricted submarine warfare to bring their enemies to their knees in World War II. Submariners on both sides were a special breed of warrior, always volunteers, often fighting alone. Sub warfare evolved rapidly during the war, as German U-Boats and American submarines attacked military targets and commercial shipping. Submarine attacks created chaos and unnerved adversaries. And while the world's oceans provided concealment and protection, the environment was unforgiving. Each hour-long episode of Hell Below features expert analysis and stock footage along with dramatic re-enactments filmed aboard authentic World War II era submarines, placing viewers in the heart of the action.

Sunday 9:00 PM et/pt on Smithsonian CHANNEL
2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
July 17, 2016
Documentary & Biography
8.1/10
Cast: Tannar Gillespie, Liam Herring, Jesse Irving, Reid Small
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Hell Below Full Episode Guide

  • It was the most frightening moment of the Cold War: a crisis in Cuba in 1962 that brought the world to the brink of disaster. At the center of the drama are four Soviet submarines on a mission to supply nuclear torpedoes to bases on the communist island and the U.S. Navy hunter-killer group determined to turn the vessels around. Discover how grave miscommunications and fervent emotions could have led to catastrophe and the critical role played by the Second in Command aboard Soviet sub B-59.

  • In the icy waters off of Norway in 1945, a U-boat embarks on a mission to bring top-secret German technology to Japan, unaware that a Royal Navy V-class submarine has just been ordered to patrol the area. Neither commander manning their vessel realizes that they are about to face-off in the world's first underwater submarine dogfight. Witness the historic battle between HMS Venturer and U-864.

  • It's 1941 and Erwin Rommel and his armies hope to take Egypt, gain control of the Suez Canal, and prevent Britain from receiving vital supplies from the colony of India and the Middle East. The Allies' last line of defense is a fleet of small, British U-class subs stationed on the tiny island of Malta. Despite unpredictable weather and a broken gyrocompass, HMS Upholder and its Lieutenant-Commander Malcolm Wanklyn battle to hold the line against the Axis powers and turn the tide of the North African Campaign.

  • German U-515 departs from France in 1944, bound for the African Gold Coast to hunt Allied ships. One thousand miles to the south, the U.S. Navy launches a new hunter-killer task force-a tactical combination of destroyers, escorts, carriers, and aircraft-to prevent German U-Boat resurgence. Witness the showdown between U-boat ace Werner Henke and U.S. Navy Bronze Star recipient Daniel Gallery and see how the unrelenting attack of hunter-killer groups changed how the Battle of the Atlantic was fought and won.

  • Decorated American submarine commander Eugene Fluckey, determined to go out with a bang, defies expectations and returns to USS Barb for one last patrol. On the eastern coast of Northern Japan, Fluckey and his crew push the boundaries of submarine warfare to new limits by launching rockets from their sub and landing a crew of saboteurs on Japanese land in order to destroy a coastal rail line. It's a highly aggressive and ambitious patrol that will forever change the way subs are used in battle.

  • USS Silversides and its swashbuckling skipper, Creed Burlingame, saw their first action in the Pacific in May 1942. More than a dozen patrols later, the sub now rests in Muskegon, Michigan as a museum, an ongoing testament to its extraordinary history. Witness one of Silversides' most dramatic missions: aiding Marines in Guadalcanal by keeping Japanese reinforcements from reaching the island. It's an assignment fraught with depth charge attacks and aerial bombardments that nearly ended the mission and its crew.

  • Submarine commander Dick O'Kane participated in the most successful attacks on Japanese ships during World War II, until his luck, and the last torpedo he fired, took a dramatic turn. We track O'Kane's successful career, first as a protege aboard the legendary USS Wahoo, and then as Commander of the short-lived but lethal USS Tang. Through expert testimony, we relive O'Kane's seminal triumphs, and the tragic path of his last warhead.

  • Relive the incredible patrol of submarine USS Harder and its numerous victories in enemy-controlled oceans.

  • Enter The Devil's Gorge with two Allied convoys on a crash course with the largest Nazi wolf pack ever put together.

  • Observe how a new wave of aggressive U.S. sub commanders radically changed the Navy's WWII strategy, and in turn, the war.

  • Sail into New York Harbor and learn the chilling story of Hitler's campaign to bring World War II to America's shores.

  • The wolfpack tactic was made famous by Admiral Karl Donitz, Hitler's mastermind of submariners. His strategy: to send teams of U-boats to bear against the convoys of ships heading from Canada to Britain, cut maritime lifelines, and starve the enemy into defeat. Take a deep dive into the North Atlantic as we go above and below sea level to relive one of the first attacks of Donitz's lethal subs in 1940, headed by leader of the pack Commander Otto Kretschmer. Then follow Britain's war strategists as they race to combat this new deadly attack.

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Hell Below is available to watch free on The Roku Channel and stream on Smithsonian CHANNEL. You can also stream, download, buy, rent Hell Below on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon, Vudu, FuboTV, FandangoNow, Google Play, iTunes, The Roku Channel online.