|Ordered||5 Jan 1940|
|Laid down||15 Oct 1940||F Schichau GmbH, Danzig (werk 1492)|
|Launched||13 Dec 1941|
|Commissioned||21 Feb 1942||Kptlt. Klaus Hartmann|
|Successes||1 ship sunk, total tonnage 7,051 GRT|
Sunk on 8 June, 1944 in the English Channel in approximate position 48.27N, 05.47W by depth charges from a British Liberator aircraft (Sqdn 224/G). 51 dead (all hands lost). (FDS/NHB, August 1996).
Previously recorded fate
- Sunk by a Polish Wellington aircraft (RAF 304/A) on 18 June, 1944 in position 49.03N, 04.48W. (Postwar assessment)
Notes. This was very probably against a nonsub target.
U-441 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
Panther (10 Oct 1942 - 16 Oct 1942)
Puma (16 Oct 1942 - 29 Oct 1942)
Spitz (22 Dec 1942 - 28 Dec 1942)
Falke (28 Dec 1942 - 14 Jan 1943)
Neuland (6 Mar 1943 - 13 Mar 1943)
Dränger (14 Mar 1943 - 20 Mar 1943)
Seewolf (21 Mar 1943 - 28 Mar 1943)
Schill (25 Oct 1943 - 31 Oct 1943)
Hinein (26 Jan 1944 - 3 Feb 1944)
Igel 1 (3 Feb 1944 - 17 Feb 1944)
Hai 1 (17 Feb 1944 - 22 Feb 1944)
Preussen (22 Feb 1944 - 1 Mar 1944)
Dragoner (21 May 1944 - 28 May 1944)
Attacks on this boat and other events
20 Mar 1943
The boat was attacked by a Sunderland flying boat west of Ireland. Minor damage.
24 May 1943
Aircraft attack, aircraft shot down: British Sunderland EJ139 (228 Sqdn RAF/L, pilot F/O H.J. Debnam)
20.50 hrs, Bay of Biscay: the flak boat inflicted fatal damage on the Sunderland during its attack run, which nonetheless managed drop five depth charges before crashing with the loss of the crew of 11. U-441 was left with severe damage and one man wounded by strafing, and had to return to base. This was the first 'kill' by a flak boat. (Sources: Franks/Zimmerman)
12 Jul 1943
The flak boat was strafed by three British Beaufighters from 248 Sqdn RAF in the Bay of Biscay. 10 men died and 13 more were wounded, including all officers other than the ship's doctor. Dr Paul Pfaffinger took over command from Kplt Hartmann, treated the wounded and brought the boat back to Brest. He was subsequently awarded the German Cross in Gold. This action led to the abandonment of the flak boat experiment, and all the boats involved were returned to their original armament configuration. (Sources: Franks/Zimmerman)
2 Mar 1944
An unidentified Allied aircraft attacked the boat in mid Atlantic, causing severe damage. The boat had to return to base, reaching Brest on 14 March. (Sources: Blair, vol 2, page 502)
7 Jun 1944
Aircraft attack, aircraft shot down:Canadian Wellington (Sqdn 407/C)
5 recorded attacks on this boat.
General notes on this boat
Left: The U-flak 1 emblem.
From September 1942 U-441 belonged to the 1st U-Flotilla, then located in Brest, France under the command of KrvKpt. Winter.
In April-May 1943, U-441 was rebuilt as U-flak 1, the first of three U-flak boats. Perhaps the most noticeable change in appearance was a greatly expanded Wintergarten (bridge) which had an additional gun platform erected in front of the conning tower. As the boat was to act as an aircraft trap she received greatly increased fire-power in the form of:
- 2 2cm quadruple anti-aircraft machine-guns
1 3.7cm machine-gun
and additional MG 42 machine-guns (which were mostly effective in boosting morale).
This increase in anti-aircraft-weapons required a lot of additional men, so instead of the normal 44-48 man crew there were now 67 men on board. Also on board was the Marine-Stabsarzt Dr. Pfaffinger, an experienced U-boat doctor.
Admiral Dönitz himself inspected the boat and gave it the new name U-Flak 1.
A few days before the first patrol in her new role the commander, Kptlt Klaus Hartmann, became seriously ill and the former commander of U-563, Kptlt. Götz von Hartmann, had to replace him.
First patrol - Kptlt. Götz von Hartmann
On 22 May, 1943 U-Flak 1 began her first patrol from Brest.
There were always 14 men on the bridge instead of the regular 4-7!
On 24 May, 1943 U-Flak 1 encountered British aircraft in map-square BF 4971.
A few hours later there was a fight with a British Sunderland which U-Flak 1 shot down. The British pilot dropped his bombs just before his aircraft crashed into the sea, some of which fell near U-Flak 1.
U-Flak 1 returned to Brest due to damages.
2nd patrol - Kptlt. Götz von Hartmann
On 8 July, 1943 U-Flak 1 , after repairs, set off from Brest on her second patrol.
On 11 July, 1943 U-Flak 1 was patrolling in the same map-square BF 4971 as on her first patrol. But this time the enemy was a flight of three British Beaufighters from the 248th squadron. They attacked U-Flak 1 from three sides and after a few minutes many U-boat men were wounded or dead. The badly wounded commander ordered his damaged boat into the depths. They lost 23 men and not one surviving nautical officer was qualified for submerged action.
The doctor, Marine-Stabsarzt Dr. Pfaffinger, took over the boat and tried to reach base. On the bridge besides the doctor were two radio personnel, the chief electrical engineer and one torpedo mechanic.
But the miracle happened and U-Flak 1 reached the coast near Brest. When they met the first German outpost ship, the ship tried to communicate with the boat using signal flags, but there was not a single man on the U-boat bridge who was able to read the signals.
On 13 July, 1943 U-Flak 1 returned to base at Brest.
It was the last patrol as U-Flak 1, because Dönitz realized that the U-Flak boats weren't the solution to the great problem of the constant Allied aircraft-attacks in the Bay of Biscay.
U-Flak 1 became U-441 again. The boat went out on 10 more patrols under Kptlt. Klaus Hartmann before it was located and sunk with all hands (51 men) by a British Liberator aircraft.
Men lost from the boat
12 Jul 1943
The flak boat was strafed by three British Beaufighters from 248 Sqdn RAF in the Bay of Biscay. 10 men died and 13 more were wounded, including all officers other than the ship's doctor. Dr Paul Pfaffinger took over command from Kplt Hartmann, treated the wounded and brought the boat back to Brest. He was subsequently awarded the German Cross in Gold. This action led to the abandonment of the flak boat experiment, and all the boats involved were returned to their original armament configuration.
Related: For more info on such losses see - Men lost from U-boats -
We have 2 emblem entries for this boat. See the emblem page for this boat or view emblems individually below.
Swordfish and aircraft