List of all U-boats




Ordered16 Oct 1939
Laid down25 Apr 1940 F Schichau GmbH, Danzig (werk 1480)
Launched6 Sep 1941
Commissioned22 Nov 1941Kptlt. Rudolf Franzius
22 Nov 1941 - 29 Mar 1943  Kptlt. Rudolf Franzius
30 Mar 1943 - 6 May 1943  KrvKpt. Heinrich Heinsohn
4 patrols
22 Nov 1941-31 Jul 1942  8. Flottille (training)
1 Aug 1942-6 May 1943  9. Flottille (active service)
Successes3 ships sunk, total tonnage 12,045 GRT
1 ship damaged, total tonnage 5,496 GRT

Sunk on 6 May 1943 in the North Atlantic north-east of Newfoundland, in position 52.00N, 45.10W, by depth charges from the British sloop HMS Pelican. 48 dead (all hands lost).

Loss position

See the 4 ships hit by U-438 - View the 4 war patrols

Wolfpack operations

U-438 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
   Lohs (11 Aug 1942 - 25 Aug 1942)
   T├╝mmler (6 Oct 1942 - 9 Oct 1942)
   Panther (13 Oct 1942 - 20 Oct 1942)
   Veilchen (20 Oct 1942 - 5 Nov 1942)
   Habicht (11 Jan 1943 - 19 Jan 1943)
   Haudegen (19 Jan 1943 - 8 Feb 1943)
   Adler (11 Apr 1943 - 13 Apr 1943)
   Meise (13 Apr 1943 - 22 Apr 1943)
   Specht (22 Apr 1943 - 4 May 1943)
   Fink (4 May 1943 - 6 May 1943)

Attacks on this boat and other events

25 Aug 1942
At 07.05 hrs HNoMS Eglantine obtained a radar contact between her and HNoMS Montbretia on the starboard quarter of convoy ONS 122 and opened fire with the 4in gun on sighting U-438 through fog five minutes later. After U-438 dived the corvette intended to attack with ten depth charges, but only dropped two because both traps jammed and six throwers misfired. They held contact and delivered a second attack, but with only one depth charge because the launchers were still out of action. At 07.26 hrs a third and final attack was made with five depth charges before the ship returned to the convoy. The U-boat had dived to 180m (590 ft), but the depth charges caused a leak in the bow compartment that could not be stopped, which forced U-438 to surface shortly afterwards. Despite being unable to dive, they escaped in the fog, and six hours later had managed to repair the damage, but were ordered to return to base because their fuel supplies were low. (Sources: ADM reports, KTB U-438)

4 May 1943
A Catalina (Sqdn 5) attacked a U-boat believed to have been U-438 in the Atlantic 200 miles (322 km) south of Greenland. The boat fought off the attack, escaping with minor damage. (Sources: Blair, vol 2, page 291)

2 recorded attacks on this boat.

General notes on this boat

1 Jan 1943. On 1 January, 1943 U-438 was damaged by underwater explosions, forcing her to return from patrol in the North Atlantic.

Men lost from U-boats

Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-438 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.

U-boat Emblems

We have 1 emblem entry for this boat. See the emblem page for this boat or view emblems individually below.

The Berlin Bear (Coat of Arms)

Media links

Hitler's U-boat War, Vol II

Blair, Clay

U-Boat Operations of the Second World War - Vol 1

Wynn, Kenneth

German U-Boat Losses During World War II

Niestle, Axel

Hitler's U-boat War

Blair, Clay

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