|Ordered||7 Dec 1940|
|Laid down||1 Oct 1941||F. Krupp Germaniawerft AG, Kiel (werk 664)|
|Launched||23 Dec 1943|
|Commissioned||2 Mar 1944||Kptlt. Johann-Heinrich Fehler|
|Successes||No ships sunk or damaged|
Surrendered at Portsmouth, New Hampshire on May 19 1945 (Waller & Niestlé, 2010).
General notes on this boat
U-234 suffered bomb damage while under construction in 1942. After the loss of U-233 in July 1944 it was decided not to use U-234 as a mine-layer. She was then rebuilt as a cargo-carrier for the Germany-Japan route. On 25 March 1945 she left Kiel and a few days later reached Kristiansand, Norway.
On 15 April 1945 she left Norway and was en-route to Japan with important cargo (including Me 262 jet fighter drawings and 560 kg of uranium oxide) as well as several high ranking German experts on various technologies, including two Messerschmitt production engineers, plus two Japanese officers returning home from Germany. When Kptlt. Fehler heard the surrender orders he decided to head for the USA and surrender. However, as per tradition, the Japanese men took their own lives via sleeping pills rather than being captured.
Me 262 fighter aircraft on board?
Update 11 Dec 2012. Despite many rumours to the contrary, U-234 was not carrying any aircraft on board. A great many publications (including uboat.net for a long time) have suggested there were either one Me 262, two Me 262's or even three Messerschmitt aircraft on board, but they are all incorrect.
Instead, the cargo comprised three elements. Items for the Japanese Army and Navy, including mercury, optical glass, lead, zinc, steel, brass, thallium, uranium oxide and a very large number of Me 262-related technical drawings, production plans, patterns, forms and templates: considerable quantities of stores and ammunition for the German U-Boats and U-Boat bases that were still operational in the Far East: and several tons of diplomatic mail for the German Embassy in Tokyo.
The most significant element of this cargo, which the British and Americans knew about in advance via ULTRA intercepts, were the Me 262 documents which, with the help of the two Messerschmitt engineers, could have enabled the Japanese to set up factories designed to produce up to 500 Me 262s a month within two years. Unfortunately, many authors (and other net sites) have confused aircraft documents with aircraft hardware.
Men lost from U-boats
Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-234 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.