|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 Sqn 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 Sqn 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 von 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 (407 Sqn RCAF/C)
5 recorded attacks on this boat.
General notes on this boat
Left: The U-flak 1 emblem.
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 her 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).
These new anti-aircraft-weapons required a lot of additional men, so instead of a normal crew of 44-48, there were now 67 on board. Also aboard was Marine-Stabsarzt Dr. Pfaffinger, an experienced U-boat doctor.
Admiral Dönitz himself inspected the boat and gave her 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, replaced him.
First patrol - Kptlt. Götz von Hartmann
On 22 May 1943 U-Flak 1 began her first patrol from Brest,
with always 14 men on the bridge instead of the usual 4-7!
On 24 May 1943 U-Flak 1 encountered British aircraft in chart square BF 4971.
A few hours later there was a fight with a British Sunderland which U-Flak 1 shot down. The pilot dropped the bombs just before his aircraft crashed into the sea, some of which fell near U-Flak 1.
U-Flak 1 was forced to return to Brest due to damage.
2nd patrol - Kptlt. Götz von Hartmann
On 8 July 1943, after repairs, U-Flak 1 set off from Brest on her second patrol.
On 11 July 1943 U-Flak 1 was patrolling chart square BF 4971, as on her first patrol, but this time the enemy was a flight of three British Beaufighters from 248 Squadron. They attacked U-Flak 1 from three sides and after a few minutes many U-boat men were left wounded or dead. The badly wounded commander ordered his damaged boat into the depths. They had lost 23 men, and were left with with no officers 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.
By some miracle 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 no-one on the U-boat bridge able to decipher 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 problem of the constant Allied air attacks in the Bay of Biscay.
Men lost from the boat
12 Jul 1943
The flak boat was strafed by three British Beaufighters from 248 Sqn 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 von 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