German submarine U-338

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Career (Nazi Germany)
Name: U-338
Ordered: 21 November 1940
Builder: Nordseewerke, Emden
Yard number: 210
Laid down: 4 April 1941
Launched: 20 April 1942
Commissioned: 25 June 1942
Nickname: Wildesel ("Wild Donkey")
Fate: Sunk, 20 September 1943[1]
General characteristics [2]
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement: 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length: 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.50 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
Beam: 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Height: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
Draft: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Propulsion: 2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke F46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp). Max rpm: 470–490
2 × AEG GU 460/8-276 double-acting electric motors, totalling 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) and max rpm: 296.
Speed: 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
80 nmi (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
Complement: 44–52 officers and ratings
Service record[3][4]
Part of: 8th U-boat Flotilla
(25 June 1942 – 28 February 1943)
7th U-boat Flotilla
(1 March – 20 September 1943)
Commanders: Kptlt. Manfred Kinzel
(25 June 1942 – 20 September 1943)
Operations: 1st patrol: 23 February – 24 March 1943
2nd patrol: 15–21 June 1943
3rd patrol: 25 August – 20 September 1943
Victories: Four commercial ships sunk (21,927 GRT)
one commercial ship damaged (7,134 GRT)
one Halifax aircraft shot down

German submarine U-338 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The submarine was laid down on 4 April 1941 at the Nordseewerke yard at Emden, launched on 20 April 1942, and commissioned on 25 June 1942 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Manfred Kinzel.[3]

Service history[edit]

U-338 was nicknamed Wildesel ("Wild Donkey") after an incident on the day of its launch, when the U-boat broke free from its moorings and struck a small tug boat, sinking it.[3] After training with the 8th U-boat Flotilla at Danzig, U-338 was transferred to the 7th U-boat Flotilla for front-line service on 1 March 1943.[3]

1st patrol[edit]

U-338 sailed from Kiel on 23 February 1943 under the command of Kapitänleutnant Manfred Kinzel, and out into the north Atlantic where she joined the wolfpack 'Stürmer' on 11 March for an attack on Convoy SC 122.[5] On 17 March at 03:05, U-338 fired two torpedoes at the convoy southeast of Cape Farewell, Greenland and hit and sank two British merchant ships; the 4,898 ton Kingsbury,[6] and the 5,072 ton King Gruffydd.[7] After a minute, two more torpedoes were fired, one of which struck the 7,886 ton Dutch merchantman Alderamin, which later sank.[8] A single torpedo was then fired from the stern tube aimed at the Alderamin, but it missed and struck the 7,134 ton British merchant ship Fort Cedar Lake. The ship, badly damaged, fell behind the convoy and was sunk by U-665 around noon.[9] U-338 attacked the convoy again at 14:52 with another salvo of torpedoes, one of which hit the 4,071 ton Panama-registered American ship Granville, which broke in two amidships and sank within 15 minutes.[10]

On 22 March 1943, U-338 was in the Bay of Biscay, heading for its new home port of Saint-Nazaire in France, when it was attacked by a British Halifax bomber from No. 502 Squadron RAF. Anti-aircraft fire from the submarine hit the starboard outer engine and fuselage of the aircraft, causing its bombs to fall wide and cause only slight damage to the U-boat. The aircraft was seen to crash into the sea some distance away, killing all but one of the eight-man crew, who was picked up by U-338 and taken prisoner.[3] Two days later, on 24 March, the U-boat arrived at St. Nazaire.[4]

2nd patrol[edit]

U-338 sailed from St. Nazaire on 15 June 1943, but the patrol was cut short when she was attacked on the 17th by a B-17 Flying Fortress from No. 206 Squadron RAF. The U-boat was damaged, the Obersteuermann ("Navigator") killed, and three men were wounded. The U-boat returned to port on 21 June.[11]

3rd patrol[edit]

U-338 sailed from St. Nazaire again on 25 August 1943 into the mid-Atlantic, joining the wolfpack 'Leuthen' on 15 September.[12] The U-boat was lost on 20 September during an attack on Convoy ON 202. After being spotted by a B-24 Liberator patrol aircraft, the Canadian corvette HMCS Drumheller approached at speed firing her 4-inch gun. The U-boat dived, and was located by Drumheller‍ '​s ASDIC (sonar). As the corvette prepared to attack with depth charges she observed a large underwater explosion. No further contact with U-338 was made, and it is assumed that she was destroyed as a result of damage caused by Drumheller‍ '​s shell fire.[13]

Summary of raiding career[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
17 March 1943 Alderamin  Netherlands 7,886 Sunk
17 March 1943 Fort Cedar Lake  United Kingdom 7,134 Damaged
17 March 1943 Granville  Panama 4,071 Sunk
17 March 1943 King Gruffydd  United Kingdom 5,072 Sunk
17 March 1943 Kingsbury  United Kingdom 4,898 Sunk


  1. ^ Kemp 1999, p. 146.
  2. ^ Gröner 1985, pp. 72-74.
  3. ^ a b c d e Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC U-boat U-338". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-338". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-338 from 23 February 1943 to 24 March 1943". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Kingsbury". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "King Gruffydd". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Alderamin". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Fort Cedar Lake". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  10. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Granville". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  11. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-338 from 15 Jun 1943 to 21 Jun 1943". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  12. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-338 from 25 Aug 1943 to 20 Sep 1943". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  13. ^ "Deutsche U-Boote 1935-1945 : U-338". (in German). Retrieved 1 June 2010. 


  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German) IV (Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler). ISBN 3-8132-0514-2. 
  • Gröner, Erich (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4. 
  • Kemp, Paul (1999). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3. 

External links[edit]

Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-338". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 26 December 2014.