German submarine U-442

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Nazi Germany
Name: U-442
Ordered: 5 January 1940
Builder: Schichau-Werke, Danzig
Yard number: 1493
Laid down: 19 October 1940
Launched: 17 January 1942
Commissioned: 21 March 1942
Fate: Sunk, 12 February 1943[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
  • 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)
Draught: 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)
Installed power:
  • 2,800–3,200 PS (2,100–2,400 kW; 2,800–3,200 bhp) (diesels)
  • 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) (electric)
  • 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
  • 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
  • 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: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Service record[2][3]
Part of:
  • F.Kapt. Hans-Joachim Hesse
  • 21 March 1942 – 12 February 1943
Victories: Four commercial ships sunk (25,417 GRT)

German submarine U-442 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II.

The submarine was laid down on 19 October 1940 at the Schichau-Werke in Danzig as yard number 1493, launched on 17 January 1942, and commissioned on 21 March 1942 under the command of Fregattenkapitän Hans-Joachim Hesse.

U-442 first served with the 5th U-boat Flotilla, a training unit, and then operationally with the 7th flotilla from 1 October 1942 until the time of her loss.


German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-442 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[4] She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two AEG GU 460/8–27 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).[4]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph).[4] When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-442 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[4]

Service history[edit]

1st patrol[edit]

U-442 departed Kiel on 17 September 1942 for her first operational war patrol. Heading via the North Sea toward the north-central Atlantic Ocean, she was near Iceland when convoy UR-42 was sighted. At 16.16 hours on 25 September, U-442 torpedoed and sank her first target, the 1,744 GRT British steam merchant ship Empire Bell. Ten of Empire Bell 's 37 crew died in the attack, the survivors were picked up by the Norwegian merchantman Lysaker IV and landed at Reykjavík.[5] Over a month would pass before U-442 crossed paths with the second and final target of this patrol, the 6,690 GRT British ammunition ship Hatimura. Already on fire and slowly sinking from an attack three hours earlier (delivered by U-132), the hit resulted in a catastrophic explosion which threw debris in a large radius around the ship. It is believed U-132 was still nearby and was sunk as a result of this detonation.[5] The patrol was terminated at St. Nazaire in occupied France on 3 November 1942.

2nd patrol[edit]

Her second patrol began 20 December 1942, when she sortied from St. Nazaire bound for the central Atlantic via the Bay of Biscay. On the morning of 9 January 1943, U-442 attacked convoy TM 1 west of the Canary Islands, claiming hits on two tankers. In reality only one was hit, the 9,807 GRT steam tanker SS Empire Lytton. Fourteen men were lost in this attack. The remaining 34 men abandoned ship and were picked up by HMS Havelock and Saxifrage. The escorts attempted to scuttle the British tanker with gunfire before breaking off their efforts and heading for Gibraltar to land the survivors. Seven hours later (14.50 hours), the burning, drifting tanker was located again by U-442, which torpedoed her a second time; still she would not go down. Finally, a third torpedo at 19.38 hours sent the tanker to the bottom.[6]

On 27 January 1942 U-442 attacked the 7,176 GRT American Liberty Ship Julia Ward Howe, a straggler from convoy UGS-4. The first torpedo hit on the starboard side, blowing off a hatch cover, wrecking two lifeboats and destroying the radio equipment. The ship immediately took on a 15-degree list but flooded slowly, gradually righting herself to an even keel. Three shots were fired from the merchantman's defensive 5-inch gun, but no hits were scored. Three men, including the ship's master, died in the attack; seventy-one abandoned ship. One more (the chief engineer), subsequently died of his wounds. Forty minutes after the initial attack, a torpedo struck amidships and broke the ship in two. The submarine then surfaced and took the second mate on board for questioning, releasing him afterward. As the U-boat departed the area, the rafts were secured together and steered toward the Azores. Fifteen hours later, they were rescued by the Portuguese destroyer Lima and landed at Ponta Delgada.[7]


U-442 met her end on 12 February 1943. She was attacked and sunk by depth charges from a British Hudson aircraft of 48 Squadron RAF, west of Cape St. Vincent, Portugal. Her wreck lies at position 37°32′N 11°56′W / 37.533°N 11.933°W / 37.533; -11.933. [8]


U-442 took part in five wolfpacks, namely.

  • Luchs (27 September - 6 October 1942)
  • Panther (6–12 October 1942)
  • Leopard (12–19 October 1942)
  • Veilchen (27 October - 4 November 1942)
  • Delphin (26 December 1942 - 12 February 1943)

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
25 September 1942 Empire Bell  United Kingdom 1,744 Sunk
4 November 1942 Hatimura  United Kingdom 6,690 Sunk
9 January 1943 Empire Lytton  United Kingdom 9,807 Sunk
27 January 1943 Julia Ward Howe  United States 7,176 Sunk


  1. ^ Kemp 1999, p. 102.
  2. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-442". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "War Patrols by German U-boat U-442". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  5. ^ a b Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-442 from 17 Sep 1942 to 16 Nov 1942". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Empire Lytton (Steam tanker)". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  7. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Julia Ward Howe (Steam merchant)". German U-boats of World War II - Retrieved 15 January 2010.
  8. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Patrol of U-boat U-442 from 20 Dec 1942 to 12 Feb 1943". German U-boats of WWII - Retrieved 18 August 2011.


  • Bishop, Chris (2006). Kriegsmarine U-Boats, 1939-45. London: Amber Books. ISBN 978-1-904687-96-2.
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). German U-boat commanders of World War II : a biographical dictionary. Translated by Brooks, Geoffrey. London, Annapolis, Md: Greenhill Books, Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-186-6.
  • Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945 [German U-boat losses from September 1939 to May 1945]. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German). IV. Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0514-2.
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.
  • Kemp, Paul (1999). U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars. London: Arms & Armour. ISBN 1-85409-515-3.

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