German submarine U-638

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History
Nazi Germany
Name: U-638
Ordered: 20 January 1941
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg
Yard number: 614
Laid down: 16 October 1941
Launched: 8 July 1942
Commissioned: 3 September 1942
Fate: Sunk 5 May 1943 in the North Atlantic in position 54°12′N 44°05′W / 54.200°N 44.083°W / 54.200; -44.083Coordinates: 54°12′N 44°05′W / 54.200°N 44.083°W / 54.200; -44.083, by depth charges from HMS Sunflower.
General characteristics
Class and type: Type VIIC submarine
Displacement:
  • 769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
  • 871 t (857 long tons) submerged
Length:
Beam:
  • 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
  • 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
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)
Propulsion:
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: 4 officers, 40–56 enlisted
Armament:
Service record[1]
Part of:
Commanders:
  • Oblt.z.S. Oskar Staudinger
  • 3 September – 8 December 1942
  • Kapitänleutnant Hinrich-Oscar Bernbeck
  • 9 December 1942 – 31 March 1943
  • Kptlt. Oskar Staudinger
  • 1 April – 5 May 1943
Operations:
  • 1st patrol: 4 February – 31 March 1943
  • 2nd patrol: 20 April – 5 May 1943
Victories:
  • 1 merchant ship sunk (5,507 GRT)
  • 1 merchant ship damaged (6,537 GRT)

German submarine U-638 was a Type VIIC U-boat built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine for service during World War II. She was laid down on 16 October 1941 by Blohm & Voss, Hamburg as yard number 614, launched on 8 July 1942 and commissioned on 3 September 1942 under Kapitänleutnant Oskar Staudinger.

Design[edit]

German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-638 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged.[2] 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 BBC GG UB 720/8 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).[2]

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).[2] 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-638 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 one twin 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.[2]

Service history[edit]

The boat's career began with training at 5th U-boat Flotilla on 3 September 1942, followed by active service on 1 February 1943 as part of the 9th Flotilla for the remainder of her service.

In three patrols she sank one merchant ship, for a total of 5,507 gross register tons (GRT) and one ship damaged.

Wolfpacks[edit]

U-638 took part in four wolfpacks, namely

  • Burggraf (26–28 February 1943)
  • Wildfang (28 February – 5 March 1943)
  • Raubgraf (7–15 March 1943)
  • Amsel 1 (3–5 May 1943)

Fate[edit]

U-638 was sunk on 5 May 1943 in the North Atlantic in position 54°12′N 44°05′W / 54.200°N 44.083°W / 54.200; -44.083, by depth charges from HMS Sunflower. All hands were lost.

Summary of raiding history[edit]

Date Name Nationality Tonnage
(GRT)
Fate[3]
7 March 1943 Empire Light  United Kingdom 6,537 Damaged
5 May 1943 Dollus  United Kingdom 5,507 Sunk

References[edit]

  1. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "The Type VIIC boat U-638". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Gröner 1991, pp. 43-46.
  3. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by U-638". German U-boats of WWII - uboat.net. Retrieved 1 September 2014.

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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.
  • Edwards, Bernard (1996). Dönitz and the Wolfpacks - The U-boats at War. p. 199. ISBN 0-304-35203-9.
  • 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.
  • Sharpe, Peter (1998). U-Boat Fact File. Great Britain: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-072-9.

External links[edit]