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Coordinates: 693850N 184830E

German battleship Tirpitz


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tirpitz was the second of two Bismarck-class battleships


built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine (navy) during World
War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the
architect of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy), the
ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft
Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and her hull was
launched two and a half years later. Work was completed in
February 1941, when she was commissioned into the
German fleet. Like her sister ship Bismarck, Tirpitz was
armed with a main battery of eight 38-centimetre (15 in) A recognition drawing of Tirpitz prepared by the US
guns in four twin turrets. After a series of wartime
Navy
modifications she was 2,000 tonnes (2,000 long tons)
heavier than Bismarck, making her the heaviest battleship History
ever built by a European navy.[3] Nazi Germany

After completing sea trials in early 1941, Tirpitz briefly Namesake: Alfred von Tirpitz
served as the centrepiece of the Baltic Fleet, which was Builder: Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven
intended to prevent a possible break-out attempt by the
Laid down: 2 November 1936
Soviet Baltic Fleet. In early 1942, the ship sailed to Norway
to act as a deterrent against an Allied invasion. While Launched: 1 April 1939
stationed in Norway, Tirpitz was also intended to be used to Commissioned: 25 February 1941
intercept Allied convoys to the Soviet Union, and two such
Fate: Sunk by Royal Air Force bombers on
missions were attempted in 1942. This was the only feasible
12 November 1944
role for her, since the St Nazaire Raid had made operations
against the Atlantic convoy lanes too risky. Tirpitz acted as a General characteristics
fleet in being, forcing the British Royal Navy to retain
significant naval forces in the area to contain the Class and type: Bismarck-class battleship

battleship.[4] Displacement: 42,900 t (42,200 long tons)


standard
In September 1943, Tirpitz, along with the battleship 52,600 t (51,800 long tons)
Scharnhorst, bombarded Allied positions on Spitzbergen, full load
the only time the ship used her main battery in an offensive
Length: 241.60 m (792 ft 8 in)
role. Shortly thereafter, the ship was damaged in an attack
by British mini-submarines and subsequently subjected to a waterline[1]
series of large-scale air raids. On 12 November 1944, 251 m (823 ft 6 in) overall
British Lancaster bombers equipped with 12,000-pound Beam: 36 m (118 ft 1 in)
(5,400 kg) "Tallboy" bombs scored two direct hits and a
Draft: 9.30 m (30 ft 6 in) standard[a]
near miss which caused the ship to capsize rapidly. A deck
fire spread to the ammunition magazine for one of the main Installed 163,026 PS (160,796 shp;
battery turrets, which caused a large explosion. Figures for power: 119,905 kW)
the number of men killed in the attack range from 950 to
Propulsion: 12 Wagner superheated
1,204. Between 1948 and 1957 the wreck was broken up by
a joint Norwegian and German salvage operation. boilers;
3 geared steam turbines;
3 three-blade propellers[1]
Contents Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)[1]
Range: 8,870 nmi (16,430 km; 10,210 mi) at
1 Construction and characteristics
2 Service history 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)[1]
2.1 Deployment to Norway Complement: 103 officers
2.2 Operations against Allied convoys
1,962 enlisted men[b]
2.3 British attacks on Tirpitz
2.3.1 Operation Source Sensors and FuMO 23
2.3.2 Operation Tungsten processing
2.3.3 Operations Planet, Brawn, Tiger systems:
Claw, Mascot and Goodwood
2.3.4 Operations Paravane and Obviate Armament: As built:
2.3.5 Operation Catechism 8 38 cm (15 in) SK
3 Footnotes C/34 (4 2)
4 Citations 12 15 cm (5.9 in)
5 References L/55 (6 2)
6 Further reading
16 10.5 cm (4.1 in)
7 External links
SK C/33 (8 2)
16 3.7 cm (1.5 in)
SK C/30 (8 2)
Construction and characteristics 12 2 cm (0.79 in)
FlaK 30 (12 1)
Tirpitz was ordered as Ersatz Schleswig-Holstein as a
Modifications:
replacement for the old pre-dreadnought Schleswig-
58 2 cm FlaK 30
Holstein, under the contract name "G".[1] The
8 53.3 cm (21.0 in)
Kriegsmarinewerft shipyard in Wilhelmshaven was awarded
torpedo tubes
the contract, where the keel was laid on 20 October 1936.[5]
The hull was launched on 1 April 1939; during the elaborate Armour: Belt: 320 mm (13 in)
ceremonies, the ship was christened by the daughter of Turrets: 360 mm (14 in)
Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the ship's namesake.[6] Adolf Main deck: 100 to 120 mm
von Trotha, a former admiral in the Imperial German Navy, (3.9 to 4.7 in)
spoke at the ship's launching, which was also attended by Upper deck: 50 mm (2.0 in)
Adolf Hitler.[7] Fitting-out work followed her launch, and Aircraft 4 Arado Ar 196 floatplanes[1]
was completed by February 1941.[6] British bombers carried:
repeatedly attacked the harbour in which the ship was being Aviation 1 double-ended catapult[1]
built; no bombs struck Tirpitz, but the attacks did slow facilities:
construction work.[8] Tirpitz was commissioned into the
Service record
fleet on 25 February for sea trials,[2] which were conducted
in the Baltic.[6] Awards: 3 references in the Wehrmachtbericht

Tirpitz displaced 42,900 t (42,200 long tons) as built and 52,600 tonnes
(51,800 long tons) fully loaded, with a length of 251 m (823 ft 6 in), a
beam of 36 m (118 ft 1 in) and a maximum draft of 10.60 m (34 ft
9 in).[c] She was powered by three Brown, Boveri & Cie geared steam
turbines and twelve oil-fired Wagner superheated boilers, which
developed a total of 163,023 PS (160,793 shp; 119,903 kW) and yielded
a maximum speed of 30.8 knots (57.0 km/h; 35.4 mph) on speed
trials.[1] Her standard crew numbered 103 officers and 1,962 enlisted
Tirpitz sliding down the slipway at her
launch men; during the war this was increased to 108 officers and 2,500 men.[2]
As built, Tirpitz was equipped with Model 23 search radars[d] mounted
on the forward, foretop, and rear rangefinders. These were later replaced
with Model 27 and then Model 26 radars, which had a larger antenna array. A Model 30 radar, known as the
Hohentwiel, was mounted in 1944 in her topmast, and a Model 213 Wrzburg fire-control radar was added on
her stern 10.5 cm (4.1 in) Flak rangefinders.[11]
She was armed with eight 38 cm SK C/34 L/52 guns arranged in four twin gun turrets: two superfiring turrets
forwardAnton and Brunoand two aftCaesar and Dora.[e] Her secondary armament consisted of twelve
15 cm L/55 guns, sixteen 10.5 cm L/65 and sixteen 3.7 cm (1.5 in) L/83, and initially twelve 2 cm (0.79 in)
C/30 antiaircraft guns. The number of 2 cm guns was eventually increased to 58. After 1942, eight 53.3 cm
(21.0 in) above-water torpedo tubes were installed in two quadruple mounts, one mount on each side of the
ship.[2] The ship's main belt was 320 mm (13 in) thick and was covered by a pair of upper and main armoured
decks that were 50 mm (2.0 in) and 100 to 120 mm (3.9 to 4.7 in) thick, respectively. The 38 cm turrets were
protected by 360 mm (14 in) thick faces and 220 mm (8.7 in) thick sides.[1]

Service history
After sea trials, Tirpitz was stationed in Kiel and performed intensive training in the Baltic. While the ship was
in Kiel, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. A temporary Baltic Fleet was created to prevent the possible
break-out of the Soviet fleet based in Leningrad. Tirpitz was briefly made the flagship of the squadron, which
consisted of the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer, the light cruisers Kln, Nrnberg, Leipzig, and Emden, several
destroyers, and two flotillas of minesweepers.[8] The Baltic Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Otto
Ciliax,[7] patrolled off the Aaland Islands from 23 to 26 September 1941, after which the unit was disbanded
and Tirpitz resumed training.[13] During the training period, Tirpitz tested her primary and secondary guns on
the old pre-dreadnought battleship Hessen,[14] which had been converted into a radio-controlled target ship.[15]
The British Royal Air Force (RAF) continued to launch unsuccessful bombing raids on Tirpitz while she was
stationed in Kiel.[16]

Deployment to Norway

Grand Admiral Erich Raeder, the commander of the Kriegsmarine,


proposed on 13 November that Tirpitz be deployed to Norway. The ship
would be able to attack convoys bound for the Soviet Union, as well as
act as a fleet in being to tie down British naval assets and deter an
Allied invasion of Norway. Hitler, who had forbidden an Atlantic sortie
after the loss of Bismarck, agreed to the proposal. The ship was taken
into dock for modifications for the deployment. The ship's antiaircraft
battery was strengthened, and the 10.5 cm guns on the superstructure
next to the catapult were moved outboard to increase their field of fire.
The two quadruple 53.3 cm torpedo tube mounts were also installed Tirpitz camouflaged in the
during this refit.[17] The ship's commander, Kapitn zur See (KzS Fttenfjord
Captain at Sea) Karl Topp,[18] pronounced the ship ready for combat
operations on 10 January 1942.[16] The following day, Tirpitz left for Wilhelmshaven, a move designed to
conceal her actual destination.[17]

The ship left Wilhelmshaven at 23:00 on 14 January and made for Trondheim.[17] British military intelligence,
which was capable of decrypting the Enigma messages sent by the German navy, detected the departure of the
vessel, but poor weather in Britain prevented action by the RAF.[19] Admiral John Tovey, the commander in
chief of the British Home Fleet, was not made aware of Tirpitz's activities until 17 January, well after the ship
had arrived in Norway.[20] On 16 January, British aerial reconnaissance located the ship in Trondheim. Tirpitz
then moved to the Fttenfjord, just north of Trondheim.[21] The movement was codenamed Operation
Polarnacht (Polar Night); the battleship was escorted by the destroyers Z4 Richard Beitzen, Z5 Paul Jakobi, Z8
Bruno Heinemann and Z29 for the voyage.[22] The Norwegian resistance movement transmitted the location to
London.[23] She was moored next to a cliff, which protected the ship from air attacks from the southwest. The
ship's crew cut down trees and placed them aboard Tirpitz to camouflage her.[21] Additional antiaircraft
batteries were installed around the fjord, as were anti-torpedo nets and heavy booms in the entrance to the
anchorage.[24] Life for the crew of Tirpitz was very monotonous during the deployment to Norway. Frequent
fuel shortages curtailed training and kept the battleship and her escorts moored behind their protective netting.
The crew was primarily occupied with maintaining the ship and continuously manning antiaircraft defences.
Sports activities were organised to keep the crew occupied and physically fit.[25]

Operations against Allied convoys

Several factors served to restrain Tirpitz's freedom of operation in Norway. The most pressing were shortages
of fuel and the withdrawal of the German destroyer forces to support Operation Cerberus, the movement of the
battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen up through the English Channel.
These caused a planned attack against the outbound convoy PQ 8 at the end of January to be abandoned.[26] A
planned British air attack at the end of January by four-engined heavy bombers was disrupted by poor weather
over the target, which prevented the aircraft from finding the ship.[27] In early February, Tirpitz took part in the
deceptions that distracted the British in the run-up to Operation Cerberus. These included steaming out of the
fjord and the appearance of preparations for a sortie into the North Sea.[28] Later that month, the ship was
reinforced by the heavy cruisers Admiral Scheer and Prinz Eugen and several destroyers. Prinz Eugen had been
torpedoed by a British submarine at the entrance to the Fttenfjord, and was therefore temporarily out of
action.[29]

In March 1942 Tirpitz and Admiral Scheer, along with the destroyers
Z14 Friedrich Ihn, Z5 Paul Jakobi, Z7 Hermann Schoemann and Z25
and a pair of torpedo boats,[22] were intended to attack the homebound
convoy QP 8 and the outbound Convoy PQ 12 as part of Unternehmen
Sportpalast (Operation Sports Palace).[26][30] Admiral Scheer,[26] with a
design speed of 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph),[31] was too slow to operate
with Tirpitz and was left in port,[26] as was the destroyer Paul Jakobi.
Tirpitz under way, probably in 1941 The two torpedo boats were also released from the operation.[22] On 5
March, Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft spotted PQ 12 near Jan Mayen
Island; the reconnaissance failed to note the battleship HMS Duke of York or the battlecruiser HMS Renown,
both of which escorted the convoy, along with four destroyers. Unknown to the Germans, Admiral Tovey
provided distant support to the convoys with the battleship HMS King George V, the aircraft carrier
HMS Victorious, the heavy cruiser HMS Berwick, and six destroyers. Enigma intercepts again forewarned the
British of Tirpitz's attack, which allowed them to reroute the convoys. Admiral Tovey attempted to pursue
Tirpitz on 9 March,[26] but Admiral Otto Ciliax, the commander of the German squadron, had decided to return
to port the previous evening. An air attack was launched early on the 9th; twelve Fairey Albacore torpedo
bombers attacked the ship in three groups, and Tirpitz successfully evaded the torpedoes. Only three men were
wounded in the attack.[32] Tirpitz's anti-aircraft gunners shot down two of the British aircraft.[33] After the
conclusion of the attack, Tirpitz made for Vestfjord, and from there to Trondheim, arriving on the evening of 13
March.[34] On 30 March, thirty-three Halifax bombers attacked the ship; they scored no hits, and five aircraft
were shot down.[35] The RAF launched a pair of unsuccessful strikes in late April. On the night of 2728 April,
thirty-one Halifaxes and twelve Lancasters; five of the bombers were shot down. Another raid, composed of
twenty-three Halifaxes and eleven Lancasters, took place the following night. Two of the bombers were shot
down by the German anti-aircraft defences.[36]

The actions of Tirpitz and her escorting destroyers in March used up 8,230 metric tons (8,100 long tons) of fuel
oil, which greatly reduced the available fuel supply. It took the Germans three months to replenish the fuel
spent in the attempt to intercept the two Allied convoys. Convoy PQ 17, which left Iceland on 27 June bound
for the Soviet Union, was the next convoy targeted by Tirpitz and the rest of the German fleet stationed in
Norway,[34] during Unternehmen Rsselsprung (Operation Knight's Move).[37] Escorting the convoy were the
battleships Duke of York and USS Washington and the carrier Victorious.[34] Tirpitz, Admiral Hipper, and six
destroyers sortied from Trondheim, while a second task force consisting of Ltzow, Admiral Scheer, and six
destroyers operated out of Narvik and Bogenfjord.[38] Ltzow and three of the destroyers struck uncharted
rocks while en route to the rendezvous and had to return to port. Shortly after Tirpitz left Norway, the Soviet
submarine K-21 fired two or four torpedoes at the ship, all of which missed.[39][40] The Soviets claimed two
hits on the battleship.[41] Swedish intelligence had meanwhile reported the German departures to the British
Admiralty, which ordered the convoy to disperse. Aware that they had been detected, the Germans aborted the
operation and turned over the attack to U-boats and the Luftwaffe. The scattered vessels could no longer be
protected by the convoy escorts, and the Germans sank 21 of the 34 isolated transports. Tirpitz returned to
Altafjord via the Lofoten Islands.[39]

Following Rsselsprung, the Germans moved Tirpitz to Bogenfjord near


Narvik. By this time, the ship needed a major overhaul. Hitler had
forbidden the ship to make the dangerous return to Germany, and so the
overhaul was conducted in Trondheim. On 23 October, the ship left
Bogenfjord and returned to Fttenfjord outside Trondheim. The
defences of the anchorage were further strengthened; additional anti-
aircraft guns were installed, and double anti-torpedo nets were erected
around the vessel. The repairs were conducted in limited phases, such
that Tirpitz would remain partially operational for the majority of the
Tirpitz, escorted by several destroyers,
overhaul. A caisson was built around the stern to allow the replacement
steaming in the Bogenfjord in October
of the ship's rudders.[39] During the repair process, the British attempted 1942
to attack the battleship with two Chariot human torpedoes, but before
they could be launched, rough seas caused the human torpedoes to
break away from the fishing vessel which was towing them.[42] By 28 December, the overhaul had been
completed, and Tirpitz began sea trials. She conducted gunnery trials on 4 January 1943 in Trondheim
Fjord.[43] On 21 February, Topp was promoted to Rear Admiral and was replaced by Captain Hans Meyer; five
days later the battleship Scharnhorst was ordered to reinforce the fleet in Norway. Vice Admiral Oskar
Kummetz was given command of the warships stationed in Norway.[44]

By the time Scharnhorst arrived in Norway in March 1943, Allied convoys to the Soviet Union had temporarily
ceased. To give the ships an opportunity to work together, Admiral Karl Dnitz, who had replaced Raeder in
the aftermath of the Battle of the Barents Sea on 31 December 1942, ordered an attack on the island of
Spitzbergen, which housed a British weather station and refuelling base.[43] Several settlements and outposts on
Spitzbergen were defended by a garrison of 152 men from the Norwegian Armed Forces in exile.[45] The two
battleships, escorted by ten destroyers, left port on 6 September; in a ruse de guerre, Tirpitz flew the white
ensign on the approach to the island the following day.[46] During the bombardment, Tirpitz fired 52 main-
battery shells and 82 rounds from her 15 cm secondaries.[47] This was the first and only time the ship fired her
main battery at an enemy surface target.[43] An assault force destroyed shore installations and captured 74
prisoners.[45][48] By 11:00, the battleships had destroyed their targets and headed back to their Norwegian
ports.[43]

British attacks on Tirpitz

Operation Source

The British were determined to neutralise Tirpitz and remove the threat she posed to Allied lines of
communication in the Arctic. Following the repeated, ineffectual bombing attacks and the failed Chariot attack
in October 1942, the British turned to the newly designed X Craft midget submarines.[43] The planned attack,
Operation Source, included attacks on Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, and Ltzow.[49] The X Craft were towed by large
submarines to their destinations, where they could slip under anti-torpedo nets to each drop two powerful 2
tonne mines on the sea bed under the bottom of the target. Ten vessels were assigned to the operation,
scheduled for 2025 September 1943. Only eight of the vessels reached Norway for the attack, which began
early on 22 September.[43] Three of the vessels, X5, X6, and X7,
successfully breached Tirpitz's defences, two of whichX6 and X7
managed to lay their mines. X5 was detected some 200 m (660 ft) from
the nets and sunk by a combination of gunfire and depth charges.[50]

The mines caused extensive damage to the ship; the first exploded
abreast of turret Caesar, and the second detonated 45 to 55 m (148 to
180 ft) off the port bow.[51] A fuel oil tank was ruptured, shell plating
was torn, a large indentation was formed in the bottom of the ship, and
Tirpitz in the Ofotfjord/Bogenfjord
bulkheads in the double bottom buckled. Some 1,430 t (1,410 long tons)
of water flooded the ship in fuel tanks and void spaces in the double
bottom of the port side, which caused a list of one to two degrees, which was balanced by counter-flooding on
the starboard side. The flooding damaged all of the turbo-generators in generator room No. 2, and all apart from
one generator in generator room No. 1 were disabled by broken steam lines or severed power cables. Turret
Dora was thrown from its bearings and could not be rotated; this was particularly significant, as there were no
heavy-lift cranes in Norway powerful enough to lift the turret and place it back on its bearings.[52] The ship's
two Arado Ar 196 floatplanes were thrown by the explosive concussion and completely destroyed. Repairs
were conducted by the repair ship Neumark; historians William Garzke and Robert Dulin remarked that the
successful repair effort was "one of the most notable feats of naval engineering during the Second World
War."[53] Repairs lasted until 2 April 1944; full speed trials were scheduled for the following day in
Altafjord.[54]

Operation Tungsten

The British were aware that Neumark and the repair crews left in
March, which intimated Tirpitz was nearly operational.[54] A major air
strikeOperation Tungsteninvolving the fleet carriers Victorious and
Furious and the escort carriers Emperor, Fencer, Pursuer, and
Searcher,[55] was set for 4 April 1944, but rescheduled a day earlier
when Enigma decrypts revealed that Tirpitz was to depart at 05:29 on 3
April for sea trials.[54] The attack consisted of 40 Barracuda dive-
bombers carrying 1,600-pound (730 kg) armor-piercing bombs and 40
escorting fighters in two waves, scoring fifteen direct hits and two near
Tirpitz under attack by British carrier
misses.[55][56] The aircraft achieved surprise, and only one was lost in aircraft on 3 April 1944
the first wave; it took twelve to fourteen minutes for all of Tirpitz's
antiaircraft batteries to be fully manned. The first wave struck at 05:29,
as tugs were preparing to assist the ship out of her mooring. The second wave arrived over the target an hour
later, shortly after 06:30. Despite the alertness of the German antiaircraft gunners, only one other bomber was
shot down.[57]

The air strikes did not penetrate the main armor but nonetheless caused significant damage to the ship's
superstructure and inflicted serious casualties. William Garzke and Robert Dulin report the attack killed 122
men and wounded 316 others,[57] while Hildebrand, Rhr, & Steinmetz report 132 fatalities and 270 wounded
men, including the ship's commander, KzS Hans Meyer.[58] Two of the 15 cm turrets were destroyed by bombs,
and both Ar 196 floatplanes were destroyed. Several of the bomb hits caused serious fires aboard the ship.
Concussive shock disabled the starboard turbine engine, and saltwater used to fight the fires reached the boilers
and contaminated the feed water. Some 2,000 t (2,000 long tons) of water flooded the ship, primarily through
the two holes in the side shell created by shell splinters from near misses. Water used to fight the fires also
contributed to the flooding.[59] Dnitz ordered the ship be repaired, regardless of the cost, despite the fact that
he understood Tirpitz could no longer be used in a surface action because of insufficient fighter support. Repair
work began in early May; destroyers ferried important equipment and workers from Kiel to Altafjord over the
span of three days. By 2 June, the ship was again able to steam under her own power, and by the end of the
month gunnery trials were possible. During the repair process, the 15 cm guns were modified to allow their use
against aircraft, and specially-fuzed 38 cm shells for barrage antiaircraft fire were supplied.[60]

Operations Planet, Brawn, Tiger Claw, Mascot and Goodwood

A series of carrier strikes was planned over the next three months, but
bad weather forced their cancellation. A repeat of Operation Tungsten,
codenamed Operation Planet, was scheduled for 24 April. Operation
Brawn, which was to have been carried out by 27 bombers and 36
fighters from Victorious and Furious, was to have taken place on 15
May, and Operation Tiger Claw was intended for 28 May. Victorious
and Furious were joined by Indefatigable for Operation Mascot, which
was to have been carried out on 17 July by 62 bombers and 30 fighters. Tirpitz moored in Kaafjord; the smoke
The weather finally broke in late August, which saw the Goodwood is an artificial fog generated to hide
series of attacks. Operations Goodwood I and II were launched on 22 the ship
August; a carrier force consisting of the fleet carriers Furious,
Indefatigable and Formidable and the escort carriers Nabob and
Trumpeter launched a total of 38 bombers and 43 escort fighters between the two raids. The attacks failed to
inflict any damage on Tirpitz,[55] and three of the attacking aircraft were shot down.[60] Goodwood III followed
on 24 August, composed of aircraft from the fleet carriers only. Forty-eight bombers and 29 fighters attacked
the ship and scored two hits which caused minor damage.[55] One, a 1600-pound bomb, penetrated the upper
and lower armour decks and came to rest in the No. 4 switchboard room. Its fuze had been damaged and the
bomb did not detonate. The second, a 500-pound (230 kg) bomb, exploded but caused only superficial damage.
Six planes were shot down in the attack.[61][62] Goodwood IV followed on the 29th, with 34 bombers and 25
fighters from Formidable and Indefatigable. Heavy fog prevented any hits from being scored.[55] One Firefly
and a Corsair were shot down by Tirpitz's gunners. The battleship expended 54 rounds from her main guns, 161
from the 15 cm guns and up to 20 percent of her light antiaircraft ammunition.[63]

Operations Paravane and Obviate

The ineffectiveness of the great majority of the strikes launched by the Fleet Air Arm in mid-1944 led to the
task of Tirpitz's destruction being transferred to the RAF's No. 5 Group. The RAF used Lancaster bombers to
carry 6-short-ton (5.4 t) Tallboy bombs to penetrate the ship's heavy armour.[64] The first attack, Operation
Paravane, took place on 15 September 1944; operating from a forward base at Yagodnik in Russia, 23
Lancasters (17 each carrying one Tallboy and six each carrying twelve JW mines), scored a single hit on the
ship's bow.[55] The Tallboy penetrated the ship, exited the keel, and exploded in the bottom of the fjord. 800 to
1,000 t (790 to 980 long tons) of water flooded the bow and caused a serious increase in trim forward. The ship
was rendered unseaworthy and was limited to 8 to 10 knots (15 to 19 km/h; 9.2 to 11.5 mph). Concussive shock
caused severe damage to fire-control equipment. The damage persuaded the naval command to repair the ship
for use only as a floating gun battery. Repair work was estimated to take nine months, but patching of the holes
could be effected within a few weeks, allowing Tirpitz to be moved further south to Troms. On 15 October, the
ship made the 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi) trip to Troms under her own power, the last voyage of her career.[65]

The RAF made a second attempt on 29 October, after the ship was moored off Hkya Island outside Troms.
Thirty-two Lancasters attacked the ship with Tallboys during Operation Obviate.[55] As on Operation Paravane,
No. 9 Squadron and No. 617 Squadron carried out the attack together, which resulted in only one near miss,[65]
partially the result of bad weather over the target.[66] The underwater explosion damaged the port rudder and
shaft and caused some flooding. Tirpitz's 38 cm fragmentation shells proved ineffective in countering the high-
level bombers; one aircraft was damaged by ground-based anti-aircraft guns.[65] Following the attack, the ship's
anchorage was significantly improved. A large sand bank was constructed under and around the ship to prevent
her from capsizing, and anti-torpedo nets were installed. Tirpitz retained a one-degree list to port from earlier
damage, and this was not corrected by counter-flooding to retain as much reserve buoyancy as possible. The
ship was also prepared for her role as a floating artillery platform: fuel was limited to only what was necessary
to power the turbo-generators, and the crew was reduced to 1,600 officers and enlisted men.[67]

Operation Catechism

Operation Catechism, the final British attack on Tirpitz, took place on


12 November 1944.[55] The ship again used her 38 cm guns against the
bombers, which approached the battleship at 09:35; Tirpitz's main guns
forced the bombers to disperse temporarily, but could not break up the
attack.[68] A force of 32 Lancasters from Nos. 9 and 617 Squadrons
dropped 29 Tallboys on the ship, with two direct hits and one near
miss.[55] Several other bombs landed within the anti-torpedo net barrier
and caused significant cratering of the seabed; this removed much of the
sandbank that had been constructed to prevent the ship from capsizing.
Play media
One bomb penetrated the ship's deck between turrets Anton and Bruno
but failed to explode. A second hit amidships between the aircraft Universal Newsreel about the attack
catapult and the funnel and caused severe damage. A very large hole on Tirpitz
was blown into the ship's side and bottom; the entire section of belt
armour abreast of the bomb hit was completely destroyed. A third bomb may have struck the ship on the port
side of turret Caesar.[68] The amidships hit caused significant flooding and quickly increased the port list to
between 15 and 20 degrees. In ten minutes, the list increased to 30 to 40 degrees; the captain issued the order to
abandon ship. Progressive flooding increased the list to 60 degrees by 09:50, though this appeared to stabilise
temporarily. Eight minutes later, a large explosion rocked turret Caesar. The turret roof and part of the rotating
structure were thrown 25 m (82 ft) into the air and over into a group of men swimming to shore, crushing them.
Tirpitz rapidly rolled over and buried her superstructure in the sea floor.[69]

In the aftermath of the attack, 82 men trapped in the upturned hull were
rescued by cutting through the bottom hull plates.[55] Figures for the
death toll vary from approximately 950 to 1,204.[f] Approximately 200
survivors of the sinking were transferred to the heavy cruiser Ltzow in
January 1945.[72]

The performance of the Luftwaffe in the defence of Tirpitz was heavily


criticised after her loss. Major Heinrich Ehrler, the commander of
Tirpitz capsized III./Jagdgeschwader 5 (3rd Group of the 5th Fighter Wing), was blamed
for the Luftwaffe's failure to intercept the British bombers. He was
court-martialled in Oslo and threatened with the death penalty. Evidence
was presented that his unit had failed to help the Kriegsmarine when requested. He was sentenced to three years
in prison, but was released after a month, demoted, and reassigned to an Me 262 fighter squadron in
Germany.[73] Ehrler was exonerated by further investigations which concluded poor communication between
the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe had caused the fiasco;[74] the aircrews had not been informed that Tirpitz
had been moved off Hkya two weeks before the attack.[75]

The wreck of Tirpitz remained in place until after the war, when a joint German-Norwegian company began
salvage operations. Work lasted from 1948 until 1957;[2] fragments of the ship are still sold by a Norwegian
company.[18] Ludovic Kennedy wrote in his history of the vessel that she "lived an invalid's life and died a
cripple's death".[76]

Footnotes
[1]
a. Tirpitz's draft at full load was 10.60 metres (34 ft 9 in).
b. Crew could be augmented up to 108 officers and 2,500 enlisted men.[2]
c. According to naval historians Gerhard Koop and Klaus-Peter Schmolke, Tirpitz displaced 53,500 metric tons (52,700
long tons) at full load in 1944.[9]

d. Named FuMO for Funkmessortungsgert(Radio direction-finding device).[10]


e. SK stands for Schiffskanone (ship's gun), C/34 stands forConstructionjahr (Construction year) 1934, and L/52 denotes
.[12]
the length of the gun in terms ofcalibres, meaning that the gun is 52 times long as it is in internal diameter
f. John Sweetman states that 1,000 out of a crew of 1,900 were killed, [70] while Niklas Zetterling and Michael T amelander
[71]
estimated nearly 1,000 deaths. Siegfried Breyer and Erich Grner agree on 1,204 deaths, [2][55] and Gordon

Williamson gives the death toll at 971.[18] William Dulin and Robert Dulin place the number of deaths at "about
950."[69]

Citations
1. Grner, p. 33. 39. Garzke & Dulin, p. 255.
2. Grner, p. 35. 40. Polmar & Noot, p. 115116.
3. Garzke & Dulin, p. 203. 41. Blair, p. 644.
4. Kemp, p. 153. 42. Bishop, pp. 165172.
5. Sieche, p. 44. 43. Garzke & Dulin, p. 258.
6. Williamson, p. 35. 44. Sweetman, pp. 7374.
7. Hildebrand Rhr & Steinmetz, p. 239. 45. Torkildsen, p. 221.
8. Garzke & Dulin, p. 247. 46. Sweetman, p. 76.
9. Koop & Schmolke, p. 18. 47. Sweetman, p. 77.
10. Williamson, p. 42. 48. Sweetman, pp. 7677.
11. Williamson, p. 43. 49. Zetterling & Tamelander, pp. 195196.
12. Campbell, p. 219. 50. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 258259.
13. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 247248. 51. Garzke & Dulin, p. 259.
14. Sweetman, p. 11. 52. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 259261.
15. Grner, p. 20. 53. Garzke & Dulin, p. 262.
16. Sweetman, p. 12. 54. Garzke & Dulin, p. 264.
17. Garzke & Dulin, p. 248. 55. Breyer, p. 26.
18. Williamson, p. 40. 56. Brown, Carrier Operations, pp. 25, 27.
19. Sweetman, p. 16. 57. Garzke & Dulin, p. 265.
20. Sweetman, p. 17. 58. Hildebrand Rhr & Steinmetz, p. 243.
21. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 248250. 59. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 265267.
22. Hildebrand Rhr & Steinmetz, p. 240. 60. Garzke & Dulin, p. 267.
23. Ottosen, pp. 3941. 61. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 267268.
24. Sweetman, p. 19. 62. Brown, Carrier Operations, p. 28.
25. Zetterling & Tamelander, p. 207. 63. Brown, Tirpitz, p. 39.
26. Garzke & Dulin, p. 250. 64. Sweetman, pp. 132139.
27. Sweetman, pp. 2324. 65. Garzke & Dulin, p. 268.
28. Sweetman, pp. 2425. 66. Sweetman, p. 193.
29. Sweetman, pp. 2526. 67. Garzke & Dulin, p. 270.
30. Sweetman, p. 27. 68. Garzke & Dulin, p. 272.
31. Grner, p. 60. 69. Garzke & Dulin, p. 273.
32. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 250251. 70. Sweetman, p. 248.
33. Rohwer, p. 149. 71. Zetterling & Tamelander, p. 327.
34. Garzke & Dulin, p. 253. 72. Prager, p. 287.
35. Rohwer, p. 156. 73. Morgan & Weal, p. 60.
36. Rohwer, p. 162. 74. Schuck, p. 177.
37. Sweetman, p. 54. 75. Hafsten, p. 221.
38. Garzke & Dulin, pp. 253255. 76. Van der Vat, p. 508.
39. Garzke & Dulin, p. 255.
References
Bishop, Patrick (2012).Target Tirpitz. HarperPress. ISBN 978-0-00-731924-4.
Blair, Clay (1996). Hitler's U-Boat War. 1 The hunters, 19391942. New York, NY: Random House. ISBN 978-0-304-
35260-9. OCLC 772497339.
Breyer, Siegfried (1989). Battleship "Tirpitz". West Chester, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Pub. ISBN 978-0-88740-184-8.
Brown, David (1977).Tirpitz: the floating fortress. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.ISBN 978-0-85368-341-
4.
Brown, J. D. (2009).Carrier Operations in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.ISBN 978-1-
59114-108-2.
Campbell, John (1985).Naval Weapons of World War II. London, England: Conway Maritime Press.ISBN 978-0-
87021-459-2.
Garzke, William H.; Dulin, Robert O. (1985).Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in W orld War II. Annapolis,
Maryland: Naval Institute Press.ISBN 978-0-87021-101-0.
Grner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 18151945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.ISBN 978-0-87021-790-6.
OCLC 22101769.
Hafsten, Bjrn (1991).Flyalarm: Luftkrigen over Norge 19391945. Oslo: Sem & Stenersen.ISBN 82-7046-058-3.
Hildebrand, Hans H.; Rhr, Albert; Steinmetz, Hans-Otto (1993).Die Deutschen Kriegsschiffe (Volume 7). Ratingen,
Germany: Mundus Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8364-9743-5.
Kemp, Paul (1998).The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Conflict Sea W arfare. London: Arms and Armour. ISBN 1-
85409-221-9.
Koop, Gerhard; Schmolke, Klaus-Peter (1998).Battleships of the Bismarck Class: Bismarck and Tirpitz, Culmination
and Finale of German Battleship Construction . Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.ISBN 978-1-55750-049-6.
Morgan, Hugh; Weal, John (1998). German Jet Aces of World War 2. Oxford, England: Osprey Publishing.ISBN 978-1-
85532-634-7.
Ottosen, Kristian (1983).Theta Theta: Et Blad Fra Motstandskampens Historie 19401945 . Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
ISBN 82-00-06823-4.
Polmar, Norman; Noot, Jurrien (1991).Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies, 17181990 . Annapolis, Maryland:
Naval Institute Press.ISBN 978-0-87021-570-4.
Prager, Hans Georg (2002). Panzerschiff Deutschland, Schwerer Kreuzer Ltzow: ein Schiffs-Schicksal vor den
Hintergrnden seiner Zeit (in German). Hamburg: Koehler. ISBN 978-3-7822-0798-0.
Rohwer, Jrgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea, 19391945: The Naval History of World War Two. Annapolis:
US Naval Institute Press.ISBN 978-1-59114-119-8.
Schuck, Walter (2009). Luftwaffe Eagle - From the Me 109 to the Me262. Ottringham: Hikoki Publications.ISBN 978-
1-902109-06-0.
Sieche, Erwin (1987). "Germany 19221946". In Sturton, Ian.Conway's All the World's Battleships: 1906 to the
Present. London, England: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 2849.ISBN 978-0-85177-448-0.
Sweetman, John (2004).Tirpitz: Hunting the Beast. Gloucestershire, England: Sutton Publishing Limited.ISBN 978-0-
7509-3755-9.
Torkildsen, Torbjrn (1998). Svalbard : vrt nordligste Norge (in Norwegian) (3rd ed.). Oslo, Norway: Aschehoug.
ISBN 978-82-03-22224-5.
Van der Vat, Dan (1988). The Atlantic Campaign. Edinburgh, Scotland: Birlinn.ISBN 978-1-84158-124-8.
Williamson, Gordon (2003).German Battleships 193945. Oxford, England: Osprey Publishing.ISBN 978-1-84176-
498-6.
Zetterling, Niklas; Tamelander, Michael (2009). Tirpitz: The Life and Death of Germany's Last Super Battleship .
Havertown, Pennsylvania: Casemate.ISBN 978-1-935149-18-7.

Further reading
Bishop, Patrick (2012). Target Tirpitz: X-Craft, Agents and Dambusters The Epic Quest to Destroy
Hitler's Mightiest Warship. Harper Press.

External links
The Tirpitz Museum
Aerial photo of the battleship Tirpitz in her anchorage at Kfjord, Norway. unpublished photo
originated from a private photo album of Soviet Air Forces pilot-observer Feodossiy S. Goryachiy.
Newsreel about the life and death of the Tirpitz showing RN, FAA and RAF attacks

Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=German_battleship_Tirpitz&oldid=787970180"


Categories: 1939 ships Battleships sunk by aircraft Bismarck-class battleships
Maritime incidents in September 1944 Maritime incidents in November 1944
Naval aviation operations and battles Ships built in Wilhelmshaven World War II battleships of Germany
World War II shipwrecks in the Norwegian Sea Ships sunk by British aircraft

This page was last edited on 28 June 2017, at 17:52.


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