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) guns in four twin turrets. After a series of wartime modifications she was 2000 tonnes heavier than Bismarck, making her the heaviest battleship ever built by a European navy.
After completing sea trials in early 1941, Tirpitz briefly served as the centrepiece of the Baltic Fleet, which was intended to prevent a possible break-out attempt by the Soviet Baltic Fleet. In early 1942, the ship sailed to Norway to act as a deterrent against an Allied invasion. While stationed in Norway, Tirpitz was also intended to be used to intercept Allied convoys to the Soviet Union, and two such missions were attempted in 1942. This was the only feasible role for her, since the St Nazaire Raid had made operations against the Atlantic convoy lanes too risky. Tirpitz acted as a fleet in being, forcing the British Royal Navy to retain significant naval forces in the area to contain the battleship.
In September 1943, Tirpitz, along with the battleship Scharnhorst, bombarded Allied positions on Spitzbergen, the only time the ship used her main battery in an offensive role. Shortly thereafter, the ship was damaged in an attack by British mini-submarines and subsequently subjected to a series of large-scale air raids. On 12 November 1944, British Lancaster bombers equipped with 12,000-pound (5,400 kg) "Tallboy" bombs scored two direct hits and a near miss which caused the ship to capsize rapidly. A deck fire spread to the ammunition magazine for one of the main battery turrets, which caused a large explosion. Figures for the number of men killed in the attack range from 950 to 1,204. Between 1948 and 1957 the wreck was broken up by a joint Norwegian and German salvage operation.
A recognition drawing of Tirpitz prepared by the US Navy
|Namesake:||Alfred von Tirpitz|
|Laid down:||2 November 1936|
|Launched:||1 April 1939|
|Commissioned:||25 February 1941|
|Fate:||Sunk by Royal Air Force bombers on 12 November 1944|
|Class and type:||Bismarck-class battleship|
|Beam:||36 m (118 ft 1 in)|
|Draft:||9.30 m (30 ft 6 in) standard[a]|
|Installed power:||163,026 PS (160,796 shp; 119,905 kW)|
|Speed:||30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)|
|Range:||8,870 nmi (16,430 km; 10,210 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)|
|Sensors and |
|Aircraft carried:||4 × Arado Ar 196 floatplanes|
|Aviation facilities:||1 double-ended catapult|
The two Bismarck-class battleships were designed in the mid-1930s by the German Kriegsmarine as a counter to French naval expansion, specifically the two Richelieu-class battleships France had started in 1935. Laid down after the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935, Tirpitz and her sister Bismarck were nominally within the 35,000-long-ton (36,000 t) limit imposed by the Washington regime that governed battleship construction in the interwar period. The ships secretly exceeded the figure by a wide margin, though before either vessel was completed, the international treaty system had fallen apart following Japan's withdrawal in 1937, allowing signatories to invoke an "escalator clause" that permitted displacements as high as 45,000 long tons (46,000 t).
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. Her standard crew numbered 103 officers and 1,962 enlisted men; during the war this was increased to 108 officers and 2,500 men. 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 Würzburg fire-control radar was added on her stern 10.5 cm (4.1 in) Flak rangefinders.
She was armed with eight 38 cm SK C/34 L/52 guns arranged in four twin gun turrets: two superfiring turrets forward—Anton and Bruno—and two aft—Caesar 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. 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.
Tirpitz was ordered as Ersatz Schleswig-Holstein as a replacement for the old pre-dreadnought Schleswig-Holstein, under the contract name "G". The Kriegsmarinewerft shipyard in Wilhelmshaven was awarded the contract, where the keel was laid on 20 October 1936. The hull was launched on 1 April 1939; during the elaborate ceremonies, the ship was christened by Ilse von Hassell, the daughter of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the ship's namesake. Adolf von Trotha, a former admiral in the Imperial German Navy, spoke at the ship's launching, which was also attended by Adolf Hitler. Fitting-out work followed her launch, and was completed by February 1941. British bombers repeatedly attacked the harbour in which the ship was being built; no bombs struck Tirpitz, but the attacks did slow construction work. Tirpitz was commissioned into the fleet on 25 February for sea trials, which were conducted in the Baltic.
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 Köln, Nürnberg, Leipzig, and Emden, several destroyers, and two flotillas of minesweepers. The Baltic Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Otto Ciliax, patrolled off the Aaland Islands from 23 to 26 September 1941, after which the unit was disbanded and Tirpitz resumed training. During the training period, Tirpitz tested her primary and secondary guns on the old pre-dreadnought battleship Hessen, which had been converted into a radio-controlled target ship. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) continued to launch unsuccessful bombing raids on Tirpitz while she was stationed in Kiel.
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 during this refit. The ship's commander, Kapitän zur See (KzS–Captain at Sea) Karl Topp, pronounced the ship ready for combat operations on 10 January 1942. The following day, Tirpitz left for Wilhelmshaven, a move designed to conceal her actual destination.
The ship left Wilhelmshaven at 23:00 on 14 January and made for Trondheim. 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. 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. On 16 January, British aerial reconnaissance located the ship in Trondheim. Tirpitz then moved to the Fættenfjord, just north of Trondheim. 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. The Norwegian resistance movement transmitted the location to London. 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. The crew also frequently hid the entire ship from aerial reconnaissance and attacks inside a cloud of artificial fog, created using water and chlorosulfuric acid. Additional antiaircraft batteries were installed around the fjord, as were anti-torpedo nets and heavy booms in the entrance to the anchorage. 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.
Several factors hindered 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. 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. 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. 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 Fættenfjord, and was therefore temporarily out of action.
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, were intended to attack the homebound convoy QP 8 and the outbound Convoy PQ 12 as part of Unternehmen Sportpalast (Operation Sports Palace). Admiral Scheer, with a design speed of 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph), was too slow to operate with Tirpitz and was left in port, as was the destroyer Paul Jakobi. The two torpedo boats were also released from the operation. 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, 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. Tirpitz's anti-aircraft gunners shot down two of the British aircraft. After the conclusion of the attack, Tirpitz made for Vestfjord, and from there to Trondheim, arriving on the evening of 13 March. On 30 March, thirty-three Halifax bombers attacked the ship; they scored no hits, and five aircraft were shot down. The RAF launched a pair of unsuccessful strikes in late April. On the night of 27–28 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.
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, during Unternehmen Rösselsprung (Operation Knight's Move). Escorting the convoy were the battleships Duke of York and USS Washington and the carrier Victorious. Tirpitz, Admiral Hipper, and six destroyers sortied from Trondheim, while a second task force consisting of Lützow, Admiral Scheer, and six destroyers operated out of Narvik and Bogenfjord. Lützow 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. The Soviets claimed two hits on the battleship. 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.
Following Rösselsprung, 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 Fættenfjord 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 overhaul. A caisson was built around the stern to allow the replacement of the ship's rudders. During the repair process, the British attempted 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. By 28 December, the overhaul had been completed, and Tirpitz began sea trials. She conducted gunnery trials on 4 January 1943 in Trondheim Fjord. 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.
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 Dönitz, 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. Several settlements and outposts on Spitzbergen were defended by a garrison of 152 men from the Norwegian Armed Forces in exile. 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. During the bombardment, Tirpitz fired 52 main-battery shells and 82 rounds from her 15 cm secondaries. This was the first and only time the ship fired her main battery at an enemy surface target. An assault force destroyed shore installations and captured 74 prisoners. By 11:00, the battleships had destroyed their targets and headed back to their Norwegian ports.
The British were determined to neutralise Tirpitz and remove the threat she posed to the Allied arctic convoys. 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. The planned attack, Operation Source, included attacks on Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, and Lützow. 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 20–25 September 1943. Only eight of the vessels reached Kåfjord, Nordkapp in Norway for the attack, which began early on 22 September. Three of the vessels, X5, X6, and X7, successfully breached Tirpitz's defences, two of which—X6 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.
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. A fuel oil tank was ruptured, shell plating was torn, a large indentation was formed in the bottom of the ship, and 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. 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." Repairs lasted until 2 April 1944; full speed trials were scheduled for the following day in Altafjord.
The British were aware that Neumark and the repair crews left in March, which intimated Tirpitz was nearly operational. A major air strike—Operation Tungsten—involving the fleet carriers Victorious and Furious and the escort carriers Emperor, Fencer, Pursuer, and Searcher, 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. The attack consisted of 40 Barracuda dive-bombers carrying 1,600-pound (730 kg) armour-piercing bombs and 40 escorting fighters in two waves, scoring fifteen direct hits and two near misses. The aircraft achieved surprise, and only one was lost in the first wave; it took twelve to fourteen minutes for all of Tirpitz's anti-aircraft 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.
The air strikes did not penetrate the main armour 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, while Hildebrand, Röhr, & Steinmetz report 132 fatalities and 270 wounded men, including the ship's commander, KzS Hans Meyer. 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. Dönitz 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.
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. The weather finally broke in late August, which saw the Goodwood series of attacks. Operations Goodwood I and II were launched on 22 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, and three of the attacking aircraft were shot down. 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. 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. Goodwood IV followed on the 29th, with 34 bombers and 25 fighters from Formidable and Indefatigable. Heavy fog prevented any hits from being scored. 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.
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. 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. 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 Tromsø. On 15 October, the ship made the 200 nmi (370 km; 230 mi) trip to Tromsø under her own power, the last voyage of her career.
The RAF made a second attempt on 29 October, after the ship was moored off Håkøya Island outside Tromsø. Thirty-two Lancasters attacked the ship with Tallboys during Operation Obviate. As on Operation Paravane, No. 9 Squadron and No. 617 Squadron carried out the attack together, which resulted in only one near miss, partially the result of bad weather over the target. 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. 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.
Operation Catechism, the final British attack on Tirpitz, took place on 12 November 1944. 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. 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. 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. One bomb penetrated the ship's deck between turrets Anton and Bruno but failed to explode. A second hit amidships between the aircraft catapult and the funnel and caused severe damage. A very large hole 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. 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.
In the aftermath of the attack, 82 men trapped in the upturned hull were rescued by cutting through the bottom hull plates. 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 Lützow in January 1945.
The performance of the Luftwaffe in the defence of Tirpitz was heavily criticised after her loss. Major Heinrich Ehrler, the commander of 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. Ehrler was exonerated by further investigations which concluded poor communication between the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe had caused the fiasco; the aircrews had not been informed that Tirpitz had been moved off Håkøya two weeks before the attack.
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; fragments of the ship are still sold by a Norwegian company. Ludovic Kennedy wrote in his history of the vessel that she "lived an invalid's life and died a cripple's death".
1770 Naval Air Squadron (1770 NAS) was a Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. It formed at RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron) on 10 September 1943 as a two-seat fighter squadron and embarked on HMS Indefatigable in May 1944. It took part in several attacks on the German Battleship Tirpitz and other operations in Norwegian waters before sailing for the Far East. In 1945, as part of the British Pacific Fleet, the squadron took part in attacks on Sumatra, Sakishima Gunto and Formosa. It disembarked to Australia in June 1945 and then disbanded on 30 September 1945 at RAAF Maryborough (HMS Nabstock).830 Naval Air Squadron
830 Naval Air Squadron was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm squadron formed in Malta in July 1940 flying Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers. During 1940–41 the squadron carried out attacks against the Axis supply effort in the Mediterranean. These included torpedo attacks against merchant ships and their Royal Italian Navy warship escorts, and also bomb attacks on port installations in Sicily and Libya. In July 1941 the squadron began operations with ASV RDF airborne radar to locate ships. Operations were mostly by night, with some dusk bombing sorties to Sicily. By March 1942 the squadron was so depleted that it merged with 828 Naval Air Squadron and continued operations. By March 1943, however, losses were such that the composite squadron ceased to exist.
In May 1943, 830 Squadron was reformed in its own right at Lee-on-Solent as a torpedo-bomber reconnaissance squadron operating Barracuda IIs. Most of the squadron's personnel at this time were New Zealanders. After completing training, in March 1944 the squadron embarked upon HMS Furious and subsequently participated in Operation Tungsten, a dive bombing attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. Throughout May to October the squadron alternated between the Furious and HMS Formidable and continued to carry out operations against the Tirpitz.In October 1944 the squadron was absorbed by 827 Naval Air Squadron and ceased to exist.The squadron was reformed in October 1955 with the Westland Wyvern turboprop strike fighter. Flying from HMS Eagle, 830's Wyverns took part in Suez operation of November 1956, before again disbanding in January 1957.887 Naval Air Squadron
887 Naval Air Squadron (887 NAS) was a Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.The squadron formed at Lee-on-Solent in May 1942 as a Fleet Fighter squadron with 6 Fulmar IIs.In April 1943 the squadron, now equipped with 9 Seafire IICs, embarked on HMS Unicorn for Malta convoy duties, and subsequently taking part in the landings at Salerno in September 1943.In October 1943 the squadron joined the 24th Naval Fighter Wing, and embarked on HMS Indefatigable in July 1944 to provide fighter cover during the Operation Mascot dive-bombing attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in Kaa Fjord, North Norway.
In October 1944 the squadron operated from HMS Implacable. The squadron embarked again on HMS Indefatigable in November for the Far East, and took part in the attack on the oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra in January 1945. It subsequently was involved in strikes on the Sakashima Gunto islands.
June 1945 was spent at Schofields, the squadron re-embarking on HMS Indefatigable in July and was involved in strikes around Tokyo just before VJ-Day, with 887 squadron Seafire NN212 coded "112/S" flown by Sub Lt GJ Murphy shooting down 2 Japanese A6M in flames, at Odaki Bay on 15 August 1945, whilst escorting Avengers to Kisarazu airfield, 30 miles south of Tokyo. The ship and squadrons finally returned to the UK in March 1946.Above Us the Waves
Above Us the Waves is a 1955 British war film directed by Ralph Thomas, about human torpedo and midget submarine attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz. It is based on two true-life attacks on the Tirpitz by British commando frogmen, first using Chariot manned torpedoes in Operation Title in 1942, and then X-Craft midget submarines in Operation Source in 1943. Some of the original equipment was used in the film.Allied order of battle for Operation Tungsten
This article provides an order of battle for the Allied forces involved in the Operation Tungsten attack on the German battleship Tirpitz on 3 April 1944.Bogen, Evenes
Bogen (Norwegian) or Rándacode: sme promoted to code: se (Northern Sami) is the administrative centre of Evenes Municipality in Nordland county, Norway. The village is located along the shore of the Ofotfjorden, about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) northeast of the village of Liland. The European route E10 highway passes through the village. Bogen Chapel is located in this village.The 0.55-square-kilometre (140-acre) village has a population (2018) of 395 which gives the village a population density of 718 inhabitants per square kilometre (1,860/sq mi).Historically, Bogen is most notable for small-scale iron ore mining in the early 20th century as well as being a German naval base during World War II, including for the German battleship Tirpitz and the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper.Duncan Lewin
Edgar Duncan Goodenough Lewin CB CBE DSO DSC* (9 August 1912 – 24 November 1983) was an officer of the Royal Navy during the Second World War and the Korean War. A naval aviator, he was involved in the Battle of the River Plate and carried out attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz. He also commanded aircraft carriers during the Korean War.Lewin was born Edgar Duncan Goodenough Lewin in Farnham, Surrey on 9 August 1912. Lewin, a pilot on HMS Ajax during the Battle of the River Plate where he reported on the movements of the Graf Spee. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He took part in attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz before moving to the Far East later in the war.He was the commander of the aircraft carrier HMS Glory (during the Korean War). He also commanded HMS Eagle before becoming Director of Plans at the Admiralty, and then retiring from the Navy in 1957.He became managing director of Blackburn Aircraft Limited between 1971 and 1977 before moving to Hawker Siddeley as a sales director.Fættenfjord
Fættenfjorden is a small fjord that branches off of the Trondheimsfjord northeast of the city of Trondheim in Trøndelag county, Norway. The fjord is located on the border of the municipalities of Stjørdal and Levanger. The European route E06 highway runs along the southern shore of the 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) long fjord.
The German battleship Tirpitz was moored here from 16 January 1942 to 29 October 1943. During this time the Royal Air Force attacked the Tirpitz four times with limited success. Due to the heavy amount of anti-aircraft weaponry, both on the ship and in the surrounding area, the RAF lost 17 airplanes and 64 crew members in the attempts.HMS Emperor (D98)
USS Pybus (CVE-34) was initially a United States Navy Bogue-class escort carrier. The ship was transferred to the United Kingdom for service in the Royal Navy as the Ruler-class escort carrier HMS Emperor (D98) as part of the Lend-Lease program of World War II. Entering service in 1943, the ship took part in operations against the German battleship Tirpitz and the invasions of Normandy and southern France. Returned to the United States following the war, the carrier was sold for scrap in 1946.HMS Fencer (D64)
HMS Fencer (D64) was an Attacker-class escort aircraft carrier that served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
She was commissioned by the United States Navy as USS Croatan (CVE-14) (originally AVG-14 then ACV-14), a Bogue-class escort carrier, but was transferred on 20 February 1943 under the Lend-Lease program to the United Kingdom and commissioned by the Royal Navy as HMS Fencer the same day.
As an anti-submarine warfare carrier, Fencer escorted convoys in the North Atlantic and to
Russia. She also participated in the Operation Tungsten strike on the German battleship Tirpitz where she provided ASW cover for the strike carriers before being transferred to the Pacific as a ferry carrier in October 1944. Following World War II, she returned to the United States 21 December 1946, stricken for disposal on 28 January 1947 and sold into merchant service 30 December as Sydney.
The ship went through a series of renamings, first to Roma in 1967, then Galaxy Queen in 1970, Lady Dina in 1972 and finally Caribia in 1973 before being scrapped in Spezia in September 1975.HMS Nabob (D77)
HMS Nabob (D77) was a Ruler-class escort aircraft carrier which served in the Royal Navy during 1943 and 1944. The ship was built in the United States as
the Bogue-class USS Edisto (CVE-41) (originally AVG-41 then later ACV-41) but did not serve with the United States Navy. In August 1944 the ship was torpedoed by the German submarine U-354 while participating in an attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. Nabob survived the attack, but upon returning to port, was considered too damaged to repair. The escort carrier remained in port for the rest of the war and was returned to the United States following it. Nabob is one of two Royal Navy escort carriers built in the United States which is listed as lost in action (both of which were damaged beyond repair, but returned) during World War II. The ship was sold for scrap by the United States but found a second life when purchased and converted for mercantile use under her British name, Nabob. Later renamed Glory, the ship was sold for scrapping in 1977.Kåfjorden (Alta)
Kåfjorden (Norwegian) or Njoammelgohppi (Northern Sami) is a fjord in Alta Municipality in Finnmark county, Norway. The 8-kilometre (5.0 mi) long fjord branches off the main Altafjorden. The village of Kåfjord and the Kåfjord Church both lie along the northern coast of the fjord. The European route E06 highway follows the northern shoreline of the fjord. A bridge over the Kåfjorden was built in 2013 to shorten the E6 highway route around the fjord.The fjord was the anchorage of the German battleship Tirpitz for much of World War II, which was attacked by British midget submarines during Operation Source in 1943 and by aircraft during Operation Tungsten, Operation Mascot, Operation Goodwood and Operation Paravane in 1944.List of Allied attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz
The German battleship Tirpitz was attacked on multiple occasions by Allied forces during World War II. While most of the attacks failed to inflict any damage on the battleship, she was placed out of action for a lengthy period following the Operation Source midget submarine attack on 22 September 1943 and for a short period after the Operation Tungsten aircraft carrier strike on 3 April 1944. Tirpitz suffered severe and irreparable damage after being hit by a Tallboy bomb during the Operation Paravane air raid on 15 September 1944, and was sunk with heavy loss of life in the Operation Catechism raid on 12 November that year.Port HHZ
Port HHZ was a shore establishment of the Royal Navy during the Second World War. It was based at Loch Cairnbawn, Scotland, and was established in 1942.The base was heavily involved in the training for the X-Craft operations (Operation Source) to sink the German battleship Tirpitz. From July 1943, the craft worked up from HMS Bonaventure at Port HHZ. CINCNAVHOME allowed capital ships of his fleet to act as target ships at Port HHZ. The Boom Defence organisation were also heavily involved in surrounding these ships with nets and providing net defences and equipment for the trials.HMS Titania sailed for and arrived at Port HHZ on 30 August 1943 to act as depot ship to the submarines taking part, and the submarines HMS Thrasher, Truculent, Stubborn, Syrtis, Sceptre and Sea Nymph arrived between 31 August and 1 September. Special security measures at Port HHZ were also increased from 1 September. No leave was allowed, and only specially selected officers and ratings were permitted to leave the area. All ships present were retained in the port until the completion of the operation.Shuttle bombing
Shuttle bombing is a tactic where bombers fly from their home base to bomb a first target and continue to a different location where they are refuelled and rearmed. The aircraft may then bomb a second target on the return leg to their home base. Some examples of operations which have used this tactic are:
Operation Bellicose, June 1943: The first shuttle bombing mission of World War II, flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF). On the night of 20/21 June the RAF bombers departed from their bases in the United Kingdom and bombed Friedrichshafen, landing in Algeria, where they refuelled and rearmed. On the return leg they bombed the Italian naval base at La Spezia.
Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission, 17 August 1943: The 4th Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force using B-17s equipped with "Tokyo (fuel) tanks" for longer range, attacked the Messerschmitt Bf 109 plants in Regensburg and then flew on to bases in Bône, Berteaux and Telergma (French Algeria). Most of the aircraft that had been damaged were stranded due the poor repair facilities in Algeria and some of them were never returned to service. Eight days later, on 24 August, on the way back to their bases in Great Britain, the surviving B-17s bombed targets in Bordeaux.
Operation Frantic, from June to September 1944: This was a series of air raids conducted by United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bombers based in Britain or the Mediterranean which then landed at bases built by the Americans in Ukraine in the Soviet Union. As a military operation it made possible eighteen strong attacks on important strategic targets in Germany which would otherwise have been immune.
The Warsaw Airlift, August to September 1944: During the Warsaw Uprising the Frantic airbases were used for an airdrop to the Poles fighting in the city. On 17 September 1944 70 B-17s and 57 P-51s flew without bombs from Italy and landed safely in the United Kingdom. On 18 September 107 of 110 B-17s dropped 1,248 containers of supplies to Polish forces in Warsaw and flew on to the USSR losing one B-17 with seven more damaged. The next day 100 B-17s and 61 P-51s left the USSR and bombed the marshalling yard at Szolnok in Hungary as they returned to bases in Italy.
Operation Paravane, September 1944: A variation on the concept. On 11 September 1944 No. 9 Squadron RAF and No. 617 Squadron RAF flew from their home bases in Scotland to a temporary base at Yagodnik, near Archangel in the Soviet Union. From there, on 15 September, they bombed the German battleship Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord and continued on back to Scotland.While shuttle bombing offered several advantages, allowing distant targets to be hit and complicating the Axis defence arrangements, it posed a number of practical difficulties, not least the awkward relations between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. The operations were concluded in September 1944 after a three-month period, and not repeated.Stanley Orr
Stanley Gordon Orr, (28 September 1916 – 11 August 2003) was the highest scoring fighter ace of the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Flying with the Fleet Air Arm he was credited with the destruction of 17 aircraft. His success was recognised by the awards of the Distinguished Service Cross and Two Bars, an Air Force Cross and a Mention in Despatches.
Orr took part in campaigns over Norway and Dunkirk in 1940 and then moved to the Mediterranean aboard HMS Illustrious. During this time he was involved in the Battle of Taranto, the defence of Malta, the Battle of Cape Matapan, and land based operations in Egypt. Later in the war in 1944, he was involved in the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz. At the end of the Second World War he remained in the navy, becoming a test pilot at the Empire Test Pilots' School. He saw further action during the Korean War, when he served aboard HMS Ocean as Commander (flying). His last job in the navy was in command of the Hovercraft trials unit. Upon leaving the Royal Navy in 1966, he became a marine superintendent at Vospers.Stjernsundet
Stjernsundet is a strait in Finnmark, Norway. It separates the island of Stjernøya from the mainland. Stjernsundet leads from the outer part of Altafjorden, and opens up westwards into Lopphavet. During the World War II Operation Source, a number of British X-crafts found their way from Lopphavet through Stjernsundet and succeeded in attacking and damaging the German battleship Tirpitz in Kåfjorden, an inner branch of Altafjorden.Submarine X-1
Submarine X-1 is a 1968 DeLuxe Color British World War II war film loosely based on the Operation Source attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in 1943. In the film James Caan stars as Lt. Commander Richard Bolton, a Canadian, who must lead a group of midget submarines in an attack on a German battleship.Tungsten (disambiguation)
Tungsten is a chemical element with symbol W and atomic number 74.
Tungsten may also refer to:
Tungsten (music), a type of phonograph pickup stylus
Tungsten (film), 2011 Greek film
Tungsten, Colorado, a ghost town
Tungsten, Northwest Territories, a Canadian townsite
Tungsten (Cantung) Airport, a Canadian private airport
Palm Tungsten, Palm Inc.'s product line of personal digital assistants
Operation Tungsten, World War II UK Royal Navy operation to sink the German battleship Tirpitz
Tungsten, a character from the novel Blart: The Boy Who Didn't Want to Save the World
Tungsten, a setting for color temperature on digital cameras
Tungsten Network, a global electronic invoicing firm