Thursday, 29 January 2009

Tirpitz Battleship

The Tirpitz was the sister ship to the famous Bismarck. Named after the famous Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz the Tirpitz was a much feared battleship by the Allied forces.

The Tirpitz was ordered on the 14th June 1936 and built by Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven. The Battleship was laid down on 2nd November 1936, launched on 1st April 1939 and commissioned in to service on 25th February 1941.

Spending much of her time in the Fjords of Norway what is interesting about the Tirpitz is that although the Allied forces feared her so much and spent so much of their time trying to stop her from causing any damage, this amazing Bismarck class Battleship never even fired against an enemy ship.

Allied attempts to stop the Tirpitz

Operation Source - 1943

This operation involved a small British X Class midget submarines commanded by Lieutenant Basil Place VC and Lieutenant Donald Cameron. The submarines went through minefields dodging gun defenses and enemy posts before divers cut through netting so the submarines could venture through and place explosive charges under the Tirpitz.

This operation caused extensive damage which took the Germans six months to repair.

Operation Tungsten - 1944

Using aircraft and the Royal Navy the British employed false radio traffic to lull the Germans into thinking a different operation was to happen.

Torpedoe bombers dropped torpedoes, anti submarine bombs and other varieties of explosives to damage the ship. In total three bombers were downed by the Germans but not without the British damaging the Tirpitz again as well as killing 122 of the Tirpitz crew and wounding another 300.

Operations Planet, Brawn, Tiger Claw and Mascot - 1944

All of these operations involved air assaults but they were all cancelled due to bad weather or because the Germans had put up good defenses using smoke screens in the Fjords and having early warning systems to know of the British approach.

Operations Goodwood I, II, III and IV

Again these operations saw low lying cloud hide the Tirpitz from view so the mission were aborted. Only Goodwood III was a success with two direct hits, one from a 500lb bomb.

Operations Paravane, Obviate and Catechsim

These operations finally saw the end to the Tirpitz. The first operation called Paravane saw British bombers fly from the Soviet Union. The Tirpitz had smoke screens coverign her again but this time a bomber loaded with a Barnes Wallis Tallboy bomb hit the bow and made her unseaworthy.

Operation Obviate did not inflict any damage on Tirpitz as cloud cover protected her.

Operation Catechism finally saw the end to the Tirpitz in November 1944, three Barnes Wallis Tallboys hit the Tirpitz blowing a two hundred foot hole in her port side. 1,000 of Tirpitz crew died and she sank in the bay of Håkøybotn.

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