TIRPITZ was the second of two Bismarck-class battleships built for
Nazi Germany 's
Kriegsmarine (navy) during World War II. Named after
Alfred von Tirpitz
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 2,000 tonnes (2,000 long tons) heavier
than Bismarck, making her the heaviest battleship ever built by a
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
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.
* 1 Construction and characteristics
* 2 Service history
* 2.1 Deployment to Norway
* 2.2 Operations against Allied convoys
* 2.3 British attacks on Tirpitz
* 2.3.3 Operations Planet, Brawn, Tiger Claw, Mascot and Goodwood
* 2.3.4 Operations Paravane and Obviate
* 3 Footnotes
* 4 Citations
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links
CONSTRUCTION AND CHARACTERISTICS
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 the daughter of Admiral
Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz , the
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. Tirpitz sliding down the slipway at her launch
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). She was powered by three Brown, Boveri 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 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. 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
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
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
Royal Air Force (RAF) continued to launch unsuccessful
bombing raids on Tirpitz while she was stationed in Kiel.
DEPLOYMENT TO NORWAY
Tirpitz camouflaged in the
Erich Raeder , the commander of the
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
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
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. 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.
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. 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
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.
Tirpitz under way, probably in 1941
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
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
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 . Tirpitz,
escorted by several destroyers, steaming in the Bogenfjord in October
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.
BRITISH ATTACKS ON TIRPITZ
List of Allied attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz
Operation Source Tirpitz in the Ofotfjord
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 . 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 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
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.
Operation Tungsten Tirpitz under attack by
British carrier aircraft on 3 April 1944
The British were aware that Neumark and the repair crews left in
March, which intimated Tirpitz was nearly operational. A major air
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) armor-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 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.
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, while Hildebrand, Röhr,
destroyers ferried important equipment and workers from
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.
Operations Planet, Brawn, Tiger Claw, Mascot And Goodwood
Operation Mascot and
Operation Goodwood (naval)
Tirpitz moored in Kaafjord; the smoke is an artificial fog generated
to hide the ship
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.
Operations Paravane And Obviate
Operation Paravane and
The ineffectiveness of the great majority of the strikes launched by
Fleet Air Arm
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
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
The RAF made a second attempt on 29 October, after the ship was
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 Play media Universal
Newsreel about the attack on Tirpitz
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. Tirpitz capsized
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. 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
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
Ludovic Kennedy wrote in his history of the vessel
that she "lived an invalid's life and died a cripple's death".
* ^ Tirpitz's draft at full load was 10.60 metres (34 ft 9 in).
* ^ Crew could be augmented up to 108 officers and 2,500 enlisted
* ^ 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.
* ^ Named FuMO for Funkmessortungsgerät (Radio direction-finding
* ^ SK stands for Schiffskanone (ship's gun), C/34 stands for
Constructionjahr (Construction year) 1934, and L/52 denotes the length
of the gun in terms of calibres , meaning that the gun is 52 times
long as it is in internal diameter.
* ^ John Sweetman states that 1,000 out of a crew of 1,900 were
killed, while Niklas Zetterling and Michael Tamelander estimated
nearly 1,000 deaths. Siegfried Breyer and Erich Gröner agree on
1,204 deaths, and Gordon Williamson gives the death toll at 971.
William Dulin and Robert Dulin place the number of deaths at "about
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J Gröner , p. 33.
* ^ A B C D E F Gröner , p. 35.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , p. 203.
* ^ Kemp , p. 153.
* ^ Sieche , p. 44.
* ^ A B C Williamson , p. 35.
* ^ A B Hildebrand Röhr & Steinmetz , p. 239.
* ^ A B Garzke & Dulin , p. 247.
* ^ Koop & Schmolke , p. 18.
* ^ Williamson , p. 42.
* ^ Williamson , p. 43.
* ^ Campbell , p. 219.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , pp. 247–248.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 11.
* ^ Gröner , p. 20.
* ^ A B Sweetman , p. 12.
* ^ A B C Garzke & Dulin , p. 248.
* ^ A B C Williamson , p. 40.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 16.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 17.
* ^ A B Garzke & Dulin , pp. 248–250.
* ^ A B C Hildebrand Röhr & Steinmetz , p. 240.
* ^ Ottosen, pp. 39–41 .
* ^ Sweetman , p. 19.
* ^ Zetterling & Tamelander , p. 207.
* ^ A B C D E Garzke & Dulin , p. 250.
* ^ Sweetman , pp. 23–24.
* ^ Sweetman , pp. 24–25.
* ^ Sweetman , pp. 25–26.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 27.
* ^ Gröner , p. 60.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , pp. 250–251.
* ^ Rohwer , p. 149.
* ^ A B C Garzke & Dulin , p. 253.
* ^ Rohwer , p. 156.
* ^ Rohwer , p. 162.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 54.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , pp. 253–255.
* ^ A B C Garzke & Dulin , p. 255.
* ^ Polmar & Noot , p. 115–116.
* ^ Blair , p. 644.
* ^ Bishop , pp. 165–172.
* ^ A B C D E F Garzke & Dulin , p. 258.
* ^ Sweetman , pp. 73–74.
* ^ A B Torkildsen , p. 221.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 76.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 77.
* ^ Sweetman , pp. 76–77.
* ^ Zetterling & Tamelander , pp. 195–196.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , pp. 258–259.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , p. 259.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , pp. 259–261.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , p. 262.
* ^ A B C Garzke & Dulin , p. 264.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K Breyer , p. 26.
* ^ Brown, Carrier Operations , pp. 25, 27.
* ^ A B Garzke & Dulin , p. 265.
* ^ Hildebrand Röhr & Steinmetz , p. 243.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , pp. 265–267.
* ^ A B Garzke & Dulin , p. 267.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , pp. 267–268.
* ^ Brown, Carrier Operations , p. 28.
* ^ Brown, Tirpitz , p. 39.
* ^ Sweetman , pp. 132–139.
* ^ A B C Garzke & Dulin , p. 268.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 193.
* ^ Garzke & Dulin , p. 270.
* ^ A B Garzke & Dulin , p. 272.
* ^ A B Garzke & Dulin , p. 273.
* ^ Sweetman , p. 248.
* ^ Zetterling & Tamelander , p. 327.
* ^ Prager , p. 287.
* ^ Morgan & Weal , p. 60.
* ^ Schuck , p. 177.
* ^ Hafsten , p. 221.
* ^ Van der Vat , p. 508.
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* The Tirpitz Museum
* Aerial photo of the battleship Tirpitz in her anchorage at