Technical Layout


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General Information
German Destroyers
Ship Models
Naval Paint Schemes
Scharnhorst Class
Admiral Hipper Class
Deutschland Class
Graf Zeppelin

Drawings in Comparison
View from the side
Bismarck (1941)
Tirpitz (1944)
View from above
Bismarck (1941)
Tirpitz (1944)

General Details in Comparison
Name of the ship Bismarck Tirpitz
Building costs 196 m RM 191.6 m RM
(gross or net registered tons)
28,181 grt
11,110 nrt
28,160 grt
Actual displacement: (August 1940) (Februar 1941)
  empty 39,517 tonnes 39,539 tonnes
  designed 45,451 tonnes 45,474 tonnes
  full 49,406 tonnes 49,429 tonnes
  maximum 50,405 tonnes 50,425 tonnes
(53,500 tonnes 1944)
Length Overall 250.5 m 253.6 m
Length Waterline 241.55 m 241.72 m
Maximum draught 10.2 m
(at 49,406 tonnes)
10.61 m
(at 52,890 tonnes)
Designed draught 9.3 m 9.9 m
Machinery output maximum 150,170 shp 163,026 shp
Speed designed 28 knots 29 knots
Range 8,525 nm at 19 knots 8,870 nm at 19 knots
Bunkers maximum 7,400 m3 7,780 m3
Ship's company 103 officers, 1,962 + 27 men (1941) 108 officers, 2,500 men (1943)
Searchlights, triaxially stabilised and directed centrally
(those positioned on Tirpitz's funnel platform later replaced by flak)
7 7

Weight Grouping in Comparison
All weights are expressed hereunder in metric tonnes.
Name of the ship Bismarck Tirpitz
Aircraft installation 83 t 80 t
General equipment 369,4 t 361 t
Nautical equipment 8,6 t 9 t
Empty ship with equipment 39,931.2 t 39,931 t
  Ammunition 1,510.4 t 1,510 t
  Defensive equipment 2,5 t 3 t
  Consumables 155.4 t 156 t
  Crew and effects 243.6 t 247 t
  Provisions 194.2 t 194 t
Type displacement (without drinking and washing water) 42,343.5 t 42,077 t
  Drinking water 139.2 t 139 t
  Boiler feedwater 187.5 t (battle cells) 188 t
  Diesel fuel oil 96.5 t 94 t
Construction displacement 45,950.5 t 45,951 t
  Boiler feedwater 187.5 t 188 t
  Diesel fuel oil 96.5 t 97 t
  Reserve fresh water 389.2 t 389 t
Full displacement 49,946.7 t 49,948 t
(Bismarck special supplement fuel 1,009 t; actual full displacement 50,955.7 t)

Armour in Comparison
The armour plate was principally KC (Krupp Cemented, containing 0.34% carbon, 3.78% nickel, 0.31% manganese and 2.06% chrome) steel, Wh=Wotan hard. Wh had an ultimate tensile strength of 85-95 kg/mm2, 20% expansion and a yield point of 50-55 kg/mm2.
Barbettes for
38 cm turrets
340 mm KC (middle, forward), 340 mm KC (sides), 340 mm KC (rear); Tirpitz 220 mm KC (rear)
Slope of belt armour, midships and ends 320 mm KC on Bismarck, 315 mm KC on Tirpitz (and reducing to 170 mm)
Armour deck above machinery, centre 80 mm Wh (Bismarck); 50 mm Wh (Tirpitz)
Armour deck above magazines, centre 95 mm Wh (Bismarck); 100 mm Wh (Tirpitz)

Armament in Comparison
Name of the ship Bismarck Tirpitz
Flak 12 x 2 cm 12 x 2 cm (78 x 2 cm by July 1944)
Torpedo armament None 2 banks 53.3 cm quadruple mountings from end 1941 to early 1942
Ammunition inventory:
Torpedoes Nil 24

As the war progressed, stocks of ammunition aboard Tirpitz increased, particularly for
the main guns and the flak. By 1944 she carried over 90,000 rounds of 2 cm.

The term "Flak", a contraction of "Fliegerabwehrkanonen", is used throughout this homepage
to describe anti-aircraft (AA) weapons and installation both aboard ship and ashore.

Armament Details in Comparison
Calibre Barrel
Wt of
of barrel
10.5 cm/L65 C33 6.825 15.1 900 17,700 +85° 18 Bismarck: four forward, triaxially stabilised twin mounting C31, stern C37; Tirpitz: triaxially stabilised twin mounting C37
2 cm/L65 0.9 0.132 900 4,800 +90° 200 single, 800 quad Basic mounting C38: on Tirpitz later quadruple C38 mounting; Bismarck had 2 cm C30 single mountings and a C38 2 x 2 cm quadruple
Note on barrel data:

10.5 cm/L65 and /L60.5: the former agrees with German specification, the latter is 6.348 m. 3.7 cm/L83 and /L80: the former corresponds to German length of 3.071 m, the latter to 2.96 m.

2 cm/L65 is 0.9 m according to German sources and 1.3 m according to British sources.

"C" indicates the year in which a gun or chassis type was first built (e.g. C34 = 1934).

Fire Direction and Radar Equipment in Comparison
Base rangefinder Serving Location Radar equipment Location Remarks
10.5 m Main armament "A" turret
"B" turret
"C" turret
"D" turret
  Instruments in "A" turret on Bismarck removed in winter 1940/41; never installed on Tirpitz
  FuMO 212/213 (Würzburg) Aft control centre Tirpitz: in spring/summer 1944 platform raised by about 2 m
FuMO 27 Above 10.5 m base rangefinder Additional installation on Tirpitz with supplementary observer platform
TIMOR On fighting top roof portside Additional aboard Tirpitz until spring/summer 1944, when replaced by:
FuMB 4  
FuMO 30 Hohentwiel On fore topmast FuMO 26 and FuMO 30 on Tirpitz from spring/summer 1944
Note on Radar equipment:
As an experimental solution, Tirpitz was fitted on the after A/A gun (single mount) control position with a type "Würzburg" radar set (3-m-diameter parabolic reflector) for measuring height. This caused a slight reduction in the angle of sweep of the A/A gun (single mount) control position.

Machinery in Comparison
3 sets geared turbines (Curtis type) with single reduction: in three turbine rooms.
Bismarck: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg.
Tirpitz: Brown, Boveri & Cie.
In Bismarck the individual turbine sets were grouped round the gearing. The HP reaction turbine was a Curtis wheel with 40 stages, the IP a double-flow 14 stage reaction turbine and the LP a 9 stage reaction turbine supporting the condenser slung below it, as was customary. The HP astern turbine was a single Curtis wheel, the LP astern turbine was of the divided double-flow type. No cruising turbine was fitted.

In Tirpitz the individual turbines were similar to those of the Bismarck except that the ship was fitted with crusing turbines; the crusing and HP drums were both set at the after end of the main wheel; the IP and LP were simple reaction turbines; and the HP astern turbine was contained in the IP ahead drum at its forward end and the double-flow LP astern turbine was located between the LP turbine block.

Additional Information
Bismarck was never fitted with the protective domes for the two after A/A gun (single mount) fire control instruments. In this ship the searchlight fitted on either side in the forward part of the funnel platform rim underneath the hinged protective dome was fitted 1.5 m higher than in Tirpitz
Bismarck carried at great height above it a flying bridge between turret mast and funnel which also accomodated the supports for the ship's cranes. As the ship's cranes were mounted one deck lower and slightly further aft than in Tirpitz, the second 105mm A/A gun (twin mount) on either side were placed 3m further forward and about 7m further inboards.
Only Bismarck carried the RF domes during trial runs on A turret. Although these had been intended for Tirpitz as well, they were never fitted.
Further differences from Tirpitz: bridge superstructures, turret mast, funnel cowling (this was always silver-grey in Bismarck only) and the derrick cranes on the funnel for raising and lowering the seaplane.
Unlike Tirpitz where all the 16 105 mm A/A gun (twin mount) were mounted in the more modern Type C 33 mountings, Bismarck carried the forward half of the 105 mm A/A gun (twin mount) in the older Type C 31 mounts and only the after half in Type C 33 mounts.
In Tirpitz the funnel cowling was at first black, and silver grey or light grey only from about 1942 onwards.
Tirpitz always carried the protective hoods above the after A/A gun (single mount) control positions and the searchlight positions with their protective domes were of the same height as the platform rim surrounding the funnel.
The ship's cranes were mounted on the main deck and slightly more forward than in Bismarck and for that reason the second 105 mm A/A gun (twin mount) on either side were fitted approximate 3 m further aft and approximate 7 m further outboards.
In 1942 the spotting top on the mainmast was removed and a potato locker was installed between funnel and turret mast and above this a catwalk between funnel platform rim and turret mast. From that time onwards the quadruple torpedo tubes were also carried.
The continuous reinforcement of the A/A weapons reflected the increasing threat from aircrafts and resulted in the installation of numerous additional A/A weapons, especially of 20 mm A/A gun (quadruple mount).
At the end, the seaplanes were no longer carried because they had to be handed over to the German air force.

© John Asmussen, 2000 - 2014. All rights reserved.