Tirpitz

 

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Operational History
Construction
14 June 1936 The building contract was placed with the Kriegsmarine Werft, Wilhelmshaven, as New Construction "G", replacing Schleswig-Holstein. It was Construction No. 128 at the Kriegsmarine Werft, Wilhelmshaven.
2 November 1936 The keel was laid and the construction took place on Slipway 2. Two dates have been given for the keel-laying, 24 October and 2 November. Both are documented in the German photographic and military archives. Probably the earlier date was the day on which the building work actually began and the later the official keel-laying attested to in photographs.
1 April 1939 Launched. Christened by Frau von Hassel, daughter of Grossadmiral Tirpitz, after whom the ship was named.
During the night between 9 - 10 July 1940 The first specific attack against Tirpitz involved 11 "5 Group" Hampdens. 11 Hampdens from Scampton: 6 x 49 Sqn; 5 x 83 Sqn (including Fg Off GP Gibson). 3 also from Hemswell (either 61 or 144 sqns). Only 11 of the 14 attacked. Tirpitz was still under construction at the Kriegsmarine Werft, Wilhelmshaven. The British missed the target.
During the night between 20 - 21 July 1940 15 Hampdens from 61 and 144 Squadron took off from Hemswell-Lincolnshire in a special operation to attack Admiral Scheer and Tirpitz in Wilhelmshaven. 3 from each squadron (61 & 144) to make diversionary attacks, 3 from each squadron to attack Tirpitz with M mines, as 2 from 61 and one from 144 similarly attacked Admiral Scheer.
The aircraft used mines with soluble fuse and they managed to hit the inner harbour of Wilhelmshaven. The mines exploded after 40 minutes without damaging the ships. Some sources mention that some of the aircraft attacked Cuxhaven too, but this a bit unclear.
During the night between 24 - 25 July 1940 14 "4 Group" Whitleys went off to attack Tirpitz at Wilhelmshaven. Only two of the planes actually reached the area at Wilhelmshaven. Bad weather conditions forced the other twelve aircraft to abort the operation. The British again failed to hit Tirpitz.
During the night between 5 - 6 August 1940 Another inconclusive attack by "5 Group" Hampdens. Overall, Bomber Command ORB shows 17 x  5 Group Hampdens taking off and 13 reporting to have attacked either Bismarck or Tirpitz in Wilhelmshaven ; 9 x 83 Sqn were directed v Bismarck . How many went for Tirpitz is unclear.
During the night between 8 - 9 October 1940 17 aircraft again attacked Tirpitz at Wilhelmshaven. No hits were scored. 10 aircraft (of which 8 attacked) came from an airfield in Scampton and 9 from Waddington (Lincolnshire).
During the night between 10 - 11 October 1940 14 aircraft made another attempt to attack Tirpitz. No direct hits. 9 aircraft came from Waddington (Lincolnshire) and 5 from Lindholme (Yorkshire).
During the night between 11 - 12 October 1940 5 Hampdens took off (4 attacked) of 50 Sqn from Lindholme (Yorkshire) in "poor" weather tried their luck, as the majority of the attacking force turned back. No accurate results were observed.
During the night between 13 - 14 October 1940 40 "3 Group" Wellingtons and 35 "5 Group" Hampdens set out for Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in Kiel and Tirpitz in Wilhelmshaven. Due to "very bad weather conditions" only 4 Hampdens even located Wilhelmshaven. No hits were scored. Lindholme ORB mentions 7 taking off and only 1 even reaching the area. Waddington ORB (PRO Air 28/879) put 8 aircraft on this op. none having located the target. Fairly certain this was 44 Sqn.
During the night between 20 - 21 October 1940 7 "3 Group" Wellingtons attacked Tirpitz in Wilhelmshaven. No direct hits were reported on the battleship.
During the night between 25 - 26 November 1940 5 "4 Group" aircraft from 51 and 78 Squadrons bombed in "impossible conditions". Again no hits were scored.
During the night between 8 - 9 January 1941 7 Wellingtons of 75 Squadron from Feltwell (Lincolnshire) again attacked Tirpitz in Wilhelmshaven. Some hits or near misses were claimed on the ship.
During the night between 11 - 12 January 1941 16 aircraft from 49 and 83 Squadrons took off from Scampton (Lincolnshire) for Tirpitz, which were still alongside in the Bauhafen at Wilhelmshaven. No hits were scored.
During the night between 16 - 17 January 1941 8 Hampdens from 83 Squadron took off to attack Tirpitz. Bad weather caused two aircaft to return early and one to ditch in the North Sea with engine trouble. Only two of the eight aircraft from Waddington (Lincolnshire) attacked Tirpitz. No hits.
During the night between 29 - 30 January 1941 25 "3 Group" Wellingtons were detailed to bomb Tirpitz. An additional 9 x "5 Group" Hampdens are shown to have taken off for this target (BC ORB for 1941: PRO 24/203). All aircraft reached the Wilhelmshaven area, but no bombs hit Tirpitz.
9 February 1941 13 aircraft of 83 Squadron from Scampton (Lincolnshire) took off for Wilhelmshaven, briefed "to cause maximum destruction and disturbance" to Tirpitz. They failed to hit the German battleship.
25 February 1941 Tirpitz was commissioned and placed under the command of Kapitän zur See (Captain) Friedrich Karl Topp.
During the night between 27 - 28 February 1941 30 Wellingtons from 40, 115, 214 and 218 Squadrons based at Wyton (Cambridgeshire), Marham (Norfolk) and Stradishall (Suffolk) took off to attack Tirpitz. 26 of the 30 aircraft attacked Tirpitz, but it was reported that "weather interferred greatly with the success of the operation" with no reliable observation of results.
During the night between 28 February - 1 March 1941 23 "5 Group" Hampden (12 x 49 Sqn) left Scampton and (11 x 44 Sqn) Waddington (Lincolnshire) left to attack Tirpitz. Cloud down to 2,700 meter (9,000 feet) in the target area "coupled with ground haze" made identification impossible. 4 aircraft bombed "the position of the ship" without any success.
5 May 1941 Adolf Hitler visited the naval yard at Gdynia (Gotenhafen). He inspected both Tirpitz and Bismarck wich were anchored in the roadstead.
Sea Trials and Final Outfitting
Until January 1942 Trials and training in the Baltic Sea.
26 - 29 September 1941 Member of the so-called "Baltic Fleet". While still on trials, Tirpitz joined a powerful assembly of German warships off the Aaland Islands to deter the Soviet fleet from venturing out of Kronstadt. The "Baltic Fleet" consisted of Tirpitz, Admiral Scheer, Emden, Leipzig, Köln and Nürnberg, together with numerous destroyers, torpedo boats and mine sweepers.
29 December 1941 The decision of sending Tirpitz to Norway was confirmed, with 10 January 1942 as the operative date. The loss of Bismarck forced the Germans to think carefully about Tirpitz. It was decided to transfer the battleship to Norway because as Grand Admiral Erich Räder said: "to protect our position in the Norwegian and Arctic areas by threatening the flank of enemy operations against the northern Norwegian areas, and by attacking White Sea convoys...to tie down enemy forces in the Atlantic, so that they cannot operate in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean or the Pacific."
6 January 1942 Grand Admiral Erich Räder inspected Tirpitz.
10 January 1942 Tirpitz' captain, Friedrich Karl Topp, declared her fully operational.
Commission
12 January 1942 Tirpitz left Kiel.
13 January 1942 Tirpitz reached Holtenau, at the eastern end of the Kiel canal. Here she off-loaded unnecessary stores and equipment for the journey through the canal. Even so, her masts only just cleared the bridges. Later that day, she anchored at Brunsbüttel at the western end of the canal to take on fuel, together with the material that had been put ashore and transported independently from Holtenau. She then proceeded to Wilhelmshaven.
14 January 1942 Tirpitz, escorted by the destroyers Richard Beitzen, Paul Jacobi, Bruno Heinemann and Z29, transferred from Wilhelmshaven, Germany to Trondheim, Norway. It was four days later than originally planned.
16 January 1942 Tirpitz arrived, together with the destroyers, at Trondheim in Norway and anchored in Fættenfjord.
30 January 1942
Operation "Oiled"
First British attempt to attack Tirpitz in Norway. 7 Short Stirlings of 15 and 149 Squadrons took of from Lossiemouth at 0030 and 8 Halifaxes of 10 and 76 Squadrons took off from Lossiemouth between 0204 and 0234. Due to bad weather the aircraft are not able to attack the German battleship.
5 - 9 March 1942
Operation "Sportpalast"
First combat action against Allied convoys. Tirpitz sailed, in company with the destroyers Z25, Friedrich Ihn, Paul Jacobi and Hermann Schoemann, into the Arctic Ocean to intercept the convoys PQ-12 and QP-8. Due to bad weather the German battle group failed to contact the enemy convoys. After unsuccessful attacks by British carrier aircraft and submarines, the Tirpitz sailed to the Lofoten islands and anchored in Bogen near Narvik undiscovered at 9 March.
9 March 1942 On her way to the Lofoten islands, Tirpitz was attacked by 12 Albacores from the aircraft carrier Victorious. The attack failed and 2 Albacores was shot down.
12 March 1942 Tirpitz left Bogen and headed back to Fættenfjord near Trondheim.
13 March 1942 Tirpitz arrived at Fættenfjord near Trondheim.
During the night between 30 - 31 March 1942 Tirpitz was attacked by 32 Halifaxes from 10 Squadron (10 aicraft took of from Lossiemouth, Scotland), 35 Squadron (12 aicraft took off from Kinloss, Scotland) and 76 Squadron (10 aircraft took off from Tain, Scotland). The attack was unsuccessful due to bad weather.
During the night between 27 - 28 April 1942 Tirpitz was attacked by 30 Halifax bombers from 10, 35 and 76 Squadrons and 11 Lancasters from 44 and 97 Squadrons. The attack was unsuccessful.
During the night between 28 - 29 April 1942 Tirpitz was attacked by 21 Halifax bombers from 10, 35 and 76 Squadrons and 12 Lancasters from 44 and 97 Squadrons.
2 - 6 July 1942
Operation "Rösselsprung"
Together with 16 other ships, divided in two battle groups, Tirpitz participated in an attack on the convoys PQ-17 and QP-13.
The two battle groups consisted of:
Battle Group I: Under Fleet Commander, Admiral Schniewind on board Tirpitz consisted of Tirpitz, Admiral Hipper, Friedrich Ihn, Hans Lody, Karl Galster, Theodor Riedel, Richard Beitzen, T7 and T15.
Battle Group II: Under Vice-Admiral Kummetz on board Lützow consisted of Lützow, Admiral Scheer, Z24, Z27, Z28, Z29, Z30 and the fleet oiler Dithmarschen.
5 July 1942 operations against the convoys PQ-17 and QP-13 are cancelled after the breakdown of several supporting units. During this operation, the Tirpitz was attacked by the Russian submarine K21. While the Russians claimed a hit on the battleship, the Germans did not noticed any attack. Tirpitz was redrawn to Bogen were it arrived on 6 July 1942.
23 October 1942 Tirpitz left Bogen to be refitted at Fættenfjord/Lofjord near Trondheim, where the necessary technical personnel was available.
30 - 31 October 1942
Operation "Title"
Attempt by the British to put the Tirpitz out of action by using human torpedoes (Chariots). The mission was aborted when the Chariots broke away from the ship Arthur.
24 January 1943 Tirpitz was again fully battleworthy and spent the intervening period to 5 March 1943 carrying through trials and exercises in nearby waters.
11 March - the night between 12/13 March 1943 Tirpitz, in company with Prinz Eugen, Karl Galster, Jaguar and Greif, was transferred to the Bogen and met up with the Scharnhorst and Lützow.
22 - 23 March 1943 Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Lützow and 6 destroyers transferred to Kåfjord/Altenfjord, where the squadron carried out exercises until July.
6 - 9 September 1943
Operation "Sizilien"
A squadron consisting of Tirpitz, Scharnhorst and 9 destroyers (Erich Steinbrinck, Karl Galster, Hans Lody, Theodor Riedel, Z27, Z29, Z30, Z31, Z33) went on to attack the enemy base on Spitzbergen. The attack took place on 8 September. At 1730 on 9 September, the Tirpitz returned safely to Kåfjord.
11 September 1943 - 5 October 1943
Operation "Source"
The Tirpitz was attacked by British midget submarines X5, X6 and X7. They break through the torpedo nets and X6 and X7 managed to place mines below the ship. All midget submarines were destroyed.
At 08:12, 22 September 1943 The first charge exploded on the port side about 6 m from the midship engine room followed shortly afterwards by a second explosion, 61 m abaft the port bow. T he exploding mines caused heavy damage on Tirpitz: Besides some hull damage, the turbines was put out of action, the propellor shafts and rudder are disabled. The cassualties were, however, slight, with one dead and 40 wounded. Tirpitz was out of commission for the first time.
September 1943 - March 1944 Repairs.
During the night between 10 - 11 February 1944 15 Soviet bombers mounted an unsuccesful attack on Tirpitz.
15 March 1944 Tirpitz began trials in Barbrudalen (Kåfjord) and Altenfjord.
3 April 1944
Operation "Tungsten"
Attacked by 41 Barracudas. Tirpitz was hit by 15 bombs.
24 April 1944
Operation "Planet"
An attack on Tirpitz, involving 40 Barracudas and 40 escort fighters had to be cancelled because of bad weather conditions.
15 May 1944
Operation "Brawn"
An attack on Tirpitz, involving 27 Barracudas and 36 escort fighters had to be cancelled because of bad weather conditions.
28 May 1944
Operation "Tiger Claw"
An attack on Tirpitz had to be cancelled before the aircraft could be launched, because of bad weather conditions.
17 July 1944
Operation "Mascot"
An Attack on Tirpitz, involving 44 Barracudas, 18 Hellcats and 30 escort fighters from the aircraft carriers Formidable, Indefatigable and Furious. Tirpitz had been forewarned and the aircraft was unable to hit the German battleship.
31 July - 1 August 1944 Tirpitz carried out exercises at sea for the last time, with the destroyers Z29, Z31, Z33, Z34 and Z39.
22 August 1944
Operation "Goodwood I" and "II"
Tirpitz was attacked by 32 Barracudas escorted by 43 fighters from the aircraft carriers Formidable, Indefatigable, Furious, Nabob and Trumpeter. Tirpitz received no hits.
24 August 1944
Operation "Goodwood III"
Tirpitz was attacked by 33 Barracudas, 10 Hellcats, 5 Corsairs and 29 fighters from the aircraft carriers Indefatigable, Furious and Formidable. 2 hits.
29 August 1944
Operation "Goodwood IV"
Tirpitz was attacked by 26 Barracudas, 2 Corsairs, 3 Hellcats and 25 fighters from aircraft carriers Formidable and Indefatigable. No hits, several near misses.
15 September 1944
Operation "Paravane"
Attacked by 21 Lancasters from 9 and 617 Squadrons stated in Yagodnik, USSR. Two bomb hits on the forecastle. The Tirpitz was out of action.
15 October 1944 Transferred to the Sørbotn next to Håkøya near Tromsø, Norway. The ship was only able to make 10 knots.
29 October 1944
Operation "Obviate"
Tirpitz was attacked by 39 Lancasters (19 Lancasters of 617 Squadron and 20 Lancasters of 9 Squadron). Only one near miss which exploded about 15 m off the port side in the region of the steering gear.
12 November 1944
Operation "Catechism"
31 Lancaster bombers from 9 and 617 Squadrons attacked the ship with "Tallboy" bombs. After the first three hits and several near misses the ship capsizes. Of the ca. 1.700 men on board 971 were lost. 87 crewmembers were rescued by cutting holes in the ship's bottom to compartments where they had climbed. The bombers suffered no losses. The battle to sink the Tirpitz was finished.
Broken Down
1948 - 1957 The wreck of the Tirpitz was broken down and sold as scrap by the Norwegian company Einar Høvding Skippsuphugging which bought the wreck from the Norwegian government. Einar Høvding Skippsuphugging paid 120.000 Norwegian kroner for the ship. A very low price for a ship wreck with a lot of material and equipment of very high value.


© John Asmussen, 2000 - 2010. All rights reserved.