In 1944, in the fall, Soviet citizens learned from the Sovinformbureau reports joyful news. British bombers flooded the little-known Norwegian fjord near the port of Tromsø, the German battleship Tirpitz. The history of the battle was not described in detail, but it was clear that this was not the first attempt, hunting for the ship was a long time and, finally, was crowned with success. The death of the firing squad of the Kriegsmarine brought the hour of the general victory closer and freed the forces of the Royal Navy for operations on the territory of other naval theaters of military operations.
Nothing like Germany did not build - neither earlier nor later. The battleship Tirpitz was not the largest ship in the world, but it is difficult to call it small. The declared displacement was 35,000 tons, but in reality it exceeded 50,000 tons. Three screws rotated by a power plant with a capacity of over 138,000 liters. from. pushed this machine. It was a raider, that is, a ship intended for hunting for individual ships and convoys within a radius of 10 thousand miles. Speed exceeded 30 knots. A dozen boiler-turbine units were loaded with turbo-gear units, one per screw. The length of the ship is 251 meters, the width in the maximum section is 36 meters with a draft of 10.6 meters. The crew is almost 2100 sailors and officers. The battleship giant Tirpitz personified the doctrine of Admiral Raeder, according to which the success in the naval theater of operations was determined by the power of the surface fleet. This opinion was also held by Chancellor Adolf Hitler, hypnotized by the enormity of the dreadnought. Later it turned out that the Fuhrer was mistaken, but it was too late.
About the title
How the Tirpitz appeared
In fact, if Germany, led by Hitler, adhered to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, then it would not build ships of this class. The country had no right to launch military vessels heavier than 10 thousand tons. Typically, such a displacement was matched by a cruiser, usually armed with guns of caliber of 203 mm. It is this inaccuracy, written in the contract carelessly, and allowed the Germans to build completely untypical combat units that changed the situation. The class of "pocket battleships" was characterized by a small displacement (just over 10 thousand) and heavy-duty armament (6 guns of caliber 280 mm). They were three: "Admiral Count Spee", "Admiral Scheer" and "Deutschland", they were laid in 1934, and even then it became clear that Hitler was not going to comply with the terms of Versailles, since the displacement of ships exceeded the established limit of 10 thousand tons , although it is still insignificant. In the spring of 1939, the battleship Tirpicz was put into operation. And the battleship Bismarck, too. They were the same type of ships, they were preparing for a war unleashed soon.
Shell of the Tirpitz
As a true Teutonic deity, the ship was chained into a solid shell. Its body was surrounded by armor, which protected the cellars of the towers by more than two-thirds of its total height at a thickness of 170 to 350 mm. There were two armored decks (50 and 80 mm). The extremities were also covered (nose 50 mm, feed 80 mm). Barbet (tower protection) with a thickness of 340 mm ensured the invulnerability of calculations during the battle. The average caliber also had armor, inclined, up to 20 mm. At 5 m 40 cm steel sheets went below the waterline to reduce the risk of torpedo possible attacks. In general, the newest and largest German battleship Tirpitz possessed rational and powerful protection against all possible types of antiship weapons of its time. Looking ahead, we can state that this did not affect his sad fate.
By firepower, the battleship was much superior to most of the world's analogues. On the four towers placed on the bow and stern, the main caliber guns (380 mm) were mounted in pairs. In addition to them, the artillery was represented by auxiliary fire points: six 150 mm cannons, eight 105 mm guns, and there were as many anti-aircraft installations (37 mm). Armament several times changed, this contributed to a significant degree of unification of mounting dimensions.
The battleship Tirpitz also had an air wing, represented by six seaplanes, launched from a twin ejection area. The aircraft carried out naval reconnaissance, searching for enemy submarines, and, if necessary, could attack them with depth charges and heavy machine guns (if the submarine was in the above-water position).
By its armament the ship could compete with any vessel of the anti-Hitler coalition. But the fate of the battleship "Tirpitz" was formed so that it was possible to shoot from its main caliber only a little and only for coastal purposes.
The situation in the Atlantic
In the spring of 1941, the German command made enormous efforts (not unsuccessfully) to sea blockade of the British Isles. Day May 24 was a black date in the history of the Royal Navy. The battleship "Bismarck" with accurate fire (perhaps accidentally) managed to destroy the cruiser "Hood" - the pride of the English fleet. In battle, the German raider also suffered damage that worsened his driving characteristics, as a result of which he was overtaken by a British squadron, fired, attacked by torpedoes and sunk. Success accompanies the British, but after realizing the danger that the German battleships represented, they began to treat them cautiously, avoiding direct collisions, but continuously trying to destroy them.
The Germans, having lost the Bismarck, also experienced a kind of stupor. For fear of losing the last dreadnought, they protected the battleship Tirpitz, hiding it in the Norwegian fjords. But weapons were created for war, and the outcome must inevitably come, sooner or later.
The annoying battleship
After an unsuccessful and almost useless trip to Spitzbergen (September 1942), during which the coastal part of the island and coal mines were bombed artillery bombarded, the raider was idle almost idle in the Nazi-occupied Norway. The English knew about this, and prepared a secret mission, which was set to sink the battleship Tirpitz. The ship was also annoying Soviet sailors: he made sorties, preventing the passage of convoys, going with military cargo from the US to Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. During these raids, the German ship was attacked by British aircraft and Allied submarines, but without success.
The essence of the operation planned by the British Admiralty was to sink the battleship with special submarines of the type "X-6" and "X-7" of very small tonnage.
In fact, the plan was not the first, attempts were made earlier. For example, at the very end of October 1942, Operation TITUL entered the final phase, during which two torpedoes guided by underwater swimmers were to hit an enemy ship. The tug, disguised as a trawler, delivered these shells for a minimum distance, and then they followed the target, led by special pilots who risked their lives no less than the Japanese "kaiten" suicide bombers.
In the fjord of Trondheims, the boat was able to penetrate, but the operation was unsuccessful - the weather prevented it. A strong wave tore the torpedoes from the cable at a distance of only ten miles from the battleship. The tugboat had to be flooded, the Germans discovered it a little later and understood, if not the entire plan, then at least the fact that something is being plotted against the Tirpitz.
In September 1943, the operation, called the Source, was much more successful. Three mini-submarines, which had codes "X" from 5 to 7, were towed by conventional submarines to the place of basing "Tirpitsa" (fjord Alten). The first of them the Germans managed to find and sink, two other tasks were carried out: they fired mines weighing 2 tons under the very bottom of the battleship. The results of the explosions were deplorable for the ship, he received numerous damages. The third tower, having received a tremendous momentum, lost its ability to rotate, one turbine fell from its frame, the frames curved. Many important fire control and navigation controls ceased to function. After the inspection, the practical non-repairability of the ship became evident. German technical services have spent a lot of effort and resources, trying to restore the battleship Tirpitz. Characteristics of the former could not be. The British did not know about this.
Attempts to finish off the largest German ship continued in 1944. During the operation "Wolfram" (Tungsten), the naval forces were involved. The air strike that was agreed with them resulted in additional damage and death of a part of the crew (123 people), but did not achieve the ultimate goal. A few more actions with awesome names ("Tigress's Claws", "Talisman" and others) were even less effective. The "Goodwood" plan in general became unsuccessful due to bad visibility in the operational area. The use of the airbase Yagodnik (Arkhangelsk region), as well as the use of special five-ton bombs "Tallboy", increased the capabilities of British aviation. At that time, the Tirpitz actually was a stationary artillery floating battery that occupied an insignificant position near the Norwegian city of Tromsø. The ship was bombed frequently, and eventually ended on November 12th. The last battle of the battleship "Tirpitz" occurred in the bay of Hawkebotn, in the same place it sank. Of the 1,700 team members, seven hundred were saved, the rest went to the bottom.
The Lunin version
The events that took place near the island of Rolvsø on July 5, 1942, are treated ambiguously today. The Soviet submarine "K-21" under the command of the captain of the third rank NA Lunin made an attempt to destroy a large naval surface target with four torpedoes. The conditions of the attack were complex, the crew could not be sure of the effectiveness of the launches. Acousticians have spotted two explosions, but whether they occurred due to falling into an enemy ship, or torpedo detonated from a collision with a rock bottom, is not known for certain. The documents that became the property of the allied powers after the collapse of Hitlerism do not confirm the damage caused to the German ships by the submarine K-21. Such are the dry facts.
Another thing - fiction. About how Lunin attacked the battleship "Tirpitz", wrote the famous writer Valentin Pikul. According to his version, it was the actions of Soviet submariners that became the decisive factor that determined the death of the flagship of the Kriegsmarine.
The destiny of historians is the analysis of documents. This work seems boring to many, but it gives answers to most questions concerning the past. For example, the question of who sank the Tirpitz. Battleship went to the bottom after the air raid of British aviation, this fact is undeniable. Our heroic submariners do not need someone else's glory, they lack their own.