In 1944, in the deep autumn, from the reports of the Soviet Information Bureau, citizens of the USSR learned the good news. British bombers flooded the German battleship Tirpicz in a little-known Norwegian fjord near the port of Tromsø. The history of the battle was not expounded in detail, but it was clear that this did not happen on the first attempt, the hunt for the ship was long and, finally, crowned with success. The death of the Kriegsmarine, an annoying combat unit for the allies, brought the hour of total victory closer and freed up the Royal Navy for operations on the territory of other maritime theaters.
Germany did not build anything like this, neither earlier nor later. The battleship Tirpitz was not the largest ship in the world, but it is difficult to call him a small one. The declared displacement was 35 thousand tons, but in reality it exceeded 50,000. Three screws, rotated by a power plant with a capacity of over 138 thousand liters. from. pushed this colossus. It was a raider, that is, a ship designed to hunt for individual ships and convoys within a radius of 10 thousand miles. The speed exceeded 30 knots. A dozen boiler-turbine installations were loaded turbo-gear units, one for each screw. The length of the ship is 251 meters, the width in the maximum section is 36 m with a draft of 10.6 m. The crew is almost 2100 sailors and officers. The battleship giant Tirpitz personified the doctrine of Admiral Raeder, according to which success in the maritime theater of operations was determined by the power of the surface fleet. At the time, Chancellor Adolf Hitler, hypnotized by the enormity of the Dreadnought, was of the same opinion. Later it turned out that the Fuhrer was wrong, but it was too late.
About the name
How did the "Tirpitz"
In fact, if Germany, led by Hitler, adhered to the terms of the Versailles Treaty, she would not have built ships of this class. The country did not have the right to launch military vessels heavier than 10 thousand tons. Usually cruisers, usually armed with 203 mm caliber guns, corresponded to such a displacement. It was this inaccuracy that was spelled out carelessly in the contract that allowed the Germans to build completely atypical combat units that changed the situation. The class of “pocket battleships” was characterized by a small displacement (slightly more than 10 thousand) and super-powerful armament (6 guns of 280 mm caliber). There were three of them: "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 conditions of Versailles, since the displacement of ships exceeded the established limit of 10 thousand tons , although still insignificant. In the spring of 1939, the Tirpitz battleship was commissioned. And the battleship "Bismarck" too. These were ships of the same type, they were preparing for a war unleashed soon.
Like a real Teutonic deity, the ship was encased in a durable shell. His body encircled armor, protecting the cellars of the towers more than two-thirds of its total height with a thickness of from 170 to 350 mm. There were two armored decks (50 and 80 mm). The extremities were also covered (nose 50 mm, feed 80 mm). The barbety (tower defense) 340 mm thick ensured the invulnerability of the calculations during the battle. The medium caliber also had armor, including sloping, up to 20 mm. At 5 meters 40 cm, the steel sheets went below the waterline to reduce the risk of possible torpedo attacks. In general, the newest and largest German battleship "Tirpitz" possessed rational and powerful protection against all possible types of anti-ship weapons of its time. Looking ahead, it can be stated that this had no effect on his sad fate.
In fire power, the battleship was significantly superior to most of the world’s analogues. On the four towers, located on the bow and stern, guns of the main caliber (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, the same number there were anti-aircraft installations (37 mm). The armament was changed several times, a considerable degree of unification of the mounting dimensions contributed to this.
The battleship Tirpitz had an air wing, represented by six seaplanes, launched from a twin ejection platform. The aircraft carried out naval reconnaissance, search for enemy submarines, and, if necessary, could attack them with depth charges and large-caliber machine guns (if the submarine was in the surface position).
In its armament, the ship could compete with any vessel of the anti-Hitler coalition. But the fate of the battleship "Tirpitz" was such that he could shoot from his main caliber quite a bit and only at coastal targets.
The atmosphere in the Atlantic
In the spring of 1941, the German command made great efforts (not unsuccessful) to the naval blockade of the British Isles. May 24th was a black date in the history of the Royal Navy. The battleship "Bismarck" accurate fire (perhaps by accident) managed to destroy the cruiser "Hood" - the pride of the English fleet. In battle, the German raider suffered damage, which degraded its driving characteristics, as a result of which it was overtaken by a British squadron, fired upon, attacked by torpedoes and sunk. The success was accompanied by the British, but after realizing the danger that the German battleships represented, they began to treat them with caution, avoiding direct collisions, but continuously trying to destroy them.
The Germans, losing the "Bismarck", also experienced a stupor. Out of fear of losing the last dreadnought, they took care of the Tirpitz battleship, hiding it in the Norwegian fjords. But the weapon was created for the war, and the outcome was inevitably to come, sooner or later.
After an unsuccessful and almost useless campaign against Spitsbergen (September 1942), during which the coastal part of the island and coal mines were bombarded by artillery, the raider was idle almost without work in the Nazi-occupied Norway. The British were aware of this, and they were preparing a secret mission, the task of which was to sink the battleship Tirpitz. The ship was annoyed by the Soviet sailors as well: he made forays that prevented the passage of convoys going with military cargo from the USA 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 English admiralty, was to sink the battleship with special submarines of the type “X-6” and “X-7” of a very small tonnage.
In fact, the plan was not the first, attempts were made earlier. For example, at the very end of October 1942, the operation “Title” entered the final phase, during which two torpedo-controlled submariners were to hit the 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 Japanese suicide bombers kaiten.
In the fjord Trondheims the boat could penetrate, but the operation was unsuccessful - bad weather prevented it. A strong wave ripped the torpedoes off the cable at a distance of just ten miles from the battleship. The tug had to be flooded, the Germans discovered and understood it a little later, if not the whole plan, then, at least, that something was plotting against 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 Tirpitz home base (Alten fjord). The first of them, the Germans were able to detect and sink, the other two tasks performed: they fired mines weighing 2 tons each under the bottom of the battleship. The results of the explosions were deplorable for the ship, it received numerous injuries. The third tower, having received a colossal impulse, lost the ability to rotate, one turbine fell from its bed, the frames were twisted. Many important fire control and navigation devices stopped working. After inspection, the practical non-repairability of the ship became apparent. German technical services spent a lot of manpower and resources trying to restore the battleship Tirpitz. Characteristics of the same could not be. The British did not know about it.
Attempts to finish the largest German ship continued in 1944. During Operation Tungsten, naval forces were involved. The air strike coordinated with them led to additional damage and the death of a part of the crew (123 people), but did not reach the final goal. A few more actions with awesome names (Tiger Claws, Talisman and others) were even less effective. The Goodwood plan was generally unsuccessful due to poor visibility in the operational area. The use of the Yagodnik air base (Arkhangelsk region), as well as the use of the special five-ton bombs "Tall Boy" (Tallboy), increased the capabilities of British aviation. At that time, the Tirpitz was in fact already a stationary artillery floating battery, occupying an unimportant position near the Norwegian city of Tromsø. The ship was bombed frequently, and eventually on November 12 they finished it off. The last battle of the battleship "Tirpitz" occurred in Hokeybotn Bay, where he sank. Of the 1,700 members of the team, seven hundred were saved, the rest went to the bottom.
The events that took place near Rolvsø Island on July 5, 1942, are interpreted ambiguously today. The Soviet submarine "K-21" under the command of the captain of the third rank N. A. Lunin made an attempt to destroy a large sea surface target with four torpedoes. The attack conditions were difficult, the crew could not be convinced of the effectiveness of the launches. Acoustics spotted two explosions, but whether they occurred due to hitting an enemy ship, or torpedoes detonating from a collision with a rocky bottom, is not reliably known. 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 K-21 submarine. These are dry facts.
Another thing - fiction. About how Lunin attacked the battleship "Tirpitz", wrote a famous writer Valentin Pikul. According to his version, it was the actions of the Soviet submariners that became the decisive factor that caused the death of the flagship krigsmarine.
The plot of historians - the analysis of documents. This work seems boring to many, but it is the one that provides answers to most questions about the past. For example, on the question of who drowned Tirpitz. The battleship went to the bottom after a British air raid, this fact is indisputable. Our heroic submariners do not need foreign glory, they have enough of their own.