Tirpitz – German Battleship
This ship was named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz
English Forces – 1943
HMS Victorious (carrier)
40 barracuda dive bombers and 40 escorting fighters
Tirpitz Laid Down
Construction on ship began
Ship construction completed
Tirpitz Sea Trials
Sails to Norway
Tirpitz sailed to Norway to be deterrent against Allied invasion and as threat to Allied convoys
St. Nazaire Raid
English commando raid on St. Nazaire Docks. Intended to destroy potential repair facility for Tirpitz
Tirpitz plays vital role in the near destruction of convoy PQ17
Ship was damaged by British mini submarines
Prince of Wales Sinks
Sister ship of the Bismark. A huge battleship that was essentially able to lock down most of the British Navy merely by existing. Unlike the Bismark, the Tirpitz would survive for several years before being sank in 1944.
The Tirpitz was an of enormous size. At 52,000 tons, she was bigger than any other battleship in the European theater. The existence of the Tirpitz was a direct threat to both the English Navy and the American Navy. However, it became an obsession for Britain’s Royal Navy and this fixation on the destruction and threat of the Tirpitz had wide reaching impact, even as far as Singapore. The existence of the Tirpitz meant that the vast bulk of the British navy was kept at home to confront the Tirpitz.
Eight 15 inch main guns and enormous amounts of armor made her the equal to any two British battleships she might meet. Infact the British navy felt it needed to always maintain either a 3 to 1, or 4 to 1 ratio of capital ships on hand in order to meet the Tirpitz head on. This ratio really doesnt give the full picture either. Britain maintain fleets of destroyers, cruisers aircraft carriers, and large numbers of aircraft for the sole purpose of sinking the Tirpitz.
While the Bismark was used to engage the British Royal navy, The life and role of the Tirpitz would be very different. After losing the Bismark, Hitler consistently made decisions regarding this ship that would keep it from having a similar fate. The Tirpitz would be a “potential threat” to the allies for years. Ironically, this potential threat, while frustrating to the sailers on the Tirpitz, proved to be far more effective against the British than the more aggressive actions of the Bismark, which lead to her Dramitic but short existence.
The British navy was seemingly paralized by German capital ships. There existed an unwillingness to reduce the number of ship facing off against possible future German naval excursions. In short, a handful of German ships like the Tirpitz held most of the English navy in place by the threat of what they might do in the future. Ultimately it was decided that the Repulse, Prince of Wales, a handful of destroyers and the aircraft carrier Indomitable would be sent to hold of the Japanese until the issue with the German ships could be resolved or as new ships came out of the shipyards. The Indomitable ran aground in the Carribean and was delayed with repairs and 2 of the destroyers sent to Singapore were older and had ongoing mechanical difficulties, preventing them from sailing out on the day the two might ships were sank.
Allied convoys carrying supplies and equipment vital to the Soviet Union were under constant threat from the Tirpitz. While the Tirpitz never attacked Allied convoys, Britains obession with the Tirpitz and its possible threat ensured that the builk of the British Royal Navy stayed in Northern Atlantic waters to confront the Tirpitz. It was decided early on that the Tirpitz needed to be sank and an all out effort was made over several years to accomplish this.
The British Royal Navy tried many different ways to sink the Tirpitz. Everything From carrier based bombers and tordedo bomber planes to midget submarines and 4 engine heavy bombers. Britain expended enormous resources trying to sink the Tirpitz and sustain many casualities.
In 1942 convoy PQ17 sailing to the Soviet Union was nearly entirely destroyed due to the existence of the Tirpitz. While the convoy sailed, information was learned indicating that the Tirpitz had sailed. It was assumed that she was sailing to intercept the convoy. This resulted in the convoys escorting force breaking off to intercept the Tirpitz and the convoy was ordered to scatter to have a better chance to make it to the Soviet Union. In the end the escorting warships never encounterd the Tirpitz and the Tirpitz returned to base. The scattered convoy ships were unprotected and repeatidly attacked by both German submarines and aircraft. Convoy PQ17 had 34 ships. 23 of the ships were sank. None were sank by the Tirpitz. The threat of the Tirpitz and the obsession by the British proved far more dangerous than anything the Bismark ever did.