Scale Plastic Model Kits
The Sinking Of The Battleship Tirpitz
Commissioned in 1941, the German Navy's mighty 42,900 ton Tirpitz posed a
grave threat to Allied shipping. Sister ship to the more famous Bismarck, the
Tirpitz carried a main armament of eight 15 inch guns. She spent her war career
in Norwegian waters where she was a constant danger to Allied convoys bound for
The Tirpitz was first bombed by the Royal Air Force in January 1941
while she was being completed in the Wilhelmshaven dry docks. In April, 1942 the
Tirpitz was attacked repeatedly by Halifaxes
but no bombs found their target.
The Royal Navy
even tried attacking the Tirpitz on a number of occasions with
and carrier based aircraft. These attacks were somewhat
successful but little effect on the battleship's double layer of armor plate could
Finally British inventor, Sir Barnes Wallis, built a special
bomb for the job. Wallis had previously developed the bouncing bomb used in the
now famous "Dambusters Raid". In 1944 he devised the
a 12,030 pound weapon capable of piercing the Tirpitz's
On September 11, 1944, 38 Lancasters of 9 and 617 Squadrons
set out to fly to an airfield in Northern Russia which was to be used as a base
for an attack on the ba
The Tirpitz was anchored deep in the Kaa Fjord in Northern Norway. With mountains
screening the Lancasters' approach from enemy radar, the Tirpitz was caught by
surprise. One Tallboy smashed through the Tirpitz's forecastle and burst deep
in her hull. The shock caused by the explosion damaged the ship's engines.
The Germans decided that it was not practical to make Tirpitz fully seaworthy
again and so she was moved to Tromso, further south in Norway, but only for use
as a semi-static, heavy artillery battery. The British were not aware of the extent
of the damage and the Tirpitz was attacked again on October 29th 1944 . 37 Lancasters
were dispatched from Scotland. With the installation of extra fuel tanks, the
Tirpitz could now be reached directly from Britain, although it required a 2,250
The final attack took place on November 12th 1944. 30 Lancasters
from 9th and 617th Squadron again took off from Scotland. The weather was clear
as Wing Commander Willie Tait led the bombers on a wide detour, approaching the
Tirpitz from the land. There was no smokescreen as the Lancasters passed over
the last mountain and the fjord with the Tirpitz came into view. The battleship
began to sparkle with flashes from stem to stern as the anti-aircraft fire rose
to 14,000 feet. The bombs were released and the crews waited thirty long agonizingseconds
for the results. A great yellow flash burst on the foredeck and the Tirpitz was
seen to tremble as it was hit by at least two Tallboys. It then suffered a tremendous
explosion as the ammunition stores magazine went up. She capsized and approximately
1000 of her crew were killed. Only one Lancaster was severely damaged by flak.
It landed safely in Sweden.
With the sinking of the Tirpitz, Hitler lost
the last influential ship of his surface battle fleet and marked the end of Germany's
naval war in northern waters.
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This page was last updated Feb 20th 2007.