Tirpitz, sister ship to the notorious Bismarck, was one of the most feared German vessels of the Second World War. This reputation, however, resulted more from her destructive potential than the operations she conducted. Tirpitz sailed from Wilhelmshaven on 16 January 1942 and spent the rest of her career in Norwegian waters. There, she presented a dire threat to Arctic convoys carrying supplies and arms to Russia. Between 2 and 5 July 1943 a brief foray out of port by Tirpitz caused convoy PQ 17 to scatter. Tirpitz never closed with the convoy but it subsequently suffered grievously at the hands of U-boats. Tirpitz's only other significant movement was made on 6 September 1943 when, accompanied by KMS Scharnorst and ten destroyers, she bombarded the Allied outpost on the Norwegian island of Spitzbergen.

Numerous air raids, and an attack utilising human torpedoes, were initially mounted on the Tirpitz without result. The first significant damage sustained by the Tirpitz was inflicted by British midget submarines on 23 September 1943. Repairs had only just been completed when she was stuck by a carrier air strike on 3 April 1944, which was repeated on 24 August. A raid by Lancaster bombers of 15 September 1944 inflicted further heavy damage and she was move to Troms for repairs and to act as a floating battery to ward off any attempt at invasion by the Allies. Tirpitz's pummelling continued however and she sustained 22 further air raids in the ensuing months. She was reduced to a virtual hulk and rubble was dumped beneath her hull to prevent her capsizing. The coup de gras came on 12 November 1944 when she received several direct hits from 12,000 pound (5,550 kg) "Tallboy" bombs dropped by Lancaster bombers. She capsized and sank with the loss of 1,204 lives.


Class:   Bismarck Class battleship
Launched:   1 April 1939
Commissioned:   25 February 1941
Complement:   2092 - 2608
Length:   251 metres
Beam:   36 metres
Draught:   10.6 metres
Displacement:   42,000 tons
Speed:   30.8 knots
Armament:   8 x 38 cm guns
12 x 15 cm guns
16 x 10.5 cm anti-aircraft guns 16 x 3.7 cm anti-aircraft guns
16 x 2 cm anit-aircraft guns (later increased to 58) 8 x 53.3 cm torpedo tubes (added 1942)
Armour:   10 cm deck
30 cm hull belt