Fun Facts about the Battleship Tirpitz

Today’s post comes courtesy of David Seehafer. Here he presents some fun facts about the battleship Tirpitz.

 

fun facts about the battleship tirpitz

  1. Tirpitz (and Bismarck) were originally designed to mount 13″ guns. This changed after France announced that Richelieu would mount 15″ guns.
  2. Tirpitz was 8’6″ longer than her sister.
  3. Tirpitz received more powerful engines than Bismarck increasing her design speed to 31.5kn.
  4. As built, Tirpitz had a pair of depth charge racks mounted on the stern. These were later removed.
  5. Tirpitz had smoke generators mounted in her stern and also had several smoke canisters littered across her decks and superstructures.
  6. Tirpitz’s center-line propeller was a variable pitch propeller. This meant that the blades of the prop could be rotated to control the amount of thrust generated by the propeller. In this way, it was possible for Tirpitz to go from full speed ahead to reverse without ever slowing and reversing the engines. Also worked as a breaking system which helped with dodging torpedoes.
  7. In her first transit through the Kiel canal, Tirpitz ran aground 4 times (The Bismarck class was notoriously unmaneuverable at low speeds)
  8. The only times Tirpitz ever fired her real guns was at Spitzbergen and during the final tallboy attacks, as all gunnery trials were done with sub-caliber barrels which were inserted into the main guns to prevent the actual guns from wearing out.
  9. When Tirpitz first arrived in Norway she was given her very own Bf109 fighter and an Ace pilot (Kurt Dombacher) while she awaited the arrival of her Arado floatplanes (at the time under repair) from Germany.
  10. Though Tirpitz never sank an enemy ship she did sink the British submarine X5 with her secondary guns and she was present for the sinking of a Russian freighter during the search for Convoy PQ12.
  11. Tirpitz was subject to more air attacks than any other battleship in history.
  12. While Tirpitz was fitting out it was decided to test her engines, however, increased RAF activity convinced the Germans that it was unsafe to let Tirpitz go out to sea in her current incomplete condition. So they strapped her to two buoys and basically played a game of tug of war with the bouys while putting the engine through its paces. Soot churned up by the ship’s propellers clogged the condenser openings causing the engines to overheat and burst into flames. The engines, however, were salvageable.
  13. It took an hour and twenty minutes to build up enough steam to move the Tirpitz. Because of this, the engines were left running almost all the time so the ship would be able to move in an attack/emergency. The amount of precious fuel the Tirpitz ate up doing this was astronomical.
  14. Tirpitz shot down 39 enemy aircraft during her career.
  15. During gunnery trials against the target ship Hessen, Tirpitz hit the Hessen 9 times from a range of 25km. These are the longest non-combat artillery hits on another ship ever recorded by any battleship before or since.
  16. In order to train and fire her torpedo tubes the aft 15cm turrets had to be trained to 90 or 270 degrees.
  17. The fastest recorded speed Tirpitz ever went was 30.8kn at 163,026 hp during sea trials, though, this speed was obtained without overloading the engines, so a speed as high as 32kn is not an unrealistic possibility.
  18. Tirpitz met her demise when she was struck by 3 Tallboy bombs and 1 near miss. Tirpitz had settled into the mud at a list of 60 degrees and had stabilized at that point when the aft magazine detonated (we still don’t know exactly why), disturbing the balance of the ship and causing Tirpitz to roll over completely.
  19. Tirpitz was the largest battleship ever built in Europe.
  20. Tirpitz had 4 captains during her career, Kar Topp (Feb 1941 – Feb 1943), Hans Meyer (Feb 1943 – May 1944), Wolf Junge (May 1944 – Nov 1944), and Robert Weber (Nov 1944)
  21. In the months leading up to Operation Cerberus (The Channel Dash) Tirpitz played her part by distracting the British by jumping from fjord to fjord and practicing gunnery drills. This was done to make the British believe that Tirpitz was preparring for a breakout in an attempt to draw attention away from the build up of German warships in France.
  22. Tirpitz was the last major German warship Hitler ever visited.
  23. Tirpitz was attacked by Soviet submarines on three separate occasions during her career, none of the attacks were successful though one of the Soviet subs went as far as to claim that it hit and sank the Tirpitz.
  24. Tirpitz’s crew consisted of 12 divisions. Division I – IV of the crew were intended for the main and secondary artillery, division V was for light AA guns, division VI for heavy AA, division VII consisted of canteen staff, cooks, tailors, cobblers, barbers and the ship’s band, division VIII for damage control, division IX was navigation, and divisions X – XII were engineers, technicians, engine room.
  25. About 7,500 planks of wood made up Tirpitz’s deck.
  26. Tirpitz had 15x 25m anchor chains on board, 9 for the starboard anchor, 3 for the port anchor and 3 in reserve. The stern anchor was used only for support to prevent the ship from swinging.
  27. Tirpitz never once deployed her paravanes.
  28. Each of Tirpitz’s 15″ guns weighed 111t, 3 tons more than the fore and aft 15cm turrets weighed (108t).
  29. Tirpitz was once painted to look like a brick factory. Among her other disguises included painting/dressing her to look like a British battleship, a mountain, and a forest. Interestingly, she was one of the only large German warships never to wear a traditional Baltic camo scheme.
  30. Tirpitz enjoyed the company of every large German warship in the Kriegsmarine at some point in her career save for Konigsberg, Karlsruhe, and Gneisenau. She was by no means “The lonely Queen of the North”.
  31. Among other things, Tirpitz’s demise came in part by the fact that the Luftwaffe fighters sent to defend her were accidentally sent to the wrong fjord. Because the Tirpitz was expecting air cover and didnt want to shoot down any friendlies, her AA gunners opened fire on the attacking Lancasters much too late…. no Lancaster bombers were destroyed in the attack.

fun facts about the battleship tirpitz

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