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On This Day… The Legendary Tirpitz

Written by: George Chittenden : 12 Jun 2019

It was on this day, 12th Nov, back in 1944 when Germany’s monster warship was finally destroyed after countless attempts spanning several years. The warship I’m talking about was the mighty 42,900-ton Tirpitz. Ever heard of it? If not, I guarantee you’ve heard of her sister ship… the Bismarck! They were the two largest battleships ever built by Germany.

The Tirpitz spent her war career in Norwegian waters where she was a constant danger to Allied convoys bound for Russia. She was first bombed by the Royal Air Force in January of 1941, and even though the bombs exploded on her decks they had little effect. The Royal Air Force attacked her on several occasions and the Royal Navy attacked her with miniature submarines and even carrier-based aircraft. These attacks caused very little damage to the battleship due to her double layer of armour plate.

Enter British inventor, Sir Barnes Wallis, who built a special bomb for the job. Wallis was the man who’d previously built the bouncing bomb used in the Dambusters Raid. The bomb he built to pierce the Tirpitz's armour plating was named Tallboy. The final attack took place on November 12th, 1944. A whopping thirty Lancaster Bombers were dispatched to take out the legendary Tirpitz. When the bombs were released most narrowly missed their target, but then the Tirpitz shook as it was hit by at least two Tallboys. Today we remember those lives lost.

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