Last of the Schlachtschiff, 77 years ago today
Here we see the much-feared German Bismarck-class battleships, SMS Tirpitz, in Gotenhafen (occupied Gdynia, Poland) on 5 May 1941, on sea trials in the peaceful mid-Baltic (the Soviets were allies with Hitler then) just two months after she was commissioned.
More a figurehead than a fighter, this lavender marriage of convenience was the last capital ship ever completed by any version of the German nation and the fleet that operated her was on orders to never truly risk her loss. So of course, she was possibly one of the most-often attacked ships in history. In all, the Allies launched at least 20 separate attacks, mostly by air but also by midget submarines and frogmen (and once by a Soviet Red Banner Fleet submarine in open ocean), against her between 1941 and 1944 when she was finally gesunken by Royal Air Force bombers.
In addition to splashing a few attacking British aircraft over the years with her AAA suite, the only time the mighty Tirpitz fired her fearsome main battery of 38 cm SK C/34 L/52 guns was against shacks manned by a platoon-sized element of Free Norwegian army troops on the remote metrological outpost of Spitsbergen, killing 9 Norwegian soldiers and capturing 41, surely an immense waste of firepower that could have been duplicated by a destroyer, or perhaps even a determined U-boat.
Still, you can argue more dollars, rubles, and pounds were spent trying to destroy her than marks in her construction and operation, and the Allies were forced to tack capital ships on to every convoy that sailed in waters threatened by the largely immobile Teutonic dreadnought, so there’s that.
But you can always buy really sweet knives made from her remains…