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.

German 380mm/15″ SK C/34 gun being installed on the Battleship Tirpitz during her construction

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…

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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