Monday, January 18, 2016

Documentary Review: Nazi's Mega Weapons: Hitler's Battleships

   Although Hitler had planned to build bigger and bigger Battleships, he actually only finished two large Battleships; the Bismarck, completed in 1940 and its sister, Tirpitz, finished the following year 1941.  Too Adolf Hitler these Battleships were propaganda pieces.  To the commander of the Navy, Admiral Erich Raeder, these Battleships afforded an opportunity to disrupt the British line of supply.  On the maiden voyage for the Bismarck, the British were determined to sink her.  The British feet set out to track her down, and finally did so, and engaged her in battle.  The British lost HMS Hood a battle cruiser, and a Battleship, HMS Wales was badly damaged.  The British continued to press, this time attacking with biplane torpedo planes, which were flying off an improvised aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal.  One of the torpedoes scored a hit at the aft of the Bismarck, flooding the steering house and causing the rudder to lock in place, and forcing the Bismarck into a tight circle.  The boat should have been able to correct for this using the propellers, however a design flaw had the propellers too close together so this was not possible.  After this the Bismarck was a sitting duck.  Two British ships came in for the kill, and the Bismarck was sunk 27 May, 1941.
Of course Hitler was furious.  His propaganda weapon was destroyed.  He would not let the other ship, Tirpitz, to engage in similar combat, and he scrubbed future Battleship projects, moving the material and men to construction of submarines.
The Tirpitz was sent North to Norway, where it was anchored in a fjord surrounded by high mountains and in deep water.  Defensive placements where scattered among the hills, along with fog making canisters.  They idea was if the ship could not be seen, it could not be sunk.  Antiaircraft placement in the tops of the mountains were not hampered by the smoke being made below them.  The Tirpitz itself also had antiaircraft guns.  Torpedo netting was placed around the ship, thwarting any effort by submarines or torpedo planes.  The British attacked with planes flying from Russia carrying Tall Boy bombs.  These bombs could penetrate a ship's deck.  The British attacked, and did score a successful strike with one of these bombs.  However, the Tirpitz was not sunk.  However it was no longer sea worth because of the damage.  It was taken a short distance away, where it became the northern anchor of the Atlantic Wall which ran from Norway to Spain.  The ship was propped up with sandbags.
Still the large ship was a tempting target for the British, and although no threat, the British did not know this.  Having moved closer to England, the ship could be reached with long range bombers.  Again it was attacked with Tall Boy bombs.  This time 5-6 of the bombs struck the vessel and it was sunk.  The sand bags did not help as the vessel rolled the opposite way.  Of the 2000 men on board, two thirds were lost.  Some were rescued from inside the vessel when the thick hull was finally welded away.
Thus was the end of Adolf Hitler's large Battleships.

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