TIRPITZ: Lone Queen of The North
Posted by Matty on February 14, 2010, 0:42:17
Edited by board administrator December 31, 2017, 8:00:56
-- Originally Posted 2/14/2010 -- |
Though not yet ready to start a build of DKM Tirpitz, my research for upcoming Lancaster/TallBoy and Halifax builds have of course encountered much history and references on this epic ship, whose simple existence "in being" was - much like the Italian fleet, in the Mediterranean - a sufficient threat to force the British to waste substantial naval reserves - waiting, on constant alert - to counter whatever move she might decide to make. A fact of which the British were keenly aware - and itching to eliminate - and would accordingly attack her by practically every means imagineable, until finally effecting her destruction.
But not before the Germans, equally aware of Tirpitz' value and efficacy, would cunningly protect and maintain her, in Norwegian fjord lairs, during WWII for years:
Click on Image to Enlarge These two pics - from among all those I've found - best depict her moniker "Lone Queen of The North", showing Tirpitz exactly as she spent practically the entirety of WWII: operating in Norwegian waters - or more precisely, stationed heavily defended within protective fjords, as at right. Note both pics show her wearing a simple, disruptive camo scheme, composed of a relatively few, very dark shapes over a light gray or - particularly at right - a white hull. Note how much darker is the fully-illuminated deck (right) than the white fantail - if the former was not stained (gray?), then its natural wood color was indeed quite dark. Note also that the superstructure does not appear quite white, in any place(s), but a light gray - with each aft turret-top appearing to have a different, identification color on it - though both look rather dark (at least, on the film used).
I even found an exceedingly rare color reference:
Enlarged and sharpened as much as I could, this pic shows Tirpitz on May 25, 1943, locating her in Norway's "AltaFjord". Note again the simple disruptive scheme, including prominent false bow - the whole forward third of the ship creating the distinct illusion of a trawler, IMHO - painted over what is clearly a white hull. Note the upperworks blend almost perfectly into the shoreline background, due to shadowing on their apparently all-gray surfaces - just as seen in the prior pics, above - and that the hull camo ends in a white fantail - again, as in the prior pic of the stern, which may well date from precisely this same circa-1943 time period.
Indeed, Tirpitz' camouflage appears to have changed at least annually during WWII:
Click on Image to Enlarge This pic dates from the summer of 1942 - almost exactly a year before the color shot above, and depicts a much simpler pattern comprising only a large, dark bar surrounding the fantail - and possibly another dark feature, up forward - on the port side. The rest of the hull and upperworks are a medium-light gray, but the wood decks are now substantially lighter than the (lightest) gray. Other pics (not shown) from very early in WWII - or perhaps immediately pre-war - depict Tirpitz in uniform gray overall.
So it would appear her camo was evolving over time, from simpler to more complex:
Accordingly, we could very reasonably conclude that this undated pic of a disruptive scheme - the "classic" Tirpitz camo, and that in which she is most beautifully modelled, IMHO - must date from rather later than the mid-'43 pic, shown earlier. Note the pattern has elaborated not only more shapes, but into a bona-fide, dazzle pattern extending over all of the superstructure - and quite possibly the decks as well. Indeed it is hard to imagine how Tirpitz' camo could have become any more complex than this, before her final ordeal at the hands of Lancasters, and their gigantic TallBoy bombs, from 9/15/44 to 11/12/44.
On which latter date Tirpitz was finally destroyed off Tromso:
Click on Image to Enlarge This pic - really telling the whole final chapter, in a nutshell - was found undated, but apparently depicts the start of scrapping the capsized hulk (at top), very soon post-WWII. In any case, the huge TallBoy crater in the foreground still looks like it was blasted out yesterday.
Apparently, this same crater has since been preserved - undoubtedly as part of a war memorial - right up to this day:
Click on Image to Enlarge On this modern-day airphoto of the sinking site (box w/coordinates), I have taken the liberty of annotating the above crater as "1", followed by 9 more (among many, many other) circular features noted - presumed traces, remaining after 66 years both ashore and in shallow water, of impacts by mammoth TallBoy bombs - out of 77 all told, released against Tirpitz (though not all of them at this location). Immediately to the right of Crater "1" note a tiny, rounded object - probably a small kiosk, or perhaps even just a large boulder - no doubt mounting a commemorative plaque.
Indeed. Tirpitz was a historic ship - magnificent in appearance, particularly in her final, dazzle-camo - with a truly epic story, encompassing her life and constant tribulations through to her spectacular, final end.
A build of Tirpitz really should accompany any build of the TallBoy Lancaster(s) - not to mention any of the numerous prior RAF aircraft, RN aircraft, their carriers and/or even the secret mini-subs - all ranged against Tirpitz, The Lone Queen, before her time was up.