|Angus Konstam, illustrated by Jim Laurier|
80 pages, 7¼ x 9¼ inches, softcover
This latest matchup in Osprey's recent Air Campaign series focuses on the efforts to sink the German battleship Tirpitz. With the occupation of Norway and the start of convoys to Murmansk to assist the Soviets, the Germans realized that Norway would be a great place to station capital ships. This would allow them to easily put to sea to harass convoys and to tie down British fleet assets that were needed elsewhere.
After the sinking of the Bismark, Hitler was quite paranoid regarding the use of his other heavy naval assets. Tirpiz only made one real attempt at intercepting a convoy and that did not turn out well for the ship. While it was not damaged by an air strike from British naval aircraft, it so freaked out Hitler that he forbade the use of the Tirpitz in any operation in which it might encounter an aircraft carrier. This pretty well put the end to any operations into the sea lanes for the Tirpitz. From then until the end of the war, the Tirpitz was used as a 'fleet in being' to tied down ships of the British fleet at Scapa Flow.
Getting to the Tirpitz at is various anchorages was an issue. Surface forces and submarines could simply not maneuver in the narrow fjords where the Tirpitz was anchored. Multiple attacks by carrier planes showed that the ordnance they carried was insufficient to deal with the German battleship. The only real way to get to the ship was by RAF heavy bombers.
This book covers every single attempt at sinking the Tirpitz until there was success just a few months before the end of the war, when the ship's existence was a moot point. However, Churchill was obsessed with its destruction so the raids continued well beyond their having any meaning to the war effort. The author has very much done his research on this one and winds a spell-binding story of the various attempts to sink the ship and the German's defenses against these attacks. One thing that struck me is that not one time during any of these raids did the Luftwaffe supply even a single fighter as protection, leaving the Tirpitz to its fate on every occasion. Great period photos and some especially well done illustrations help to tell a very interesting story. Highly recommended.
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