Tirpitz: Hunting the Beast: Air Attacks on the German Battleship 1940-44

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9781557508225: Tirpitz: Hunting the Beast: Air Attacks on the German Battleship 1940-44

This text offers an account of a key operation of World War II. For much of the war, the powerful German battleship "Tirpitz" had dominated the Atlantic and was a deadly adversary of the Allied convoys. The Royal Navy had achieved notable successes in sinking the "Graf Spee" in 1939 and the "Bismarck" in 1941, but from its base in Norway, "Tirpitz" effectively blocked the convoy routes to North Russia and threatened the possibility of a destructive breakout into the Atlantic. British midget submarines and Soviet and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm torpedo bombers all tried to destroy "Tirpitz" in port, but only succeeded in temporarily immobilizing her. Parallel to these efforts, were those of inventor Dr Barnes Willis (of the "bouncing bomb") who strove to perfect a similar bomb for use against "Tirpitz" by the specially formed No. 618 Squadron RAF. Protracted trials and technical problems dogged the programme and by late 1943, it was deemed to late for success. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy's midget submarine took place and torpedo bombers had some success although by mid-1944 "Tirpitz" remained a menace. Barnes Willis, however, continued to develop a bomb capable of piercing concrete and armour, resulting in the 12,000lb "Tallboy" ballistic bomb used by Lancaster bombers in a raid on "Tirpitz" in September 1944. Following two more attacks, the solitary dinosaur was finally destroyed.

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About the Author:

John Sweetman is an Honorary Research Fellow at Keele University and former Head of Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He now works as an historical consultant and is the author of several books on aviation and military subjects.

Review:

A fairly comprehensive description of the various aerial attacks by the Fleet Air Arm and RAF on the battleship Tirpitz including the successful attack by 617 Dambuster squadron that eventually sank her. The historic attack by midget submarines - more successful than was realised at the time - gets barely a mention but I suppose this is well covered in other books. I would have liked a few more photographs of the successful raid but that apart a good account of a unique story. --By G. M. Brown

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