Just before World War II broke out, Germany built what was called the Bismarck class battleship. The fast battleships were created explicitly for the Kriegsmarine or the Nazi navy. Not only were they fast, but they were also the largest and most powerful warships that displaced more than 41,000 metric tons with a top speed of 30 knots or 35 miles per hour. The first one released was named Bismarck and was completed in September 1940. Bismarck had a less-popular sister ship named Tirpitz, and she was dubbed the Lonely Queen of the North. Here’s what happened to her.
Exceeding the Limit
Tirpitz was laid down in November 1936 and was completed two and a half years later, in February 1941. She was named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial German Navy. Like her sister, Bismarck, Tirpitz was armed with a main battery of eight 38-centimeter guns in four pairs of turrets. However, she weighed 2000 tons more than Bismarck and was the heaviest battleship built by a European navy at around 46,000 tons.
The weight of both Bismarck and Tirpitz exceeded the 35,000 tons limit imposed by the Washington Naval Treaty that set limits on battleship construction during the interwar period. Again, a limit widely exceeded by the Bismarck class ships, although the international treaty system had fallen apart before the ships were completed after Japan withdrew from it in 1937.
Tirpitz at a Closer Look
Tirpitz was 251 meters long to increase her speed through a more efficient length-beam ratio. Her top speed was at 30.8 knots or 35.4 mph, thanks to the 160,793 shop Brown, Boveri & Cie geared steam turbine triple screw propulsion system that powered her up. She was also equipped with 360 mm of steel on her gun turret fronts, 220 mm on the turret sides, 320 mm over her central belt, and two 50 mm and 100 mm thickly armored decks to protect her from incoming fire.