On This Day…April 3rd.
By 1944, the battleship Tirpitz, sister ship to the Bismarck, had long been a coveted target of the British Admiralty. Just the existence of the battleship alone was enough to influence the British Fleet’s strategy and tactical thinking, especially in relation to the support of convoys supplying the Russian war effort.
The British had made several unsuccessful attempts to sink her by land and sea, and on 3rd April, 1944, a new plan (Operation ‘Tungsten’) was ready to launch based on intelligence placing the Tirpitz in the the Norwegian Fijord of Alten.
Operation Tungsten involved sending waves of fighters to strafe the Tirpitz, softening up her anti aircraft defences sufficiently to allow dive bombers to attck her with 730lbs armour piercing bombs.
In the early hours of the 3rd April waves of Barracudas, Seafires, Corsairs, Wildcats and Hellcats took off from the carriers Furious, Victorious, and Formidable, based in the North Sea, some 120 miles from the huge battleship.
The weather conditions were perfect and for once, everything went to plan. The attacking fighters exacted significant casualties, allowing ten direct hits on the Tirpitz by the bombers.
However, none of the impacts were of sufficient strength to penetrate any key vulnerable positions on the deck and a mortal blow was not struck. That said, the damage caused was significant, with 123 Tirpitz crew killed and over three hundred wounded.
The failure of the mission to sink the Tirpitz, along with the failures of Operations Source, Planet, Brawn, Tiger Claw, Mascot and Goodwood, saw the ultimate goal of the elimination of the ship handed over to the RAF.
After two failures of their own, Operations Obviate and Paravane, the Tirpitz was finally sunk on 12th November, 1944 by Lancasters of No.9 and 617 squadrons in Operation ‘Catechism’.
Hans-George Henke, a fifteen year Old pressed into service for the German army, shows the desperate sadness of war of the start of the end game for the Nazi regime, April 3rd, 1945, Hesse, Germany. Other account give different details but this is as accurate as I can find for age and area.
Experimental A-17A aircraft at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ Langley facility in Hampton, Virginia, 3rd April, 1940.
3rd Armour Divion troops move on to the front in atrocious conditions, Ausberg, Germany, April 3rd, 1945.
Soviet officers and U.S. soldiers during a friendly meeting on the Elbe River On 3rd Apri, 1945.
A kamikaze pilot goes down in an effort to hit USS Wake Island (CVE-65) at Okinawa, April 3rd, 1945.