He was the strongest ship in the theater of operations. The lonely ghost of the northern seas, whose name terrified opponents: during the war years, Soviet and British pilots made 700 sorties to the Tirpitsa parking lot. The German battleship for three years fettered the fleet of the metropolis in the North Atlantic, forcing the British to drive squadrons of battleships, aircraft carriers and cruisers along the Norwegian fjords. Submarines were looking for him, he was hunting aviation and special operations forces. Because of him, the convoy PQ-17 was dismissed. The German monster survived the attack of a mini-submarine, and finally was finished off with 5-ton bombs at a parking lot in Tromsø in November 1944. That's what a guy he was!
It was a tiny, half-blind shell, slowly creeping in the thick cold water. Sprayed periscope eyepiece, hydroacoustic seaman and gyrocompass, showing where the north is under this damn water - that’s probably what Nikolai Lunin was guided by when intercepting the German battleship.
Tirpitz was great. Invincible 50000-ton giant with eight 15-inch guns, 320-mm armor belt and speed of 30 + knots.
But the Soviet boat K-21 can not be called an innocent participant in those events. The secretive submarine cruiser is one of the most modern and heavily armed ships in its class, capable of sneaking up on its victim and catching on it with the fangs of 6 nasal and 4 stern torpedo tubes.
Their meeting took place on July 5 1942. In 17: 00, a German squadron comprising the battleship Tirpitz, accompanied by heavy cruisers Admiral Scheer, Admiral Hipper and 9 escort destroyers, was discovered by a Soviet submarine. The events of the following hour formed the basis of the plot of a real naval detective story, which has been for over 70 years for years without leaving the minds of researchers and historians of the Navy.
Did Lunin get into Tirpitz?
After the phase of active maneuvering, the boat was not in the most advantageous position - on diverging courses, at a distance of 18-20 cable from the German squadron. At this point, and produced a four torpedo salvo from the feed apparatus. The target speed was determined in the 22 node, its true course was 60 ° (according to German data, the squadron was going at that moment at a speed of 24 node. The course was 90 °).
The acoustics of the K-21 submarine recorded two separated explosions, and then, when the German squadron was already hiding away, the series of explosions were weaker. N. Lunin suggested that one of the torpedoes hit the battleship, the second to the destroyer, and the series of breaks that followed later - the detonation of depth charges on a sinking ship.
According to German documents, "Tirpitz" and the ships of his escort did not notice the fact of a torpedo attack and did not even see any traces of torpedoes fired. The squadron returned to the base without loss.
However, three hours later, on 21: 30, the combat campaign was interrupted. German heavy ships lay on the opposite course - the submarines and the Luftwaffe began to search and destroy the ships of the abandoned caravan PQ-17.
These are in brief the raw data of this task.
Today we will not discuss the K-21 maneuvering schemes and its position at the time of the attack of the German battleship - hundreds of articles were written about this, but their authors did not come to a single conclusion. Everything, ultimately, comes down to an assessment of the likelihood of a torpedo entering the battleship.
The explosions heard by the acoustics also cannot be a reliable confirmation of the success of the attack: according to the most realistic version, the torpedoes, after passing the maximum distance, sank and detonated when they hit the rocky bottom. A series of weaker explosions in the distance belongs to depth charges, dropped by the Germans on an unidentified submarine (according to a number it will receive the British submarine HMS Unshaken, which also tried to attack the Tirpitz that day).
Such a quick roll-up of the “Knight's move” operation has a simple explanation: by the evening of 5 July 1942, the Germans received clear evidence that the convoy PQ-17 had ceased to exist. Chasing single vehicles is the lot of submarines and airplanes. Large surface ships immediately lay on the reverse course.
However, this is not so simple. At about the same time, alarming information arrived on board the Tirpitz - the Germans intercepted the K-21 radiogram, in which Nikolai Lunin reported on his meeting with the German squadron and the results of the attack. A report from a Russian submarine, the appearance of a British submarine ... It would be unfair to say that cowardly German sailors began to shake their knees. But the very fact of the appearance of the underwater threat was supposed to alarm the command. And who knows, the Germans would have risked continuing the operation even if the convoy PQ-17 were still moving to the ports of destination guarded by a powerful escort?
Northern Command fleet meets K-21 returning from a campaign
There can be many versions and explanations ...
Instead of all this, I would like to draw attention to a more reliable and obvious fact. For example, on the destructive impact of the warhead torpedoes on the design of the ship.
The Germans could falsify all the journals, with their intrinsic pedantry rewrite payroll and applications for the supply of materials and tools from Germany to repair a damaged ship. Get a non-disclosure subscription from all crews of the squadron. Forge pictures. Let the Fuhrer sleep peacefully - nothing happened to his favorite toy ...
The Germans could falsify any documents. But could they hide the damaged Tirpitz from prying eyes? The Tirpitz home site was monitored daily by British reconnaissance aircraft; The movements of the battleship were monitored by agents of the Norwegian Resistance, directly related to British intelligence.
Was there at least one chance that the Royal Air Force “Mosquito” would not notice the repair work and the appearance of bright multi-colored oil stains spilled from damaged tanks?
The fact that the removal of damage from the torpedo will require large-scale work, no doubt. During World War II, many battleships from different countries were hit by submarines and torpedo bombers. And every time the consequences turned out to be monstrous - from the detonation of the cellars and the instantaneous death of the ship to the torn up sides, bent shafts, jammed steering gears, turbines and mechanisms in the engine room torn from the beds. An 300 underwater explosion kilogram of explosives is not a joke. Without a dry dock is not enough.
The 450-mm torpedo landed on the stern of the starboard side above the outer right propeller (about six meters below the waterline). The 227-kg blast of the torpedo combat charging compartment led to enormous damage: 9 3 hole in 15, intensively flooded corridor of the right outer propeller shaft, deformed and jammed shaft (along with the auxiliary starboard), leaks in longitudinal and transverse bulkheads in the area of the pairs. . Despite the alarm, several watertight hatches and outlets in the damage area were not battened down. The 30: The 3500 battleship stopped: by that time, the XNUMX tons of seawater had penetrated into the stern, the ship had aft aft of about three meters and a roll to starboard at about four and a half degrees.
- the result of a torpedo hit in the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto, 28 March 1941.
Torpedo exploded on the left side in the aft 381-mm turret. The 340 explosive force of kg of TNT pierced a structural underwater protection: a hole of 13x6 meters was formed in the outer skin, and the ship received 2032 tons of seawater and got a list in the amount of three and a half degrees on the starboard and the difference in the stern around 2,2 meter. Several dozen people were killed, about the same number were injured. The list managed to be reduced to one degree, and the trim was not eliminated until it returned to the base.
- the result of the meeting of the "Vittorio Veneto" with the British submarine HMS Urge, 14 December 1941, half-yearly repair is provided.
Battleship "Maryland", damaged by a torpedo at Saipan
The battleship "North Carolyn". The result of a torpedo hit by a Japanese submarine I-19
Incredibly, just three months after the 5 events of July 1942, the Tirpitz also required complex repairs!
23 October 1942 “Tirpitz” moved from Narvik to Trondheim. There also arrived floating workshop "Hauskaran". The Germans built a caisson and over the next three months spent ... preventive replacement of the rudder blade of the battleship. It is time to exclaim "Eureka" and throw the hat up. Did we find evidence of a successful Lunin attack?
Experienced experts and investigators for particularly important cases are asked to keep calm and not to rush to conclusions - to find a connection between the July 5 torpedo attack of July 1942 and the repair work during the autumn-winter period of 1942-43. not so easy. If the torpedo caused damage to the rudders - how did the Tirpitz avoid the repetition of the fate of his fellow Bismarck? Despite the fact that the British 457 mm aviation torpedo Mk XII is just a ridiculous slam against the background of the Soviet combined-cycle 53-38 used by the K-21 boat (weight 1615 kg versus 702 kg, explosive charge 300 kg against 176 kg in Mk XII). Such a thing was supposed to smash the "Tirpitz" all the aft part and damage not only the steering wheel, but also the screws.
Tirpitz returns to base after intercepting PQ-17 convoy
However, it is known that the Tirpitz campaign returned under its own power; the transition to Trondheim also took place on its own. No noticeable repair work was carried out on board the battleship during its stay in Bogen Bay. Oil spots and trim on the stern was observed. Is there a link between the repair and the Lunin torpedo attack? Or repair - a consequence of some other events?
The version with a navigation incident can be discarded as untenable. One glance at the location of the rudder of the battleship is enough to make sure that they can only be damaged if you pre-unlock the hull on the rocks along its entire length. However, there remains a version with damage to the rudders when reversing during mooring - this could happen if all the members of the superlinker crew were drunk as Untermensch.
Could any combat damage have taken place? Alternatively, the rudder feather could have been damaged during one of the numerous bombardments of the battleship parking area:
30-31 March 1941g. - Xnumx “Halifax” raid on Trondheim (to no avail, six shot down);
27-28 April 1941g. - 29 “Halifax” and 11 “Lancaster” raid (to no avail, five shot down);
28-29 April 1941g. - 23 “Halifax” and 11 “Lancaster” raid (to no avail, two shot down);
Close breaks of dozens of bombs could not harm the armored monster, but underwater hydrodynamic impacts could well damage the helm drive and mutilate its feather. Finally, the stress of the metal, the cracks and dents that had arisen completed the work that had been started - the ship after six months required difficult repairs. Versions can be many. But none of them is similar to a torpedo hit - the damage should be much more serious than those that led the battleship to a three-month repair in Trondheim.
But what happened to the second torpedo?
Four fired torpedoes, submariners heard two explosions ... To whom did the second torpedo hit?
Official Soviet historiography associated the second explosion with a hit in one of the escort destroyers. But who got a gift from Nikolai Lunin? Is there any evidence of damage to destroyers?
Imagine, there are!
If you follow the combat path of each of the destroyers who took part in Operation Knight's Turn, it turns out that in just 10 days, 15-17 on July 1942, the transfer of destroyers Z-24 and Friedrich In from Norway to Germany took place. With what the transfer of the ships was connected, not reported. Is it really to eliminate combat damage ?!
But here there are a number of questions. Before sailing to their native shores, on July X, the destroyers Z-8 and Friedrich In, with the support of torpedo boats T10 and T24, carried out an operation to transfer the damaged TKR Lutz from Narvik to Trondheim (as was damaged by Lutz) - about this is slightly lower). On this the "wounded animals" did not calm down and carried out another operation to place a minefield in the North Sea (July 7-15, 14)
Something does not seem to ship full in / and a little more than 3000 tons withstood the hit of 533 mm torpedoes, and then quietly "walked" on the northern sea, put mines, and by its own way, bypassing Scandinavia to Germany.
Even huge, well-protected battleships suffered cruelly from torpedoes - what does the little destroyer expect in this case? Even if it does not break in half, the damage will be so strong that it is unlikely that it will hit the sea in a month. You can quickly weld the sheets of damaged plating, but what to do with the bent shafts of the screws and the turbines torn from their seats?
In fact, the Germans had quite good reasons to send their destroyers to Kiel for repairs. Operation Knight didn’t work out from the very beginning - during maneuvering in narrow fjords, the Lutzoff TKR, together with the destroyers Hans Lodi, Karl Halster and Theodore Riedel, flew onto the rocks and were damaged in the underwater part of the hull. Alas, none of these ships are on the “sent for repair to Germany” lists.
Two explosions heard on board the K-21. Suspiciously quick return of the battleship. October translation of Tirpitz to Trondheim. Three-month repair. Caisson. Replacing the steering wheel. Urgent transfer of destroyers from Narvik to Germany. Are there too many matches for normal stories?
There are other "coincidences":
Nikolay Lunin spent during his career only one successful (confirmed) torpedo attack - the transport “Consul Schulte”, 5.02.1942.
The crew of the K-21 had no experience of attacking fast-moving warships.
Attack with maximum distance 18-20 cab. on divergent courses.
How the torpedo, installed at a depth of 2 m, turned out to be at a depth of 5-8 meters (at such depth below the waterline were the rudders). Turbulent screw flows? Let's say ...
Despite all the guesses and coincidences, it is highly likely that the submarine K-21 still missed the target. Further events related to the autumn-winter repair of the battleship also poorly fit into the event canvas with the hit of a torpedo. And who, in this case, hit the second torpedo?
One thing is certain: the K-21 crew demonstrated exceptional courage, for the first time in the Soviet fleet carrying out an attack on such a complex and well-guarded target. Having received the intercepted radiogram of K-21, the officers of the largest ship Kriegsmarine probably experienced unpleasant excitement when they learned that they had been attacked by a Soviet submarine, while the submarine went unnoticed from the German ships.
Damaged "Tirpitz" after surgery "Wolfram." The ship received 14 bombs of medium and large caliber bombs, old wounds spread out from the tremors caused by the beast a little earlier by mini-submarines of the XE series. Clearly visible stains from the oil spread on the water. Repair in full swing, July 1944
The submarine K-21 on the eternal parking in Severomorsk