Tirpitz Vol1: The Beast is Born

This best description of this book is to say it is a photo album book, except imagine it was put together to tell the story of the Tirpitz in immense detail, over 300+ mostly unpublished photographs. Every part of the story of the ship from the keel being laid down, through building and launching, up to sea trials in May 1941 is covered in photographs. Every photo has a detailed caption describing what is going on in the photograph, often with subtle details pointed out that you would never notice yourself. Normally a book on the Tirpitz would be text based with photographs to back up the text, this book is the other way round. However, the photographs and text do an admiral job of covering everything you could wish to know about this great ship. If you could only have one book on the Tirpitz, this would be it…and the volumes that follow of course!

There are no chapters as such, just a gradual unfolding of the story of the ship. The titles that appear in the index list below appear at the top of the first page of each ‘chapter’, but they don’t intrude and prevent there also being the usual number of photographs on each page. After that title page the book continues telling the story, photograph by photograph, with no mention of which part of the book you are in. Some might like an indication right on the page of which part of the story this is, but usually it is not needed.

At the end of the book is a teaser for volume 2, which will cover the period May 1941 to Jan 1942, when Tirpitz was on sea trials. The title of volume 2 is “Ready for Action”. Obviously there will be at least a volume 3, perhaps a 4 too.

Overall this book is very highly recommended if you’re interested in the Tirpitz or the Kriegsmarine. If you’re going to build a large scale model of her, then this is the 1 reference book you need.

What follows are various pieces of text taken from the website.

Paul Tosney – Model Builder International – www.modelbuilderinternational.com


The battleship TIRPITZ is a presumably never-ending topic of interest with the numerous national and international publications which have appeared in recent decades. Why should it therefore be necessary to return once again to the story of a sunken ship from a very dark period of the last century? Simple: because people today are still fascinated by mighty warships, especially when these are surrounded by legends. April 01, 2014 – the start-up this series – marks the 75th anniversary of the launching.

Like many others of their generation, the authors were deeply impressed by the last two capital warships of the German navy and became fascinated by their fate. During more than a decade of research on the spot and in archives, they unearthed numerous documents which were hitherto less familiar or in many cases unknown. The idea thus arose to share this historic material with other people such as model builders, relatives of survivors or historians – rather than keeping it to themselves. Moreover, there are still many people all around the world who have a particular fascination with ships like BISMARCK and TIRPITZ and their “brutally sleek” appearance. Finally, the fact that these ships epitomise mankind’s mystic preoccupation with “one against the rest” may have played its part in the decision finding process.

Although the heydays of battleships was almost over at the end of the Thirties in the last Century – since the aircraft carrier was now to become the dominant means of naval warfare –, these German ships influenced the strategic and operational tactics of the Allies significantly. They were under constant pressure to keep several heavy units ready for combat against them. And what might have happened to allied convoys if both battleships had succeeded in proceeding to the Atlantic Ocean together? But it was too late for this scenario: when TIRPITZ became fit for operational use in September 1941, her famous sistership was already resting on the bottom of the Atlantic at a depth of almost 16,000ft, hunted down by dozens of British ships and numerous aircraft several months previously.

On the basis of the enormous range of valuable photos, it has been possible to define relationships between them and historical events and – with the support of detailed knowledge of geographical locations – to produce a chronological sequence of the images. A minute evaluation of the old pictures was essential, because some of them turned out to reflect what can be found in war diaries or other official documents. Eventually, this made it feasible for the current series of books to illustrate the lifespan of the two ships with regard to precise dates and locations. Furthermore, the authors have given special attention to making the captions understandable for both the naval expert and for readers with less experience in this field.

In historic documentation of this kind, it is inevitable that symbols and symbolism typical of the time are made visible. However, it would be an absolute misconception to deduce from this that the authors have any sympathy for Nazi ideology. The presentation of such symbols in no way detracts from the fact that these sea-going steel giants as a means of power still hold a certain fascination, despite the inhuman and political system behind them.


1936 – Oct. 24: start of construction at Wilhelmshaven, Slipway II

1939 – April 01: launch of TIRPITZ in Bauhafen (harbour basin)

1939 – April 01: transfer to floating dock

1939 – April to 1941 – Feb.: fitting-out at Kriegsmarinewerft

1940 – late Sept.: second transfer to floating dock

1940 – late Sept. to early Oct.: floating dock

1940 – 2nd week of Oct.: back to Bauhafen

1940 – Oct. on 1941 – Jan.: Bauhafen Südkaje (southern quay)

1941 – Jan., 2nd half: Dampfprobenplatz (quay for machinery trials)

1941 – Jan., 2nd half to early Feb.: Scheer-Hafen

1941 – 2nd week of Feb: back to Bauhafen

1941 – Feb.: final fitting-out at Bauhafen (Südkaje)

1941 – Feb. 25: commissioning at Bauhafen

1941 – Feb. 27: second transfer to Dampfprobenplatz

1941 – Feb. 27 to March 09: Dampfprobenplatz

1941 – March 09: moving to Einfahrt III

1941 – March 09: transit to Brunsbüttel roadstead

1941 – March 11 and 12: eastbound to Kiel via KWK (Kiel Canal)

1941 – March 12 and 13: Kieler Förde and Bay of Strande

1941 – March 13 and 14: transit from Kiel to Gotenhafen

1941 – March 14 to 20: moored at Seebahnhof (Ghf)

1941 – March 21 to April 18: first training phase, eastern Baltic

1941 – late April: fitting forward rangefinders / two 4in AA guns I

1941 – May 05: inspection by Hitler at Seebahnhof

Additional features:

Contemporary technical report on launching the TIRPITZ

Reproduction of actual admission ticket for launching ceremony

Naming ceremony speech for battleship TIRPITZ

Images of actual paints according to ABB 31 from 1941

Inside the ship and life on board

Commanding Officer Topp and First Artillery Officer Weber

The TIRPITZ floatplane, the Arado 196

Wilhelmshaven, “past and present”

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal / Kiel Canal, “past and present”

Gotenhafen, “past and present”


1936 – Map of Wilhelmshaven

1939 – April 01: harbour map, moving into floating dock

1941 – March 09 to 12: route map from Wilhelmshaven to Kiel

1941 – March 13 and 14: route map from Kiel to Gotenhafen

1940 – Map of Gotenhafen


1939 – April 01: tug movements during launching

1940 – Sept. and Oct.: camouflage for Bauhafen / floating dock

1941 – late Feb.: fitting-out status shortly before commissioning

1941 – May 05: Hitler’s inspection on board TIRPITZ

1941 – from early May: fitting-out status, Seebahnhof (Ghf)


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