On 22 September 1943, X-class midget submarines attack the German battleship Tirpitz moored at a naval base in Altafjord in Occupied Norway.
Codenamed Source, this operation started back on 20 September. Since then, the X-crafts have been waiting and slowly sneaking into the naval base at a crawl speed, but today, they penetrate deep enough to launch their attacks.
The loss of two of the six X-crafts while traveling to Altafjord meant that the original objectives had to be scaled back. The heavy cruiser, Lützow, one of the initial targets, has to be abandoned. The battleship Scharnhorst, another target, also has to be left as it was involved in a training exercise earlier and changed its mooring position in the naval base compromising the original plan.
Beyond the navigational problem, the X-craft designated for the Scharnhorst also faces severe mechanical issues the crew cannot resolve, so it calls off its involvement entirely. Of the remaining three, two X-crafts manage to get into position under the Tirpitz and drop their combined 8 tons of explosive amatol charges directly beneath the ship.
Though they are quickly spotted and forced to surface near the Tirpitz as they try to escape, all six crewmembers are captured, and they quickly inform their captors of their mission and that the charges they placed will detonate in less than an hour.
The crew of the Tirpitz desperately tries to maneuver the ship to safety, but in the tight space, they fail to do so. The charges powerfully explode, warping parts of the Tirpitz’s bottom shape. Shell plating in some sections is torn, oil tanks are ruptured, one of the turrets is dislodged from its bearings, and the two onboard float planes are thrown off the ship from the force of the detonations. Over 1,000 tons of seawater floods the Tirpitz, damaging internal electrical systems.
But despite these hefty damages, the Tirpitz still remains afloat, albeit out of action until repairs can be conducted. Of the original six X-crafts, five are lost during Operation Source.
Picture: The Tirpitz while in Occupied Norway.
Source: Unknown ...