The Tier 8 German Bismarck-class Battleship
Quick Summary: A massive and surprisingly fast super-dreadnought. She is under-gunned for both her size and her tier. This is (partly) compensated with a faster rate of fire, decent secondary battery compliment and being the only battleship (so far) to be armed with deck mounted torpedoes.
Closest in-Game Contemporary: Warspite
The Tirpitz has changed subtly since her inception back in September of 2015 and my initial review. More significantly, when 0.5.3 went live, her anti-aircraft firepower changed along with that on every other ship. This wasn't enough to warrant an immediate revisit of the review -- particularly when the Tirpitz has been largely unavailable on the North American server for as long as she has. However, with 0.5.6 on the horizon and players getting the ability to buy her for Doubloons, it seemed the perfect time to bring my review up to date.
There are no real surprises when it comes to the options for the Tirpitz. Be aware that you do have the choice between a float plane fighter and a spotter aircraft. In addition, her Damage Control Party is the standard version, with a 15 second active time found on the Russian Imperator Nikolai I.
Consumables: Three slots
Module Upgrades: Five slots. Standard options (does not get access to the USN Artillery Plotting Modification). Interestingly, she is unable to take any modules related to her torpedo armament.
Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
Primary Battery: 380mm main guns in 4x2 turrets (A-B-X-Y arrangement, super-firing)
Secondary Battery: 105mm dual purpose rifles in 8x2 turrets, 150mm guns in 6x2 turrets
I don't like the main guns on the Tirpitz. In the present meta, the Tirpitz is under-gunned for her tier. This paradigm may shift with the inclusion of the Royal Navy and Kriegsmarine but for now, the Tirpitz is sporting a mere eight 380mm rifles when her contemporaries in the American and Japanese tech trees have moved on to nine or ten 410mm guns. This means that the Tirpitz can never match the potential alpha strike of the North Carolina or Amagi, having little more firepower than a tier 6 Warspite. Wargaming has addressed this disparity somewhat by providing the Tirpitz with a faster rate of fire -- approximately 2.3rpm. However, she still lags behind the other tier 8 Battleships in terms of damage per minute even with this increase.
In addition, the Tirpitz is utterly lacking a sufficient high explosive shell. The striking power of her HE shells is worse than that of the Japanese tier 3 Kawachi-class Battleship. A standard penetrating (non citadel) hit with her high explosive shells will do a maximum of 1452 damage (726 damage to a saturated area) while an over-penetration with her AP rounds will do 1160 damage consistently. If it weren't for the benefits critical damage to modules and the chance of a fire, it wouldn't be worth reaching for her high explosive shells at all when engaging soft skinned targets like destroyers.
The Tirpitz shares a similar (if slightly worse) dispersion to range ratio as the USN Battleships.
It's not all bad news, though -- her guns are perfectly serviceable thanks to some nice perks. The modest increase to her rate of fire allows her to adjust and catch some ships off guard with the speed of her reload. The Tirpitz also has the highest muzzle velocity of any of the tier 8 Battleships at 820m/s. This counteracts some of the accuracy problems with using her guns as she has less lead time at all ranges when compared to the Amagi and North Carolina, with almost a 2 second advantage on the North Carolina's AP shells at 20km. These two elements combined make her a very good cruiser-killer, able to take advantage of momentary opportunities to pick off citadels. Her range is also respectable, being worse than the North Carolina but better than the Amagi at 21.4km. Lastly, her turrets are rather fast turning for a battleship at 5' per second (36s for 180' rotation), allowing them to easily track most targets even with her rudder put hard over, or to switch to the aforementioned targets of opportunity with a quick traverse.
The Tirpitz engages an enemy Amagi at over 20km in range. Though she can easily reach these distances, her guns are best suited for close range firefights.
Torpedo Armament: 2x4 533mm launchers, one covering each side.
This is the feature of the Tirpitz which earns it much of her hype. The Tirpitz is (at the time this article was written) the only Battleship in World of Warships with a usable torpedo armament. Armed with two, quadruple deck launchers, the Tirpitz's torpedoes have a phenomenal field of fire. She can easily launch from a 1 o'clock to a 5 o'clock aspect to starboard and a similar coverage to port. Her fish have a rather short range of 6.0km, but unlike Destroyers or Cruisers, she's tough enough to wade right into the thick of an engagement and dispense them. At a 64 knot top speed and 13,700 alpha strike per warhead, this allows the Tirpitz to deliver knockout blows in close quarters brawling to anything foolish enough to allow her to get close. Her reload is 90s -- so if the battle is protracted, it's not unlikely for her to launch again.
In the practical sense, these torpedoes allow the Tirpitz to land the equivalent of an AP citadel hit from her main guns per torpedo. Slamming four into an enemy Battleship may not kill them but it will certainly leave them on very low health and make them easy to finish off. With a launcher off each side, the Tirpitz is more than capable of wading into the midst of a pair of rival Dreadnoughts and coming out of it with one heck of a story to tell.
Combined with her rather nice secondary gun batteries, the Tirpitz is more than capable of stacking fires and flooding both, making her an absolute nightmare for anyone that lets her in close.
Brawling with a Tirpitz is never a good idea. She cheats, as this Colorado is quickly discovering.
At 64 knots, it's very difficult for an enemy battleship to dodge a torpedo strike that's launched on a perpendicular path to their line of travel. When using your fish, hold off on launching them until you have the broadside of the enemy to ensure maximum damage.
AircraftAir Group: Single deployed float plane fighter or spotter aircraft.
As a Battleship, the Tirpitz has the choice between a float-plane fighter and a spotter aircraft. Not much to say here. The float plane fighter is (to me) definitely more interesting, if only because I fan-girled all over seeing a float-plane version of the Bf-109. Utility wise, your mileage may vary. Any alert CV or enemy cruiser will quickly shoot down your 109 for a free air kill though it's very handy for helping give you advanced warning of incoming torpedoes with it's long endurance. The spotter will boost your range up to 25.7km and the faster reload of the Tirpitz's main battery will let you take more advantage of the short window of opportunity than other Battleships.
Top Speed: 30.5 knots.
Turning Radius: 850m
Rudder Shift: 16.0s
It's a close race between the tier 8 Battleships for which one could be considered the most agile. In this respect, the Tirpitz competes very well. She's faster than either the North Carolina or Amagi. Her rudder shift is also the best among her peers. The North Carolina beats her out on turning circles though, with a 90m advantage over the German Super Dreadnought. While she may be the 'best' in two out of three categories, I wouldn't go so far as to boast that she has "good" agility. Her best feature is certainly her top speed. With Steering Gears Modification 2, you can drop her rudder shift time down to a quite respectable level (for a battleship) of 12.8s. But the Tirpitz will never feel truly "agile", not where it counts. Plan your turns well in advance. Heed any threats of aircraft or torpedoes long before they're spotted.
She is, after all, a massive Battleship with more power than grace.
Islands are a mixed blessing for the Tirpitz. Though they provide cover and allow her to engage in close-ranged duels where she excels, they give her little room to maneuver. Her large turning circle make her feel cumbersome in such enclosed environments. However, they do give her the opportunity to make excellent use of her secondary batteries, torpedoes and armour. Her fast-turning turrets are perfect for such close range knife fights.
Hit Points: 69,300
Citadel Protection: 315mm + Turtleback
Anti-Torpedo Bulge: 24% damage reduction
In game, the Tirpitz is almost as famous for her Survivability as she is for her torpedoes. Her armour layout is best described as "odd". On paper, she appears no better protected than the tier 7 Nagato or the tier 5 New York, but these values are misleading. The Tirpitz has a classic Battleship armour scheme, similar to that found on WWI era vessels like the aforementioned Nagato, New York or ships like the Warspite. There is armour that covers almost her entire waterline from bow to stern, making her difficult to penetrate when she angles. But there's more to it than that.
The interior of the Tirpitz is heavily compartmentalized, leading to sandwiches of armour beyond the belt which incoming shells need to penetrate to affect a citadel hit. Most famously, she's equipped with "turtleback" around her citadel -- a series of steel plates, well sloped, and over 100mm thick to help deflect lateral shots that punch through the belt armour at a perpendicular angle. Effectively, at medium to close ranges, the Tirpitz's citadel is protected by as much as 700mm of effective armour around her machine spaces and around 500mm around her magazines. Do keep the range in mind -- it's important. At a distance, however, even the slight dip of shells afforded by World of Warship's game engine can neutralize some of this protection. At ranges in excess of 14km, Battleship caliber guns plunge sufficiently that strikes landing just above the waterline can punch through the weaker armour over-top of the armoured belt. The increased angle also negates the turtleback armour considerably.
What this means in practical terms is that the Tirpitz doesn't take citadel hits very often, especially at medium ranges. At a distance, she has to worry about plunging fire and up close, some of the ships she'll face will have enough raw power in their shells to brutalize her magazines. You can expect to take a lot of penetrating hits in the Tirpitz but not nearly as many citadel penetrations as other vessels. In addition, with armour spread out all over the ship, some key areas suffer somewhat -- not having the heavier protection afforded on other vessels. The decks of the Tirpitz, especially over-top of the machine spaces, is rather weak making her vulnerable to lobbed high explosive shells. In addition, her turrets seem to get knocked out rather often -- not having the raw thickness of armour (or armour angling) found on other nations at this tier. Overall, though, angling works very well for this ship and players should take full advantage of her decent(ish) rudder-shift time to help dodge incoming fire and mitigate damage.
Her anti-torpedo bulges are modest, having no better defense than that of the HMS Warspite at tier 6. This is slightly better than the North Carolina, though it's almost half that of the Amagi.
Her defensive consumables are pretty standard fare, with little in the way of surprises. Her Damage Control Party shares the same Battleship reset timer of 120s. The active period is shorter than the American 20s but better than the Japanese 10s. This 15s up-time seems like it may be the new standard, as it's shared with the Russian Imperator Nikolai I. We'll have to wait to see what happens with the other ships of the Kriegsmarine and Royal Navy when they get included to recognize if this is going to be the new medium-rating. In game play terms, this means that managing critical damage is important as with any Battleship short of the Warspite, so as to not be caught lit ablaze in multiple locations or flooding (or both) without a way to mitigate these damage over time effects.
For regeneration, the Tirpitz's Repair Party is standard. It heals back 1/200th of your maximum HP per tick for 28s for a total of 9702hp per charge.
Broken in half by sustained Battleship and Cruiser fire, this cross section (though tragic) gives a beautiful interior view of the compartmentalization and different armour layers which makes the Tirpitz so tough to citadel.
Photo courtesy of Lert!
Concealment & Camouflage
The Tirpitz is enormous, but her stealth rating is quite surprising. Visible from the surface at a range of 16.4km. This better than the Amagi but slightly worse than the North Carolina. As a tier 8 vessel, she has access to the Concealment Modification 1 module which can help reduce this down. When combined with the Concealment Expert Captain skill and her camouflage bonus, you can drop the surface detection range of the Tirpitz to 12.3km which is downright insane for a vessel of her size.
Her camouflage itself is the standard variety found on all Premium ships at tier 6+. This provides a 3% reduction to your detection range, a 4% disruption to enemy accuracy and the standard 50% bonus to experience gained per match.
AA Battery Calibers: 105mm / 37mm / 20mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 4.5km / 3.5km / 2.0km
The changes made to anti-aircraft firepower in 0.5.3 were kind to the Tirpitz. In 0.5.6, the AA guns mounted on top of her turrets became functional, giving her a slight increase to her AA defense. The power of individual mounts and their range did not change in the recent patch (unlike some of the Soviet AA guns).
When she was first introduced, the Tirpitz was renown for having a weak anti-aircraft armament. The lion's share of her DPS in those days came from the 2.1km range 20mm self-defense guns, meaning that most same-tier or higher-tier aircraft good jump her without losing a single plane when making their attacks. This made the Tirpitz a priority target for CV players, particularly when they caught her alone or unawares (heaven help her if both were true). Since 0.5.3, AA power was rebalanced to put more teeth into the larger caliber weapons. In the case of the Tirpitz, this was increasing the AA power of her dual-purpose 105mm twin-gun turrets which allowed her to engage aircraft sooner with more front-loaded damage. However, this didn't increase the amount of raw damage she was able to put out.
While the changes from 0.5.3 makes it more likely that the Tirpitz will successfully shoot down an enemy plane or two, it's still unlikely that her anti-aircraft defense would be considered anything near adequate for her tier as it presently stands. Even her float plane fighter, which can provide some assistance, is barely enough to make her AA-defense feel a sizeable threat to anything but tier 6 carriers. Enemy carriers should clap their hands with joy when they see a Tirpitz unprotected by allied cruisers.
The Tirpitz has never had what could be defined as "adequate" anti-aircraft defense. When facing same-tier or higher tier aircraft, the Tirpitz is incapable of not only defending herself but damaging aircraft squadrons to any significant degree.
The Tirpitz is arguably one of the most interesting and fun premium warships available in the game. She stacks novelties -- faster reloading main guns AND torpedoes when either one on it's own would have probably been enough to make people pull the trigger on purchasing her. Tie in the famous name of the Bismarck-class Battleship and the historical significance of the Tirpitz herself and Wargaming has a license to print money. It certainly doesn't hurt that once you get by all of the fluff, the Tirpitz is an excellent ship overall and a real winner.
Of course, many players won't see it that way after taking her out for a spin.
The moniker "Derpitz" is justly deserved, if only as a reflection of her actual performance rather than her potential. When you combine a short-ranged novelty armament with (almost but not quite) good survivability, you're going to see players trying to plow headlong into the enemy fleet and then wonder why they got their ship blown out from underneath them. This is especially true when the Tirpitz ends up facing higher tiered opponents where torpedo soups and punitive, long range firepower rules the day. This said, play her intelligently and wait for your opportunity to shine and the Tirpitz will not let you down. The reliability of her armour and torpedoes, when used correctly, is a trump card few ships have an answer for. As ever, her performance will largely come down to the merits of the individual player.
I, for one, love brawling. It doesn't hurt that I have a connection to the ship long before World of Warships, having made a model of her when I was little with my father. She's a fun ship, but she's still not my favourite premium Battleship. I prefer the endurance of the Warspite to the knockout punching power of the Tirpitz's torpedoes.
Would I Recommend?
Let's look at the Tirpitz's merits from a few different perspectives rather than just a flat out yes or no. Keep in mind her specialty -- that of a brawling Battleship. If you prefer your BBs to stand off at range and pelt people with super accurate fire, this isn't the ship for you.
This isn't a ship with which you want to hide in the back. She performs best up close and in people's faces. This runs contrary to the present meta in high tier gameplay which can make the Tirpitz feel a little out of place.
Outfitting your Tirpitz
You can go a couple of different routes with modules on the Tirpitz. You can try and increase her survivability or to attempt to make her a better brawler. Note that she cannot take any modifications which improve her Torpedo Armament. She also does not have access to the USN
As with most Battleships, I have found that taking the premium version of her Damage Control Party to be invaluable. This reduces the reset timer from 120s down to 80s which is almost an absolute must to ensure her continued survivability. I am also a fan of taking the premium version of her Repair Party for the improved reset timer (again from 120s down to 80s) in addition to providing an additional charge.
Finally you have a choice between her Float Plane Fighter and Spotter Aircraft. I find the former overall better as it helps increase awareness of enemy destroyers and torpedoes with it's long duration and orbiting flight path. However I don't find it particularly useful for assisting with it's primary purpose, which is disrupting enemy attack squadrons. Your mileage may vary.
Recommended Captain Skills
Like with modules above, choose a specialization for your Tirpitz before you invest your skill points for your Captain -- survivability or brawling. The two often overlap with few "either or" choices and more of a question of when you'll spend the points rather than if.
It's good that there's a lot of choice for the Tirpitz but at the same time, players can find that some of these options run contrary to one another. I run my Tirpitz with an emphasis on close range brawling, forgoing any premise of concealing her. My guns will be firing so often that I expect to be lit from the start of the game to the end. Your mileage will most certainly vary.