Operation Sportpalast
Operation Sportpalast was the action by Tirpitz
German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

and its escorting destroyers against Arctic convoys PQ-12 and QP-8. It took place in early March, 1942 and it was the first attempt to disrupt an Arctic convoy.

Convoy PQ-12 sailed from Reykjavík
Reykjavík is the capital and largest city in Iceland.Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay...

 for Murmansk
Murmansk is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland...

 on 1 March, escorted by battlecruiser HMS Renown
HMS Renown (1916)
HMS Renown was the lead ship of her class of battlecruisers of the Royal Navy built during the First World War. She was originally laid down as an improved version of the s. Her construction was suspended on the outbreak of war on the grounds she would not be ready in a timely manner...

, the battleship HMS Duke of York
HMS Duke of York (17)
HMS Duke of York was a King George V-class battleship of the Royal Navy. Laid down in May 1937, the ship was constructed by John Brown and Company at Clydebank, Scotland, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 4 November 1941, subsequently seeing service during the Second World War.In...

, the cruiser HMS Kenya
HMS Kenya (C14)
HMS Kenya was a Crown Colony-class cruiser of the British Royal Navy. The ship was named after Kenya, a British possession at the time of the ship's construction.-Convoy escort:...

and six destroyers under command of Vice-Admiral Curteis. Convoy
QP-8 left Murmansk on the return route at about the same time, expecting to pass PQ-12 near Bear Island. Additional naval forces, the battleship HMS King George V
HMS King George V (41)
HMS King George V was the lead ship of the five British King George V-class battleships of the Royal Navy. Laid down in 1937 and commissioned in 1940, King George V operated during the Second World War as part of the British Home and Pacific Fleets...

, the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious
HMS Victorious (R38)
HMS Victorious was the second Illustrious-class aircraft carrier ordered under the 1936 Naval Programme. She was laid down at the Vickers-Armstrong shipyard at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in 1937 and launched two years later in 1939...

, the cruiser HMS Berwick
County class cruiser
The County class was a class of heavy cruisers built for the British Royal Navy in the years between the First and Second World Wars. They were the first post-war cruiser construction for the Royal Navy and were designed within the limits of the Washington Naval Conference of 1922...

and six destroyers, sailed from Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

 on 6 March to join Vice-Admiral Curteis near Jan Mayen Island.

Tirpitz left Fættenfjord on 5 March, in response to a report from a spotter plane and was joined by Admiral Ciliax and an escort of 3 destroyers on the following day. In its turn, the German movements were reported by a British submarine.

Despite using its destroyers to sweep for the convoys, Tirpitz missed QP-8. A slow freighter, Izhora, was caught by the destroyers and sunk after reporting the attack.

The German and British forces and the two convoys managed to move around each other in the vicinity of Bear Island without meeting each other or being seen by spotter aircraft. Advice from German High Command and the British Admiralty added to the confusion of the commanders on the spot. Eventually, on the 9th March, aircraft from the Illustrious spotted and shadowed the German flotilla, despite being attacked by Tirpitz's aircraft. The consequent air attacks where unsuccessful but encouraged the Germans to return to Norway.

The two convoys reached port safely but the incident had demonstrated the threat that convoys faced. In March and April, 1942, RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

made three unsuccessful attacks on the Tirpitz.

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