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Admiral Scheer - Panzerschiffe


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 Special thanks to Michael Emmerich of for the use of images and information in this section.

Panzerschiff Admiral Scheer in 1940

Named after Admiral Reinhard Scheer, commander of te Hochseeflotte at the Battle of Jutland


After World War I the Versailles Treaty limited the construction of new warships  in Germany. It was allowed to keep six old battleships of the Deutschland and Lothringen class, six small cruisers, 12 DDs and 12 torpedo boats.  According to Article 190 of the treaty, the battleships could be replaced 20 years after they were commissioned, but the replacement must not exceed 10000 tons.

Therefore, the first replacement was ordered in 1928, the Panzerschiff A which later were given  the names Deutschland and Lützow. The planing first went into two directions, a heavy armed and protected monitor for coastal defenses or a cruiser like ship with a larger range but less armor. Since France was the possible enemy in this days the second alternative was chosen to build a ship that could threaten  French merchant shipping. The concept of the new  Panzerschiffe was "faster than stronger enemies" (i.e. battleships except the British BC Hood, Renown and Repulse), "and stronger than faster enemies" (CAs and CLs), which was plausible in the days before the fast battleships.

In many ways, the Panzerschiffe introduced revolutionary techniques for ships of their size, they were Diesel powered to increase their operational range and hull was intensively welded to reduce weight. Although their official size was 10000 ts, their maximum displacement was about 50% higher.

All three Panzerschiffe, which were called "Westentaschen-Schlachtschiffe" - "Pocket Battleships" outside of Germany,  had the same basic design, their outer appearance was quite different, especially the design of the command tower.

All ships were used in the international sea patrols off the Spanish coast during the Spanish civil war and had different fates in World War II.
The Admiral Scheer made a six month combat mission in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean which showed that the concept of a Diesel powered commerce raider did work, sinking over 100000 ts of Allied shipping.

In 1940 the two remaining Panzerschiffe (Deutschland/Lützow and Admiral Scheer ) were reclassified as Heavy Cruisers.


Construction Data Dimensions Commanders
Laid down:     Reichsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven, 25.06.1931
Launched:     01.04.1933
Commissioned:     12.11.1934
Fate:     sunk by bombs 9-10.04.1945 (Kiel)
Costs:     90 Mio Reichsmark
Size (Max):     15423 t
Length (Total):     186,0 m (187,9 m)
Length (Waterline):     181,7 m
Beam:     21,34 m
Draft:     7,25 m
Crew:     1001-1150


KptzS Wilhelm Marschall:     Nov 1934 - Sep 1936
KptzS Otto Ciliax:     Sep 1936 - Oct 1938
KptzS Hans-Heinrich Wurmbach:     Oct 1938 - 24.10.1939
KptzS Theodor Kranke:     25.10.1939 - 12.06.1941
KptzS Wilhlem Meendsen-Bohlken:     13.06.1941 - 01.11.1942
FKpt Gruber:     01.11.1942 - Feb 1943
KptzS Richard Rothe-Roth:     Feb 1943 - Apr 1944
KptzS Ernst-Ludwig Thienemann:     Apr 1944 - Apr 1945




Armour and Aircraft

Engines & Performance

28 cm L/52 C/28:     6
15 cm L/55 C28:     8
8,8cm L/75 C/32:  
later replaced with 10.5 cm L/65 C/33  
3,7 cm L/83:     8
2 cm MG L/64:     8 (28)
53,3 cm Torpedoes:     8
Deck:     45 mm (max)
Belt:     80mm (max)
Command Tower:     150 mm
Turrets:     140 mm (max)
Arado Ar 196:     2
Shafts:     2
Engines:     8
Type:     MAN 9-cyl. diesel
Total Performance:     52050 shp
Speed:     28,3 kn
Range:     17460 miles at 15 kn

Operational History

12.11.1934:   Commissioned.
-18.04.1935:   Trials and training.
30.08- 01.09.1935:   Visit to Danzig.
19.10 - 09.11 1935:   Battle training in the North Atlantic.
May 1936:   Fleet parade at Laboe.
06-19.06.1936:   Together with Deutschland voyage around Great Britain.
23-29.06.1936:   Visit to Stockholm.
24.07.1936-31.08.1936:   First Spain operation.
02.10-03.12.1936:   Second Spain operation.
15.03-07.04.1937:   Third Spain operation.
09.05-01.07.1937:   Forth Spain operation. After a bomb attack o the Panzerschiff Deutschland at Ibiza, Admiral Scheer and the torpedo boats Seeadler , Albatros , Luchs and Leopard bombard the harbor of Almeria.
30.07-11.10.1937:   Fifth Spain operation.
-March 1938:   Fleet operations and training in the Baltic Sea.
19.03-29.06.1938:   Sixth Spain operation.
22.08.1938:   Fleet parade in Kiel because of the launch of the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen .
18.04 - 03.05.1939:   Atlantic operation and trials.
04.09 1939:   Based in Wilhelmshaven, the Admiral Scheer shoots down a Blenheim IV bomber in the first British air raid on Wilhelmshaven.
01.02 - July 1940:   In dock, command tower is replaced, reclassified as heavy cruiser.
31.07 - October 1940:   Trials in the Baltic Sea.
23.10.1940:   Leaves Gotenhafen for commerce war.
31.10.1940:   Passes Denmark Street.

After the sinking of the refrigerator ship Mopan (5389 t) the Admiral Scheer attacks the convoy HX 84 at 52°45'N, 32°13'W. consisting of 37 merchants. While the auxiliary cruiser Jervis Bay defends the convoy and is sunk, the main body can escape. The total loss of HX 84 are: 

  • Jervis Bay (14164 t)
  • Maidan (7908 t)
  • Trewellard (5201 t)
  • Kenbame Head (5225 t)
  • Beaverford (10042 t) 
  • Fresno City (4955 t)

Three other merchants with 27844 t are damaged.

12.11.1940:   Refueled by the tanker Eurofeld .
14.11.1940:   Resupplied by supply ship Nordmark .
24.11.1940:   Sinks Port Horbard (7448 t) SE of the Bermudas.
01.12.1940:   Sinks Tribesman (6242 t ) west of Bathurst.
14.12.1940:   Resupplied by supply ship Nordmark .

Captures British refrigerator ship Duquesa (8651) with 14.5 million eggs and 3000 t of meat on board. The Duquesa was used to resupply the auxiliary cruisers Pinguin and Thor and the supply ship Nordmark . The Duquesa is sunk by the Pinguin in February 1941.

26.12.1940:   Admiral Scheer meets with auxiliary cruisers Thor and Pinguin , resupply ship Nordmark , tanker Eurofeld and the captured Duquesa at point "Andalusien" 15°S 18°W.
09-12.01.1941:   Admiral Scheer unsuccessfully tries to attack the Troop Convoy WS5A which has been attacked by CA Admiral Hipper on December 24th
17.01.1941:   Norwegian tanker Sandefjord (8038 t) is captured and send to Bordeaux.
20.01.1941:   Sinks Dutch steamer Barneveld (5597 t) and British freighter Stanpark (5103 t)
24-28.01.1941:   Another meeting at "Andalusien" between Admiral Scheer , Thor and Nordmark .
03.02.1941:   Passes Cape of Good Hope.
14.02.1941:   Meets with auxiliary cruiser Atlantis , the war prizes Speybank and Letty Brövi and the German freighter Tannenfels at 13°S, 64°E.
20.02.1941:   Sinks the Greek freighter Gregorios (2546 t) at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel. The British tanker British Advocate (6994 t) is captured.
21.02.1941:   Sinks the Canadian Cruiser (7178 t). Admiral Scheer is ordered home.
22.02.1941:   Sinks Indonesian steamer Rantaupandjang (2542 t). A few hours later, the Admiral Scheer is sighted by a plane of the British CL Glasgow at 8°30'S, 51°35'E.  The Admiral Scheer is unsuccessfully hunted by the CV Hermes , CA Canberra , Australia and Shorpshire and the CLs Glasgow , Cape Town and Emerald .
03.03.1941:   Passes Cape of Good Hope.
09-10.03.1941:   Another meeting at "Andalusien" between Admiral Scheer , Nordmark and the auxiliary cruisers Pinguin and Kormoran .
11-24.03.1941:   Admiral Scheer meets German freighters Portland and Alsterufer .
27.03.1941:   Passes Denmark Street.
30.03.1941:   Reached Bergen.
01.04.1941:   Arrived in Kiel. On her voyage, the Admiral Scheer has sunk 14 ships with 84027 t, captured 2 with 15032 t and destroyed an auxiliary cruiser with 14164 t. Total 113223 t.
15.04-01.07.1941:   Repairs in Kiel.
Sep - Oct 1941:   Part of the Baltic Fleet.
January-February 1942:   Transferred to Drontheim.
May 1942:   Moved to Bow Bay near Narvik.
July 1942:   Together with the Lützow and six DDs, the Admiral Scheer forms a squadron to attack the arctic convoy PQ-17. The squadron is called back after the convoy has broken up.
16-31.08.1942:   Operation "Wunderland":  
With 3 U-boats the Admiral Scheer sails to the Cara Sea. Russian ice-breaker Alexander Siriyakov is sunk on the 25th, Port Dickson bombarded on the 27th, damaging another ice-breaker and a tanker.
11.11.1942:   Returns to Kiel.
January 1943:   Repairs in Wilhelmshaven, afterwards, the ship is used as a training ship based in Gotenhafen and is decommissioned.
October 1944:   Put into service again.
Nov 1944- Feb 1945:   Support of the German Army.
March 1945:   Bombardments at Diefenov and Swinemünde. As the barrels are worn out, the Admiral Scheer is ordered to Kiel for repairs. Takes over 200 wounded and 800 refugees at Pilau.
09-10.05.1945:   After several bomb hits the Admiral Scheer capsized.
July 1946:   The wreck, buried under rubble, is broken up.