Schlachtschiff Gneisenau 1939/1940
After the construction of the first three
Panzerschiffe (Panzerschiff A-C: Deutschland , Admiral
Scheer and Admiral Graf Spee ) various plans for their
successors were made. Projects ranged from only slightly modified
designs, increased main artillery (like 30 cm guns), ships that
later could refitted with a third turret or Panzerschiffe with steam
The developers first weren't allowed to increase
the size of the ships, so all projects sooner or later lead into a
quite similar design as the older Panzerschiffe. Only after a
significant grow in size was allowed, the final development of the Scharnhorst
class started. Although often called "battlecruisers",
those ships were officially labeled as "battleships".
In difference to the Panzerschiffe a high-pressure
steam engine was chosen for these ship to give them a much higher
speed but since those engines never worked without any problems
later operations were often negatively influenced by them. Their
main artillery was increased by 50%, but unlike other foreign
battleships, the Scharnhorst class got only the small
caliber guns of the Panzerschiffe. The decision for those guns
was made because those guns were already in production and at this
time no bigger gun was developed. To complete the ships in the
planed time, the 28cm (11") guns had to be used. But the
construction of the turret mountings allowed it to replace the 28cm
triple turrets with 38 cm (15") twin turrets. It was
planed to do this conversion after the construction of the next
generation of battleships (Battleship F & G) in 1940, but the
start of the war prevented this.
Battleship D, later called Scharnhorst ,
was laid down in May 1935 at the Kriegsmarine Shipyard in
Wilhelmshaven and commissioned in January 1939. The sister ship Gneisenau
(Battleship E) was laid down in March 1935 at the Deutsche Werke in
Kiel and commissioned in May 1938. It soon got obvious that the
straight bow of the ships had to be modified because of the amount
of water taken over at high speed.
During the war, both ships operated together most
time. They did a successful North Atlantic operation, and were the
only battleships that sink a operational fleet carrier. After heavy
bomb damages, the Gneisenau should get the projected 38 cm
guns, but after the battle in the Barents Sea at the end of 1942 all
work on major ships was canceled. The original 28 cm guns were used
as coastal batteries: Guns of the destroyed Turret Anton were set up
as single mounting at the Hook van Holland near Rotterdam, Turret
Bruno was installed at Fjett outside of Bergen as Batterie "Fjell"
and was cut to scrap in 1968. Turret Cäsar was mounted at
Lundahaugen at Austraatt in the mouth of the Trondheim fjord. It is
still existing as a museum today. Two of the 15 cm gun
turrets are still in active service at the Danish coastal fortress
at Stevens, this fortress is due to close in theyear 2000.
Werke Kiel, 06.05.1935
as a blockade ship March 1945 (Gotenhafen)
229,8 m (234,9 m
1938 - Nov 1939
1939 - Aug 1940
1940 - Apr 1942
1942 - May 1942
1942 - 01.07.1942
cm L/51 C/34 (11"):
cm L/55 C28:
cm L/65 C/33:
cm MG L/64:
after that training and trials.
- Nov 1938:
training in the North Atlantic.
becomes flagship of the Kriegsmarine.
to intercept Britain - Scandinavia trade together with CL Köln
and destroyers Wilhelm Heidkamp ,
Friedrich Ihn , Diether von Roeder , Karl
Galster , Max Schulz , Paul Jakobi , Bernd
von Arnim , Erich Steinbrinck and Friedrich
Eckoldt . No results.
with Scharnhorst , the Gneisenau is sent
south of Iceland to attack the Northern Patrol.
two battlecruisers sink the British auxiliary cruiser Rawalpindi
suffered severe sea damage during a heavy storm in the
completed, ship transfers to Wilhelmshaven.
Scharnhorst , Gneisenau , CA Admiral
Hipper and the destroyers Wolfgang Zenker
, Wilhelm Heidkamp
and Karl Galster are sent to intercept British
convoys between Bergen and England, but no ships are
Flagship of the fleet commander Vice-Admiral Lütjens. Battle
with British BC Renown and cruiser Birmingham
west of the Lofoten, Gneisenau was hit once.
its way from Wilhelmshaven to the Baltic Sea, the Gneisenau
is hit by a mine.
Flagship in the Polar Sea operations together with Scharnhorst
, Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Karl Galster
, Hans Lody , Erich Steinbrinck and Hermann
with British CV Glorious and the DDs Ardent
and Acasta . All British ships are sunk.
into the Polar Sea with Admiral Hipper . Operations
canceled, ships return to Drontheim again.
Drontheim with Admiral Hipper again for operations
between Iceland, the Faroers and Orkney.
40 nautical miles north-west of the island of Halten, Gneisenau
is hit by a torpedo of the British submarine Clyde .
Emergency repairs at Drontheim.
by CL Nürnberg , the Gneisenau leaves
Drontheim to return to Kiel.
- Dec 1940:
attempt to break out into the North Atlantic together with Scharnhorst
. Gneisenau suffered storm damage.
Second successful attempt to break out into the North Atlantic
together with sister ship Scharnhorst .
attack on convoy HX-108 after the sighting of the BB Ramiles
and Gneisenau sink four merchants east of
on convoy SL-67 is broken off as the British BB Malaya
is sighted. Two U-boats are ordered to attack the convoy and
sink 5 merchants.
and Gneisenau sink 16 merchants east of Newfoundland.
Gneisenau is sighted by the British BB Rodney
which requests identification of the German ship. Gneisenau
replies "H.M.S. Emerald " and escapes.
ships enter Brest. They sunk a total of 22 ships with 115600t,
Gneisenau 14 with 66300 t.
by aircraft torpedo, put into dock.
ship is hit by four bombs during British bomber attacks on
Break through the English Channel: Scharnhorst , Gneisenau
and CA Prinz Eugen , escorted by 6 destroyers (Paul
Jakobi , Richard Beitzen , Friedrich Ihn
, Hermann Schoemann , Z25 , Z29 )
and 14 torpedo boats (e.g. Kondor , Jaguar ,
T12 , T13 ), return to Germany. Gneisenau
is hit by a mine on the Brunsbüttel Roads on its way to
the night ot the 26th to 27th, Gneisenau is hit by a
large bomb during an air attack. The complete bow section
burns out and takes the ship out of action.
to Gotenhafen to be decommissioned and reconstructed.
from service. The 28 cm (11") triple turrets should be
replaced with 38 cm (15") twin turrets.
the sinking of the Scharnhorst , conversion work is
as a blockade ship in Gotenhafen.
up and scrapped.