:: PRINZ EUGEN (1938) ::

Prinz Eugen heavy cruiser (1938) High resolution picture

The Prinz Eugen was a German heavy cruiser launched in 1938, belonging to the Admiral Hipper class and built according to very modern concepts, largely exceeding the limit of 10160 tonnes set by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1935. The initial projects had been started in 1934 parellely with the plans for the battleships of the Bismarck class, with which these cruisers had a notable resemblance. The role intended for these ships was to counteract the French heavy cruisers and prevent the maritime supply to France from North Africa.

The two first ships of the class, the Admiral Hipper and the Blucher, were completed with a rect prow and the uncrowned funnel typical of the projects prior to the Second World War. The Blucher was sunk before she were modified, but the Admiral Hipper was later modified with a clipper bow and crowned funnel, and two extra antiaircraft directors were added. The Prinz Eugen had a longer hull and she was completed with clipper bow, crowned funnel and four antiaircraft directors.

All the ships of the class had bulging hull with bow sonar and powerful torpedo weaponry. They were projected after the largest part of the countries had stopped the construction of cruisers armed with 203-millimeter cannons, and in many aspects they were superior to the first projects. They were undoubtedly superior to the first French post-Washington Treaty cruisers but they would have found difficulties against the ships of the Algerie class, smaller but better armored, and they were definitely inferior to the ships of the American Baltimore class, which transported heavier armament and armor, as well as more aircraft.

An unfortunate characteristic of the project was the relatively short operational range, which together with the unreliable machinery posed a notable disadvantage in the utilization against the trade convoys, despite the wide network of fuel deposits that the Germans had built in the Atlantic. But leaving this apart, they were very well adapted to operate automously with a powerful main battery and a very well controlled antiaircraft armament. The illustration shows the Prinz Eugen with the camouflage scheme used in 1941-42, the extra antiaircraft light cannons installed in February 1942 and an Arado 196 seaplane in the catapult; there was also a swastika painted in the forecastle deck for aerial reconnaissance.

The Prinz Eugen was the only ship of the class that survived the war, but she was seized by United States and used as a dummy ship for testing the effects of nuclear blasts. Later she was transferred to the Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific, where she resulted eventually sunk the 22nd December 1946 due to a water leak that had not been repaired because the ship was heavily contaminated. A screw propeller and a bell is all what remains preserved of the beautiful ship today.

Class: Admiral Hipper (3 units - Admiral Hipper, Blucher, Prinz Eugen)

Type: Heavy cruiser

Length: 210.4 meters

Beam: 21.9 meters

Draught: 7.9 meters

Displacement (standard): 16970 tonnes

Propulsion: 3 x shaft, 3 x steam turbine Blohm und Voss, 12 x boiler Wagner, 132000 horsepower

Speed: 33.4 knots (61.8 kilometers/hour)

Range: 6500 nautical miles (12000 kilometers) at 18 knots

Complement: 1600

Armament (as built): 8 x 203-millimeter 60-caliber cannon, 12 x 105-millimeter 65-caliber cannon, 12 x 37-millimeter cannon, 8 x 20-millimeter cannon, 12 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 3 x aircraft

Armament (in 1945): 8 x 203-millimeter 60-caliber cannon, 12 x 105-millimeter 65-caliber cannon, 18 x 40-millimeter cannon, 28 x 20-millimeter cannon, 12 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 3 x aircraft

Armor: 70-80 millimeters in belt, 12-30 millimeters in upper deck, 20-50 millimeters in armored deck, 70-105 millimeters in main turrets, 150 millimeters in conning tower

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