:: SCHARNHORST (1936) ::

Scharnhorst battlecruiser (1936) High resolution picture

The Scharnhorst was a German battlecruiser (often referred as battleship) launched in 1936 along with her twin Gneisenau. The ships of the Scharnhorst class supposed the first clear violation of the Washington Naval Treaty by Germany, which obviously was in need to equate its warships to those built by foreign nations. The arrival of the Dunkerque class rendered as insufficient the heavy cruisers of the Deutschland class and this gap had to be covered with a newer and more powerful class of warships.

For the new project the Diesel propulsion was discarded in favor of steam turbines, which would grant higher speed at the expense of range. Due to an insufficient degree of testing the new machinery resulted notoriously unrealiable. Another unfortunate characteristic was the low freeboard; the forecastle resulted very wet even after it was rebuilt with a raised profile. This put these ships in a notable disadvantage in rough waters. But the biggest drawback was the main armament. The 380-millimeter twin turrets that were intended for these ships were not available in time, and were installed instead the 280-millimeter triple turrets that had been already built for the cancelled ships of the Deutschland class.

Because of the inadequate armament and armor, particularly regarding the horizontal protection, the German Admiralty insisted that these ships should not engage against any important warship, even an outdated one. The best characteristic of the project was the excellent fire control directors of the antiaircraft armament, but the effectiveness of this characteristic was diminished because of the lack of secondary armament of double purpose.

After a troubled career in which she was severely damaged multiple times, the Scharnhorst was finally sunk the 26th December 1943, during the Battle of North Cape, by a British naval squadron composed of several cruisers and destroyers led by the battleship Duke of York. Only 36 crewmen survived. The illustration shows the Scharnhorst as she was in February 1942, in the time of the brief raids in the English Channel. Note the artillery radars, the torpedo tubes, the quadruple 20-millimeter mountings installed on the roof of the fore 150-millimeter turrets and the Arado seaplane.

Class: Scharnhorst (2 units - Gneisenau, Scharnhorst)

Type: Battlecruiser

Length: 229.8 meters as built; 234.9 meters in 1940

Beam: 30 meters

Draught: 8.2 meters

Displacement (normal): 35400 tonnes

Propulsion: 3 x shaft, 3 x steam turbine Brown-Boveri, 12 x boiler Wagner, 165000 horsepower

Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 kilometers/hour)

Range: 8400 nautical miles (15540 kilometers) at 17 knots

Complement: 1840

Armament (as built): 9 x 280-millimeter 54-caliber cannon, 12 x 150-millimeter 55-caliber cannon, 14 x 105-millimeter 65-caliber cannon, 16 x 37-millimeter cannon, 8 x 20-millimeter cannon, 6 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 4 x aircraft

Armament (in 1943): 9 x 280-millimeter 54-caliber cannon, 12 x 150-millimeter 55-caliber cannon, 14 x 105-millimeter 65-caliber cannon, 16 x 37-millimeter cannon, 22 x 20-millimeter cannon, 6 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 4 x aircraft

Armor: 170-250 millimeters in belt, 30 millimeters in ends, 50 millimeters in upper deck, 20-50 millimeters in armored deck, 200-350 millimeters in barbettes, 150-360 millimeters in main turrets, 50-140 millimeters in secondary turrets, 350 millimeters in conning tower

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