German battlecruiser Gneisenau

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Career Kriegsmarine Jack
Ordered: January 25 1934
Laid down: February 14 1934
Construction Halted: July 5 1934
Construction Resumed: May 6 1935
Launched: December 8 1936
Commissioned: May 21 1938
Fate: Sunk
General Characteristics
Displacement: 31,552 tonnes (standard) 38,092 tonnes (full load)
Dimensions: 235 m x 30 m x 8.69m
Armament: 9-11in (283mm) (3x3), 12-5.9in (150mm), 14-4.1in (105mm) AA, 16-37mm AA, 6-21in (533mm) TT
Armor: Main belt 14 in (350 mm)
Aircraft: 3 Arado Ar196A-3
Propulsion: Brown-Boveri geared turbines, 125,000shp = 31.65kts
Range: 7,100nm at 19kts
Complement: 1,968

Gneisenau was a 31,100 ton Gneisenau class battlecruiser of the German Kriegsmarine, named to commemorate the World War I armoured cruiser SMS Gneisenau, which was in turn named after the Prussian general August von Gneisenau.

Gneisenau was built by Deutsche Werke Kiel, laid down in February of 1934. Construction was delayed and then scrapped as the design changed, and she was re-laid in May of 1935. She was launched in late 1936 and commissioned in 1938. She was 771 ft (235 m) in length, 98 ft (30 m) in beam and displaced just under the naval treaty limit of 35000 tons. She carried a main armor belt of nearly 14 in (350 mm), comparable to modern battleships of the time, and vastly heavier than the British battlecruisers HMS Renown and HMS Repulse, ships which would have been her equal in main battery as designed. It is often said that she was a handsome ship, and looked as fast as she was. She and her sister Scharnhorst are generally spoken of as the most successful German design of the period. The main criticism of the design was their relatively low deck height, or "freeboard", which made them "wet" in North Atlantic conditions.

In late 1939 she operated with Scharnhorst in the North Atlantic and sank a minor British warship, but suffered severe sea damage in a storm. In 1940 she covered the Norway invasion and fought with HMS Renown to no conclusion. In the British withdrawal she and Scharnhorst surprised and sank the old British carrier HMS Glorious, herself a converted battlecruiser, and her two escorts. She was torpedoed in the North Atlantic in June, and after being repaired joined Scharnhorst in their most successful merchant campaign in March, 1941, Gneisenau sinking 14 ships, Scharnhorst sinking 8, and managing to keep out of the way of British battleships covering the convoys. She was torpedoed again in April 1941 and repaired at Brest in France.

In 1942 British air attacks made Brest unsafe, and accompanied by Scharnhorst, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and a covering screen of destroyers and torpedo boats, she attempted a daring daylight run to Norway, known ever after as the "Channel Dash", as part of the reinforcement of the country following the Commando raid on Vaagso. Although she escaped damage in the furious air battles that resulted, she struck a mine that laid her up at Kiel, where she was badly damaged in a bombing raid that was to end her career. Some work was done in 1942-1944 to reconstruct her with the twin 15 in (380 mm) guns, but it never came to fruition. Her final sad duty was to be used as a blockship, sunk in Gotenhafen harbor. She was broken up and scrapped after the war. Her aft main turret, "Caesar", converted to a coastal battery named Austrt Fort, is still existing today near Trondheim, (Schiff) ja:グナイゼナウ (巡洋戦艦)


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