KMS Gneisenau

KMS Gneisenau was one of the most potent German warships of the Second World War and operated for much of her career in tandem with her sister ship KMS Scharnhorst. The pair's first victim was the British armed merchant cruiser Rawalpindi, sunk in the North Sea on 23 November 1939. During the Norway campaign they destroyed the British aircraft carrier HMS Glorious, and two escorting destroyers, on 9 June 1940. In early 1941 they broke out into the Atlantic Ocean and preyed on Allied merchant vessels, sinking 22, before putting in at the French port of Brest on 22 March 1941. Both vessels remained at Brest until the night of 11 February 1942 when, in company with the KMS Prinz Eugen, they commenced a run through the English Channel to return to Germany. A series of communication failures undermined British attempts to mount a co-ordinated air and naval attack on the vessels and they docked in Wilhelmshaven virtually unscathed on 12 February. A fortnight later the Gneisenau suffered heavy bomb damage while in Kiel harbour. Although work to repair and up-gun the Gneisenau commenced in July 1942, she never returned to service and was sunk as a blockship in Gotenhafen harbour on 28 March 1945.


Class:   Scharnhorst Class battleship
Launched:   8 December 1936
Commissioned:   21 May 1938
Complement:   1669-1911
Length:   299.8 m
Beam:   30 m
Draught:   8.3 m
Displacement:   32,100 tons
Speed:   31.1 knots
Armament:   9 x 28 cm guns
12 x 15 cm guns
14 x 10.5 cm anti-aircraft guns 16 x 3.7 cm anti-aircraft guns
10 x 2 cm anti-aircrafy guns (later increased to 38) 6 x 53.3 cm torpedo tubes (added 1942)
4 x Arado 196 seaplanes
Armour:   15 cm deck
30 cm hull belt