Wehrmacht History 1935 to 1945


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Scharnhorst Battleship

Service Data

In Service: 7 January 1939 to 26 December 1943

Production Data

Ordered: 25 January 1934
Builder: Kriegsmarinewerft, Wilhelmshaven
Construction No: 125
Laid down: 15 June 1935
Launched: 3 October 1936
Commissioned: 7 January 1939

Technical Data

Type: Battleship
Class: Scharnhorst

Displacement: 35,540 tons standard. 38,100 tons full load
Length: 234.9 m
Beam: 30 m
Draft: 9.9 m
Propulsion: 3 × Brown Boveri geared turbines producing up to 165,930 hp
Propellers: 3 bladed propellers, 4.8 m diameter
Speed: 31.5 knots
Range: 7,100 nautical miles at 19 knots
Crew: 1,968 men and officers
9 × 28.3 cm L/54.5 SK C/34 range 42,600 m
carried 945 to 1350 rounds
12 × 15 cm L/55 SK C/28 range 22,000 m
carried 1,600 to 1,800 rounds
14 × 10.5 cm L/65 SK C/33 range 17,700 m
carried 5,600 rounds
16 × 3.7 cm L/83 SK C/30
carried 32,000 to 76,000 rounds
10 × 2 cm MG L/65 C/30
6 × 53.3 cm torpedo tubes after 1942
18 torpedo's carried
Armour Belt 350 mm, Deck 95 mm
Aircraft:4 × Arado Ar 196 seaplanes
Operators: Kriegsmarine

Other: Battleships
We manned the guns of the HMS Rawalpindi


Scharnhorst was a prominent World War 2 capital ship, the lead of her class, cited as either a light battleship or a battlecruiser. This 38,100 t ship was named after the Prussian general and army reformer Gerhard von Scharnhorst, to honour the World War I armoured cruiser SMS Scharnhorst which was sunk in the Battle at the Falkland Islands in December 1914. Scharnhorst often sailed into combat along with her sistership, Gneisenau. She was sunk after being pounded by Allied forces at the Battle of North Cape in December 1943.


7 January 1939
The Scharnhorst is commissioned

8 October 1939
The Scharnhorst patrol the Atlantic along with Gneisenau, light cruisers Köln and Leipzig and the destroyers Friedrich Ihn, Wilhelm Heidkamp, Karl Galster, Bernd von Arnim, Paul Jakobi, Friedrich Eckoldt, Erich Steinbrinck, Diether von Roeder and Max Schulz.

HMS Rawalpindi 23 November 1939
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sinks the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Rawalpindi

February 1940
The Scharnhorst takes part in operation "Nordmark (German attacks on Allied North Sea convoys) along with Gneisenau, Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Wolfgang Zenker , Karl Galster and Wilhlem Heidkamp are sent to engage British convoys between Bergen and England.

8 April 1940
The Scharnhorst takes part in operation Weserübung (Invasion of Denmark and Norway) along with Gneisenau. They engage the British battlecruiser HMS Renown and HMS Birmingham without a decisive result.

4 June 1940
Gneisenau takes part in operation Juno (operation to disrupt Allied supplies to Norway) along with Scharnhorst, Admiral Hipper and the destroyers Hermann Schoemann, Erich Steinbrinck, Karl Galster and Hans Lody.

HMS Glorious8 June 1940
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau engage the British aircraft carrier HMS Glorious, HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta. All British Royal navy ships are sunk. The Scharnhorst was hit by a torpedo of from HMS Acasta.

HMS ArdentHMS Acasta

10 June 1940
The Scharnhorst returns to Drontheim for repairs the Gneisenau was torpedoed by the submarine HMS Clyde and Returns to Drontheim for repairs.

13 June 1940
The Scharnhorst is attacked by aircraft from the British fleet air arm at Trondheim Fjord. However little damage is done.

21 June 1940
The Scharnhorst is attacked by aircraft from RAF coastal command, at around 1500 hrs, six swordfish torpedo planes attacked, but were easily repulsed by Scharnhorst anti-aircraft guns.

25 September 1940
The Scharnhorst is attacked by aircraft from RAF 51 Squadron and 78 Squadron. However, both attacks were easily repulsed by the Scharnhorst anti-aircraft guns.

28 December 1940
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau fail in there attempt to break out into the North Atlantic.

22 January 1941
The Scharnhorst takes part in operation Berlin, along with Gneisenau and this time manage to break out into the North Atlantic.

8 February 1941
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau attempt to engage convoy HX-108 but after sighting HMS Ramiles decide to retreat.

7 to 9 March 1941
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau engage convoy SL-67 but disengage when the British HMS Malaya is sighted. Instead they shadowed the convoy and direct two U-boats in attacking the convoy and sink 5 merchants.

15 to 16 March 1941
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau engage and sink 16 merchants east of Newfoundland. Gneisenau is sighted by the British HMS Rodney which requests identification. The Gneisenau replies HMS Emerald and manages to escape.

22 March 1941
The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau enter the port of Brest. They had managed to sink a total of 22 ships with (115,600 t) Gneisenau 14 with (66,300 t).

11 to 13 February 1942
The Scharnhorst takes part in operation Cerberus (Channel Dash) along with her sister ship the Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen escorted by 6 destroyers Friedrich Ihn, Hermann Schoemann, Paul Jakobi, Richard Beitzen, Z25, Z29 plus 14 torpedo boats. The Gneisenau is hit by a mine on her way to Kiel.

6 to 7 September 1943
The Scharnhorst takes part in operation Sizilien (German raid and temporary occupation of Spitsbergen) along with Tirpitz and 9 destroyers Karl Galster, Hans Lody, Erich Steinbrink, Theodor Riedel, Z27, Z29, Z30, Z31 and Z33 attack the enemy base on Spitzbergen.

25 December 1943
The Scharnhorst takes part in operation Ostfront (East front, Intercept convoy JW-55B) along with Z29, Z30, Z33, Z34 and Z38 tries to locate convoy JW-55B on its way to Murmansk. The Scharnhorst is sighted by HMS Belfast, HMS Norfolk, and HMS Sheffield after taking damage she leaves her escorts. After several attempts, the British HMS Duke of York locates the Scharnhorst and she is subjected to heavy fire and sustaineds crippling damage.

26 December 1943
The Scharnhorst after several hours of attack from the British fleet is left battered and crippled, HMS Jamaica finished her of with torpedoe's. Only 36 crew members survive.


Otto Ciliax
Takes command on 7 January 1939
Ends command on 23 September 1939

Kurt-Caesar Hoffmann
Takes command on 23 September 1939
Ends command on 31 March 1942

Friedrich Hüffmeier
Takes command on 31 March 1942
Ends command on 13 October 1943

Fritz Hintze
Takes command on 13 October 1943
Ends command on 26 December 1943


Scharnhorst Battleship picture 2

Scharnhorst Battleship picture 3

Scharnhorst Battleship picture 4

Scharnhorst Battleship picture 5

Scharnhorst Battleship picture 6

Scharnhorst Battleship picture 7

Scharnhorst Battleship picture 8

Scharnhorst Battleship picture 9

HMS Rawalpindi

HMS Glorious

HMS Ardent

HMS Acasta

Film Footage Gallery

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German Warships, 1815-1945: Major Surface Vessels.
ISBN-10: 0851775330

German Warships, 1815-1945: U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels.
ISBN-10: 155750301X

German warships of the Second World War.
ISBN-10: 0668040378

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