Wehrmacht History 1935 to 1945


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Gneisenau Battleship

Service Data

In Service: 21 May 1938 27 March 1945

Production Data

Ordered: 25 January 1934
Builder: Deutsche Werke AG, Kiel
Construction No: 235
Laid down: 6 May 1935
Launched: 8 December 1936
Commissioned: 21 May 1938

Technical Data

Type: Battleship
Class: Scharnhorst

Displacement: 32,100 tons standard.
Length: 229.8 m
Beam: 30 m
Draft: 9.9 m
Propulsion: 3 × Germania geared turbines with single reduction producing up to 165,930 hp
Propellers: 3 bladed propellers, 4.8 m diameter
Speed: 31.3 knots
Range: 6,200 nautical miles at 19 knots
Crew: 1,725 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


Gneisenau was a World War II Scharnhorst class capital ship, classified as either a light battleship or battlecruiser. This 38,900 t ship was the third named after the Prussian general August von Gneisenau, after the three masted iron hulled frigate SMS Gneisenau, launched in 1879 and wrecked in 1900 the World War I armoured cruiser SMS Gneisenau which was ruined in the battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914.


21 May 1938
The Gneisenau is commissioned

9 September 1939
The Gneisenau is attacked by the RAF but no damage is done.

8 October 1939
The Gneisenau patrol the Atlantic along with Scharnhorst, 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 Gneisenau and Scharnhorst sinks the Armed Merchant Cruiser HMS Rawalpindi

26 November 1939
The Gneisenau suffers sea damage and needs to return to port for repairs.

27 November 1939
The Gneisenau returns to Kiel.

4 February 1940
The Gneisenau sea damage is repaired.

18 to 20 February 1940 The Gneisenau takes part in operation Nordmark (German attacks on Allied North Sea convoys) along with Scharnhorst, 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 Gneisenau takes part in operation Weserübung (Invasion of Denmark and Norway) along with Scharnhorst. They engage the British battlecruiser HMS Renown and HMS Birmingham without a decisive result.

12 April 1940
The Gneisenau returns to Wilhelmshaven.

5 May 1940
The Gneisenau is hit by a mine suffers minor damage.

21 May 1940
The Gneisenau mine damage is repaired at Kiel.

4 June 1940
The 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 Gneisenau and Scharnhorst engage the British aircraft carrier HMS Glorious, HMS Ardent and HMS Acasta. All British Royal navy ships are sunk.

HMS ArdentHMS Acasta

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

25 July 1940 The Nürnberg along with four destroyers, escorts the damaged Gneisneau back to Kiel.

26 July 1940
The battleship Gneisenau lost one of her escorts, the totorpedo boat Luchs to British submarine HMS Swordfish. 89 crew lost.

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

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

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

22 February 1941
The Gneisenau and Scharnhorst attack and sink four merchants ships east of Newfoundland.

7 to 9 March 1941
The Gneisenau and Scharnhorst 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 Gneisenau and Scharnhorst 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 Gneisenau and Scharnhorst 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).

6 April 1941
The Gneisenau is attacked by the RAF and hit by a torpedo, and needs to put into dock.

11 April 1941
The Gneisenau is again attacked by the RAF and is hit by four bombs during the British raid on Brest.

11 to 13 February 1942
The Gneisenau takes part in operation Cerberus (Channel Dash) along with her sister ship the Scharnhorst 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.

26 27 February 1942
The Gneisenau is hit during an RAF air raid and all of the bow section is destroyed by fire.

4 April 1942
The Gneisenau went to Gotenhafen to be decommissioned and reconstructed.

1 July 1943
The Gneisenau was withdrawn from service and her 28 cm triple turrets was going to be replaced with 38 cm twin turrets.

26 December 1943
After the sinking of the Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau sister ship, all conversion work was stopped.

27 March 1945
The Gneisenau was scuttled and used as blockade ship in Gotenhafen harbour.

1947 to 1951
The Gneisenau broken up, and scrapped


Erich Förste
Takes command on 21 May 1938
Ends command on 25 November 1939

Harald Netzbandt
Takes command on 25 November 1939
Ends command on 20 August 1940

Otto Fein
Takes command on 20 August 1940
Ends command on 11 April 1942

Rudolf Peters
Takes command on 11 April 1942
Ends command on 1 July 1942


Gneisenau picture 2

Gneisenau picture 3

Gneisenau picture 4

Gneisenau picture 5

Gneisenau picture 6

Gneisenau picture 7

Gneisenau picture 8

Gneisenau picture 9

Gneisenau picture 10

HMS Rawalpindi

HMS Glorious

HMS Ardent

HMS Acasta

Film Footage Gallery

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by Gunnar Olav Lian 22/10/2010

I'm working as a caretaker on the C-tower from Gneisenhau. Austrått War Museum in Norway.


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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