"Gneisenau" (battleship): characteristics and description of the structure

The famous battleship of the German fleet "Gneisenau" was commissioned in 1938 on the eve of World War II. The project of this vessel became one of the most ambitious for its time. Battleship was in service until 1943, when in the next battle was seriously damaged. He was sent for repairs, but eventually decided to mothball. In 1945, shortly before the defeat of Germany, the ship was flooded. In history, he remained famous not only for his military exploits, but also for his outstanding characteristics.

History of construction

The German battleship Gneisenau is one of the most famous ships of the Second World War. Its history began in 1933, when in the Third Reich decided to build two ships of the new type "Scharnhorst". The project was implemented in an atmosphere of complete secrecy. Officially, the battleship Gneisenau was issued for another ship of the Deutscheland type. However, between the public fiction and the real ship was a significant difference.

"Gneisenau" was a colossal mass of 19 thousand tons, and its power was 161 thousand horsepower. The crew of the battleship consisted of 1,669 troops. In all its characteristics, the ship was conceived as a grand weapon - the pearl of the German fleet. And it was not surprising, because the leadership of the Third Reich loved to initiate amazing and costly projects, one of which, no doubt, was the Gneisenau. Battleship was created as a response from the British and French Navy (primarily French ships of the Dunkirque type). Its main differences from other models were a noticeable increase in booking and armament.

In 1935, the ship even had to be replaced because of the appearance of a new, even more bold design from the point of view of design. The launch was made on December 8, 1936. On that day, one of the carrier chains burst, which caused the ship to accelerate and flew to the shore. The trouble turned into damage to the stern.


The ship Gneisenau (battleship) was named in honor of the armored cruiser, which was famous during the First World War and belonged to Admiral Spee's squadron. The sign was chosen not by chance. "Gneisenau" was the first battleship of the German fleet, built in the interwar period. The years of humiliation and sanctions that have come after the Versailles peace have ended. But due to the fact that the German fleet remained numerically weak, in the 30s it was supposed to make the Gneisenau a ship intended exclusively for raids. In the Third Reich, from the new vessel, they were waiting for successes, similar to those with which the predecessor of the same name was famous.

In the interwar period, Germany began production of 283-mm guns, manufactured specifically for the Gneisenau. Battleship received guns, similar to those installed on the Dunkirk. Moreover, the defensive and offensive elements of the German ship were tested just with a look at the expected confrontation with French ships of this type. 283-mm guns were superior in their characteristics to the tools from Deutschland. Their range and firepower for their caliber were huge. The successes of the new weapons could not but cause approval in Berlin.

To control the shooting on the ships "Gneisenau" received a set of instruments, which had already proven themselves on battleships of the type "Bismarck" and cruisers of the "Hipper" type. Artogon was regulated from posts located in the turrets of directors. They were supplied with telescopes, which were used by the officers responsible for the shooting, as well as the gunners. The turrets were stabilized with the help of gyroscopes.

At the post was the most modern for those times technique. For example, a ballistic computer recorded speed, bearing, changing the distance to the target and even taking into account the weather. Complex calculations were made in special blocks with instruments. The control system of the artognome regulated three towers. At the same time, they could fire at once for several purposes (or focus on the same thing).


At the Gneisenau, the Germans used several types of shells. First, armor-piercing. They were used against well-protected targets. They had a bottom fuse and a small charge of explosives. Secondly, it was semi-armor-piercing shells. According to the British classification, they were also often called "common." They received a little more explosives and had a greater fragmentation effect. Used against targets with not too thick armor.

Finally, in the third place, the Gneisenau received high-explosive shells. They had a head fuse and were used against non-armored targets (destroyers, antiaircraft guns, searchlights, unprotected manpower, etc.). These rules for the use of shells did not change in the German fleet throughout the war. Semi-armor-piercing and high-explosive shells had an initial velocity of 900 meters per second and were characterized by less weight (some weighing more than 100 kilograms). They were charged with a special hydraulic drive.

At first, projectiles were supplied by means of grippers and suspension rails. Then, from the ring roller tables, they fell into the elevator. The main charges were distinguished by brass sleeves. For their transportation special trays were provided. Secondary projectiles were supplied manually. The ship's ammunition consisted of 1,800 charges (1,350 main and 450 secondary).


Most of all, "Gneisenau" was like his twin brother Scharnhorst. Yet some external differences between them were present. In different ways, anchors, anti-aircraft guns, and mainmasts were located. After the construction, the Gneisenau was painted in a light gray color. The only notable spots remained the arms, depicted on both sides of the stem.

In February 1940, the corps decided to paint red squares with a black swastika. It was made for identification from the air. The problem was that the Luftwaffe aircraft mistakenly sunk two German destroyers in that month alone. In the autumn of 1940, during the post-repair tests in the Baltic Sea, the Gneisenau received camouflage coloring.


In the course of the design studies it became clear that the designers will not be able to meet the displacement of 26 thousand tons. Initially, it was assumed that these figures would correspond to the Gneisenau. Battleship, however, came out more massive, which in 1936 clearly showed weight control. The shipyards sounded the alarm. Experts were concerned that the ship would become less stable, and its seaworthiness would decrease. In addition, we had to reduce the height of the freeboard. This design maneuver narrowed the range of stability.

The problem of increased displacement was discovered at a time when it was already late to change the main characteristics of the Gneisenau. Battleship, whose design was the cornerstone of the entire project, was saved by increasing the width of the hull. As a result, the displacement increased to 33 thousand tons.

Power plant

A lot of controversy with the designers was caused by the power plant. It was the most controversial element of the entire Gneisenau project. The battleship, whose characteristics were distinguished by unprecedented numbers, were made through trial and error. At the same time, none of the responsible persons wanted to hinder the construction of the vessel again and again.

At the initial stage of the design, turbo-gear units were chosen as the power plant. With their help, it was planned to kill two birds with one stone: to guarantee the high speed of the vessel and to speed up the delivery time. Aggregates worked for a couple. From the diesel it was decided to refuse, since for such a large ship there was never found an engine of this type. The risky choice was made by Admiral Erich Reder. He understood that the ship's long-range capability would be much less than with the use of a diesel engine. However, the fleet did not have time to wait for its development and production.


The hull of the battleship had a longitudinal structure. It was made of steel. It was decided to use light alloys - so it was possible to reduce weight. The ship's main keel was waterproof. The whole building was divided into 21 sections. 7 of them were occupied by the power plant.

It is curious that during the construction of a capital ship, electric arc welding was used for the first time at every stage of production precisely in the case of the Gneisenau. Battleship, whose description of the construction is a curious monument of the era, has become advanced not only in its characteristics, but also in the technique of production.

Welded bodies began to replace the case. At the same time, the new manufacturing procedure was rough. Its results possessed many shortcomings, characteristic of the "test of the pen." In June 1940, the Gneisenau suffered serious damage, which showed that specialists will have to grind a lot over how to improve the quality of welded seams. They differed in vulnerability to bombing and torpedo hits. And, nevertheless, the use of welding proved to be a serious progress, setting the direction of development of the whole industry.

One of the most noteworthy features of the battleship's hull was the nose frames, which had a small breakdown. At the same time, anchors remained traditional. They were located in the hawks - one from the starboard side, two from the left. Compared with foreign models, the height of the freeboard was small, and during the completion and re-design of the project, it became even smaller. Sometimes this feature of the design led to the formation of powerful splashes in the open sea, because of which it was necessary to control the vessel exclusively from the combat deck.

Bow and side parts

The famous battleship Gneisenau, whose photos were equally often reported in reports of enemy intelligence services and German newspapers, survived several modifications of his "face" - the nose. After the battle against Rawalpindi, the side anchors were removed. Mooring devices were installed at the top of the stem.

In December 1940, another incident in the service made adjustments to the design of the Gneisenau. Battleship, the main characteristics of which helped him in battle, became useless during the storm. In December 1940, a storm in the North Sea caused serious damage to the ship. After this episode, Gneisenau received reinforced bow decks and breakwaters. It is characteristic that the innovations appeared in the course of operation immediately after the next problems arose. The next design decision could not completely solve the problem of "sputum" decks, but reduced its scale to an acceptable limit.

There was another noticeable flaw, from which the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau suffered. These two ships of the same type were distinguished by unimportant seaworthiness. The solution to the problem could be an increase in the height of the sides. However, such a modification would naturally lead to an increase in the weight of armor, which was also impractical. During the entire operation of both ships, the Germans treated the same dilemma equally - they sacrificed their seaworthiness.


By tradition, all major German warships possessed powerful armor. Gneisenau was no exception. Battleship, the description of which is an example of a well-protected ship, received a specially distributed vertical and horizontal armor. They helped each other protect the battleship from damage in vital parts of the hull. If the projectile hit the board, he must have met the reinforced armored deck.

Many of the solutions used in this project were tested for the first time. This feature once again emphasizes how advanced and unique was the Gneisenau (battleship). The First World War gave German designers a wealth of experience. Deprived of their work in the years of the Weimar Republic, they took up their work with renewed vigor in the construction of the fleet of the Third Reich.


The principle of separation of the ship into compartments proved itself during the First World War. It was also used in designing the Gneisenau. Battleship, cruiser and any other vessel had some value only until the moment of its flooding. Therefore, the problem of stability and retention of the ship afloat always faced German specialists in one of the first places.

The design of the Gneisenau was designed in such a way that the flooding of two adjacent compartments could not lead to the flooding of the deck. The authors of the project implemented several important and practical ideas. So, all the compartments, except the narrow and located in the extremity, were divided into several waterproof spaces.

In comparison with its predecessors, both the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau were distinguished by a much larger number of transverse and longitudinal bulkheads. They began to be used even on dreadnoughts. It is thanks to these details, even in the most severe battles, it was possible to preserve the watertightness of the cellars and the machine-boiler rooms. Thus, the risk of getting a dangerous roll was significantly reduced.

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