Big cruiser SMS Scharnhorst

The big cruiser SMS Scharnhorst belonged to the same class of ships, which consisted of only two ships, was put into service only a few years before the war and was sunk right at the beginning of the war.


Launching and design:

The two ships of the Scharnhorst class was built shortly after the big cruisers of the Roon class, which is why the design of the ships was also based on those of the Roon class. In contrast to the previous class, more emphasis was placed on the heavy artillery of the two ships of the Scharnhorst class and the medium artillery was less installed.

Already during the construction phase, it became apparent that both ships were no longer up-to-date with the state of the art. Only with the successor ship SMS Blücher could again be achieved a technical progress. For this reason, the two ships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were already in service for the German colonies.

The launch of the SMS Scharnhorst took place on March 22, 1906, the commissioning on October 24, 1907.


Big cruiser SMS Scharnhorst

Big cruiser SMS Scharnhorst


Big cruiser SMS Scharnhorst

Big cruiser SMS Scharnhorst


Aft 21cm double tower of the SMS Scharnhorst

Aft 21cm double tower of the SMS Scharnhorst




History of SMS Scharnhorst:

After the commissioning of the ship was first used as the flagship of the commander of the reconnaissance forces, then the transfer to East Asia.

On April 1, 1909 left the ship Kiel on April 29 in Colombo the SMS Prince Bismarck as the flagship of the German East Asia squadron to replace. On March 14, 1911 followed the sister ship SMS Gneisenau, which was also stationed until the outbreak of war in Tsingtau.




Use in the war:

At the outbreak of the First World War, the two big cruiser first of the Scharnhorst-Class ran the island of Pagan in the German part of New Guinea to meet with the small cruisers SMS Nürnberg and SMS Emden, the Emden later left the squadron again. From 14 August to 12 October 1914, the squadron ran to Easter Island, where the small cruisers SMS Dresden and SMS Leipzig joined. On the way there, the French gunboat Zelee was sunk on 22 September in Tahiti.

On 1 November 1914, the squadron of the Chilean coast followed when it met a British squadron. In the ensuing battle succeeded the German ships to sink the British armored cruiser HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth. However, since half of the ammunition was fired, the squadron commander Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee decided to venture into the Atlantic.

On the way, the squadron was to cross the Falkland Islands. Von Spee decided to attack the British island, plunder the coal reserves and capture the governor. On December 8, 1914, the two ships SMS Gneisenau and SMS Nürnberg in advance, when they realized that in the port of the island were British battlecruisers, who had arrived the day before.


The last course of SMS Scharnhorst


Battle of the Falkland Islands 1914





In the battle between the British and the German ships in the Falkland Islands, the British battlecruisers were far superior to the German ships. Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee gave the German small cruisers the order to flee after a short time and tried to distract the British ships with the two big cruisers.

At 4:04 pm, SMS Scharnhorst was hit and at 4:17 pm the ship sank completely. Nobody survived the occupation.




Ship data:


SMS Scharnhorst


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Big cruiser




Blohm & Voss, Hamburg


20.319.000 Mark


March 22nd, 1906


October 24th, 1907


Sunk on December 8th, 1914 at the Falkland Islands


144,6 meters


21,6 meters


Max. 8,37 meters


Max. 12.985 Tons


838 Men


18 Marine boiler
3 3-cylinder compound machines


28.783 PS (21.170 kW)

Maximum speed:  

23,5 kn (44 km/h)


8 × Rapid Fire Gun 21,0 cm L / 40 (700 shots)

6 × Rapid Fire Gun 15,0 cm L / 40 (1.020 shots)

18 × Rapid Fire Gun 8,8 cm L / 35 (2.700 shots)

4 × torpedo tube ⌀ 45,0 cm (1 bow, 2 sides, 1 stern, under water, 11 rounds)



Belt: 80-150 mm on 50 mm teak
Citadel: 150 mm
Deck: 35-60 mm
Front command tower: 30-200 mm
Aft command tower: 20-50 mm
Towers: 30-170 mm
Casemates: 150 mm
Shields heavy artillery: 40-150 mm
Shields Medium Artillery: 80 mm






You can find the right literature here:


German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard)

German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard) Paperback – February 23, 2010

Supported by official documents, personal accounts, official drawings and specially commissioned artwork, this volume is an enlightening history of the Deutschland to Osfriesland classes. Detailing the last of the pre-dreadnaught battleship classes, this book goes on to explain the revolutionary developments that took place within the German Imperial Navy as they readied themselves for war. This included creating vessels with vast increases in size and armament. This account of design and technology is supplemented by individual ship histories detailing combat experience complete with first-hand accounts. The specially commissioned artwork also brings this history to life with recreations of the battleship Pommern fighting at Jutland and ships of the Osfriesland class destroying HMS Black Prince in a dramatic night-time engagement.

Click here!



The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces

The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces Hardcover – December 28, 2016

The Imperial German Navy of WWI is a series of books (Warships, Campaigns, & Uniforms) that provide a broad view of the Kaiser's naval forces through the extensive use of photographs. Every effort has been made to cover all significant areas during the war period. In addition to the primary use of photographs, technical information is provided for each warship along with its corresponding service history; with a special emphasis being placed on those warships that participated in the Battle of Skagerrak (Jutland). Countless sources have been used to establish individual case studies for each warship; multiple photos of each warship are provided. The entire series itself is unprecedented in its coverage of the Kaiser's navy.

Click here!



German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations Hardcover – November 4, 2014

This is the most comprehensive, English-language study of the German Imperial Navy's battlecruisers that served in the First World War. Known as Panzerkreuzer, literally "armored cruiser," the eight ships of the class were to be involved in several early North Sea skirmishes before the great pitched battle of Jutland where they inflicted devastating damage on the Royal Navy's battlecruiser fleet. This book details their design and construction, and traces the full service history of each ship, recounting their actions, drawing largely from first-hand German sources and official documents, many previously unpublished in English.

Click here!



The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918

The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918 Hardcover – March 15, 2016

The battleships of the Third Reich have been written about exhaustively, but there is little in English devoted to their Second Reich predecessors. This new book fills an important gap in the literature of the period by covering these German capital ships in detail and studying the full span of battleship development during this period. The book is arranged as a chronological narrative, with technical details, construction schedules, and ultimate fates tabulated throughout, thus avoiding the sometimes disjointed structure that can result from a class-by-class approach. Heavily illustrated with line drawings and photographs, many from German sources, the book offers readers a fresh visual look at these ships. A key objective of the book is to make available a full synthesis of the published fruits of archival research by German writers found in the pre-World War II books of Koop & Schmolke, Großmer's on the construction program of the dreadnaught era, Forstmeier & Breyer on World War I projects, and Schenk & Nottelmann's papers in Warship International. As well as providing data not available in English-language books, these sources correct significant errors in standard English sources.

Click here!






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