German Naval Challenge to Britain Takes Shape

Thursday 3rd  October 1936


Nazi Germany launched its first major capital ship since the First World War, the battleship (or battlecruiser by some definitions) Scharnhorst. The far smaller Deutschland class ships were classed as Panzerschiffe or in British parlance, pocket battleships. Following the signature of the Anglo-German naval treaty in 1935, she offered concrete proof that Germany would do what it could to challenge British naval supremacy, supposedly respecting the restrictions laid down in the Treaty.


In reality Germany flouted its provisions from the start. The tonnage of both Scharnhorst and her sister Gneisenau was given as 26,000 tons, but it was actually 32,600 tons. Until she was sunk at the Battle of North Cape at the end of 1943 on a sacrificial sortie conceived to prove that the Kriegsmarine’s surface units were capable of action.

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