The Scharnhorst class
were the first capital ships, alternatively referred to as battlecruisers
, built for the German Navy (Kriegsmarine
) after World War I
. The class comprised two vessels: the lead ship Scharnhorst
was launched first, and so she is considered to be the lead ship by some sources; however, they are also referred to as the Gneisenau class' in some other sources, as Gneisenau was the first to be laid down and commissioned. They marked the beginning of German naval rearmament after the Treaty of Versailles. The ships were armed with nine 28 cm SK C/34 guns in three triple turrets, though there were plans to replace these weapons with six 38 cm SK C/34 guns in twin turrets.
The two ships were laid down in 1935, launched in late 1936, and commissioned into the German fleet by early 1939. Scharnhorst
operated together for much of the early portion of World War II
, including sorties into the Atlantic to raid British merchant shipping. The two ships participated in Operation Weserübung
, the German invasion of Norway. During operations off Norway, the two ships engaged the battlecruiser and sank the aircraft carrier — in the engagement with Glorious
achieved one of the longest-range naval gunfire hits in history. In early 1942, the two ships made a daylight......