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Sister ships: DEUTSCHLAND, ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE
Notes: Following World War I, the terms of the Treaty of Versailles allowed Germany to build warships with a maximum displacement of 10,000 tons and a maximum gun size of 11". It was guessed that within these limits, nothing larger or more powerful than a coast defense ship could be built. And in the years immediately following World War I, economic conditions in Germany precluded much shipbuilding of any kind. However, planning and design did take place; and combined with the "new technologies" of diesel engines and electric welding, what did emerge in 1933 was a type of ship that surprised nearly everyone. The first of the class, the DEUTSCHLAND, was tagged as a "pocket battleship". More accurately, it was a heavily-armed, thinly-armored commerce raider, capable of steaming for long distances without refueling, and (referring to warships) able to sink anything it couldn't out-run, and out-run anything that could catch it (with the exception of the British battlecruisers HOOD, RENOWN and REPULSE -- and the Washington Treaties forbade the British to build any more battlecruisers). It should be noted that critics of the design "turned it around" and noted that they "couldn't sink anything they could catch, and couldn't catch anything they could sink". However, those critics went largely unheard, and the "Panzerschiffes" (armored ships) caused a large amount of concern in many navies. The class were regarded as good sea boats, but wet in a heavy sea.
ADMIRAL SCHEER was launched in April, 1933, and commissioned in November, 1934. In 1935, a catapult for her seaplanes was added. She served in the "Non-Intervention Patrol" during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1937. A refit in 1938 added three additional 3.45" guns (bringing the total to six). At the beginning of World War II, she was successful as a commerce raider in the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans, sinking 17 Allied merchantmen, totaling 137,223 tons; included in this total is the British armed merchant cruiser JERVIS BAY, sunk on 5 November 1940. She was modified in 1940 with an "Atlantic bow" (to improve seakeeping), a funnel cap, and a re-worked forward superstructure. In addition, her anti-aircraft armament was modified; the 3.45" (88mm) guns were removed and replaced by six 4.1" (105mm) guns and 6-48mm, 8-37mm and 10-20mm (2x4 and 2x1) AA guns added. In 1942, ADMIRAL SCHEER was transferred to Norwegian waters. On 2 July, she sailed in company with LÜTZOW and six destroyers as a part of "Operation Rösselsprung", aimed against Allied convoy PQ-17; they were soon recalled without seeing any action, but in large part they were successful, for the convoy was ordered to scatter; subsequent U-boat and aircraft attacks sunk 21 of the 34 merchant ships involved. In 1943 through the end of her career, ADMIRAL SCHEER was stationed in the Baltic with the Fleet Training Squadron; she often was used for shore bombardment, supporting ground forces. ADMIRAL SCHEER was sunk on 9 April 1945 while in dry dock at Kiel by RAF bombers carrying "Tallboy" bombs (the same weapon used to sink the TIRPITZ). The capsized wreck was partially scrapped, and the remainder buried on site when a new quay was built.