German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer
Overview
 
Admiral Scheer was a Deutschland-class
Deutschland class cruiser
The Deutschland class was a series of three panzerschiffe , a form of heavily armed cruiser, built by the Reichsmarine officially in accordance with restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles...

 heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

 (often termed a pocket battleship) which served with the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The vessel was named after Admiral Reinhard Scheer
Reinhard Scheer
Reinhard Scheer was an Admiral in the German Kaiserliche Marine. Scheer joined the navy in 1879 as an officer cadet; he progressed through the ranks, commanding cruisers and battleships, as well as major staff positions on land. At the outbreak of World War I, Scheer was the commander of the II...

, German commander in the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

. She was laid down at the Reichsmarinewerft
Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven
Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven was the naval shipyard in Wilhelmshaven, Prussian Hanover, between 1918 and 1945 in the German Navy's extensive base located there.-History:...

 shipyard in Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

 in June 1931 and completed by November 1934. Originally classified as an armored ship (Panzerschiff) by the Reichsmarine, in February 1940 the Germans reclassified the remaining two ships of this class as heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

s.

The ship was nominally under the 10000 LT limitation on warship size imposed by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, though with a full load displacement of 15180 LT, she significantly exceeded it.
Encyclopedia
Admiral Scheer was a Deutschland-class
Deutschland class cruiser
The Deutschland class was a series of three panzerschiffe , a form of heavily armed cruiser, built by the Reichsmarine officially in accordance with restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles...

 heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

 (often termed a pocket battleship) which served with the Kriegsmarine
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

 of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The vessel was named after Admiral Reinhard Scheer
Reinhard Scheer
Reinhard Scheer was an Admiral in the German Kaiserliche Marine. Scheer joined the navy in 1879 as an officer cadet; he progressed through the ranks, commanding cruisers and battleships, as well as major staff positions on land. At the outbreak of World War I, Scheer was the commander of the II...

, German commander in the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

. She was laid down at the Reichsmarinewerft
Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven
Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven was the naval shipyard in Wilhelmshaven, Prussian Hanover, between 1918 and 1945 in the German Navy's extensive base located there.-History:...

 shipyard in Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

 in June 1931 and completed by November 1934. Originally classified as an armored ship (Panzerschiff) by the Reichsmarine, in February 1940 the Germans reclassified the remaining two ships of this class as heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

s.

The ship was nominally under the 10000 LT limitation on warship size imposed by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, though with a full load displacement of 15180 LT, she significantly exceeded it. Armed with six 28 cm (11 in) guns in two triple gun turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

s, Admiral Scheer and her sisters were designed to outgun any cruiser fast enough to catch them. Their top speed of 28 kn (15.2 m/s) left only a handful of ships in the Anglo-French navies able to catch them and powerful enough to sink them.

Admiral Scheer saw heavy service with the German Navy, including a deployment to Spain during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, where she bombarded the port of Almería
Almería
Almería is a city in Andalusia, Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the province of the same name.-Toponym:Tradition says that the name Almería stems from the Arabic المرية Al-Mariyya: "The Mirror", comparing it to "The Mirror of the Sea"...

. Her first operation during World War II was a commerce raiding operation into the southern Atlantic Ocean; she also made a brief foray into the Indian Ocean. During the operation, she sank of shipping, making her the most successful capital ship
Capital ship
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they generally possess the heaviest firepower and armor and are traditionally much larger than other naval vessels...

 surface raider of the war. Following her return to Germany, she was deployed to northern Norway to interdict shipping to the Soviet Union. She was part of the abortive attack on Convoy PQ-17
Convoy PQ-17
PQ 17 was the code name for an Allied World War II convoy in the Arctic Ocean. In July 1942, the Arctic convoys suffered a significant defeat when Convoy PQ 17 lost 24 of its 35 merchant ships during a series of heavy enemy daylight attacks which lasted a week. On 27 June, the ships sailed...

 and conducted Operation Wunderland
Operation Wunderland
Operation Wunderland was a large-scale operation undertaken in summer 1942 by the Kriegsmarine during World War II in the waters of the Northern Sea Route close to the Arctic Ocean...

, a sortie into the Kara Sea
Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....

. After returning to Germany at the end of 1942, the ship served as a training ship until the end of 1944, when she was used to support ground operations against the Soviet Army. She was sunk by British bombers on 9 April 1945 and partially scrapped; the remainder of the wreck lies buried beneath a quay.

Construction

Admiral Scheer was ordered by the Reichsmarine from the Reichsmarinewerft
Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven
Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven was the naval shipyard in Wilhelmshaven, Prussian Hanover, between 1918 and 1945 in the German Navy's extensive base located there.-History:...

 shipyard in Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

. Naval rearmament was not popular with the Social Democrats
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 and the Communists
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 in the German Reichstag
Reichstag
Reichstag may refer to:*Reichstag – the diets or parliaments of the Holy Roman Empire, of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, and of Germany from 1871 to 1945** Reichstag ** Reichstag...

, so it was not until 1931 that a bill was passed to build a second Panzerschiff. The money for Panzerschiff B, which was ordered as Ersatz Lothringen, was secured after the Social Democrats abstained to prevent a political crisis. Her keel was laid on 25 June 1931, under construction number 123. The ship was launched on 1 April 1933; at her launching, she was christened by Marianne Besserer, the daughter of Admiral Reinhard Scheer
Reinhard Scheer
Reinhard Scheer was an Admiral in the German Kaiserliche Marine. Scheer joined the navy in 1879 as an officer cadet; he progressed through the ranks, commanding cruisers and battleships, as well as major staff positions on land. At the outbreak of World War I, Scheer was the commander of the II...

, the ship's namesake. She was completed slightly over a year and a half later on 12 November 1934, the day she was commissioned into the German fleet. The old battleship was removed from service and her crew transferred to the newly commissioned panzerschiff.

Admiral Scheer was 186 metres (610.2 ft) long overall and had a beam of 21.34 m (70 ft) and a maximum draft of 7.25 m (23.8 ft). The ship had a design displacement of 13660 MT (13,444.2 LT) and a full load displacement of 15180 LT, though the ship was officially stated to be within the 10000 LT limit of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

. Admiral Scheer was powered by four sets of MAN 9-cylinder double-acting two-stroke diesel engines. The ship's top speed was 28.3 knots (15.4 m/s), at 52050 shp. At a cruising speed of 20 kn (10.9 m/s), the ship could steam for 9100 nautical miles (16,853.2 km). As designed, her standard complement consisted of 33 officers and 586 enlisted men, though after 1935 this was significantly increased to 30 officers and 921–1,040 sailors.

Admiral Scheers primary armament was six 28 cm (11 in) SK C/28
28 cm SK C/28 naval gun
The German 28 cm C/28 naval gun was a 283 mm 52-caliber built-up gun designed in 1928 used on the Deutschland class "pocket battleships".-History:-Characteristics:...

 guns mounted in two triple gun turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

s, one forward and one aft of the superstructure
Superstructure
A superstructure is an upward extension of an existing structure above a baseline. This term is applied to various kinds of physical structures such as buildings, bridges, or ships...

. The ship carried a secondary battery of eight 15 cm (5.9 in) SK C/28
15 cm SK C/28
The 15 cm SK C/28 was a German medium-caliber naval gun used during the Second World War. It served as the secondary armament for the Bismarck class and Scharnhorst-class battleships, Deutschland-class pocket battleships and the Graf Zeppelin class aircraft carrier...

 guns in single turrets grouped amidships. Her anti-aircraft battery originally consisted of three 8.8 cm (3.5 in) L/45 guns, though in 1935 these were replaced with six 8.8 cm L/78
8.8 cm SK C/31 naval gun
The 8.8 cm SK C/31 The 8.8 cm SK C/31 The 8.8 cm SK C/31 (SK - Schnelladekanone (quick loading cannon) C - Construktionsjahr (year of design) was a German naval gun that was used in World War II.-Description:...

 guns. By 1940, the ship's anti-aircraft battery was significantly increased, consisting of six 10.5 cm (4.1 in) C/33
10.5 cm FlaK 38
The 10.5 cm SK C/33 was a German anti-aircraft gun used during World War II by the Kriegsmarine on a number of their larger capital ships. It was later adapted for Luftwaffe as a competitor to the famed 8.8 cm FlaK 18 as the 10.5 cm FlaK 38...

 guns, four twin-mounted 3.7 cm (1.5 in) C/30
3.7 cm SK C/30
The 3.7 cm SK C/30 was the German Kriegsmarine's primary anti-aircraft gun during the Second World War...

 guns and up to twenty-eight 2 cm (0.78740157480315 in) Flak 30 guns. By 1945, the anti-aircraft battery had again been reorganized and comprised six 4 cm guns, eight 3.7 cm guns, and thirty-three 2 cm guns.

The ship also carried a pair of quadruple 53.3 cm (21 in) deck-mounted torpedo launchers placed on her stern. The ship was equipped with two Arado Ar 196
Arado Ar 196
-See also:-Bibliography:* Dabrowski, Hans-Peter and Koos, Volker. Arado Ar 196, Germany's Multi-Purpose Seaplane. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1993. ISBN 0-88740-481-2....

 seaplanes and one catapult
Aircraft catapult
An aircraft catapult is a device used to launch aircraft from ships—in particular aircraft carriers—as a form of assisted take off. It consists of a track built into the flight deck, below which is a large piston or shuttle that is attached through the track to the nose gear of the aircraft, or in...

. Admiral Scheers armored belt
Belt armor
Belt armor is a layer of heavy metal armor plated on to or within outer hulls of warships, typically on battleships, battlecruisers and cruisers, and on aircraft carriers converted from those types of ships....

 was 60 millimetre thick; her upper deck was 17 mm (0.669291338582677 in) thick while the main armored deck was 17 millimetre thick. The main battery turrets had 140 mm (5.5 in) thick faces and 80 mm thick sides. Radar initially consisted of a FMG 39 G(gO) set, though in 1941 this was replaced with an FMG 40 G(gO) set and a FuMO 26 system.

Service history

At her commissioning in November 1934, Admiral Scheer was placed under the command of Kapitän zur See (KzS) Wilhelm Marschall
Wilhelm Marschall
Wilhelm Marschall was a German admiral during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Pour le Mérite which he received as commander of the German U-boat during World War I...

. The ship spent the remainder of 1934 conducting sea trials and training her crew. In 1935, she had a new catapult and landing sail system to operate her Arado seaplanes on heavy seas installed. By October 1935, the ship was ready for her first major cruise, when on 25–28 October she visited Madeira
Madeira
Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago that lies between and , just under 400 km north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union...

, returning to Kiel on 8 November. The following summer, she cruised out through the Skagerrak
Skagerrak
The Skagerrak is a strait running between Norway and the southwest coast of Sweden and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat sea area, which leads to the Baltic Sea.-Name:...

 and the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 into the Irish Sea
Irish Sea
The Irish Sea separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain. It is connected to the Celtic Sea in the south by St George's Channel, and to the Atlantic Ocean in the north by the North Channel. Anglesey is the largest island within the Irish Sea, followed by the Isle of Man...

, before visiting Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 on the return voyage.

Spanish Civil War

Admiral Scheers first overseas deployment began in July 1936 when she was sent to Spain to evacuate German civilians caught in the midst of the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. From 8 August 1936 she served together with her sister ship Deutschland
German pocket battleship Deutschland
Deutschland was the lead ship of her class of heavy cruisers which served with the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany during World War II. Ordered by the Weimar government for the Reichsmarine, she was laid down at the Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel in February 1929 and completed by April 1933...

 on non-intervention patrols off the Republican
Republican Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The Republican faction also known as the Republicans was the side in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939 that supported the Second Spanish Republic against the National faction.-Popular Front:-CNT/FAI:-People's Republican Army:...

-held coast of Spain. She served four tours of duty with the non-intervention patrol through June 1937. Her official objective was to control the influx of war materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 into Spain, though she also recorded Soviet ships carrying supplies to the Republicans and protected ships delivering German weapons to Nationalist
National Faction (Spanish Civil War)
The National faction also known as Nationalists or Nationals , was a major faction in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. It was composed of a variety of political groups opposed to the Second Spanish Republic, including the Falange, the CEDA, and two rival monarchist claimants: the Alfonsists...

 forces. During the deployment to Spain, Ernst Lindemann
Ernst Lindemann
Otto Ernst Lindemann was a German naval captain. He was the only commander of the battleship during its eight months of service in World War II....

 served as the ship's first gunnery officer.After Deutschland was attacked on 29 May 1937 by Spanish Republican Air Force
Spanish Republican Air Force
The Spanish Republican Air Force, , was the air arm of the Second Spanish Republic, the legally established government of Spain between 1931 and 1939...

 aircraft off Ibiza
Ibiza
Ibiza or Eivissa is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea 79 km off the coast of the city of Valencia in Spain. It is the third largest of the Balearic Islands, an autonomous community of Spain. With Formentera, it is one of the two Pine Islands or Pityuses. Its largest cities are Ibiza...

, Admiral Scheer was ordered to bombard the Republican-held port of Almería
Almería
Almería is a city in Andalusia, Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the province of the same name.-Toponym:Tradition says that the name Almería stems from the Arabic المرية Al-Mariyya: "The Mirror", comparing it to "The Mirror of the Sea"...

 in reprisal. On 31 May 1937, the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

, Admiral Scheer, flying the Imperial War Flag
Reichskriegsflagge
Reichskriegsflagge was the official name of the war flag used by the German armed forces from 1867 to 1945. A total of seven different designs were used during this period.-Imperial Germany:...

, arrived off Almería at 07:29 and opened fire on shore batteries, naval installations and ships in the harbor. On 26 June 1937, she was relieved by her sister Admiral Graf Spee, allowing her to return to Wilhelmshaven on 1 July. She returned to the Mediterranean between August and October, however. In September 1936, KzS Otto Ciliax
Otto Ciliax
Otto Ciliax was an admiral in the German Navy. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross...

 replaced Marschall as the ship's commanding officer.

World War II

At the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, Admiral Scheer remained at anchor in the Schillig
Schillig
Schillig is a village in the Friesland district of Lower Saxony in Germany. It is situated on the west coast of Jade Bay and is north of the town of Wilhelmshaven.The approaches to the Bay and Willhelmshaven are known in English as the Schillig Roads....

 roadstead
Roadstead
A roadstead is a place outside a harbor where a ship can lie at anchor. It is an enclosed area with an opening to the sea, narrower than a bay or gulf. It has a surface that cannot be confused with an estuary. It can be created artificially by jetties or dikes...

 outside Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

, along with the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper
German cruiser Admiral Hipper
Admiral Hipper, the first of five ships of her class, was the lead ship of the Admiral Hipper–class of heavy cruisers which served with the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1935 and launched February 1937; Admiral Hipper...

. On 4 September, two groups of five Bristol Blenheim
Bristol Blenheim
The Bristol Blenheim was a British light bomber aircraft designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company that was used extensively in the early days of the Second World War. It was adapted as an interim long-range and night fighter, pending the availability of the Beaufighter...

 bombers attacked the ships. The first group surprised the anti-aircraft gunners aboard Admiral Scheer, who nevertheless managed to shoot down one of the five Blenheims. One bomb struck the ship's deck and failed to explode, and two detonated in the water near the ship. The remaining bombs also failed to explode. The second group of five Blenheims were confronted by the alerted German defenses, which shot down four of the five bombers. Admiral Scheer emerged from the attack undamaged. In November 1939, KzS Theodor Krancke
Theodor Krancke
Theodor Krancke was an admiral with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 became the ship's commanding officer.

Admiral Scheer underwent a refit while her sister ships set out on commerce raiding
Commerce raiding
Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt the logistics of an enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than engaging the combatants themselves or enforcing a blockade against them.Commerce raiding was heavily criticised by...

 operations in the Atlantic. Admiral Scheer was modified during the early months of 1940, including the installation of a new, raked clipper
Clipper
A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the 19th century that had three or more masts and a square rig. They were generally narrow for their length, could carry limited bulk freight, small by later 19th century standards, and had a large total sail area...

 bow. The heavy command tower was replaced with a lighter structure, and she was reclassified as a heavy cruiser
Heavy cruiser
The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range, high speed and an armament of naval guns roughly 203mm calibre . The heavy cruiser can be seen as a lineage of ship design from 1915 until 1945, although the term 'heavy cruiser' only came into formal use in 1930...

. Additional anti-aircraft guns were also installed, along with updated radar equipment. On 19–20 July, RAF bombers attacked Admiral Scheer and the battleship Tirpitz
German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

, though they failed to score any hits. On 27 July, the ship was pronounced ready for service.

Atlantic sortie

Admiral Scheer sailed in October 1940 on her first combat sortie. On the night of 31 October, she slipped through the Denmark Strait
Denmark Strait
The Denmark Strait or Greenland Strait |Sound]]) is an oceanic strait between Greenland and Iceland...

 and broke into the open Atlantic. Her B-Dienst
B-Dienst
The B-Dienst was a German naval codebreaking organisation. During World War II, B-Dienst solved British Naval Cypher No. 3, providing intelligence for the Battle of the Atlantic, until the British Admiralty introduced Naval Cypher No. 5 on 10 June 1943. B-Dienst also solved a number of merchant...

radio intercept equipment identified the convoy HX-84
Convoy HX-84
HX-84 was a North Atlantic convoy of the HX series during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II. It consisted of 38 merchant ships which sailed eastbound from Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Liverpool, England, on 28 October 1940 and was escorted by the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay-The...

, sailing from Halifax Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

. Admiral Scheers Arado seaplanes located the convoy on 5 November 1940, The armed merchant cruiser , the sole escort for the convoy, issued a report of the German raider and attempted to prevent her from attacking the convoy. The convoy was ordered to scatter under cover of a smoke screen.
Admiral Scheers first salvo scored hits on Jervis Bay, disabling her wireless equipment and steering gear. Shells from her second salvo struck the bridge and killed her commander, Edward Fegen
Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen
Captain Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen VC, SGM was an Irish Victoria Cross recipient , by birth an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth...

. Admiral Scheer quickly sank Jervis Bay, but the delay allowed the majority of the convoy to escape. The Germans sank only five of the convoy's 37 ships.

On 18 December, Admiral Scheer encountered and sank the refrigerator ship Duquesa, of some 8651 LT displacement. The ship sent off a distress signal, which the German raider deliberately allowed, to draw British naval forces to the area. Krancke wanted to lure British warships to the area to draw attention away from Admiral Hipper, which had just exited the Denmark Strait. The aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s and , the cruisers , , and , and the armed merchant cruiser converged to hunt down the German raider, but she eluded the British.

Between 26 December and 7 January, Admiral Scheer rendezvoused with the supply ships Nordmark and Eurofeld, the auxiliary cruiser Thor
German auxiliary cruiser Thor
Thor was an auxiliary cruiser of the German Kriegsmarine in the Second World War, intended for service as a commerce raider. Also known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 10; to the Royal Navy she was Raider E...

, and the prizes Dugnesa and Storstad. The raiders transferred some 600 prisoners to Storstad while they refueled from Nordmark and Eurofeld. Admiral Scheer captured three British merchant ships totaling between 18 and 20 January. She spent Christmas 1940 at sea in the mid-Atlantic, several hundred miles from Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha is a remote volcanic group of islands in the south Atlantic Ocean and the main island of that group. It is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, lying from the nearest land, South Africa, and from South America...

, before making a foray into the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

 in February 1941.

On 14 February, Admiral Scheer rendezvoused with the armed merchant raider Atlantis
German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis
The German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis , known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 16 and to the Royal Navy as Raider-C, was a converted German Hilfskreuzer of the Kriegsmarine, which, during World War II, travelled more than in 602 days, and sank or captured 22 ships totaling...

 and the supply ship Tannenfels about 1000 nmi (1,852 km) east of Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

. The raiders resupplied from Tannenfels and exchanged information on Allied merchant traffic in the area, parting company on 17 February. Admiral Scheer then steamed to the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

 north of Madagascar, where she located two merchant vessels with her Arado floatplanes. She took the 6994 LT transport British Advocate as a prize and sank the 2456 LT Greek-flagged Grigorios. A third ship, the 7178 LT Canadian Cruiser, managed to send a distress signal before Admiral Scheer sank her on 21 February. The raider encountered and sank a fourth ship the following day, the 2542 LT Dutch steamer Rantaupandjang, though she too was able to send a distress signal before she sank.

The British cruiser , which was patrolling in the area, received both messages from Admiral Scheers victims. Glasgow launched reconnaissance aircraft that spotted Admiral Scheer on 22 February. Vice Admiral Ralph Leatham
Ralph Leatham
Admiral Sir Ralph Leatham KCB was a Royal Navy officer who served as Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth during World War II.-Naval career:...

, the commander of the East Indies Station
East Indies and China Station
The East Indies and China Station was a formation of the British Royal Navy from 1831 to 1865.-History:The Station was formed in 1831; it ceased to exist when it was separated into the East Indies Station and the China Station in 1865. Its area covered the Indian Ocean and the coasts of China and...

, deployed the carrier Hermes and cruisers , , , , and the Australian to join the hunt. Krancke turned to the south-east to evade his pursuers, reaching the South Atlantic by 3 March. The British, meanwhile, had abandoned the hunt on 25 February when it became clear that Admiral Scheer had withdrawn from the area.

Admiral Scheer then sailed northwards, breaking through the Denmark Strait
Denmark Strait
The Denmark Strait or Greenland Strait |Sound]]) is an oceanic strait between Greenland and Iceland...

 on 26–27 March and evading the cruisers and . She reached Bergen
Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway with a population of as of , . Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland county. Greater Bergen or Bergen Metropolitan Area as defined by Statistics Norway, has a population of as of , ....

, Norway on 30 March, where she spent a day in the Grimstadfjord. A destroyer escort joined the ship for the voyage to Kiel, which they reached on 1 April. In the course of her raiding operation, she had steamed over 46000 nautical miles (85,192 km) and sank seventeen merchant ships for a total of . She was by far the most successful German capital ship
Capital ship
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they generally possess the heaviest firepower and armor and are traditionally much larger than other naval vessels...

 commerce raider of the entire war. After returning to Germany, Krancke left the ship and was replaced by KzS Wilhelm Meendsen-Bohlken
Wilhelm Meendsen-Bohlken
Wilhelm Gerhard Oskar Julius Meendsen-Bohlken was a Vizeadmiral with the Kriegsmarine during World War II and a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross...

 in June 1941. The loss of the battleship Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

 in May 1941, and more importantly, the Royal Navy's destruction of the German supply ship network in the aftermath of the Bismarck operation forced a planned Atlantic raiding operation for Admiral Scheer and her sister Lützow at the end of 1941. On 4–8 September, Admiral Scheer was briefly moved to Oslo
Oslo
Oslo is a municipality, as well as the capital and most populous city in Norway. As a municipality , it was established on 1 January 1838. Founded around 1048 by King Harald III of Norway, the city was largely destroyed by fire in 1624. The city was moved under the reign of Denmark–Norway's King...

. There, on 5 and 8 September, No. 2 Squadron RAF
No. 2 Squadron RAF
No. 2 Squadron of the Royal Air Force is currently one of two RAF squadrons operating in the reconnaissance role with the Tornado GR4A and GR4 and is based at RAF Marham, Norfolk.No. II Squadron holds claim to being "the oldest heavier-than-air flying machine squadron in the world", along with No...

, equipped with B-17 bombers, mounted a pair of unsuccessful attacks on the ship. On 8 September, the ship left Oslo and returned to Swinemünde.

Deployment to Norway

On 21 February 1942, Admiral Scheer, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen
German cruiser Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen was an Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruiser, the third member of the class of five vessels. She served with the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. The ship was laid down in April 1936 and launched August 1938; Prinz Eugen entered service after the outbreak of war, in August 1940...

, and the destroyers Richard Beitzen
German destroyer Z4 Richard Beitzen
The German destroyer Z4 Richard Beitzen was a Type 1934 destroyer in the German Kriegsmarine, named after Richard Beitzen who commanded the 14th Torpedo boat flotilla in World War I and was killed in action in March 1918....

, Paul Jakobi
German destroyer Z5 Paul Jakobi
Z5 Paul Jakobi was a built for the German Navy in the mid-1930s.-Design and description:Paul Jacobi had an overall length of and was long at the waterline. The ship had a beam of , and a maximum draft of . She displaced at standard and at deep load. The Wagner geared steam turbines were...

, Z25
German destroyer Z25
Z25 was a built for the Kriegsmarine during World War II.-External links:*...

, Hermann Schoemann
German destroyer Z7 Hermann Schoemann
Z7 Hermann Schoemann was a built for the German Navy in the mid-1930s.-Design and description:Hermann Schoemann had an overall length of and was long at the waterline. The ship had a beam of , and a maximum draft of . She displaced at standard and at deep load. The Wagner geared steam...

, and Friedrich Ihn
German destroyer Z14 Friedrich Ihn
Z14 Friedrich Ihn was a built for the German Navy in the mid-1930s. It was named after German naval officer Friedrich Ihn.-External links:*...

 steamed to Norway. After stopping briefly in Grimstadfjord, the ships proceeded on to Trondheim. On 23 February, the British submarine torpedoed Prinz Eugen, causing serious damage. The first operation in Norway in which Admiral Scheer took part was Operation Rösselsprung, in July 1942. On 2 July, the ship sortied as part of the attempt to intercept Arctic convoy
Arctic convoys of World War II
The Arctic convoys of World War II travelled from the United Kingdom and North America to the northern ports of the Soviet Union—Arkhangelsk and Murmansk. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945...

 PQ-17. Admiral Scheer and Lützow formed one group while Tirpitz and Admiral Hipper composed another. While en route to the rendezvous point, Lützow and three destroyers ran aground, forcing the entire group to abandon the operation. Admiral Scheer was detached to join Tirpitz and Admiral Hipper in Altafjord
Altafjord
Altafjord is a fjord in the municipality Alta in Finnmark county, Norway, and is about 38 kilometres long. In the inner southern part of the fjord, near the town of Alta, is the outlet of the 200 kilometre long river Altaelva...

. The British detected the German departure and ordered the convoy to scatter. Aware that surprise had been lost, the Germans broke off the surface attack and turned the destruction of PQ-17 over to the U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s and Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

. Twenty-four of the convoy's thirty-five transports were sunk.

In August 1942, she conducted Operation Wunderland
Operation Wunderland
Operation Wunderland was a large-scale operation undertaken in summer 1942 by the Kriegsmarine during World War II in the waters of the Northern Sea Route close to the Arctic Ocean...

, a sortie into the Kara Sea
Kara Sea
The Kara Sea is part of the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia. It is separated from the Barents Sea to the west by the Kara Strait and Novaya Zemlya, and the Laptev Sea to the east by the Severnaya Zemlya....

 to interdict Soviet shipping and attack targets of opportunity. The length of the mission and the distances involved precluded a destroyer escort for the operation; three destroyers would escort Admiral Scheer until they reached Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya
Novaya Zemlya , also known in Dutch as Nova Zembla and in Norwegian as , is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in the north of Russia and the extreme northeast of Europe, the easternmost point of Europe lying at Cape Flissingsky on the northern island...

, at which point they would return to Norway. Two U-boats—U-251 and U-456—patrolled the Kara Gate
Kara Strait
The Kara Strait or Kara Gates is a 56 km wide channel of water between the southern end of Novaya Zemlya and the northern tip of Vaygach Island...

 and the Jugor Strait. The Germans originally intended to send Admiral Scheer with her sister ship Lützow, but since the latter had run aground the previous month, she was unavailable for the operation.

The operational plan called for strict radio silence to ensure surprise could be maintained. This required Meendsen-Bohlken to have total tactical and operational control of his ship; shore-based commands would be unable to direct the mission. On 16 August, Admiral Scheer and her destroyer escort left Narvik
Narvik
is the third largest city and municipality in Nordland county, Norway by population. Narvik is located on the shores of the Narvik Fjord . The municipality is part of the Ofoten traditional region of North Norway, inside the arctic circle...

 on a course to pass to the north of Novaya Zemlya. Upon entering the Kara Sea, she encountered heavy ice; in addition to searching for merchant shipping, the Arado floatplane was used to scout paths through the ice fields. On 25 August, she encountered the Soviet icebreaker
Icebreaker
An icebreaker is a special-purpose ship or boat designed to move and navigate through ice-covered waters. Although the term usually refers to ice-breaking ships, it may also refer to smaller vessels .For a ship to be considered an icebreaker, it requires three traits most...

 Sibiryakov
Icebreaker Sibiryakov
The icebreaker Sibiryakov was a Soviet ship which was active in the Russian Arctic during the 1930s. She was built in 1909 in Glasgow and was originally the Newfoundland sealing steamer Bellaventure. After being purchased by Russia in 1916, she was renamed the Sibiryakov...

. Admiral Scheer sank the icebreaker, but not before the she sent a distress signal. The German ship then turned south, and two days later, arrived off the port of Dikson. Admiral Scheer damaged two ships in the port and shelled harbor facilities. Meendsen-Bohlken considered sending a landing party ashore, but firing from Soviet shore batteries convinced him to abandon the plan. After breaking off the bombardment, Meendsen-Bohlken decided to return to Narvik. She reached port on 30 August without having achieved any significant successes.

On 23 October, Admiral Scheer, Tirpitz, and the destroyers Richard Beitzen
German destroyer Z4 Richard Beitzen
The German destroyer Z4 Richard Beitzen was a Type 1934 destroyer in the German Kriegsmarine, named after Richard Beitzen who commanded the 14th Torpedo boat flotilla in World War I and was killed in action in March 1918....

, Friedrich Eckoldt
German destroyer Z16 Friedrich Eckoldt
Z16 Friedrich Eckoldt was a built for the German Navy in the mid-1930s. At the beginning of World War II, the ship was initially deployed to blockade the Polish coast, but she was quickly transferred to the German Bight to lay minefields in German waters...

, Z23
German destroyer Z23
Z23 was a built for the Kriegsmarine in the late 1930s.-External links:*...

, Z28
German destroyer Z28
Z28 was a built for the Kriegsmarine during World War II.-External links:*...

, and Z29
German destroyer Z29
Z29 was a built for the Kriegsmarine during World War II.-External links:*...

 left Bogen Bay
Bogen, Evenes
Bogen is the administrative centre of Evenes municipality, Norway. Its population is 392.Historically, Bogen is most notable for small-scale iron ore mining in the early 20th century as well as being a temporary base for the German battleship Tirpitz and cruiser Admiral Hipper.-References:...

 and proceeded to Trondheim
Trondheim
Trondheim , historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag county, Norway. With a population of 173,486, it is the third most populous municipality and city in the country, although the fourth largest metropolitan area. It is the administrative centre of...

. There, Tirpitz stopped for repairs, while Admiral Scheer and Z28 continue on to Germany. Fregattenkapitän Ernst Gruber served as the ship's acting commander at the end of November. In December 1942, Admiral Scheer returned to Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea.-History:...

 for major overhaul, where she was attacked and slightly damaged by RAF bombers. Consequently, Admiral Scheer moved to the less exposed port of Swinemünde. In February 1943, KzS Richard Rothe-Roth took command of the ship. Until the end of 1944 Admiral Scheer was part of the Fleet Training Group.

Return to the Baltic

KzS Ernst-Ludwig Thienemann, the ship's final commander, took command of Admiral Scheer in April 1944. On 22 November 1944, Admiral Scheer, the destroyers Z25
German destroyer Z25
Z25 was a built for the Kriegsmarine during World War II.-External links:*...

 and Z35
German destroyer Z35
Z35 was a Type 1936B destroyer of the German Kriegsmarine. She was laid down on 6 June 1941 at Deschimag in Bremen, launched on 2 October 1942 and commissioned on 22 September 1943. Her service was with the 6th Destroyer Flotilla in the Baltic Sea under the command of Kapitänleutnant Niels Bätge...

, and the 2nd Torpedo Boat Flotilla relieved the cruiser Prinz Eugen and several destroyers supporting German forces fighting the Soviets on the island of Ösel
Ösel
Ösel may refer to:* The Swedish and German name for Saaremaa, Estonia* Ösel - the Yoga of the Clear Light* Tenzin Ösel Rinpoche - Spanish-born Tibetan Buddhist and tulku*Ösel Tendzin, an American-born Tibetan Buddhist...

 in the Baltic. The Soviet Air Force
Soviet Air Force
The Soviet Air Force, officially known in Russian as Военно-воздушные силы or Voenno-Vozdushnye Sily and often abbreviated VVS was the official designation of one of the air forces of the Soviet Union. The other was the Soviet Air Defence Forces...

 launched several air attacks on the German forces, all of which were successfully repelled by heavy anti-aircraft fire. The ship's Arado floatplane was shot down, however. On the night of 23–24 November, the German naval forces completed the evacuation of the island. In all, 4,694 troops were evacuated from the island.

In early February 1945, Admiral Scheer stood off Samland with several torpedo boats in support of German forces fighting Soviet advances. On 9 February, the ships began shelling Soviet positions. Between 18 and 24 February, German forces launched a local counterattack; Admiral Scheer and the torpedo boats provided artillery support, targeting Soviet positions near Peyse and Gross-Heydekrug. The German attack temporarily restored the land connection to Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

. The ship's guns were badly worn out by March and in need of repair. On 8 March, Admiral Scheer departed the eastern Baltic to have her guns relined in Kiel; she carried 800 civilian refugees and 200 wounded soldiers. An uncleared minefield prevented her from reaching Kiel, and so she unloaded her passengers in Swinemünde. Despite her worn-out gun barrels, the ship then shelled Soviet forces outside Kolberg until she used up her remaining ammunition.

The ship then loaded refugees and left Swinemünde; she successfully navigated the minefields on the way to Kiel, arriving on 18 March. Her stern turret had its guns replaced at the Deutsche Werke
Deutsche Werke
Deutsche Werke was a German shipbuilding company founded in 1925 when Kaiserliche Werft Kiel and other shipyards were merged. It came as a result of the Treaty of Versailles after World War I that forced the German defence industry to shrink...

 shipyard by early April. During the repair process, most of the ship's crew went ashore. On the night of 9 April 1945, a general RAF bombing raid by over 300 aircraft struck the harbor in Kiel. Admiral Scheer was hit by five Tallboy
Tallboy bomb
The Tallboy or Bomb, Medium Capacity, 12,000 lb, was an earthquake bomb developed by the British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis and deployed by the RAF in 1944...

 bombs and capsized. She was partially broken up for scrap after the end of the war, though part of the hull was left in place and buried with rubble from the attack in the construction of a new quay. The number of casualties from her loss are unknown.

Footnotes

Notes
Citations
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