Deutschland Class Cruiser

Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the German Navy was not allowed to build armoured ships exceeding 10,000 tons standard displacement. So the Deutschlands were, until 1940, officially termed Panzersciffe (armoured ships), disguising their true displacement, which varied between 11,700 and 12,100 tons. They were revolutionary in design and in concept. Eight diesel engines were coupled on two shafts, giving gear flexibility and economy. Designed for 26 knots, they could manage 28, which meant that they could decline action with any British battleship, yet outgun any cruiser. Only the Royal Navy's three battlecruisers could force them to action.

Their great operational radius was coupled with a very respectable armament, six 11-in being adequate for good fire control. Last of the trio to be completed (six were originally planned) was the Admiral Graf Spey. Her vertical armour belt was increased from 60 to 80 mm, a factor that saved her from serious damage at the Battle of the River Plate. Her raiding cruise had previously netted just seven merchantmen, totalling 50,000 gross tons. Admiral Sheer was more successful, but made only one foray. She was eventully sunk by bombing at Kiel (April 1945). Deutschland {later renamed Lutzow) was disabled in an air attack at Swinemunde and scuttled (4th May 1945), was captured as a hulk by the Soviet Army in 1945 and broken up piecemeal in the post-war years.

Warships of World War II
The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battle Cruisers

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