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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's H class battleships

Design

Design work for the H class began in 1935. It was intended to be very similar to the Bismarck class but with intelligence indicating that the Soviet Union was working on battleships with 16" guns the H class was to be larger. A extended range was needed for fighting in the Atlantic.

In 1937 Hitler ordered that the H class be armed with 16" guns.

The H class were to be built under the Z Plan that was authorized in 1938 as Hitler finally agreed that Great Britain could be a future enemy. He wanted the fleet to be ready by 1945. Rear-Admiral Werner Fuchs was given control of the building program.

In December 1938 the design was finalized and on April 14, 1939 orders were placed for H (yard number 525) and J (981). On May 25 K (264), L (130), M (526), and N (982)were ordered.

With the sudden outbreak of World War II work was suspended on September 30, 1939 and the materials used for U-Boats.

Aircraft

There were to be two catapults for the four aircraft carried.

Armament

The main turrets weighed 1,452 tons. The 16" / 40.6 cm SK C/34 guns were manufactured by Krupp. They could fire a 2,271 lb shell 39,800 yards at 30°.

The 5.9" / 15 cm LC/34 guns made up the secondary armament.

The main anti-aircraft guns were 4.1" / 10.5 cm SK C/33.

There were to be underwater torpedo tubes in the H class.

Engines

There were twelve MAN diesel engines. Each engine room contained two engines.

Twelve diesel generators provided auxiliary power.

Ships

H, Friedrich der Grosse

  • Manufacturer: Blohm & Voss at Hamburg
  • September 30, 1939, October 10, 1939: Construction suspended.
  • 1940: Broken up on stocks.
  • August 29, 1941: Cancelled.

J, Gross Deutschland

  • Manufacturer: Deschimag at Bremen, Weser at Bremen, A. G. Weser at Bremen
  • September 30, 1939, October 10, 1939: Construction suspended.
  • 1940: Broken up on stocks.
  • August 31, 1941: Cancelled.

K

  • Manufacturer: Deschimag at Bremen

L

  • Manufacturer: Wilhelmhaven D. Y.

M

  • Manufacturer: Blohm & Voss at Hamburg

N

  • Manufacturer: Deutsche Werke at Kiel

 

Usage

None of the ships were completed.

 

Specifications

  H Class
Crew 2,600
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 55,453 tons, 56,200 tons
Displacement - Loaded 62,497 tons, 68,000 tons
Length 911' 5"
277.8 m
Length - Water Line 866', 872'
265.8 m, 266 m
Beam 120', 122', 123' 4"
37.2 m, 37.6 m
Draft / Height 30', 33' 6", 34' 1"
10.2 m, 11.4 m
Performance  
Speed 29 knots, 30 knots
Range at 19 knots 16,000 nautical miles
Armament 40.6 cm L/47 twin turrets: 4
16", 40.6 cm twin turrets: 4
15 cm L/55 C28 twin turrets: 6
5.9", 15 cm twin turrets: 6
Anti-Aircraft 10.5 cm L/65 C33 twin mounts: 8
4.1", 10.5 cm twin mounts: 8
37 mm L/83 C33 twin mounts: 8
37 mm twin mounts: 8
20 mm C38 quad mounts: 6
20 mm: 24
20 mm quad mounts: 6
Torpedo Tubes 21" triple tubes: 2
21": 6
53.3 cm: 6
Aircraft 4, 6
Armor  
Belt 7" - 11.75"
30 cm
Bulkheads 22 cm
Bulkhead - Armored 8.75"
Bulkhead - Torpedo 1.75"
Deck 10 - 12 cm
Turrets - Main 5" - 15.25"
Turrets - Secondary 1.5" - 4"
Turret - Front 38.5 cm
Turret - Sides 24 cm
Turret - Top 13 cm
Engines Diesel
MAN 9 cylinder diesel: 12
Shafts 3
HP 165,000
Diesel 10,000 tons

Sources:

  1. German Warships of World War II, J. C. Taylor, 1966
  2. Battleships of World War Two An International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1998
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site