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Encyclopedia > Pocket battleship

Pocket battleship is an English language term for a class of warships built by German Reichsmarine in accordance with restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. They were classified as Panzerschiff ("armoured ship") in German; they were also known as the Deutschland class named after the first ship of this class to be completed. They were smaller than battleships (the displacement was that of a heavy cruiser), but were armed with guns larger than the heavy cruisers of other nations. The Kriegsmarine reclassified them as heavy cruisers in February 1940. The three ships in the class were launched between 1931 and 1934. Diagrams of first and third rate warships, England, 1728 Cyclopaedia. ... The German Navy has had several names depending on the political structure of Germany at the time: Deutsche Marine (German Navy) (1848)-(1852) Norddeutsche Bundesmarine (Northern German Federal Navy) (1866-1871) Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) (1872-1918) Vorläufige Reichsmarine (1919-1921) Reichsmarine (State Navy) (1921-1935) Kriegsmarine (War Navy... The Treaty of Versailles (1919) was the peace treaty which officially ended World War I between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany. ... HMS Victory in 1884. ... A heavy cruiser is a type of large warship which originated with the British Hawkins class during World War I. They entered service after the war. ... The Kriegsmarine (or War Navy) was the name of the German Navy between 1935 and 1945, during the Nazi regime, superseding the Reichsmarine. ... 1931 (MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link is to a full 1931 calendar). ... 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ...

Admiral Scheer in Gibraltar, ca. 1936, with Spanish Civil War neutrality markings (the black, white and red stripes) painted on her forward gun turret
Admiral Scheer in Gibraltar, ca. 1936, with Spanish Civil War neutrality markings (the black, white and red stripes) painted on her forward gun turret

German capital ships were restricted by the Treaty of Versailles to a displacement of 10,000 tons for "armoured ships" (Panzerships). The idea was to limit Germany to nothing more than coastal defence ships - effectively pre-dreadnought types - which could not challenge the major naval powers of Britain, France and the United States. A number of technical innovations were used by Germany to build a formidable warship within this restricted weight; among them were the large-scale use of welding to join hull components together (as opposed to the then-classic rivets), triple-gun main armament turrets (which had first been used by the Austro-Hungarian Navy in battleships in the Tegetthoff class of 1912), and the use of diesel engines for propulsion. Even so, all members of the class were well over that weight limit (first constructed as 10,600 tons, later enlarged to 12,100 tons), although for political reasons their announced displacement was always misrepresented as the 10,000 tons of the Treaty limit. Public domain. ... Public domain. ... The Spanish Civil War (July 18, 1936–April 1, 1939) was a conflict in which the incumbent Second Spanish Republic and political left-wing groups fought against a right-wing nationalist insurrection led by General Francisco Franco, who eventually succeeded in ousting the Republican government and establishing a personal dictatorship. ... 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... The Admiral Scheer was a Deutschland class heavy cruiser (often termed a pocket battleship) which served with the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany during World War II. The vessel was named after Admiral Reinhard Scheer. ... Admiral Graf Spee was a Deutschland class heavy cruiser which served with the Kriegsmarine of Germany during World War II. Originally classified as an armored ship (Panzerschiff), she was later reclassified as a heavy cruiser, and was referred to as a pocket battleship by the British. ... Panzership Hertog Hendrik A panzership (from German Panzerschiff, or armored ship) can be described as a coastal defence battleship with limited blue-water capacity. ... HMS Magnificent, a pre-dreadnought battleship launched in 1894 The term pre-dreadnought refers to the last type of battleship before HMS Dreadnought (1906). ... Welding is a fabrication process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. ... A rivetted buffer beam on a steam locomotive A rivet is a mechanical fastener consisting of a smooth cylindrical shaft with heads on either end, the second one formed in position. ... Turret (highlighted) attached to a tower on a baronial building in Scotland In architecture, a turret (from Italian: torretta, little tower; Latin: turris, tower) is a small tower that projects from the wall of a building, such as a medieval castle or baronial house. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... The diesel engine is a type of internal combustion engine; more specifically, it is a compression ignition engine, in which the fuel is ignited by being suddenly exposed to the high temperature and pressure of a compressed gas, rather than by a separate source of ignition, such as a spark...


The principal feature of the pocket battleship design was that it had guns of large enough calibre -- i.e., 280 mm (11 inches) -- to out-gun any enemy cruiser fast enough to catch them, while being fast enough to outrun any enemy powerful enough to sink them, the sole exception being some British and Japanese battlecruisers which were rebuilt as "fast" battleships. The German naval staff knew this situation would not last, but they hoped for a temporary advantage. The Deutschland class had a speed of 28.5 knots, which was already too slow at the beginning of the Second World War (only eight years after the first ship launched). Its range was about 30,000 km. USS Port Royal, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, launched in 1994. ... HMS Hood (left) and HMS Barham (right), in Malta, 1937. ...


The same principle had formed the basis of a generation of ships just prior to World War I known as battlecruisers - though these were of similar size to battleships. In practice fleet commanders forced the battlecruisers to operate along with the better protected dreadnoughts, and they suffered badly when exposed to heavy artillery fire (see Battle of Jutland for details). Combatants Allies: Serbia, Russia, France, Romania, Belgium, British Empire, United States, Italy, and others Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Ottoman Empire Casualties Military dead:5 million Civilian dead:3 million Total dead:8 million Military dead:4 million Civilian dead:3 million Total dead:7 million The First World... HMS Hood (left) and HMS Barham (right), in Malta, 1937. ... Combatants United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland German Empire Commanders Sir John Jellicoe, Sir David Beatty Reinhard Scheer, Franz von Hipper Strength 28 battleships, 9 battlecruisers, 8 armoured cruisers, 26 light cruisers, 78 destroyers 16 battleships, 5 battlecruisers, 6 pre-dreadnoughts, 11 light cruisers, 61 torpedo-boats Casualties 6...


The German Kriegsmarine, which on the eve of World War II was years away from having a large surface fleet, was careful not to make the same mistake, and during the war they intended to use the Panzerschiff vessels purely as commerce raiders on the high seas. In the early years of the conflict, before the Allies closed the air gap over the North Atlantic, developed better Huff-Duff (radio triangulation equipment) and airborne centimetric radar, and provided escort carrier protection to the merchant ship convoys, the pocket battleships' speed and heavy armament made them very difficult to bring to task, as they could generally avoid any fight they did not like; indeed, they were ordered not to fight enemy ships unless they were greatly stronger than them. The Kriegsmarine (or War Navy) was the name of the German Navy between 1935 and 1945, during the Nazi regime, superseding the Reichsmarine. ... Combatants Allies: Poland, British Commonwealth, France/Free France, Soviet Union, United States, China, and others Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, Japan, and others Casualties Military dead: 17 million Civilian dead: 33 million Total dead: 50 million Military dead: 8 million Civilian dead: 4 million Total dead: 12 million World War II... Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a naval strategy of attacking an opponents commercial shipping rather than contending for control of the seas with its naval forces. ... High Frequency Direction Finder is usually known by its acronym HF/DF, pronounced Huff-Duff. ... A cavity magnetron is a high-powered vacuum tube that generates coherent microwaves. ... The escort aircraft carrier or escort carrier, was a small aircraft carrier developed by the U.S. Navy in the early part of World War II to deal with the U-boat crisis of the Battle of the Atlantic. ...


Admiral Graf Spee destroyed nine British merchant ships (totalling 50,089 tons) before being cornered by three British cruisers in December 1939. In the ensuing battle of the River Plate she damaged the heavy cruiser HMS Exeter so severely that it had to break off the action. However, the German ship was also slightly damaged, and after spending several days trapped at Montevideo, she was deliberately scuttled on 17 December 1939, rather than risk a battle with the blockading heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland and light cruisers HMS Ajax and HMNZS Achilles or a supposed large Royal Navy force approaching. Her captain, Hans Langsdorff, committed suicide three days later. 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... Combatants Germany United Kingdom & New Zealand Commanders Hans Langsdorff Henry Harwood Strength 1 pocket battleship 1 heavy cruiser, 2 light cruisers Casualties pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee scuttled after battle, 36 killed dead heavy cruiser Exeter heavily damaged, 72 killed The Battle of the River Plate (December 13, 1939) was... The fourth and best known HMS Exeter (68), was a County-class heavy cruiser of the York subclass that served in World War II. She was built by Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth, Devon. ... Montevideo Downtown and port, Montevideo Independence Plaza, c. ... December 17 is the 351st day of the year (352nd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... There have been sixteen ships named HMS Cumberland in the Royal Navy. ... HMS Ajax was a Leander-class light cruiser. ... HMS Achilles (from 1941 HMNZS Achilles) was a Leander class cruiser of 7,200 tons built in Birkenhead, England and launched on 1 September 1932. ... Kapitän zur See Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff (March 20, 1894 – December 19, 1939) was a German naval officer, most famous for his command of the Panzerschiff (pocket battleship) Admiral Graf Spee during the Battle of the River Plate. ...


Admiral Scheer made several raids into the North Atlantic, on one occasion sinking the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay and several cargo ships after catching convoy HX84. The Atlantic Ocean is Earths second-largest ocean, covering approximately one_fifth of its surface. ... Auxiliary cruisers were merchant ships taken over for conversion into a vessel armed with cruiser-size guns, and employed either for convoy protection against true cruisers, or for commerce-raiding missions, where its appearance was used to trick merchant ships into approaching. ... HMS Jervis Bay was a British Armed Merchant Cruiser, pennant F40, sunk on 5 November 1940 by the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer. ...


Deutschland was renamed Lützow to avoid the possibility of a ship bearing the name "Germany" being sunk. These two ships survived until the last weeks of the war.


See also

The Washington Naval Treaty limited the naval armaments of its five signatories: the United States, the British Empire, the Empire of Japan, the French Third Republic, and Italy. ...

Further reading

  • Siegfried Breyer, Gerhard Koop, (translated Edward Force), The German Navy At War 1939–1945: Volume 1 - The Battleships (Schiffer, West Chester, 1989)
  • Bernard Ireland, Tony Gibbons, Jane's Battleships of the 20th Century (HarperCollins, New York, 1996) pp. 42-43
  • Dudley Pope, Graf Spee: The Life and Death of a Raider (J.B. Lippincott Co., 1956)

External links

  • More about pocket battleships
  • Battle of the River Plate

  Results from FactBites:
 
World War Two Ships: Ship Types (10198 words)
If opposing fleets met, the battleships would form a line of battle and attempt to manoeuvre so that they maximised the number of guns that could fire on the enemy whilst minimising the number of enemy guns that could be brought to bear on them.
Lacking war experience with the new type of battleship, and aware of the difficulty of hitting fast moving targets at sea, one school of thought proposed that a fast moving, heavily armed and lightly armoured ship would be superior to a slow moving, heavily armed and heavily armoured ship.
Due to the battleship-type gun arrangement being combined with a relatively tiny hull, she was referred to as a ‘pocket’ battleship by the rest of the world.
Me 410: Conflicting Aims... (2114 words)
Not so different in concept to the navy's pocket battleships, The Me 410 was meant to be used as a heavy fighter to break up enemy formations and as a fast bomber, all in one aircraft.
The pocket battleship, was planned to be better armed and protected than a cruiser, yet faster than a battleship, so it could oppose one enemy and outrun the other.
Practically, one would have had to admit that the opposite occurred; the pocket battleship consequently was slower and less agile than the cruisers, and weaker armed and armored than the battleships.
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