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Hipper Class Heavy Cruiser

Admiral Hipper
Admiral Hipper
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Admiral Hipper Blohm & Voss, Hamburg 6 Jul 35 6 Feb 37 29 Apr 39 Lost 9/10 Apr 45
Blucher Deutsche Werke, Kiel 15 Aug 35 8 Jun 37 20 Sep 39 Lost 9 Apr 40
Prinz Eugen Krupp, Germania 23 Apr 36 22 Aug 38 1 Aug 40 Expended in atomic bomb tests Jul 46
Seydlitz Deschimag, Bremen 29 Dec 36 19 Jan 39 - Scuttled at Konigsberg 28/29 Jan 45
Lutzow Deschimag, Bremen 2 Aug 37 1 Jul 39 - Sold to USSR Feb 40

Displacement: 14,247 tons/14,475 tonnes (standard); 18,208 tons/18,500 tonnes (full load).
Length: 675ft 4in/205.9m (oa); 636ft 9in/194.2m (wi).
Beam: 69ft 9in/21.3m; Draught: 19ft/5.83m (mean).
Machinery: 3-shaft SR Deschimag, (Blohm & Voss, Admiral Hipper) turbines; 12 Wagner (La Mont, Admiral Hipper) boilers.
Performance: 133,631shp=32.5kts;
Bunkerage: 3,050 tons oil fuel.
Range: 6,500nm at 17kts.
Protection: 12-30mm upper deck; 20-50mm main deck; 70-80mm main belt; 70-105mm turrets; 50-150mm CT. Guns: eight 8in (4x2); twelve 4.1in (6x2); twelve 3.7cm (6x2); eight 2cm (8xl).
Torpedoes: twelve 21in (4x3).
Aircraft: three, one catapult.
Complement: 1,600.

Prinz Eugen
Displacement: 14,271 tons/14,500 tonnes (standard); 18,700 tons/19,000 tonnes (full load).
Length: 681ft 3in/201.7m (oa); 654ft 4in/199.5m (wi).
Beam: 71ft 9in/21.9m; Draught: 20ft 9in/6.37m (mean).
Machinery as Admiral Hipper except La Mont/Brown Boverie boilers/turbines, Prinz Eugen, and Wagner/Deschimag boilers/turbines, other two.
Performance as Admiral Hipper,
Bunkerage: 3,250 tons oil.
Range: 5,050nm at 15 kts.
Protection as Admiral Hipper.
Guns as Admiral Hipper.
Torpedoes as Admiral Hipper.
Aircraft as Admiral Hipper.
Complement: 1,600.

Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen
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Blucher
Blucher
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Blucher with many of her crew on the forecastle
Blucher with many of her crew on the forecastle
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Blucher
Blucher
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Germany began to consider designing heavy cruisers as early as the beginning of the 1930s, despite being forbidden to construct such vessels by the Treaty of Versailles. However, it was necessary to keep abreast of foreign developments, as it was almost certain that in any future war with the most likely antagonists, France and Great Britain, German warships would inevitably encounter such ships. Existing light cruisers available to the German Navy were far outclassed, so, in February 1934, there was a call for sketch designs based mainly on three requirements; a match for Algerie, faster than Dunkerque, and a radius of action suitable for Atlantic employment. Initially, the main armament was a choice between eight 20.3cm (8in) or twelve 15cm (6in), but Admiral Raeder soon opted for the heavier calibre. This in turn forced a reconsideration of the desired design parameters, as the 8in armament needed an increase in dimensions. A compromise calibre of 19cm (7.48in) was not acceptable, so the design had to be enlarged progressively. The choice for the main propulsion was not easy either, given Germany's expertise in the field of diesels and the development of high-pressure steam boiler systems. Both were given consideration, as was turbo-electric machinery. By the summer of 1934 the main armament and machinery had been decided, high-pressure steam turbines being selected for the latter. At this time the weight distributions showed 2,140 tons for protection and 1,980 tons for machinery in a displacement of 10,700 tons. The vertical armour was 85mm (3.34in). Further conferences showed design to be incapable of meeting all of the demands put upon it while remaining within the Treaty displacement, so the protective scheme was reduced. Germany was still not in a position to build a 'Heavy Cruiser' legally, but work continued in secret, an order for the two leading ships, Admiral Hipper and Blucher, being placed as eary as 30 October 1934. The situation was resolved by Hitler's abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles on 16 March 1935.

Given Germany's somewhat cavalier attitude the limitations of the Washington Treaty, to which she was not a signatory, the on-paper fighting strength of these ships was considerably in excess of that of their contemporaries.

A third ship, Prinz Eugen, was ordered on 16 November 1935, but she differed in many details from the first two. Two more ships, known initially as Kreuzer K & L, were eventually added to programme, but they had a more tortuous development path, having originally been planned as Class B ships armed with twelve 15cm (6in) guns in triple turrets. Political pressures, treaty considerations and international bargaining, however, led to their eventual construction as Class A ships on the grounds that the USSR had laid down the Kirov class. Both ships were ordered on 18 July 1936 and launched as Lutzow and Seydlitz respectively. They were to be of the same appearance as Prinz Eugen.

In addition to the now standard main armament of eight 8in guns, a heavy AA battery of twelve 10.5cm (4.1in) in stabilised twin mountings with a sophisticated stabilised HA fire control system was also carried. The last two ships were to ship their 10.5cm guns in the LC/37 twin mounting. The light AA outfit was heavier than foreign designs, but the gun itself, the 3.7cm SK C/30, was only semi-automatic. Twelve torpedo tubes, with ten reloads (twelve in the last three ships), and an aircraft installation comprising a catapult and three floatplanes, rounded off the armament. Admiral Hipper and Blucher had single hangars, while the others had double hangars with the catapult placed differently.

As finalised, the protective scheme comprised a side belt of 70 to 80mm and an armoured deck of between 20mm and 30mm, with small areas of 40mm. In addition there was an armoured upper deck of 12 to 30mm. Barbette armour was 80mm.

On paper these ships were fast and powerful, but the reality was a little different, the adoption of the high-pressure steam system resulting in fragile and uneconomic machinery. Prinz Eugen was better than Admiral Hipper in this respect, while Blucher did not survive long enough to show her performance. The last two were never completed.

Hipper as completed - straight stem, no funnel cap, open bridge and no radar.
Hipper as completed - straight stem, no funnel cap, open bridge and no radar.
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good detail in this early shot taken from the bridge of Hipper - note the catapult and the rangefinders.
good detail in this early shot taken from the bridge of Hipper - note the catapult and the rangefinders.
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Hipper
Hipper
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Hipper
Hipper
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Hipper
Hipper
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moody photo of Admiral Hipper
moody photo of Admiral Hipper
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Hipper on the left, taken from Tirpitz, as the squadron sorties from its Norwegian anchorage escorted by two destroyers.
Hipper on the left, taken from Tirpitz, as the squadron sorties from its Norwegian anchorage escorted by two destroyers.
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Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen
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Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen
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Service

Admiral Hipper struck allied convoys to Scandanavia in February 1940, followed by the invasion of Norway in April. She sunk the destroyer Glowworm, but received some damage. June 1940 with Scharnhorst and Gneisenau she sunk a troopship, oiler and trawler. December 1940 she spent in the Atlantic sinking one ship, and encountered Berwick which she hit 4 times. A further cruise in February 1941 sank 7 ships. In December 1941 she attacked Arctic convoy JW51B along with the battleship Lutzow, but was badly damaged by Sheffield and Jamaica and was never fully operational again. Badly damaged by bombs at Kiel, and scuttled.

Blucher was damaged by gunfire and sunk by shore based torpedoes on 9 April 1940 during the invasion of Norway.

Blucher, 9 April 1940
Blucher, 9 April 1940
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Prinz Eugen hit Prince of Wales during the Bismarck sortie, which she had to abandon because of machinery problems. Bombed in Brest July 1941. Returned through the Channel February 1942, but torpedoed and badly damaged by Trident 23 February while transferring to Norway. Bombarded shore positions and surrendered at Copenhagen May 1945. Expended in atomic bomb trials.

Lutzow was sold to Russia. Seydlitz was converted to a carrier when nearly complete, but little work was done and she was eventually captured by the Russians.

Prinz Eugen rolling during the Channel dash
Prinz Eugen rolling during the Channel dash
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Prinz Eugen led by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau also during the Channel dash
Prinz Eugen led by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau also during the Channel dash
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the bridge of Prinz Eugen
the bridge of Prinz Eugen
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Prinz Eugen in 'Baltic' camouflage, prior to the Bismarck sortie
Prinz Eugen in 'Baltic' camouflage, prior to the Bismarck sortie
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Prinz Eugen in Gotenhafen late in the war with dark grey paint.
Prinz Eugen in Gotenhafen late in the war with dark grey paint.
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good detail of the bridge of Prinz Eugen.
good detail of the bridge of Prinz Eugen.
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Prinz Eugen.
Prinz Eugen.
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the forward turrets of Prinz Eugen - red paint is a distinguishing mark for the Luftwaffe
the forward turrets of Prinz Eugen - red paint is a distinguishing mark for the Luftwaffe
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Devonshire and Prinz Eugen parting company off Wilhelmshaven May 1945 after escorting her and Nurnberg from Copenhagen for de-ammunitioning.
Devonshire and Prinz Eugen parting company off Wilhelmshaven May 1945 after escorting her and Nurnberg from Copenhagen for de-ammunitioning.
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a sad end to a fine ship - Prinz Eugen in position for the 1946 atomic test
a sad end to a fine ship - Prinz Eugen in position for the 1946 atomic test
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