The Battleship That Became A Fort

The Battleship That Became A Fort

Laid down on the 6th of May 1935 and launched on the 8th of December 1936. Completed in May 1938 at the Deutsche Werke dockyard in Kiel.

Courtesy of Naval Architecture

However, when one thinks of German capital ships and how dangerous they are, most people think of Bismarck, Tirpitz, and maybe the cruiser Graf Spee.

But most people haven’t heard of Operation Berlin, the time 2 German battleships Scharnhorst and her sister ship Gneisenau successfully broke out and raided the convoy lanes and influenced Bismarck’s fateful mission. 

Admiral Lutjens was the commander-in-chief of the operation, he would go on to command the cruise of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen and try to follow Berlin’s success.

In total, they sailed nearly 18,000 miles in 60 days and destroyed (or) captured 22 ships.

Most important to the success of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau was that they were supported by supply ships and the tankers Uckermark, Ermland, Schlettstadt, Friedrich Breme, and Esso Hamburg which Lutjens intended to use with his unsuccessful raid with the Bismarck in May 1941.

However, when she was in drydock in Kiel she was vulnerable to Allied bombing raids.

Top:Aerial reconnaissance photo of Gneisenau in dry dock, March 1942, after the air attack.

And during one such Royal Air Force Raid on the night of February 26th to 27th, 1942 Gneisenau suffered a severe hit from a single bomb.

Halifax R9377-B “Beer” and crew taken before raid on Scharnhorst and Gneisnenau.
Photo: L Druce

The bomb managed to penetrate her armored deck and exploded in the forward ammunition magazine. Which caused serious damage in addition to many casualties. 

The Germans decided to remove her big guns for coastal batteries. 

Admiral Lutjens was the commander-in-chief of the operation, he would go on to command the cruise of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen and try to follow Berlin’s success.

They were brought to the Danish Island of Fanø.

One of two double 150 mm cannons with a range of 23 kilometres. Able to reach the Swedish coast and thereby control the entrance to Øresund and Copenhagen. The cannon rotated 360 degrees and can thus also fire into the hinterland against enemies who may have gone ashore or been dropped by parachute. This was expected as part of a Warsaw Pact attack on Denmark. During the Second World War, the cannon turrets were a part of the Atlantic Wall and stood on the Danish island of Fanø.
Each cannon was handled by 36 people.” Courtesty of Cold War Museum “Stevnsfort” | Coldwarsites

After the war in the 1950’s Denmark decided to install the 28 cm guns on the roof of Stevnsfort.

From the underground passage system that measured approx. 1.6 kilometres in length, including rooms. The limestone at this location is highly resilient to pressure from outside and therefore provided good protection for the military underground installations. Security in case of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons was also high. Several hundred soldiers would have been able to survive here for many weeks in case of nuclear war.” Courtesy of Cold War Museum “Stevnsfort” | Coldwarsites

Written by Harry Gillespie

SAS Raid On Pebble Island 1982

IJN Kongo

What Was Force Z in WW2? & Why Was HMS Electra So Spectacular?

The Assault On Mount Kent

HMS Valiant & Her WW2 Career

Why was the Bismarck so feared?

Battle of Taranto : The Battle that Changed Warfare

HMS Dragon : A 3 War Ship

USS Nautilus : World’s First Nuclear Power Submarine

Britain’s Greatest Secret Raid Of WW2 : Royal Navy’s Operation Chariot

USS Enterprise

HMS Illustrious : World War 2’s Never Say Die Carrier

SAS Battle Of Mount Kent : Special Air Service & The Falklands War

What happened to the French aircraft carrier in ww2?

HMS Durban

Operation Rheinubung : Bismarck’s Last & Only Mission

What Was Wrong With Italian Battleship Guns? They Had The Potential For Greatness!

USS Phoenix : A History Compiled

What Sank The Belgrano? ARA General Belgrano (C-4) was an Argentine Navy light cruiser in service from 1951 until 1982.

HMS Whitehall : A History Compiled

German Battleship Scharnhorst : Better Than Bismarck

The Italian Cruiser Trieste

USS Washington (BB-56)

Scharnhorst and Gneisenau : Germany’s Raiders of World War 2

The Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee German Cruiser AKA “Pocket Battleship” & WW2

Battle of Cape Matapan 1941 : Italy’s Greatest Naval Defeat

HMS Royal Oak’s Sinking At Scapa Flow By U-47 HMS Victorious During Operation Pedestal

RMS Carmania & SMS Cap Trafalgar : The World’s First Battle Between Former Ocean Liners

Italian Submarine Leonardo Da Vinci : The Most Successful Non-German Submarine In The Atlantic Theater of WW2

The 2nd Bismarck Sinking Of WW2

Prinz Eugen & Her Active WW2 Career

HMS Nelson & HMS Rodney : The Last Torpedo Battleships

HMS Warspite & the Second Battle of Narvik

The Altmark Incident

The Battleship That Became A Fort