Talk:Scharnhorst-class battleship

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Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was move to Scharnhorst class battleship. There seems to be a strong consensus that this should be moved somewhere, and the proposed title has clearly more support than the alternative. The opposition seems to concentrate on the thought that the term "battleship" is an inaccurate one in this case, but please remember that Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought. The naming conventions advise to use the name that is most commonly used in English-language sources, and it looks like the proposed title meets this criterion. Jafeluv (talk) 19:43, 17 September 2009 (UTC)


Scharnhorst class warship (1936)Scharnhorst class battleship — The German navy referred to these ships as battleships, while the British called them battlecruisers. The current compromise title is an example of wikiality and should be done away with. Parsecboy (talk) 18:59, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

Statements[edit]

Statement by Parsecboy[edit]

Although I agreed to the current compromise name that was established over a year ago, I've come to view it as highly problematic. Our naming conventions instruct us to use titles that are common in English usage; no one would ever call Gneisenau a "Scharnhorst class warship." There has been a long-running dispute over whether these ships were battleships or battlecruisers, and I am well aware of the can of worms I've opened. I do think, however, that the article would be improved if a more "correct" title was chosen. I of course favor the battleship designation, though if consensus turns to calling them battlecruisers, I'd take that over the current title.

Sources I have that refer to these ships as battleships
  • Erich Gröner's German Warships 1815-1945; specifically, on page 31, it states Laid down as battleships D (Ersatz Elsass)...
  • Conway's All the World's Battleships: 1906 to the Present, on page 43 lists them as Scharnhorst class battleships
  • David Bercusson's & Holger Herwig's The Destruction of the Bismarck, on page 92 That was what the 11-inch gunned battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst had done...
  • 1946/47 edition of Janes states on page 144 Names of these battleships commemorate those of two cruisers sunk at the Battle of Falkland Islands...
Google searches
  • 639 hits in Google books for "battleship Scharnhorst" compared to 185 for "battlecruiser Scharnhorst", a margin of more than 3:1
  • A similar ratio presents itself for Gneisenau, with 281 for "battleship Gneisenau" and 95 for "battlecruiser Gneisenau"
  • Plain Google is a more of a mixed bag: 7,390 for "battleship Scharnhorst -Wikipedia" and 11,000 for "battlecruiser Scharnhorst -Wikipedia"
  • For Gneisenau, it's 1,340 for "battleship Gneisenau -Wikipedia" and 751 for "battlecruiser Gneisenau -Wikipedia"
  • Google Scholar is a dead heat: "battleship Scharnhorst" gets 29 hits, while "battlecruiser" gets 25. Gneisenau has 10 for "battleship" and 9 for "battlecruiser"

Let me start this discussion by reminding everyone that comes here that we should not be discussing the capabilities or characteristics of the ships, how they were employed, how they were designed, or anything that isn't towards establishing primary usage. All the rest of that is original research and is strictly forbidden. I ask that whatever admin who eventually closes this discussion take this into consideration when the time comes. Parsecboy (talk) 19:36, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I also ask, for the purpose of keeping things organized, that editors who wish to post their comments in a separate sub section (as I and Wiki-Ed have done) to keep them above the general discussion section. Thanks. Parsecboy (talk) 19:57, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Janes Fighting Ships, 1940/41/42/43/44/45 Edition p.144: Classifies Scharnorst and Gneisenau as Battleships —Preceding unsigned comment added by Farawayman (talkcontribs)

Statement by Wiki-Ed[edit]

Big sigh. Can we not leave it as it is? We reached a compromise and though both parties might dislike the outcome, it's better than having repeated debates and page moves, which is what will continue to happen if either party gets its way.

  • Google is no less American-centric than it was a year ago so I do not view word-searches on that medium as any kind of valid indicator of usage. Google-books is a bit better, but I don't really trust it having seen it fail to pick up words in the search box which are plainly visible in the overview pane.
  • Secondary sources are better, but I think simply counting up relevant books lacks precision. Indeed, I think that would be OR as well. What we need to be looking for are instances where authors are considering the usage/construction differences in the ships with other capital ships, not random bits of trivia like the Jane's quotation.

I think we should keep it and save ourselves the wiki-stress. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:54, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I think that if we can restrain from delving into the "but they had 11-inch guns"/"yeah, but they had heavy armor" junk, this really shouldn't be all that stressful. I also think the claim that Google is "US-centric" is spurious; "battlecruiser Scharnhorst", or the "British version", actually had more hits than "battleship Scharnhorst" in regular Google. And even if it is, the US has a significantly larger population than the UK, why shouldn't it have a correspondingly big piece of the web? As for Janes, as you know, they're generally considered to be pretty solid on ship-related things; the line I quoted was just a portion of the entry. Parsecboy (talk) 20:22, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
The US accounts for only ~5% of the world population and yet the content of the internet is largely American. Search engine surveys can never be neutral until this is counter-balanced. I agree that the specification arguments are largely pointless which is why I believe ship articles should reflect usage. If a battlecruiser is converted into an aircraft carrier we call it an aircraft carrier because that's what it is used for, even if it has some design specifications equivalent to that of another ship class. If a battleship is converted into and used as a battlecruiser... Wiki-Ed (talk) 13:24, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
We're not talking about the entire world, we're talking about the portion of the world that speaks English as a primary language, of which the US makes up a considerable percent. These ships weren't used as battlecruisers. But even if you think commerce warfare is BC work, then we ought to have German battlecruiser Bismarck and German battlecruiser Tirpitz. Parsecboy (talk) 14:50, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Statement by Nick-D[edit]

In short, I think that anything would be better than the current title, which is a cop-out and a disservice to readers of the article. While I supported calling the ships 'battlecruisers' based on what's in the (relatively small) number of books I own which discuss these ships, 'battleships' would also be fine; it doesn't really matter as long as one redirects to the other. Unfortunately there isn't a WP:COINTOSS which would allow the result of evenly-weighted discussions like this to be decided through random chance, but I'd be happy to do the honours with one of the coins on my computer desk. Nick-D (talk) 11:26, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

Survey[edit]

-> Scharnhorst class battleship[edit]

  • Support move to Scharnhorst class battleship. I would vote for that either way since it is the translation of the native German term Schlachtschiff, and IMO the native/original designation takes precedence, but the Google search further reinforces the case. Constantine 19:41, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Support, but rather weakly. The present label, "warship," is too ambiguous, as it can be applied to everything between submarines and carriers, so it has to be either a battleship or a battlecruiser. The problem with "battlecruiser" is that nobody seems to know just what a battlecruiser is, or was. PKKloeppel (talk) 02:35, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Support move. Has another year gone by? I can tell by the annual resurrection of this discussion. Well, I always thought that contemporary usage favored battleship - you can add the US Navy to the support list, as ONI-204 clearly lists them at BB-1 and BB-2 (you can view a contents listing from a commercial CD-ROM site here). I disagreed with this rather cumbersome compromise back in 2008, and for this, and the other reasons cited above, heartily support the move to Scharnhorst class battleship.SeaphotoTalk 02:32, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Support. This is what the Germans classed them as. The objection is that the judgement of some wiki-editors is that they were below the standards of a 1939 battleship. This objection is original research; anyway these people are not naval architects who have studied the designs in detail, so their judgement is just inexpert opinion.--Toddy1 (talk) 12:54, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
I looked at a copy of the British Naval Staff History Second World War, Home Waters and the Atlantic, Volume II, 9th April 1940 – 6th December 1941, and on page 14 that refers to Gneisenau and Scharnhorst as "two German battleships".--Toddy1 (talk) 06:27, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
The objection is not just the judgement of wikipedia editors; Perhaps you should read more widely. Clearly some naval architects who have studied the details disagree with the German naming scheme. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:59, 17 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Support The German designation for these ships was clearly Battleship, so this is what their article designation should be - even if I personally consider them to be built along the typical line of WW1 German Battlecruisers. This controversy of designation should be addressed in the article, and probably it would be a good idea to present Garzke and Dullin's arguements about this. Kurfürst (talk) 15:10, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
    • I had forgotten to include a section on this issue when I overhauled the article the other day. If anyone wants to write one up, go right ahead. Parsecboy (talk) 15:14, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Support Current title is quite ridiculous, and "battleship" seems to be most widely used in sources.--Staberinde (talk) 10:40, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

-> Scharnhorst class battlecruiser[edit]

Support : the specifications are way below those of what would be called a battleship in 1939, they are closer to the British Repulse class battlecruisers, but do not even match their speed or armament. The results when it went one-on-one with Duke of York indicate it was not a fast battleship as intended or hoped. The article itself describes them as effectively enlarged Deutschland class. Rcbutcher (talk) 08:08, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

The only specification I see as being lower than contemporary BBs is the main armament. As for the Renowns, S&G had about a knot on them, so I don't know what you're talking about in regards to speed. Regardless, let's stay out of the realm of our interpretation of the capabilities of these ships. What sources do you have demonstrate a wider usage of "battlecruiser" over "battleship." Parsecboy (talk) 12:05, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
You're right, they were indeed faster than the Renowns. But HMS Renown appears to have been doing pretty well against both Scharnhorst & Gneisenau in their 1940 engagement : I would have expected two modern battleships to have blown Renown out of the water, rather than having their own turrets knocked out. So IMHO in terms of combat capabilities they were truly excellent battlecruisers, but Germany called them battleships for its own reasons and most sources appear to have followed the official line of calling them battleships. Rcbutcher (talk) 15:04, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
How then can you remain in your position when WP:V tells us quite explicitly that the threshold for inclusion is that which is verifiable, not what is necessarily true? To paraphrase, your assertion is that the ships were indeed battlecruisers, but most sources label them battleships. To use the title Scharnhorst class battlecruiser is by your own admission a flagrant breach of WP:V. Parsecboy (talk) 15:08, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

other[edit]

  • Comment how about pocket battleship? Scharnhorst class pocket battleship 76.66.196.139 (talk) 09:09, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
    • There are two problems with that: first, that's a made-up media term. Second, no one ever called them that; it only ever applied to the Deutschland class ships. Parsecboy (talk) 12:07, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Best thing to do would be to use the direct translation of the German designation - They were after all German ships - looking at German wikipedia they are refered to as Schlachtschiffe Battleship rather than Schlachtkreuzer therefore this is what we should use Ala.foum (talk) 21:46, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Keep as is (Scharnhorst class warship)[edit]

undecided[edit]

  • Undecided - Constatine does make a good point, but I'm struck by the fact that these ships could out run any other capital ship built by the mid-Thirties which is practically the definition of a battlecruiser. And it appears that they were designed to protect against French attacks on German merchant shipping, another role of a battlecruiser. A battleship is primarily designed to defeat other battleships and that's not what these ships were designed to do. And on another point both the Kongos and the Hood were redefined during the '30s as fast battleships. And how did the French define the Dunkerques? I'm thinking that the very term battlecruiser was regarded as obsolete and a failed concept in the English-speaking world by the time these built. Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 20:00, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
    • While I would prefer to avoid getting into these things too much, I'll try to address some of your points. These ships are generally acknowledged (at least from my readings anyway) to have been designed to counter the Dunkerques, which the French designated as fast battleships. Something else to consider: when the Germans designed ships in the 1930s they themselves labeled battlecruisers, they did so generally along the traditional British lines of big guns and little armor (see the O class battlecruiser) for more). Parsecboy (talk) 20:29, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
      • Well, to be fair, Garzke and Dulin describe the Scharnhorsts as "battlecruisers" as well. —Ed (TalkContribs) 01:51, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Undecided for the mmoment - but I agree with Parsec's statement that the article has to be moved. —Ed (TalkContribs) 01:51, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Undecided pending further research - but I also agree that this article does have to be moved. -MBK004 05:29, 11 September 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The engagement with Renown on 9 April 1940[edit]

There has been a complete rewrite of the description of the engagement with Renownon 9 April 1940.

Original, based on Barnett

On 9 April 1940 (D-Day for Operation Weserübung), Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and escorting destroyers were steering due north some 50 miles off Vestfjord, when they encountered the British battlecruiser Renown under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir William Whitworth. Renown had been rebuilt just before the war, increasing the effectiveness of her main armament.[1] "It was now blowing a full gale, with mountainous seas and sudden curtains of snow or rain. At 0405 the Renown opened fire with her 15-inch guns at a range of about 15,000 yards. Twelve minutes later she knocked out the Gneisenau's main gunnery control system, which persuaded the enemy [the Germans] to run for it. In the stern chase now ensuing, Whitworth hit the Gneisenau twice again at 0434 and knocked out a forward turret. However the weather itself was on the side of the German ships as Whitworth was later to recall: The chief feature of this running action was a heavy head sea, which forced Renown to slow down in order to fight her fore turrets. The Germans on the other hand could disregard the damaging effects of heavy water coming over their forecastles and continue to fight their after turrets whilst steaming at high speed. It is noteworthy that the Germans always jinked when they saw our salves fired, thus throwing us out of line. Although at times Whitworth drove Renown up to 29 knots, the two German ships had disappeared from view amid the squalls by 0660 [sic]."[2] Renown was hit twice by the Germans in this engagement.[citation needed]
  1. ^ Navweaps.com data page for the British 15"/42 (38.1 cm) Mark I
  2. ^ Page 111, Barnett, Correlli, Engage the Enemy More Closely, the Royal Navy in the Second World War, pub Hodder and Stoughton, 1991, ISBN 0-340-33901-2

'10 September Version

At 04:30 on 9 April, the Seetakt radar on Gneisenau picked up a contact; both ships went to battle stations. Half an hour later, muzzle flashes were observed, from what turned out to be the old battlecruiser HMS Renown. The British battlecruiser initially targeted Gneisenau, at a range of 11,800 m (12,900 yd). In the span of five minutes, Gneisenau hit Renown twice, but she was hit twice in return. One of these hits disabled Gneisenau‍ '​s after turret.[1] Scharnhorst‍ '​ gunnery radar suffered technical problems, which prevented her from effectively engaging Renown. The British ship engaged Scharnhorst for a brief period starting at 05:18, though effective maneuvering by Scharnhorst allowed her to escape undamaged. Fears that the destroyers escorting Renown might make a torpedo attack prompted the German commander to break off the engagement.[1] By 07:15, the German ships had escaped from the slower Renown.[2] Scharnhorst and Gneisenau rendezvoused with the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper before proceeding to Wilhelmshaven.[3]
  1. ^ a b Garzke & Dulin, p. 135
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference G.26D154 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Garzke & Dulin, p. 157

Key differences

  • Difference in time - explanation, quotation from Barnett uses British time, which was evidently one hour ahead of German time used in the 10 September version.
  • Sea state - heavily emphasised in Original, not mentioned in 10 September version.
  • How many hits did Gneisenau receive - 3 (Original version), 2 (10 September version).
  • Whether Gneisenau's main gunnery control system was knocked out. Original says yes. 10 September version does not mention it - presumably meaning no.
  • Which turret on Gneisenau was hit - a forward turret [not stated whether A or B] (Original version), after turret (10 September version).
  • Scharnhorst's gunnery radar going unserviceable - not mentioned in Original version.
  • Reason German ships ran for it - Original version says hit on Gneisenau's main gunnery control system, 10 September version says fear of British destroyers.

To try to resolve these discrepancies I looked at Germany and the Second World War: Volume 2: Germany's Initial Conquests in Europe: Germany's Initial Conquests in Europe Vol 2 by Klaus A. Maier (Author), Horst Rohde (Author), Bernd Stegemann (Author), Hans Umbreit (Author), the Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt (Contributor), P. S. Falla (Editor), Dean S. McMurray (Translator), Ewald Osers (Translator), pub Clarendon Press, 4 July 1991, ISBN: 0198228856 page 208, which states:

"At 9.00 p.m. the night before the commander-in-chief of the German fleet had reached the entrance to the Vest Fiord, where he sent the destroyers on to Narvik while setting a north-westerly course with the two battleships. On the morning of 9 April he encountered the Renown, which opened fire on the German ships are 5.07 a.m. and after 18 minutes scored a hit on Gneisenau which knocked out the fire control in her topmast. A further hit caused a leak in turret A which led to the failure of all electrical equipment. A leak without hit also caused the failure of turret A on the Scharnhorst."
"Vice-Admiral Lütjens then decided to break off the fight as he believed he was facing two battleships, a mistake probably due to the flashes from the guns of the British destroyers. At 5.28 a.m. he therefore set a north-easterly course, but was able to shake off his enemy only at 7.30 a.m. He took a northerly and then a westerly course to gain time and to put his two battleships back in a fighting condition."[1]

Page 211 states that Hipper "left Trondheim on the evening of 10 April" and page 210 states that "the Hipper was able to reach the two battleships and enter the Jade with them on 13 April at 8 p.m.".

That the Renown received two hits in this engagement is confirmed by British Battleships , Warrior 1860 to Vanguard 1950 , A History of Design , Construction and Armament, by Dr Oscar Parkes OBE AINA, pub Seeley, 1957, republished US Naval Institute, 1990, ISBN 1-55750-075-4 page 617:

"8 April '40 in action with Scharnhorst and Admiral Hipper off Narvik at 18,000 yards steaming at 24 knots in very bad weather. Spray interfered with shooting, but hits observed. Enemy using after guns hit Renown twice, and drew out of range."[2]


The following account comes from Destroyer Actions, September 1939 - June 1940, by Harry Plevy, pub Spellmount, 2006, ISBN 1-86227-331-6, pages 115-6:

"battle-cruiser Renown, accompanied by nine destroyers"[3]
"...the squadron turned at 0230, the 9th, snow squalls make the visibility variable."
"One hour later the British Force met up with Gneisenau and Scharnhorst travelling in a roughly reciprocal riraction, and a running battle ensued. The British force, travelling at 20 knots, hauled round onto a parallel course to the British ships and opened fire at 0405 at 18,600 yards range. A fierce exchange of gunfire then took place over the next ten or so minutes, with the British destroyers joining in with their 4.7-inch guns but to little effect at the extreme ranges of firing. Renown was hit twice but without serious damage, The Gneisenau was hit in he foretop at 0417 at a range of 14,600 yards, which destroyed her main fire-control equipment and temporarily put her main armament out of action. The high-speed chase contineud fro some ninty minutes but the british destroyers gradually forced by the rough seas to drop back out of the fray. Meanwhile the battle-cruisers ploughed on, and although the Renown reached a speed of some 28 knots the heavy head-on seas meant that above 24 knots the two foremost turrets of the chasing British battle-cruiser became submerged by the high seas and unable to fire. At 0434 the Gneisenau received two further hits, one of which put of of action her 'A' turret, but gradually the two German battle-cruisers drew out of sight in the snow and rain squals and Renown was forced to give up the chase."[3]
  1. ^ Germany and the Second World War: Volume 2: Germany's Initial Conquests in Europe: Germany's Initial Conquests in Europe Vol 2 by Klaus A. Maier (Author), Horst Rohde (Author), Bernd Stegemann (Author), Hans Umbreit (Author), the Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt (Contributor), P. S. Falla (Editor), Dean S. McMurray (Translator), Ewald Osers (Translator), pub Clarendon Press, 4 July 1991, ISBN: 0198228856 page 208.
  2. ^ British Battleships , Warrior 1860 to Vanguard 1950 , A History of Design , Construction and Armament, by Dr Oscar Parkes OBE AINA, pub Seeley, 1957, republished US Naval Institute, 1990, ISBN 1-55750-075-4 page 617
  3. ^ a b Destroyer Actions, September 1939 - June 1940, by Harry Plevy, pub Spellmount, 2006, ISBN 1-86227-331-6, pages 115-6.

--Toddy1 (talk) 14:47, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Infobox citations[edit]

...aren't necessary when the same information is present in the text of the article and are cited there. It's the same as with the introduction. Parsecboy (talk) 14:36, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Some articles have one version in the infobox and another in the text, and knowing where information comes from is a problem. It is therefore better to have citations in both places.--Toddy1 (talk) 14:49, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

But that isn't the case in this article. Parsecboy (talk) 15:00, 12 September 2009 (UTC)
It comes about because articles get edited and re-edited.--Toddy1 (talk) 15:19, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

Review September 2009[edit]

Some aspects of coverage are weaker than the version at 1629 9 September.

  • The classification of these ships by the German navy.
  • Whilst there is good coverage of what the armament was, there is almost no coverage of:
    • the decision to use 28cm guns instead of 38cm guns, and how these compared with British 38cm ships
    • refitting these ships with 38cm guns

The purpose of ship class articles is to look at the class as a whole - this particularly means design, and how well the design performed. I don't see this coming through in the accounts of these ships service lives given here. Actually if I wanted a service life for each ship I would look at the articles on each ship. The accounts here should be illuminating the description of the design - otherwise it is just repetition. I don't mind a little repetition from the individual ship articles to set the scene, or to make the article make sense, but if it does not illuminate the design, then why is it here?

This article has become over-reliant on one source. Yes I know you can look it up on Google books - but that is not a reason for ignoring everything else.

I have recategorised this as a start article, because coverage needs improving.--20.133.0.13 (talk) 17:08, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

Respectively, only members of the wikiprojects are allowed to assess articles, and this article does meet the B-Class requirements. I'm sure your suggestions will be taken into account for future expansion/improvement. -MBK004 18:38, 14 September 2009 (UTC)

This article will probably meet Wikipedia:Good article criteria in a couple of month's time, but it does not meet them now.

Checklist:

1. Well written - yes

2.a. Factually accurate - maybe, there are differences between sources that need resolving

2.b. and verifiable - yes

3. Broad in its coverage - not yet, but it is getting there

4. Neutral - yes

5. Stable - no, it underwent huge changes last weekend

6. Illustrated - yes

--Toddy1 (talk) 06:40, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Generally, the "Stable" requirement refers to edit-wars, not improvements to the article. Parsecboy (talk) 09:39, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Scharnhorst class battlecruiser[edit]

Renaming this page to "Scharnhorst class battleship" was not a good idea. Either battleship or battlecruiser is supported in the secondary English language sources, and those that justified the move on other arguments such as "This is what the Germans classed them as." should have been disregard. As the articles which mention the actions which the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are clearly going to use secondary sources based on British primary source, and the majority of those sources state that the they were battlecruiser, if the ship has to be under one designation or the other it would make sense to use battlecruiser. However as it can also be shown that many sources use battleship it makes more sense to keep the title as a descriptive one such as that at which is was until recently: Scharnhorst class warship (1936). --PBS (talk) 11:30, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

As far as I can see in the recent discussion not one person listed a published source which referred to the class as "battlecruisers", compared to the number of sources which use "battleship". Another source which refers to them as "battleships": Breyer's Battleships and Battlecruisers, 1905-1970. p. 293. --Simon Harley (talk | library | book reviews) 12:09, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you're new to this page, but we're well aware there are different sources saying different things. Listing the alternatives, such as Garzke (who was mentioned) is pointless because it leads to the Google OR provided by Parsecboy below. The problem is why do they differ? That is what we should be discussing. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:25, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Google searches are accepted means to establish usage, it is not original research. Parsecboy (talk) 13:01, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Having linked that page presumably you read all the caveats (there are a lot) and know why analysing search engines results is unreliable. In any cases neutrality trumps verifiability (in this case being measured by popularity). In fact, to be honest I think that page contradicts NOR (synthesis) as well, but nevermind. Wiki-Ed (talk) 14:34, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
In that case, consider Wikipedia:Naming conflict. The first three bullet points at the top of the page effectively point to naming this article "battleship" rather than "battlecruiser". The first two points deals with common names; if one argues that the Google search is fatally flawed, and that stacking up references is a useless exertion, then there is inherently no common name (or at least a name that is more "common" than the other). In that case, point three comes into play, and it states that an article should be titled as the subject would refer to itself. The German navy called them battleships, so here we are. Parsecboy (talk) 14:45, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) - What the British primary sources upon which the secondary sources we use call the ships isn't really relevant; as Toddy pointed out above, even the British referred to them as battleships on occasion. There's also over a 3-1 margin in favor of "battleship" in Google Books. All of the books one might consider to be warship encyclopedias (i.e., Conway's All the World's Battleships 1906-Present, Jane's Fighting Ships, Groner's German Warships 1815-1945) classify them as battleships.
Some additional Google searches:
All told, you have about a 1,000 references to the ships as BBs, and about half as many as BCs. As for the previous title, it's just another example of a bad compromise. No one has ever called these ships "Scharnhorst class warships"; it's always either battleship or battlecruiser. That we couldn't come to an agreement the last time around doesn't mean we should have just made up a title. Parsecboy (talk) 12:11, 18 September 2009 (UTC)


The following sources name them as Battleships:

  • Gerhard Koop & Klaus-Peter Schmolke - Battleship Scharnhorst
  • Siegfried Breyer - Die Schlachtschiffe der Scharnhorst-klasse
  • Jane's Fighting Ships 1942, again describes them as Battleships. This is a wartime British source.

Garzke and Dullin, however, refer to them as battlecruisers, although acknowledging that the German designation was Battleship. Kurfürst (talk) 12:23, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Garzke and Dullin contain a number of errors - for instance claiming that the after turret on Gneisenau was hit by Renown on 9 April 1940, when it was the A turret. Perhaps Garzke and Dullin referring to them as battlecruisers is another such error.--Toddy1 (talk) 18:10, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
No. Definitely not. The subject of battlecruiser vs battleship terminology is even discussed, unlike most sources quoted here. It looks quite deliberate. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:25, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

The number of google books results is irrelevant. Searching "Invincible class battleship" gives 4,900 results on Google books while searching "Invincible class battlecruiser" gives only 3,950. Are we also going to call the Invincible a battleship now? K.Bog 21:57, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Your argument is more than a little flawed, if only because you are forgetting about the battleship of 1869 (though that is not the only flaw of your argument). Parsecboy (talk) 23:43, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

A lot of detail here that should only be in the relevant ship's article or the Battle article[edit]

I think there's far too much redundant detail about individuals ships in this article, such as the Battle of North Cape - this article should concentrate on what was common about the ship class - concepts, specifications, issues, problems. It should only make brief reference to the individual ships' operations. Otherwise we have the same stuff in three places - Battle of North Cape, here and the Scharnhorst article. I think the Battle article is the place for the authoritative detail relating to a specific battle, and the details of the ships' careers apart from battles should appear in one place, the ship's article. Rcbutcher (talk) 17:57, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

The sections in this article are a fairly short overview of the operations these ships conducted; when I wrote them, I trimmed a lot of detail that would be very relevant in the individual ship articles. That they have not yet been made comprehensive doesn't mean this article is too long or has too much information. Compare with Kaiser class battleship, an FA I wrote, that has a comparably long service history section. If articles were written in the manner in which you suggest (i.e, that battle information should be in battle articles and everything else relating to the individual ships should be in the individual articles), then they'd be rather short and uninteresting. If all three articles are written comprehensively (i.e., Scharnhorst class battleship, German battleship Scharnhorst, and Battle of North Cape) there is going to be a great deal of overlap. For example, the article on SMS Von der Tann would be seriously remiss if it failed to adequately discuss the ship's participation at Jutland, regardless of the fact that the relevant section duplicates information from the battle article. Parsecboy (talk) 20:37, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Scharnhorst class battleship/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.
GA review (see here for criteria)

This is a nice article.

  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
    you have some prose issues, most of which I fixed (I hope).
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    The sources seem to cover the controversial material in section 1, so I removed someone's citation template.
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
  7. Overall:
    Pass/Fail:
    nice job, per usual

Classification section[edit]

As predicted this didn't go away. We seem to have a three way edit war going on over the wording of the classification paragraph. I think there a few contentious bits (currently) at the start and end of the second paragraph (which is currently hidden).

The first bit suggests the RN "initially" classified them as battlecruisers and then changed its mind. Although I've added references, I don't think they really support the assertion that there was a change (they simply indicate that the British classified them as battlecruisers). It would be helpful if someone could reproduce the relevant section of the Staff History source to see if it really supports the assertion (Google books does not provide a full preview). If not then we should remove it.

The second bit... I don't actually see a problem in citing an entire book if the consistent usage throughout that book is the point of the argument; the assertion itself (i.e. that there is mixed usage) is not contentious surely?

The third bit (currently hidden) describing why different sources use different classifications seems to be useful. Am I right in thinking, Parsecboy, that you object to it because you believe that a single reference (of two) is not sufficient to support that block of text? Or that it was placed to support that block of text? Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Originally intended armament?[edit]

In the section titled "Gneisenau's reconstruction", there is the following statement: "It was estimated that it would take two years to make the ship ready for service.[60] Since this was such a long period, it was determined that it would be more efficient if during the repair work, the ship was reconstructed to mount the six 38 cm (15 in) guns that had been originally intended." I have no problem with this information per se, as I had previously read it in Breyer. However, there is no mention earlier in the article that 38cm guns were originally intended for this class. Shouldn't this be mentioned in the section on the ships' development? Jonyungk (talk) 22:23, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

Move back to class battlecruiser[edit]

Most of the articles in which these ships are mentioned are ones involving battles with the Royal Navy or RAF. Under British terminology these were and are battlecruiser but because this the articles have links the names of the class and ships good intentioned editors change the names from battlecruiser to battleship for reasons of WP:ENGVAR it would cause less disruption/inaccuracies to the project if these articles were under battlecruiser rather than battleship. -- PBS (talk) 11:49, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

I don't see that anything has changed from the lengthy discussions in January 2008 and September 2009 which resulted in the current name. There are of course redirects in place from the many possible alternative names so there is no risk of any disruption. WP:ENGVAR is a bit of a red herring as "battlecruiser" and "battleship" both exist in all versions of the English language. The question is only about which is the "right" one for these particular ships. There is not really a "right answer" and I see no value in re-opening this debate.... The Land (talk) 14:38, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree with The Land, this has been discussed extensively, and lead through several torturous classifications until finally it was decided to return to the simple designation that was used by both the US and German navies. Using WP:ENGVAR as a reason to undo this would introduce inaccuracy rather than correcting it. The article is on the path to FA status; lets not take a step backward. SeaphotoTalk 17:03, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Actually the article was originally under the name Gneisenau class battlecruisers -- PBS (talk) 22:26, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree; while I tend to prefer 'battlecruiser', the current article name was the result of extensive discussion over a prolonged period, so we should leave it as is. Nick-D (talk) 22:42, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I do not know why the British originally decided to call them battlecruisers. It was probably just a failure of intelligence (a bit like the failure to realise that German warships had radar before the war). Whatever the reason, the myth that these were battlecruisers has has been propagated through English language sources because one book copies another. Since we know that the Germans classed them as battleships, there seems no point propagating a myth any longer.--Toddy1 (talk) 14:49, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
Lightly armed and fast (the were not in the same league as contemporary battleships like the Bismarck class). Wikipedia policies and guidelines emphasise the publishing what is in verifiable reliable sources with a preference for English language sources and not what editors think is the truth. -- PBS (talk) 22:11, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
Curiously, more RSes describe the ships as battleships as was proved in the last discussion, and your first statement (lightly armed and fast...) seems to be your opinion as to what the truth is. Parsecboy (talk) 23:44, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
"seems to be your opinion" No I was answering the question "I do not know why the British originally decided to call them battlecruisers." -- PBS (talk) 10:31, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Fine, though that was not abundantly clear. Parsecboy (talk) 11:57, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Germans had them as BB, US Navy ,too; just RN as BC. That's a 2:1 for BB (or 1:1 if you stick to important english sources). No need to change this again just because the RN classified them as such while others didn't. --Denniss (talk) 22:25, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
As I said above "Most of the articles ..." -- PBS (talk) 22:29, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
The better solution would be to correct those article where the ships are misidentified as battlecruisers to reflect the consensus developed here after years of discussion. We don't want the tail wagging the dog here. SeaphotoTalk 23:53, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
That you think there is a correct determination of what they were shows a misunderstanding of how articles are developed on Wikipedia. There is no "correct" view only that which is used by the sources. In a battle and one side in that battle is an English speaking nation then WP:ENGVAR comes into effect. -- PBS (talk) 10:31, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
No, it doesn't. ENGVAR is for things like "tire" and "tyre." If it was as you suggest, we might have ended up with an article titled War of Northern Aggression rather than American Civil War, if an Alabaman had written the first draft. Also, you're stretching the extent of national ties. They cover the items of a country (in this case, it would be wrong to write HMS Duke of York (17) in American English), but they do not cover items that came into some sort of contact with a country. If it was as you claim, how should Japanese battleship Kongō be written? It was built in Britain, but fought and sunk by US Navy. Parsecboy (talk) 11:57, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
I have taken your advice and made the correction to most articles with the 'error'.--Toddy1 (talk) 21:48, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Maybe we should not be using American English sources. I think it might be more appropriate to use sources from countries that had to contend with these ships, rather than the second-hand opinions of authors from countries which did not. Also, since the meaning seems to differ, perhaps we could add the word "battlecruiser" to the list of English word variations like harbour/harbor, colour/color, and aluminium/aluminum. Warships in the US sphere of influence could use American definitions, warships in British spheres of influence could use British definitions. :) Wiki-Ed (talk) 00:08, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

This isn't a case of spelling variation, or cherry picking sources. Using the RN as the sole naming source for a German ship, disregarding both Kriegsmarine and US Navy classification gives undue weight to that viewpoint. The WP article for the Deutschland class is not titled Deutschland class pocket battleships, for example. SeaphotoTalk 00:31, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
Moreover, this isn't the British Wikipedia, and national ties to a topic only go so far. Heck, as is pointed out here, the Admiralty also occasionally referred to them as battleships. Parsecboy (talk) 01:14, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
The Royal Navy had to contend with these ships and the Naval Staff History written by the Historical Section at the Admiralty calls them battleships. (See: BR 1736(48)(2) Naval Staff History Second World War, Home Waters and the Atlantic, Volume II, 9th April 1940 – 6th December 1941, Historical Section Admiralty, pub 20 November 1961. pages 14-15.) It very much looks as though the initial British misclassification was a misjudgement or an error; one that has been propagated books copying what previous publications said instead of checking the facts. The Naval Staff History was issued in 1961 when more facts were available than when the original misclassification was made.--Toddy1 (talk) 09:02, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

The engagement between the Renown and the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 9 April 1940[edit]

I very much suspect otherwise. Do you not think it sounds a bit strange to describe two "battleships" running away from a battlecruiser (your edits to the Norwegian Campaign), or to suggest that a "battleship" should not be able to outgun another battleship of similar displacement (your edit to the Battle of North Cape)? Wiki-Ed (talk) 13:20, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Relevant quotes from the Naval Staff History describing this engagement can be found at User:Toddy1/Sandbox 5. Alternatively you can buy or borrow a paper copy.--Toddy1 (talk) 16:04, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
There is a good description of the engagement in a recent book: The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940, by Geirr H Harr, pages 307-314. Here are some quotations:
"The sighted ship was less than twenty kilometre away, but in the murk it was first identified as a tanker and then as a 'Nelson-class battleship - very long bow section and bridge structure well astern'." (Page 309)
"Vizeadmiral Lütjens had orders to avoid battle with superior opponents if possible and, believing this was the case, he steered away. At first the adversary could not be seen properly from the vice admiral's bridge, but only recognised from the muzzle flashes. Hence, Lütjens and his staff were not sure what they were up against. When visibility had improved for a while, a 'Renown-class' battlecruiser was correctly identified, but as some of the destroyers also opened fire, their muzzleflashes made Lütjens believe there ws more than one heavy ship to the south-west. From the first identification of a Nelson-class battleship and later a Renown-class battlecruiser, Kapitän zur See Netzbandt also believed there might be two enemies. From Scharnhorst, only one battleship was sighted, while at the start of the encounter it was believed there might be 'one or two further targets' behind." (page 310)
At the end of the engagement, the Gneisenau had lost her main director (which hampered her ability for long-range fire and could only be repaired in port) and her A turret was out of action (see pages 310-11 and 313), and the Scharnhorst's A turret was also out of action (see page 313).
From Lütjens's point of view, the engagement was not going well and he was not sure what he was facing but thought it was a Nelson and a Renown {though the Scharnhorst thought that there might have been a third British capital ship (pages 313-4)}. Given his orders to avoid battle with superior opponents if possible, running was the right thing to do.--Toddy1 (talk) 17:11, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
And what did the Captain of the Renown think? That he was facing two inflatable dinghies? He knew how much support he had and if he thought he was facing two battleships one would think he would decline to chase them. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:45, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
We don't know what Renown‍ '​s captain thought or knew. Visibility was terrible, and if he was under the impression that the German ships did not have radar, he might have felt he had an advantage that allowed him to attack in spite of inferior nubmers. Or perhaps the fear of being cast into a group with Milne affected the his decision. Perhaps he thought he was engaging one of the Deutschlands or Hippers. We will never know.
What we do know is what reliable, specialist sources call these two ships, and as was demonstrated in the last discussion, the clear majority of them use "battleship" rather than "battlecruiser." That's really the only point that needs to be made. Parsecboy (talk) 13:49, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Wiki-Ed - you asked why the two German battleships ran from the Renown, and I answered you.
  • As for the radar question, the Renown did not have radar, and the British did not realise that the Germans had radar.
  • What did Vice Admiral Whitworth in Renown think he was facing: one Scharnhorst class battlecruiser and one Hipper class cruiser. (Harr, p308) [Remember the British thought that the Scharnhorst class were battlecruisers, not battleships.] CinC Home Fleet later commented that the action "confirmed the experience of that of the River Plate, namely that the enemy has little liking for close action and his morale deteriorates rapidly if the ship is hit." (Harr p313)
Paresecboy - the point that needs to be made is that the British regarded them as battlecruisers and acted accordingly in battle. Whitworth's actions may be understood through fear of being cast alongside Milne and Troubridge, but Cradock's fatal encounter off Coronel with the previous S&G might be a more appropriate comparison if the admiral had thought he was facing a German battleship. He made the correct assessment of the enemy capabilities, unlike Holland a year later. Wiki-Ed (talk) 18:13, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
This is somewhat off-topic, but I don't think you'd make the same statement about Whitworth's decision to attack if Marschall (the German commander at the time, not Lütjens) had pressed the engagement. I don't know how wise it would have been to pit six 15" guns against eighteen 11" guns in a protracted engagement, especially when all you have is a 6" belt. Parsecboy (talk) 18:34, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
"Lütjens was acting Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet because Admiral Marschall was on sick leave." (Harr p459)--Toddy1 (talk) 20:27, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
This conversation shows exactly why we have a policy of "no original research". There are too many details that most of us aren't aware of. Trying to come up with our own interpretation of historical fact on a Wikipedia talk page is likely to lead to error and confusion... The Land (talk) 09:10, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes and no. If the sources disagree then we should understand why, particularly if it gives rise to incongruous statements in a range of articles. American editors might want to consider how they would respond if they read an article saying a cat chased two dogs or a dog climbed up a tree. This is how the latest edits to related articles appear to British editors. Wiki-Ed (talk) 16:55, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
If the statements appear incongruous (the Renown engagement, to which you're referring in the first example), then the articles need to be fixed to explain the situation sufficiently (i.e., as Toddy has done for us here). The faults of one article should not impact another, nor should they be used as a justification. Parsecboy (talk) 17:00, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Role of the Kriegsmarine's capital ships[edit]

Now I know this has gone on for ages and I'm not sure if this is of any relevance, but if one takes a look at how the Kriegsmarine utilised her capital ships, it is very difficult to classify them in the Anglo/US/Japanese sense. I mention these nations and their navies as they wer the Kriegsmarine's contemporaries.

-All German capital ships were built with the intended role of operating as commerce raiders. The Kriegsmarine could never have hoped to match the Royal Navy and so adopted the doctrine of focusing their attacks on commerce fleets. Thus, even the Bismarck-class battleships, while large and heavily armoured, were never intended to stand and fight British battleships. They were to use their speed to disengage in the face of heavy surface ships. Their guns and armour however, could see them drive light, heavy and battlecruisers off.

-The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau where smaller than the Bismarck's, carried lighter armament and were far lightly armoured. They were equipped to deal with light and heavy cruisers and fast enough to out-run battleships and battlecruisers. Thus, the classification as battleships do not fit these ships in anyway. They in no way could have stood and engaged the Royal Navy's battleships nor were they intended to do so.

-The Kriegsmarine's objective was to always attempt breakouts into the Atlantic shipping lanes and never to draw out and engage enemy ships.

-The classification is further complicated by the Deutschland-class warships. The Germans simply referred to them as Panzerschiffe, or 'armoured ships'. But, because they were considerably smaller than battleships and battlecruisers while carrying relatively heavy guns, the British labelled them as Pocket battleships. Once again, they followed the trend of packing guns to deal with smaller or equal sized ships and the speed to run away from heavier ships and once again, everything points to commerce raiding. The presence of battleship in their English title is a misnomer as it is highly doubtful that the Germans would've seen them as battleships if they were reluctant to use their larger ships as conventional battleships.


It seems one will never name German warships in a way that keeps everyone happy. I know their intended roles have little bearing on how they are named here, but the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are not really battleships when one looks at and compares them to contemporary battleships of the Royal Navy, United States Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy, and they were not designed to nor intended to engage heavy ships in battle. Enough punch to drive off cruisers, but not enough punch or armour to exchange fire with battleships.thesmartstag (thesmartstag) 09:59, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Rather than been "far lightly armoured" they had a main belt that was thicker than the Bismarck's, and protection in other parts of the ship was also equal, or in some cases thicker (and in some areas, to be fair, thinner). While the 11" shell gun was much lighter than the 14" used on the KGV class, it out-ranged that gun by 4000 yards and was very accurate - indeed as the article states, one of the longest hit recorded was by the Scharnhorst. On paper, a Scharnhorst had a chance against a KGV, by using it's superior speed to set the distance of the engagement (at least in good weather). You make a good point about German tactics, as they could not afford to take a chance and slug it out with a British ship one on one in the real world - the Bismarck encounter illustrated that.
I sometimes wonder if the ships speed were slower there would have been any question of battleship vs. battlecruiser. In any event, it makes an interesting discussion! SeaphotoTalk 09:04, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Well I think this sums it up: a debate between those who think ships should be classified by role (original post) and those who think statistics are important (second post). "On paper..." just doesn't cut it when, in reality, a Scharnhorst was sunk by a KGV. One has to apply some thought to what one is reading. Wiki-Ed (talk) 10:02, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Smartstag, you're quite right to say that the battleship/battlecruiser labels aren't really designed for this particular class - hence the immensely lengthy discussions we've had about what to call them. But can we please keep talk-page discussions confined to the contents of the article and not a general discussion please... The Land (talk) 10:07, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Smartstag is, however, wrong almost across the board on everything else.
  • These ships were designed specifically to counter the French Dunkerques (which were in turn a counter to the Deutschlands), and the Bismarcks were designed in response to the Richelieus (the French response to the Scharnhorsts). The original H-class was designed with the Russian Sovietsky Soyuzs in mind.
  • As Seaphoto rightly points out, Scharnhorst had a thicker main belt than Bismarck did. The conning tower and main battery turrets had the same amount of armor.
  • The entire plan for Rheinübung was for Bismarck to tie down the escorting British battleship while Prinz Eugen destroyed the convoy.
By your logic, Bismarck and Tirpitz are battlecruisers as well, because they were used as commerce raiders and were ordered to outrun equal opponents if the situation arose. On the other hand, when the Germans actually designed ships they called battlecruisers, they did so along traditional British lines (i.e., large guns, relatively light armor). Parsecboy (talk) 10:41, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

I think that it would be best if everyone provided sources for their comments here and focused on proposed edits to the article. Nick-D (talk) 10:48, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

That's what we did with the move request 2 years ago that resulted in the current location. Unless there was a titanic shift in the world of naval history, I don't know why this was even brought back up. Parsecboy (talk) 11:03, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

I concur that I overlooked the armour figures of the Scharnhorst, it did in fact have equal or superior armour in most departments, but there is one crucial area that may dispell it's credentials as a true battleship; thickness of deck armour.

- King George V-class battleships - up to 149mm of deck armour

- French Dunkerque - 115-125mm of deck armour

- battleship Bismarck - 110-120mm of deck armour

- French Richelieu-class battleships - 40-150mm of deck armour

- battlecruiser HMS Hood - 19 - 76mm of deck armour

- Scharnhorst - a maximum of 50mm of deck armour

- Deutschland-class heavy cruisers/pocket battleships - 40mm of deck armour

  • All figures taken from Wikipedia entries.

The main batteries of capital warships fire plunging shot. By design, the guns of capital ships cannot depress far enough to fire flat. This makes thick deck armour neccessary if you are to stand and engage equal ships. The Scharnhorst does not even compare favourably with the much older HMS Hood in this area and is basically on par with the smaller Deutschland-class warships. In relation to the Scharnhorst's impressive belt armour, it's thin deck armour severely compromises the effectiveness of the ships citadel. 14 and 15-inch shells raining down on her would've posed a very dangerous situation. The Bismarck had up to twice the deck armour of her and the KGVs have nearly 3 times the thickness. When one looks at the KGVs armament and all round armour, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are ill-equipped to stand-off and engage them.

No, I don't think the Bismarck and Tirpitz are battlecruisers, I mentioned them because they where better equipped to deal with enemy battleships but the Kriegsmarine never made it their intention to use them to actively seek out and engage the British battle fleets. They were fast for their size and it was a key factor in the design process, they had to be able to disengage and run. Could they stand and fight? Yes. Could Germany afford to? No. Germany adopted a policy of attacking merchant shipping. Only once the proposed Plan Z had been completed, could the Kriegsmarine hope to engage the Royal Navy in pitched battle. All vessels planned for the completion of Plan Z would entail the construction of ships larger and more suited to pitched battles than those that were currently in service.

I apologise The Land.thesmartstag (thesmartstag) 14:59, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

That gave me a chuckle. Plunging fire only becomes an issue when the range exceeds (very broadly) 15-20 thousand yards. Engagements are very rarely fought at these ranges, and most hits are well within the limit. Under the threshold, shell trajectories are essentially flat. Parsecboy (talk) 13:21, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
No battlecruisers were ever lost to plunging fire. Especially not the Scharnhorst which wasn't struck at 19,000m by the Duke of York and slowed down just as it was about to escape over the horizon. Wiki-Ed (talk) 17:50, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't understand your point here, Wiki-Ed. I don't believe any battleships were ever lost to plunging fire either. If you're referring to Jutland, every single hit on the three British battlecruisers were under 15 thousand yards and therefore had a relatively flat trajectory. And as for the hit from Duke of York that temporarily crippled Scharnhorst‍ '​s propulsion system, the shell penetrated through the thin upper citadel and then struck a vertical portion of the armored deck; it did not plunge through the horizontal section. You'd probably need at least a 10-inch thick piece of armor where the shell hit to have kept it out. Parsecboy (talk) 17:55, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Oh, and by the way, thesmartstag, capital ships' turrets generally allow for depression to around 5 to 10 degrees below the horizontal. And another thing; the first H-class battleship design (the one envisioned in Plan Z) was essentially a slightly larger Bismarck class ship with 16-inch guns. Parsecboy (talk) 17:55, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I was being sarcastic. The most famous example is Hood, but I was rather under the impression that the ships at Jutland were hit at the weakest points too. I don't understand why you think plunging fire only occurs at ranges beyond 15,000 yards. Any projectile weapon can attack a target this way, even a slingshot. Clearly naval artillery is at the top end of the artillery scale, but ranges, calibre and accuracy all increased with the passage of time so asserting that any shot under 15,000 yards must have been on a flat trajectory is generalising excessively. Talking of assertions, could you provide a source for your information on the trajectory of the DoY shell that hit the Scharnhorst's boiler room? I was under the impression that the wreck was only discovered a few years ago and it wasn't in particularly good shape; I'm not entirely sure how it could have been examined so thoroughly as to establish this detail. Wiki-Ed (talk) 23:24, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
I gathered a much - I didn't understand your point. I've studied Jutland in particular in great detail. All three battlecruisers lost were destroyed by relatively flat-trajectory shell hits on the turrets or barbettes (as far as eyewitnesses, etc. can tell us) - Tiger as well was almost destroyed in a similar fashion. Campbell's Jutland: An Analysis of the Battle is an excellent place to start. You can also read the wiki articles on the ships - the editor did a very thorough job. As for Hood, the cause of her loss is still unclear, and may not have involved plunging fire at all; I recommend Bill Juren's excellent analysis of her destruction from Warship International (which can be found reproduced online here).
Yes, all projectiles follow a parabolic trajectory, but there's a difference between a slingshot projectile traveling at maybe a few score feet per second and a large-caliber artillery round traveling at over 2,000 ft/s. Plunging fire only happens with these guns as the range exceeds 15,000 yards.
As for the hit from Duke of York, Garzke & Dulin have an excellent diagram showing the trajectory of the shell that damaged the engines on page 172 of Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II. It may be available for viewing on Google Books. If not, I can scan and email it to you if you like. Parsecboy (talk) 00:13, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
The book can be previewed, but the relevant page is not there. However, I'm not sure that it really matters - it was written before the wreck was discovered so their analysis is conjecture. However, I take your point about no amount of armour being protection against the trajectory proposed by Garzke & Dulin if that is what happened. That said 'modern' all-or-nothing battleships did not suffer the same fate when subjected to the same type of bombardment. I'm thinking here of the Prince of Wales (in the Battle of Denmark Strait) which was hit repeatedly (without catastrophic damage) by the Bismarck from the same range as the shots which sunk the Hood. Maybe it was a one-in-a-million shot, but there seem to have been quite a few of these during the Second World War depite the relatively limited number of engagements. I think it would be easier to accept that ships had weaknesses and those which were sunk were sunk because the enemy exploited them, either by chance or by concentration of force. To that extent I think the original post is correct to highlight the weaknesses of the German design. Wiki-Ed (talk) 23:21, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
The textual description reads as follows: "[The shell] hit the starboard side, passed through the light upper citadel belt and battery deck, ricocheted at the lower armor deck, penetrated into the raised portion of the lower armor deck over the boilers, and exploded in number 1 boiler room." This is presumably based on the accounts of survivors (I'm guessing so because they provide several quotes from crew members during the engagement, so they had to have talked to somebody who was on the ship).
I don't know; that seems to be a rather simplistic assessment. Yes, these ships had weaknesses, but every single warship ever built has weaknesses. One in a million shots aren't all that uncommon. All three of the British BCs at Jutland were destroyed in a relatively small number of shots fired by shells that hit the turrets or barbettes, which account for a very small percentage of the ship's surface area. Seydlitz had her rear turrets burnt out at Dogger Bank and Jutland with similar hits, and as I noted above, Tiger was almost lost to the same cause. As for Prince of Wales, I seem to think the shell that hit below the waterline failed to explode, but if it had, it would have destroyed her as well, as it had come to rest against one of the magazines (I could be remembering this wrong, so don't quote me on that).
I don't recall where I read this, but someone once said something along the lines of "any warship sunk in combat had by definition insufficient armor protection." The underlying causes of a warship's loss are often highly complex, and what might seem to have been the primary problem was actually of secondary importance. Take for instance, Japanese aircraft carriers during WWII. They had a series of design flaws (closed hangars, which trapped gas fumes, being the most important), and while these flaws contributed to their loss, it was the total failure in the Japanese Navy to master damage control that cost them many of these ships. I'm thinking specifically of the Shinano, which was torpedoed by an American submarine - her crew did all manner of silly things like leaving watertight doors open throughout the ship and waiting far too long to attempt counter flooding. I've heard it argued that many of Japan's war losses could have been saved if they had had American crews (who by 1942 or so had organized probably the best damage control teams in the entire world). Parsecboy (talk) 11:43, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

The American author AT Mahan had theories abut the right way to use sea-power, which he wrote in the late 1880s, at time when his nation did not have a single battleship in service. According to Mahan's theories, the right thing to do is to use fleets of battleships to gain command of the sea.

At the time he wrote these theories, Mahan will have been aware that two of the major European powers, Germany and Italy, had built ships that the Royal Navy regarded as battleships but which were intended for a different concept of operations. Germany and Italy in the 1870s and 1880s had to face a likely war scenario where they would be fighting against France, which had a more powerful navy than they had. At the time, the British and French envisaged squadrons of armoured battleships blockading enemy ports, assisted by other types of vessels. The German and Italian concept was for individual battleships and cruisers to sortie from ports; the breakout would be assisted by torpedo boats attacking the blockading squadron. German battleships were intended for operations in the Baltic and perhaps also the English Channel, and tended to be medium-size and of short range. Italian battleships were intended to roam the Western Mediterranean and were large, fast and by the standards of the day long range. These concepts of operation gradually went out of fashion in the 1890s, in part thanks to Mahan.

The German ideas of the 1920s-40s for the use of battleships are similar to the German and Italian ideas of the 1870s-80s.

(I realise that some editors will argue with the classification of 1870s-80s ships. All I will say was that in the late-1880s the British classified such ships as battleships.)--Toddy1 (talk) 13:25, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

The "battlecruiser" concept wasn't invented until 20 years after Mahan was writing so that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Wiki-Ed (talk) 17:17, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

The citadel of a ship is the converging/overlapping point of the thick belt armour, the deck armour, the barbettes, the turret and the conning tower. The citadel protects the main magazines, the boilers and the 'heart' of the ship (captains' bridge, fire control etc). The Scharnhorst's citadel is uncomparable to any other contemporary battleship in that it has a glaring weak point.

A quick look at the Scharnhorst's guns shows that at a range of 7,900m, the shell is hitting at an angle of 4.4 degrees. That angle of impact increases as the range increases. At it's maximum range of 27,000m, you are looking at an imapct angle of 30 degrees. And at this range, the Scharnhorst could penetrate 76mm of deck armour, more than enough to penetrate it's own deck and ample enough to test the deck of the battlecruiser HMS Hood. I can't imagine this trend being any different for other naval guns, with probability of larger guns actually being able to pierce more armour. During the Battle of the Denmark Strait, the Hood opened fire on the Bismarck at a range of 24,200m. Using the Scharnhorst as an example, this would indicate impact angles of 25-26 degrees. The Bismarck's fifth and final salvo fired at the Hood in the same battle was at a range of 16,650m, once again using the figures of the Scharnhorst, you're looking at an impact angle of 10-13 degress. Shallow, but not flat and a chance at a glancing blow on the deck. That angle could also see a shell deflecting off of thicker turret or conning tower armour and being redirected to the deck.

The Hood's armour layout exposed her relatively thin deck due to the angle of the belt. Immediately after the Battle of Jutland, up to an inch of deck armour in some places was added to decrease the vulnerability of the deck to plunging fire. Tests with 15-inch shells fired at a mockup of the Hood after the improvements indicated that the deck was still vulnerable to high-trajectory, plunging fire and this would remain a cause for concern within the Admiralty until her demise. Planned refits were afoot to further improve the deck's protection, but they were never carried out. Now, the Scharnhorst was likely not designed in the same way, but thinner deck armour would indicate she would be in no better position and would indicate weakness. Battleships would not stumble on each other at ranges of 5,000m. They would likely encounter each other at extreme ranges and attempt to maneuver in closer, opening fire once their guns were at their maximum range, placing emphasis on deck armour. Either way you look at it, deck armour is a vital component of a ships overall protection.

As Admiral Beatty exclaimed at Jutland, "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today.." And what I found is a common link, thin deck armour. 3 battlecrusiers went down at Jutland and the main area where weight is saved for speed on a battlecruiser is deck armour. Sir John Jellicoe himself focused on deck armour being of serious concern on his battlecrusiers after the battle, hence the reworking of the Hood's armour.

And regarding the H-class ships, they would get larger and larger;

  • H-39 - 16 inch guns and 56,400 tons
  • H-41 - 17 inch guns and 68,800 tons
  • H-42 & H-43 - 19 inch guns and 89,000 and 109,000 tons respectively
  • H-44 - 20 inch guns and 131,000 tons

Hitler was grandiose and whether these would have been possible is unknown, but the Japanese built ships with 18-inchers, the Yamato and Musashi, so Germany could've at the least built ships of comparable size and maybe slightly larger. thesmartstag (talk) 08:29, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

I don't know why you're focusing so much on deck armor and plunging fire. In practice, it was exceedingly rare for engagements to be fought at that range, and before the advent of advanced range-finding computers, hits at that range were even rarer. Moreover, Germany designed her battleships to fight in the North Sea, where visibility is frequently bad. Battle ranges were expected to be in the 10,000 to 15,000 yard range. At 8,600 yards, the 28cm gun can penetrate slightly more than 18 inches of belt armor, and at 16,400, over 13 inches. Recall that I told you these ships were designed to fight Dunkerque and Strasbourg, which had a side belt of 13 inches. My point is, the 28cm gun could defeat the armor of the intended opponent at any range under 16,400 yards.
No, battleships won't stumble on each other at 5,000 yards, but as I said above, visibility in the North Sea is frequently bad. At Jutland, Beatty and Hipper spotted each other at a range of about 15,000 yards, which gives you a very small chance to score any plunging fire hits (provided both sides attack). Yes, deck armor is important, particularly as aircraft and the bombs they carried became more powerful, but belt armor is much more important in a ship-to-ship fight. Oh, and if you look at Bill Juren's analysis I linked above, you'll see on the last page he states that contrary to common thought, Hood‍ '​s deck armor was at or close to the maximum protection that could be offered. The value of armor thickness is not arithmetic, after a certain point, the increased protection granted drops off significantly (hence the reason S&G had a thicker belt than B&T - the constructors realized they had surpassed the upper limit on S&G and did not repeat their mistake on B&T).
Yes, Beatty was referring to his ships' tendency to explode after hits on their turrets and barbettes. Thin deck armor had absolutely nothing to do with their loss and was simply a bullshit story cooked up by Beatty and Jellicoe to cover up their own failure to ensure proper ammunition handling in their ships. Parsecboy (talk) 11:34, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

I focus on deck armour as it is something in common between British battlecruiser designs prior to the proposed G3‍ '​s and the Scharnhorst. The Japanese Kongo‍ '​s were also less than impressive in this area.

I understand the areas the German ships were intended to operate in and I understand that ranges would be close, but the fact remains, British and German ships did encounter each other at extreme ranges and when they could, they opened fire, just like the Hood engaging the Bismarck at over 24,000m and at that range, tests proved that the Hood‍ '​s deck put it in a dangerous position. They did maneuver to close in, but you are risking yourself when sending a battleship with relatively thin decks up against a full-fledged battleship, especially when closing the distance.

The Royal Navy added nearly 5,000 tons of weight and proposed a further upgrade and more weight that would essentially rob the Hood of one of her strongpoints, speed. The concept of the battlecruiser was to use speed to run, why erode that as a 'cover up'.

It's like building a bunker with concrete reinforced walls and floors and a solid steel door but putting a wooden roof on it. All battleships have a better ratio of deck armour to every other aspect of their armour but battlecruisers have a a much more inferior ratio. Post-Jutland battlecruiser designs, with the British G3‍ '​s being a good example, were intended to have significantly heavier deck armour, almost approaching battleship territory, yet it was referred to as a battlecrusier. The proposed US Lexington-class battlecruisers were also extremely heavily armoured and both were 10,000 tons heavier and upwards.

I know if's and but's are worthless in an historical argument, but if the Lexington‍ '​s and G3‍ '​s were put to sea, there is no doubt in my mind that the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would be battlecruisers.

I have enjoyed this debate, I really have, it will likely go in circles and I may upset people, I may already have, by once again opening this can, so I'll put it to rest on my side. thesmartstag (talk) 08:26, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

All pre-Jutland warship designs had thin deck armor, not just battlecruisers. Even many post-Jutland, many ships lacked adequate deck armor. As I said above, Bill Jurens states that computer models show that Hood‍ '​s deck armor was at or close to the maximum thickness for ideal horizontal protection. Specifically, he says:
"A number of authors have attributed the loss of Hood to insufficient deck armor, stating in effect that she was lost due to an excessive vulnerability to plunging fire. The results of a recently developed computer program, however, seem to suggest that rather than being too thin to adequately protect her, Hood's deck armor was in fact at or near the thickness that would have granted her maximum protection at normal battleranges."
The Royal Navy referred to the G3s as battlecruisers because at the time they called ships that had a top speed of over 24 knots battlecruisers. Their deck armor was 8 inches in the citadel, the same as the N3 battleships. The Lexingtons were not all that heavily armored - their belt was initially only 7 inches and increased to 9 in 1918. Parsecboy (talk) 11:43, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Hatnote[edit]

It seems to me that a hatnote to distinguish the two classes (battleship and WW1 cruiser) would be very much a good thing. It may be that to an expert in this subject the distinction is obvious, but not everyone is (and that's probably why they come to read the article). Bagunceiro (talk) 12:20, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Please read the sections WP:RELATED and WP:NAMB. The titles are not ambiguous (as Wikipedia uses the term), merely related. Hatnotes are therefore not appropriate here. Parsecboy (talk) 12:31, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
I would have to disagree with you. The policy (indeed one of the references you point to) states "Disambiguation hatnotes are intended to link to separate topics that could be referred to by the same title". In this case they can be, and in fact are: "Scharnhorst class". For me as a non-expert these titles are very much ambiguous, and the presence of a dab page suggests that I am not alone. Bagunceiro (talk) 18:04, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
That's not how Wikipedia defines the term "ambiguous", however. "Scharnhorst class" is ambiguous (as Wikipedia defines the term), since there are two classes of warship named after Gerhard (and which is why Scharnhorst class is a dab page), but "Scharnhorst class battleship" is not ambiguous, since there are not two classes of battleship named for him.
The vast majority of non-experts who arrive at this article are generally going to be arriving here via internal links (since we are assuming they know nothing about these ships, it is very unlikely that they will type in the name out of the blue), which means a hatnote is useless to them (apart from as a "see also", which is, as I have stated, not the purpose of hatnotes - that's why we have see also sections). And if not by internal links, they will have come across these ships somewhere else and will have already seen them referred to either as battleships or battlecruisers, and they will type in "Scharnhorst class battleship/battlecruiser", "Scharnhorst battleship/battlecruiser", or even "Scharnhorst class" into the search bar and they'll get to the right page. There is essentially no case where a reader will arrive at this page with the intention of reading about von Spee's ships, so a hatnote is unnecessary. Parsecboy (talk) 18:39, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
I remain unconvinced, and cannot agree with your reading of the policy (nor, actually, with blindly following policy when the alternative is useful - WP:IAR). However, it doesn't matter that much to me so that's my last word on the subject. Bagunceiro (talk) 19:31, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
No one is blindly following policy - hatnotes and other banners at the top of articles are distracting, and if they are not necessary, there's no reason to clutter an article with them. In any case, have a good day and happy editing. Parsecboy (talk) 19:34, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Preserved Gneisenau 15 cm turrets[edit]

Although it is widely cited, the preserved turrets at Stevnsfortet (Danish Cold War era fortress), are not from Gneisenau. They have a low height - they are so-called "short" turrets, produced fo any planned ships. The German coastal battery at Fanø island, where they had been installed (before transfer to Stevnsfortet), has been named "Gneisenau". That is probable source of that common mistake. The real Gneisenau "long" turret is preserved at Petsamo coastal battery (whole turret with the armour partially scrapped) and the lower part of the turret is preserved at the Netharlands, inside the bunker M219 of Zanddijk coastal battery. Ondřej Filip (talk) 21:31, 8 June 2015 (UTC)