anchor chain


Line drawing of Hindenburg-looks like two-stack Scharnhorst

Photo of Hindenburg at sea

Adaptation of photo from official German sources
Displacement 30,500 tons
Armament 3 x 2 15"
4.1" DP + AA
33 knots
VTS Rating  (4)   5   7

These are the "O-P-Q" battlecruisers of the "Z PLAN" that were supposed to be long-range sea raiders (much like an improved "P" class cruiser), but never made it even so far as the laying of a keel. A little longer and heavier than the Scharnhorst class but surprisingly less armored, they would be easily distinguished in profile by their twin funnels. These were also to have mixed propulsion (Diesel and steam) to enable a more efficient cruising range. The turret well of the triple 11" and twin 15" gun turrets were deliberately built to the same dimensions to allow interchangeability. When building up the Kriegsmarine in the mid 'thirties, Hitler insisted on the smaller of the two gun calibers in the Scharnhorst class so as not to alarm the British with such powerful weapons as the newly-designed 15" guns. After some damage sidelined sister ship Gneisenau, she was supposed to be taken in to have her triple 11" guns replaced by twin 15", but Hitler wasn't charmed by the Kriegsmarine, so that naval project and many others languished.

In "Grand Fleet", Hitler became disenchanted with the "armored cruiser" concept for sea raiders and instead began insisting on more powerful and more armored ships. He personally leap-frogged his naval building projects up to larger "real" battleships. Hindenburg (at its inception designed as a "[4] 4 7") became the only one of its class (but improvements in armor were incorporated), and plans were made for upgrading the armament of the other, 11"-gunned battlecruisers instead. The 6" secondaries were dispensed with and more 4.1" guns put in for AA defense.

Hindenburg was a "happy " ship, and lucky. She and Prinz Eugen detached from the Bismarck sortie and headed South to refuel and work the convoy routes off the Cape. Two Vichy French cruisers joined up to help defeat a British battlegroup off Kamerun. Hindenburg fought her way into the Mediterranean and, though torpedoed by a Beaufort, joined the Italian battlefleet in a successful rout of a British cruiser force in the Eastern Mediterranean. Hindenburg braved the air attacks of both the Sicilian and Gibraltar narrows to dock in Brest for urgently needed repairs. Ordered by Hitler to sail into battle or be scuttled, Hindenburg and other German ships met a heavy Allied battle group in the North Sea. Hindenburg took the full fury of a combined dive and torpedo attack from CV Indomitable and foundered before reaching port.

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