Kagero's The Battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau Vol 1


Miroslaw Skwiot & Mariusz Motyka




$59.95 from www.casematepublishing.com


Scott Van Aken

Notes: Hardbound, 200 pages, 32 stereo photos, 309 3D visualizations, scale plans in 1/200, 1/50, 1/25, 1/11. ISBN 978-83-66673-15-1

Because of the lateness of Germany's armament build up prior to WWII, there really wasn't all that much time to build up a large fleet. What was done were mostly smaller vessels, but what she needed was capital ships and this meant battleships. The issue there was the lack of places where one could be built and that very much put a bottleneck on production. After much discussion about just what needed to be built, and this included the ships size, armament, propulsion and a variety of other considerations, the first new German battleship, the Scharnhorst was started.

Even while being constructed there were differences of opinion on what the armament should be as well as other systems. It seems that in Germany, weapons were built as much by committee as by anything else. Eventually, she was launched and her sister ship was not all that far behind.

Sea trials showed the needs for improvements. For instance, Scharnhorst originally had a straight bow, similar to the Graf Spee, but this was soon removed and replaced with a clipper bow that improved sea keeping. It seems that the ship spent a fair amount of time in the yards either being repaired or having systems upgraded. She was finally fully operational about a year before the war began. After the start of hostilities she became a prime target for the British.

Still, she managed  several sorties and along with her sister ship Gneisenau, has some successes in the North Atlantic and during the Norway campaign. After her Atlantic foray, the ships home ported in Brest but were under constant attack by the RAF. The 'channel dash' took them back to Germany and then to Norway. It was operating out of Norway in 1943 than Scharnhorst met her fate as she was ambushed by the Royal Navy and sunk.

Though the title of this book is both ships, this volume concentrates on the Scharnorst. I assume volume 2 will be on the Gneisenau. Not only do you get a full development, construction, and operational history, but are treated to a bevy of excellent period photos. Some of these are stereoscopic and for that you are provided with a pair of 3D glasses. Typical of Kagero books, you have a superb number of drawings and 3D ship views. This also includes plans and there are two large fold out sheets included that provide 1/200 drawings of the ship in her 1943 fit.

In all, it is a superlative reference and history of this ship and I'm sure that fans will be extremely pleased with this one. Well worth picking up.

April 2021

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