Deutschland/Luetzow "Pocket Battleship"

With harsh treaty restrictions after World War I, the German Navy had to choose its ship designs judiciously. With an overall limitation of 10,000 tons per ship, German naval architects came up with a compromise design which could match Anglo-American capital ships, the Panzerschiff -- soon to be known in the West as the "pocket battleship."

What the Germans did was put two triple longrange 11" gun turrets on a 10,000 ton hull, and they did so by saving weight for the essentials, using electric welding and (in part) diesel engines.

10,000 tons was the treaty limitation for heavy cruisers with 8" guns, and the Deutschland -- "Germany," although quickly renamed Luetzow, once the war began -- clearly outclassed any heavy or light cruiser, at the moment of its launching: . (Admiral Scheer and Admiral Graf Spee were later improvements of the design.)

In 1942, Luetzow teamed up with heavy cruiser Hipper, to threaten the Allies' Arctic convoys to Russia. However, their ineffectiveness and/or timidity -- epitomized by the survival of Convoy JW51B whose escort of destroyers beat off both Hipper and Luetzow and accompanying destroyers long enough that light cruisers Sheffield and Jamaica could intervene.

Luetzow was a hard luck ship, always running around or getting torpedoed, and missed many battles. My sister-in-law's father was one of its crew. Fortunately, he was on shore leave when Allied bombers came over its base in Northern Germany and wrecked it in April 1945.

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