The Admiral Graf Spee was a German heavy cruiser (also referred as armored cruiser or "pocket battleship") launched in 1934, and built according
to the terms of the Versailles Treaty, albeit exceeding them slightly. The hull was built with a large proportion of light alloys,
and the propulsion was given by Diesel engines, which allowed for increased operational range and lesser smoke emissions to the
detriment of maximum speed.
These ships were product of the limitations of a treaty and as such their characteristics were very particular, to the point of
posing a challenge to find a proper classification for them. Attending to their armor and displacement, they were the equivalent of
a heavy cruiser. But cruisers were armed as much with 203-millimeter cannons, so attending to their 280-millimeter cannons, we can
see that the ships of the Deutschland class had a part of battlecruiser. But whatever they were, they were not a successful design.
The insufficient speed made these ships unable to fight at long ranges, rendering them vulnerable to the 203-millimeter projectiles
fired by heavy cruisers, which could easily pierce through the armor. Another deficiency was the disposition of the main armament,
emplaced in two turrets, something unseen since the era of the pre-dreadnought. This disposition greatly decreased the flexibility
of fire while increasing the chances of having half of the battery disabled by a lucky enemy impact.
The commissioning of the French fast battleships of the Dunkerque class confirmed the obsolescency of the Deutschland class, and the
three additional ships of the class that had been projected were cancelled, while the existing ones were reclassified as heavy cruisers.
The 280-millimeter turrets that had been already built for the cancelled ships would be installed in the battlecruisers of the Scharnhorst
class, another mistake of the Kriegsmarine that would cost many lives.
The illustration shows the Admiral Graf Spee as she was in December 1939, when she was sunk in the Battle of the River Plate. It can be
seen a seaplane Arado 196 in the catapult, the torpedo tubes astern and the tower-like armored bridge, and above all the extreme simplicity
of the design.
Class: Deutschland (3 units - Admiral Graf Spee, Admiral Scheer, Deutschland)
Type: Heavy cruiser
Length: 186 meters
Beam: 21.6 meters
Draught: 7.3 meters
Displacement (standard): 14100 tonnes
Propulsion: 2 x shaft, 8 x Diesel engine MAN, 52000 horsepower
Speed: 28.5 knots (52.7 kilometers/hour)
Range: 8900 nautical miles (16500 kilometers) at 20 knots
Armament: 6 x 280-millimeter 52-caliber cannon, 8 x 150-millimeter 55-caliber cannon, 6 x 88-millimeter 78-caliber cannon,
8 x 533-millimeter torpedo tube, 2 x aircraft
Armor: 80 millimeters in belt, 40 millimeters in torpedo bulwark, 45 millimeters in armored deck, 100 millimeters in barbettes,
85-140 millimeters in main turrets, 10 millimeters in secondary turrets, 150 millimeters in conning tower