The Gneisenau went into commission on 21st May, 1938. Ranking with the Scharnhorst, she was the biggest and most powerful battleship in the German Fleet of those days. Her displacement had been announced to be 26,000 tons, but in fact her standard displacement was 31,800 tons. The main armament consisted of nine 28 cm guns, which were smaller in calibre than those of the same class ships possessed by other countries. The other armament, however, was powerful enough and consisted of twelve 15 cm guns, fourteen 10 cm AA guns, sixteen 37 mm AA machine guns, ten 20 mm AA machine guns and six 53 cm torpedo tubes. She was protected with strong armour and, in spite of her large displacement, had a speed of 32 knots. All of these factors combined to make the Gneisenau one of the first-rank high-speed battlecruisers in the world.
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