H-class Battleship

BuildersDeutsche Werke Kiel: 1
Kriegsmarinewerft: 1
Displacement53,400 tons standard; 63,596 tons full
Length873 feet
Beam121 feet
Draft12 feet
MachineryTwelve MAN 9cyl double acting 2-stroke diesel engines
Bunkerage8,700t diesel oil
Power Output165,000 shaft horsepower
Speed30 knots
Range19,200nm at 19 knots, 7,000nm at 28 knots
Armament4x2x40.6cm SK C/34 guns, 6x2x15cm L/55 C28 guns, 16x2x10.5cm L/65 C33 anti-aircraft guns, 8x2x3.7cm L/83 C33 anti-aircraft guns, 6x4x2cm C38 anti-aircraft guns, 6x53.3cm submerged bow torpedo tubes
Armor300mm main belt, 145mm upper belt, 220mm bulkheads, 365mm barbettes, 385mm turret face, 350mm coning tower, 50-80mm decks
Aircraft Catapult1


This article refers to the entire H-class; it is not about an individual vessel.

ww2dbaseThe design work for the six-ship H-class began in 1937, and this project was born out of German Navy's 1938 Plan Z, a long term fleet construction plan. The initial completed design, H-39, was based on an enlarged version of the Bismarck-class battleship design with 40.6-centimeter primary guns. With this design, two keels were laid down. The first one, preliminarily named H, was laid down in Slip IX of the Blohm und Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in Jul 1939. The second, J, was laid down at the Deschimag shipyard in Bremen, Germany in Sep 1939. Both of them were projected to be completed in mid-1941 and to enter service in late 1943, but none of them would come close to any of those milestones. Due to the start of the European War, construction on these two ships halted on 30 Sep 1939, and both were ultimately canceled by the High Command of the German Navy in Nov 1941 after the admirals determined that none of them would be completed before the projected end of the European War. Despite of the cancelation, naval engineers continued to tweak the design. H-41 called for 42-centimeter guns and stronger armor (including armored hull bottom, which would have been the first in history), all the while being able to reach a maximum speed of 30 knots; the design changes seen in H-41 were very much influenced by the loss of battleship Bismarck. The Construction Office of the Navy High Command officially exited the H-class battleship project after H-41, but some of the engineers continued to work on the design, finalizing H-42, H-43, and H-44 revisions. The H-44 design called for even larger 50.8-centimeter guns. The added weight of these subsequent designs meant that, should construction ever begin, larger docks would need to be built first at locations such as Wilhelmshaven, Germany where the finished battleship would not need to navigate through rivers that might potentially be too shallow. As history would show, the European War would drag on longer than Nazi German leaders initially theorized, and the end result was a Germany in ruins. Despite the continuous work on the design, none of them would come to any fruition.


Last Major Revision: Jun 2023

H-class Battleship Interactive Map

H-class Battleship Operational Timeline

14 Apr 1939 The construction of battleship H was ordered.
14 Apr 1939 The construction of battleship J was ordered.
2 May 1939 The construction order of battleships K was issued to Deutsche Werke Kiel, battleship L to Kriegsmarinewerft, battleship M to Blohm und Voss, and battleship N to Deschimag. Due to war demands, none of these keels would be laid down.
15 Jul 1939 The keel of battleship H was laid down at the Blohm und Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.
1 Sep 1939 The keel of battleship J was laid down at the Deschimag shipyard in Bremen, Germany.
30 Sep 1939 The construction of battleship H was suspended.
30 Sep 1939 The construction of battleship J was suspended.

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Ships of this Class:
» H
» J
» K
» L
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» N

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