Heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper

German heavy cruiser class Hipper: Admiral Hipper, Blücher, Prinz Eugen.
History, development, service, specifications, pictures and 3D model.

Admiral Hipper in Kristiansand
The heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper in Kristiansand (Norway) in September 1940 (photo of the grandfather of the author of warships in Norway)

Hipper class (3 ships: Admiral Hipper, Blücher, Prinz Eugen)
Type: Heavy cruiser.


The Treaty of Versailles forbade the construction of heavy German warships. However, in 1935, the British-German Naval Treaty was ratified, which allows the Kriegsmarine to build up to 35% of the tonnage of the Royal Navy in the corresponding warship class.

According to the Washington Treaty, Germany could build 5 cruisers. These were laid down as the Hipper class. However, Germany was more interested in building combative vessels than on compliance with international treaty provisions.

The 10,000-tons limit was exceeded considerably by the ship in any case. The first draft has been prepared in 1934, when the Germans also started planning the Bismarck class.
As the particular object of the Hipper class it was intended to keep the French heavy cruisers in check and to prevent that troops and supplies from North Africa would be shipped to France. The first two ships, Admiral Hipper and Blücher, were completed with the even stem and cap less chimneys as they were typical of German designs before WW2. The Blücher was sunk before their planned change, while at the Admiral Hipper later the stem was extended and the chimney was given an essay. In addition, two further anti-aircraft laying equipment came on board.

Prinz Eugen
Heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen.

The Prinz Eugen had a longer hull, from the very beginning four anti-aircraft laying equipment, a chimney pot and a protruding stem. All ships of the class possessed bow and sides beads, a powerful torpedo weapon and a passive bow sonar.

They have been designed at a time when most countries did not build cruisers with 20.3 cm (8in) guns anymore, and so they were superior to the older designs in many ways. Undoubtedly, they were better than the first French cruisers built under the provisions of the Washington Treaty. But with the smaller, but better armored Algerie they would get into troubles. By approximately equal size, and only built a little later, the American Baltimore class carried heavier weapons, a thicker armor and with one plane more, she was clearly inferior. Especially disappointed in the drafting was the relatively small operation range, which turned out along with the trouble-prone machine installation as a major handicap when used as raiders, although Germany had built up a large network of tankers in the Atlantic.
Apart from these the cruisers could very well operate independently, they had a powerful main artillery (the Prinz Eugen scored before the battleship Bismarck hits on the British battle cruiser Hood) and an excellent guided anti-aircraft weaponry.

Lützow is towed to Leningrad
The unfinished heavy cruiser Lützow is towed in exchange for raw materials and food to Leningrad.

Following the signing of the Russo-German Pact of 1939, the last three units of the Hipper class (not yet finished) were proposed to sell to Russia in exchange for raw materials. After all, only the least advanced constructed Lützow was sold. The Prinz Eugen was completed according to the design, while Seydlitz should be converted to an aircraft carrier.

Germany had already launched down the 23,200 t large Graf Zeppelin and laid down a sister ship. Nevertheless, the Germans did not recognize the crucial importance that fell to the inclusion of an air component in the naval forces. Therefore, its construction went ahead only sporadically. As the loss of the Bismarck became clear how necessary were sea-based air forces, the work on Graf Zeppelin resumed and also began with the reconstruction of Seydlitz. At this time, however, the Allies had gained a great superiority at sea, and none of the carriers has ever been ready.


The main sorties of the Prinz Eugen in WW2:

  • June 1-2, 1940: receives two bomb hits.
  • April 23, 1941: damaged by mines.
  • May 18, 1941: went on the cruise along with Bismarck.
  • May 23, 1941: Prinz Eugen runs before Bismarck, while the German warships are shaded by the RN cruisers Suffolk and Norfolk.
  • May 24, 1941: Battle of Denmark Strait, the ship made the first hit in the British battlecruiser Hood. Prinz Eugen is sacked after the battle of Bismarck for independent operation in the Atlantic.
  • June 1, 1941 – February 11, 1942: stay at Brest.
  • 11 to 13 February 1942: Channel breakthrough with Battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, damaging the British destroyer Worcester.
  • 21 to 23 February 1942: transferred to Norway.
  • February 23, 1942: Torpedoed by the British submarine Trident; the rear was seriously damaged.
  • February-March 1942: emergency repairs in Norway.
  • May-October 1942: repair in Kiel, where a new tail is used.
  • May 1943 – Mai 1944: Fleet Training Squadron.
  • June 1944 – April 1945: fire support for ground units on the Baltic coast. On October 14, 1944, Leipzig is accidentally rammed.
  • April 1945: Relocation to Copenhagen.
  • May 9, 1945: Surrendered at Copenhagen. On December 13, 1945, the ship was delivered to the USA, transferred in January 1946 to North America, crossing in March the Panama Canal and is used on June 17 as a target ship at the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. On December 22, 1947, she is sunk in the Kwajalein lagoon.

Admiral Hipper participated in operations in the Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. From 1944 she was in the Baltic Sea. Damaged seriously by bombs, she was scuttled by her crew.
Norwegian coastal batteries sunk Blücher in the Oslo Fjord in 1940. Neither Lützow still Seydlitz (which was recovered by the Russians) were completed. Both ships were scrapped later.

Animated 3D Model of Blücher

Specifications for Admiral Hipper class


Prinz Eugen Specification
TypeHeavy cruiser
Displacement (standard) 14,475 t
Displacement (full loaded) 18,400 ts
Length over all 690.3 ft (210,4m); Hipper: 676 ft (206,4m)
Beam 71.85 ft (21,9m)
Draught 25.9 ft (7,9m)
Boiler 8 x Wagner
Maschinery 3-shaft singel steam turbines Brown & Boveri
Power 132,000 hp
Oil 4,252 t
Speed32 kts (sometimes 33.4 kn)
Range 5,500 nm at 18 kts
Crew 1,600


Prinz Eugen Specification
Main Armament 8 x 20.3cm (8in) guns
Secondary Armament 12 x 10.5cm (4.13in) guns
Anti-Aircraft 12 x 3.7cm ((1.46in) guns (1945 instead 18 x 1.57in); 8 x (1945: 28) 2cm (0.79in) guns
Aircraft 3

Armour Protection:

Prinz Eugenthickness
Protection side (belt) 70-80mm (2.76-3.15in)
Protection upper deck 12-30mm (0.47-1.18in)
Protection armour deck 20-50mm (0.79-1.97in)
Protection main artillery 70-105mm (2.76-4.13in)

Service statistics:

Ships:Admiral HipperBlücherPrinz Eugen
Built atBlohm & Voss (Hamburg)Deutsche Werke (Kiel)Germania-Werft (Kiel)
Laid down 1935 1936 1936
Launched Feb 6,1937 June 8,1937 Aug 22,1938
Completed 1938 1939 Aug 1,1938
Fate scuttled April 3, 1945 sunk April 19, 1940 sunk Dec 22, 1947

References and literature

Fighting Ships of the World (Antony Preston)
Kriegsschiffe von 1900 bis heute – Technik und Einsatz (Buch und Zeit Verlagsgesellschaft)
The Illustrated Directory of Warships from 1860 to the present day (David Miller)
Kriegsschiffe 1939-45 (Heyne-Bildpaperback)
Flotten des 2. Weltkrieges (Antony Preston)
Die Schlacht im Atlantik (Andrew Kershaw)
Seemacht – eine Seekriegsgeschichte von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Elmar B. Potter, Admiral Chester W.Nimitz)
The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II (Chris Bishop)
Aircraft Carriers of the World, 1940 to the Present – An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Roger Chesneau)

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