The two battleships, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, were commissioned into the German fleet by early 1939. Early trials showed that both ships were heavy forward and were very wet (meaning they took a lot of water over the forward deck up to the bridge), so both got a new angled “Atlantic bow” that helped mitigate the problem. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau operated together for much of the early portion of World War II, including sorties into the Atlantic to raid British merchant shipping and the invasion of Norway. After Operation Cerberus, Scharnhorst was sent to Norway to interdict the convoys to Russia. In December 1943 Scharnhorst tried to engage Convoy JW 55B, but was caught by the Royal Navy escorts and sunk (see Battle of North Cape). Gneisenau was also slated to go to Norway, but was severely damaged in a bombing raid. She spent the rest of the war in repairs (there were plans to re-arm her with 15 in guns) and was eventually sunk as a blockship.
For model assembly, I built both kits straight out of the box. Because the ships underwent several modifications, the models don’t exactly reflect how each ship appeared during Operation Cerberus.
The Gneisenau model probably represents the ship around mid-1940, based on the fact that the floatplane catapult is still on the aft turret. By the time of the Channel Dash, Gneisenau had radar and two triple torpedo tubes installed, along with additional temporary light AA for the operation. I probably should have removed the aft turret catapult, but it does give another good way to differentiate the ships.
|Port view of Gneisenau|
|From a different angle|
|A closer view of the superstructure camouflage|
|Scharnhorst profile view|
|A view of the aft side|
|A closer view of the Scharnhorst's superstructure|
|Sisters, but not twins|
|Gneisenau on the left and Scharnhorst on the right|
|All the German ships for the Channel Dash game (back to front: Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, Prinz Eugen, Z-7,Type 24 torpedo boat and two S-boats)|
|A slightly different angle (back to front: Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, Prinz Eugen, Z-7,Type 24 torpedo boat and two S-boats)|