Graf Spee '39

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Quick Overview

Captained by Hans Langsdorff, the Graf Spee was a successful commerce raider until a series of fateful decisions saw it engage British cruisers off the River Plate, an action that led to its crew scuttling the ship.

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The launch of the Deutschland class of warships marked a turning point for the Kriegsmarine and Germany as a whole.  While the rest of the world followed the dictates of the Washington Treaty, these vessels broke all rules imposed on Germany.  Though still relatively small in size, they were well armoured and carried the type of armament traditionally seen only on battleships.  It quickly became apparent that only another battleship could successfully defeat one in open combat and so the term ‘pocket battleship’ was coined to describe this new breed of warship.  Despite Germany’s protestations of the defensive role of these vessels, their size and armament made them superb commerce raiders.  Their fighting history was to become chequered.  While the Admiral Scheer successfully plied the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, disrupting merchant shipping wherever it went, the Admiral Graf Spee was famously cornered during the Battle of the River Plate and scuttled herself soon after.

Additional Information

MGP MGP40200

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