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Panzerschiff D, Ersatz Elsass (Estraz Elsaß) The Project At a conference in Berlin on March 9, 1933, it was decided that the new capital ships should be built to counter "Dunkerque". The first calculations showed the need for a 320mm armored belt that could withstand 330 mm of armor-piercing shells from a distance of more than 18,000m and a thick armored deck that was supposed to stop these projectiles at distances over 25,000m. The limits of displacement did not fit and the requirements were reduced. The ship's design was altered to withstand the hits of 330mm high-explosive and 203mm armor-piercing shells. To do this, a 220mm belt and 80mm deck was implemented. In response to the growing danger of aircraft, the armored deck was to be at least 50mm. Discussions on the main caliber basically came down to a search for a compromise between better armor penetration and destructive impact. Destructive impact on one hand and rate of fire on the other. Then it was considered that nine 283mm guns are better than six 330mm guns, and the transition to a larger caliber is justified if at least eight barrels can be placed. Only 283mm turrets were available, and all the others had to be designed, tested, and put into production. Admiral Raeder did not intend, like Admiral von Tirpitz, to build his naval policy on a direct call to British naval power but considered it more important to counter French shipbuilding programs. He permitted the construction of 4th and 5th of the Deutschland type, designated "D" and "E" but only with enhanced protection while maintaining a displacement limit of 19,000 tons and armament from six 283mm guns in two turrets. In December 1933, they returned to the issue of the main armament caliber. The budget allowed for the development of a new 330mm gun but in an attempt to win the favor of the British, Raeder again decided to return to the 305mm caliber. A month later, such a long wait for the development of these armaments was considered unreasonable, and on January 25, 1934, the military shipyard in Wilhelmshaven and Deutsche Werke in Kiel received orders for the construction. History and Construction The ships were designed under the contract names D and E, and designed under the provisional names Ersatz Elsass and Ersatz Hessen. The contract for the first ship, D, was awarded on 25 January 1934 to the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven. The ship's keel was laid on 14th of February, 1934. Early that year, France announced the second ship of the Dunkerque class, Strasbourg. And retaliatory measures were taken. Hitler gave the go-ahead for adding the third turret and increasing the displacement to 26,000 tons. However, construction was stopped on July 5, and further redesigning began, which could not be completed before October 1935. Construction on D was therefore halted on 5 July, and E was never laid down. Soon, it preferred a more familiar scheme with two turrets in the nose, one at the stern. (The final design submitted to Admiral Raeder as 'Neuentwurf II') Some suggested that the project should be able to complete the replacement of the triple 283mm turrets with twin 330mm or 380mm turrets. As for the machinery, the sympathies tended to favor turbines and high-temperature boilers to provide a speed of 30 knots. The construction contracts were soon canceled and resources reallocated for the more powerful Scharnhorst class (Neuentwurf I). The last requirements of Estraz Elsaß before construction was halted included a 28-knot continuous speed & 30-knot full speed, protection from 330-mm guns in the range of 15,000 to 20,000 meters, anti-fragmentation protection of the extremities, three turrets of 283mm caliber (one in the nose and two in the stern), four-twin 15cm guns due to the absence of torpedo tubes. (Eventually two turrets in the nose, one at the stern) The ship's upper deck armor was 35mm thick. The main armored deck was 70mm forward, 80mm amidships, and decreased to 70mm towards the stern. The conning tower side armor was 300mm thick. The main armored belt was 220mm thick and the citadel armor was 50mm thick. Important Note: The 30.5cm gun that Admiral Erich Raeder wanted was actually completely designed as 30.5 cm/56 (12") SK C/39. However, not put into production. It was to use the modernized 30.5cm APC L/4.9 shell but at 865mps instead of 850mps with 30.5 cm SK L/50. Actual barrel length was 55.74 calibers. Final Specifications Displacement: 26,000 tons (Initially about 20,000 tons) Length: 230 m (750 ft) Beam: 25.5 m (84 ft) Speed: 29 knots (Initially 30 knots) Armament: 9 x 28cm SK C/28 (Same guns as Graf Spee) (Initially 6 x 28cm SK C/28) 8 × 15cm/55 SK C/28 guns (4 × 2) 8 x 10.5cm/65 SK C/33 (4 x 2) (Some sources including the design layout state that the ship was initially planned to mount 10 x 8.8 cm SK C/31 (4 x 2) but that this was changed to 10.5cm guns after the redesign.)