Mouse in the Gneisenau

Let’s try something a little different.  The following is a preview of one of the new German Battleships.  Though the stats discussed in this article were drawn from the client right before they went live, please be aware that they may be different with the final release.  You never know.  Now, with that out of the way, let’s begin.
The Tier 7 German Scharnhorst-class Battleship
Quick Summary:  A ridiculously versatile Battleship limited only by her small number of guns.  She is very fast, armed with quick reloading 380mm rifles and has the same torpedoe load-out as the Scharnhorst.  Combined with great AA power, secondaries and armour, she’s one of the most powerful ships, tier for tier, in the German tech-tree.
Patch & Date Written:  August 16th, 2016.
Premium Ship Shortcuts

Closest Premium Ship: Scharnhorst
Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique

A rarity in World of Warships, the in-game tech-tree ship isn’t named for the lead of her class but rather the second vessel that was launched. This might be understandable in the Gneisenau’s case as some people still debate which ship was the lead. Still, it should be unsurprising that these two ships are very similar. There are pronounced differences between the two however, including her anti-aircraft compliment, secondary armament, main battery armament, speed, handling and durability.

The Scharnhorst, while not a perfect replacement for the Gneisenau, will give you a taste of what this ship has to offer and can be considered a viable shortcut for those not wanting to grind out the tree. There’s room for both in my port, though.

  • Heavy armour scheme with thick belt armour and  turtleback which protects her machinery spaces.
  • Nice gun handling on her 380mm guns with 5′ turret rotation speed and a good range of 19.5km.
  • Good rate of fire on her primary battery with a 26s reload.
  • Guns feel nice and punchy at her tier, with 11,600 AP damage.
  • Heavy secondary gun battery compliment with 5.0km stock range.
  • Has torpedoes (!)
  • Excellent AA defense with great range.
  • Very fast with a top speed of 32.0 knots.


  • Has only six primary guns, resulting in very low DPM.
  • HE shell is rather lacking at only 4,400 damage even with a 34% chance to start fires.
  • Guns share the normal wonky dispersion found on other German Battleship  rifles.
  • Enormous turning circle of 830m combined with a sluggish rudder shift of 14.7s
  • Rather larger surface detection range of 15.7km
The Gneisenau’s primary weakness is the small number of primary battery guns.  This has prompted many to dub her the Tier 7 Myogi.  However, the Gneisenau is arguably one of the most interesting and powerful ships in the new German Battleship line.
Compared to the Tier 6 Bayern
Coming from the Bayern, there are three shocking developments that will immediately come to your attention when you first play the Gneisenau.
  • The first is that you’re downgrading your primary firepower. Even with the faster reload, the Gneisenau has less DPM than the already anemic batteries of the Bayern. This will be a grave disappointment for many.
  • The second is that you have torpedoes. Originally the providence of just the Tirpitz and Scharnhorst, the Gneisenau is the first research-available Battleship to have deck mounted torpedoes.
  • The third feature that will surprise (and delight you) is her speed. The Gneisenau is fast — one of the fastest ships of her type found in the game at any tier.

As Lert would be fond of saying, the Bayern is a Brick. The Gneisenau is a sleek hunter-killer. Gameplay wise, they share some traits. Both are similarly well armoured. They have a similar gun armament. They both have ferocious secondaries. But there are some very obvious differences too. The Gneisenau is a monstrous AA platform, rivaling the Colorado for the sheer amount of lead she can throw into the air — something with which the Bayern struggled. But that vaunted speed the Gneisenau gains over the Bayern makes her awkward in a turn. You lose the wonderful agility of the Bayern to go faster in a straight line.

The Gneisenau will not replace the Bayern. She’s a completely different animal. She’s not a series of upgrades over her predecessor, she deviates completely onto a different research track with a bold new design and way of playing.
There are no real surprises when it comes to the options for the Gneisenau.  She is the first German Battleship capable of launching aircraft and you have the choice between both a Spotter Aircraft and a Float Plane Fighter.   The tier 7 German Float Plane Fighter is superior to the American but inferior to the Japanese.  She comes with 1390 survivability and does 55dps (compared to the 1140 / 42 of the USN and 1420 / 55 of the IJN).
Consumables: Three slots
  • Damage Control Party
  • Repair Party
  • Your choice of a Spotting Aircraft or Float Plane Fighter.

Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard German options.
Camouflage:  The Gneisenau does not have any form of premium camouflage available at present.

Primary Battery: 380mm guns in 3×2 turrets in an A-B-X arrangement.
Secondary Battery: 128mm guns in 11×2 turrets
Torpedoes: 533mm G7aT1 torpedoes in 2×3 launchers, one on each side amidships.
The Gneisenau is armed with the same 380mm L52 guns found on the Tirpitz and Bismarck.  These have improved performance over the 380mm found on the Bayern, including the same accelerated reload found on the Bismarck-sisters.  At 5′ per second turret rotation, they handle very well and can follow most targets even while the ship is in a turn.   She can overmatch 26mm of armour or less and, at medium to short ranges, punch clean through the bow sections of any Battleship at her tier or lower when head on.  Finally, with a range of 19.5km she has a very comfortable reach for her tier.
The marked disadvantage for the Gneisenau, however, is that she only mounts six of these weapons.  This constitutes a significant DPM disadvantage for this ship and gives her worse overall damage potential than the tier 5 Kongo-class.  In addition, the dispersion values of the German 380mm guns are not kind and it’s not uncommon to see shots dispersing over wide trajectories from the point at which you aimed.  As such, these guns perform best up close.
 To compensate for her smaller primary battery compliment, the Gneisenau has torpedo launchers.  These are the same triple launchers found on the Scharnhorst, firing the G7aT1 torpedo found on most of the German cruiser line and the German premium Battleships.  With a 6.0km range, 64 knot top speed and a warhead that strikes for 13,700 damage, this gives the Gneisenau a fearsome bite at close range.  In addition, when upgraded she is armed with eleven twin-gunned 128mm, dual purpose secondaries.  These fire 12rpm, have a 5.0km range but only a modest 5% chance to start fires per shell.  With five turrets per side and one turret mounted on the center line facing aft, this can generate a telling broadside of supporting fire when you close range with enemies.
 The Gneisenau puts her 380mm AP shells clean through the bow of an enemy Furutaka, easily overmatching the thin armour present there.

Top Speed: 32.0 knots.
Turning Radius: 830m
Rudder Shift: 14.7s

 The Gneisenau is very quick.  She boasts one of the highest top speeds of any Battleship presently in the game with only the Iowa capable of catching her.  This speed should be a nightmare for certain ship types that need to keep the Gneisenau at arm’s length to ensure their survival. Her speed allows her to largely dictate the engagement range, being able to close with and deliver her powerful close range armaments when she chooses.
Still, her speed isn’t without its cost.  Her long, sleek hull gives her an enormous turning radius of 830m.  When combined with a 14.7s rudder shift time, she cannot respond to sudden threats quickly.  Destroyers and torpedo armed ships should take full advantage of this.  The Gneisenau cannot begin or reverse her direction quickly.


Hit Points: 58,200
Citadel Protection: Up to 350mm + turtleback
Bow Armour: 25mm (immunity to 356mm rifles)
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 22%

The Gneisenau mirrors the excellent armour durability of the Scharnhorst with thick belt armour and a reinforced turtleback layer to help protect her machinery spaces.  She does not echo the Bismarck-class with their 32mm of bow armour so direct head-on attack angles should only be used against Battleships with 356mm rifles or smaller.  When angled, even the 410mm shells will bounce off her waterline, so try and position yourself about 15′ to 25′ when making approach vectors towards these ships.  While you are largely safe from citadel penetrations at medium to close ranges, you will receive a lot of penetrating hits when your broadside is exposed, so be careful.
She has a healthy amount of hit points for her tier — considerably better than the Colorado but still well behind the Nagato by almost 7,000hp.
Formed up into a wolfpack, the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst charged this Nagato from each side, putting shell and torpedo into either flank and disabling her quickly.  The Gneisenau burns from secondary fire from the Japanese battleship while her sister-ship took the brunt of the Super-Dreadnought’s primary battery fire.
The Stock Grind:
The Gneisenau has a very pleasant upgrade path and there’s no need to spend free experience to unlock modules to make her playable. She has three elements to upgrade: her Hull, her Rangefinder and her Engines. The Hull upgrade is mandatory and required to unlock the Bismarck and continue research through the higher tiers.
  • We’ll start with the simplest upgrades. Stock, she has a 17.8km range which should be more than adequate given her playstyle. If you find this chaffing, you can use her Spotter Aircraft consumable to temporarily prop up this range for short intervals until you earn enough experience. With the upgrade, her range jumps by 10% to 19.5km.
  • With her stock engines, her speed isn’t bad. It’s still faster than any of the contemporary Battleships with the exception of the premium Scharnhorst. At 28.8 knots, she has long enough legs to keep up with the flow of battle and flex where needed. The new propulsion system jumps from 125,000hp to 160,000 horsepower and gives the Gneisenau her ability to sprint with a maximum speed of 32.0 knots.
  • Lastly, there’s her hull. Unlike other ships, this isn’t a massive overhaul. The primary difference is the change of her secondary gun compliment. Stock, the Gneisenau has a secondary and AA compliment very similar to the Scharnhorst which is already quite good. This new upgrade does away with the 105mm and 150mm dual purpose and secondary guns and replaces them with a homogeneous load out of new 128mm dual purpose guns. These guns are the same as found on the T1 Hermelin. This upgrades her AA power from Scharnhorst levels (good) to beyond Colorado levels (amazing). In addition, you get a nice shot in the arm with 7,300 extra hit points.

Concealment & Camouflage

Surface Detection Range: 15.7km
Air Detection Range:
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 
Concealment Penalty while Firing: 

 The Scharnhorst is one of the first German Battleships with a truly enormous surface detection range.  It isn’t worth heavily investing in concealment options for this vessel or the ships that proceed her.  You may as well try and bail the ocean out with a teaspoon as try and hide these things.  The question in both cases is “Where would you put it?”
Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers: 127mm, 37mm, 20mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.2km, 3.5km, 2.0km
AA DPS per Aura: 136 / 62 / 92
This should be a pleasant surprise for many.  The Gneisenau has excellent AA power.  Combined, she has a total of 290dps — most of it found in the very long ranged, 5.2km 128mm dual purpose secondaries.  This provides the Gneisenau with some phenomenal versatility.  She can be upgraded to perform an AA picket duty if you so choose, helping protect some of the other Battleships by simple proximity.  This does create the option of specializing your Gneisenau as an anti-aircraft vessel if you so choose.  For those who want a little payback against enemy carriers for the torment you’ve endured, this is a cathartic vessel to do it in.
Fully upgraded, you can get her 128mm guns throwing 362dps at a range of 7.49km against targets you manually target.  Tell me that’s not appealing?
The wicked sisters, dressed in matching camouflage.  Though everyone will point to the difference of their guns, there are other changes between the two.  When fully upgraded, the Gneisenau is faster, with better AA power and she has more hit points than the Scharnhorst.

Overall Impressions

Skill FloorSimple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Like many Battleships, the Gneisenau has a rather gentle learning curve.  It’s easy enough to hop into her and begin shooting at enemies and tanking damage.  The addition of her torpedo weapon systems doesn’t complicate matters overmuch.  Her great top speed makes her able to flex and will help mitigate a player mistake where they’re not paying close enough attention to the minimap.  In addition, her great AA will make her a thorny target for same or lower tiered CVs.  Her small number of main battery guns and her awful handling keeps this ship from being “Simple”.
Skill Ceiling:  Low / Moderate / High / Extreme
There’s quite a bit of challenge to getting the most out of the Gneisenau.  To truly excel at her, you need patience and a keen awareness of your surroundings.  She does the most damage if she can get in close to enemy targets.  And while durable, she’s not invincible.  Facing multiple opponents is a quick way to be sent to the bottom.  So it pays to be able to look for opportunities and pounce upon them when they’re apparent.  Still, she has a Battleship’s durability and that nice, tough German armour which may save you when you blunder.
If you keep her at range all game, you won’t get the damage totals you need.  Go in too close, too soon and you’ll get sunk.  Therein lies the challenge.
Mouse’s Summary:
  • An incredibly versatile ship, hampered only by her small number of guns.
  • Like the Scharnhorst, she’s an opportunistic brawler with backup weapons to clinch a fight.
  • Fast as all get out and tough like an old boot when properly used.
  • Dies like a stuck pig, flailing uselessly when you botch an approach.

I thought the Bayern was going to be my favourite ship of those researched from the Battleship line.  The Gneisenau surprised me.  And she surprised me twice.  The first surprise was how different she felt from the Scharnhorst.  Even with all of her similarities, the difference in her primary armament and the subtle nuances between the two sisters makes them feel very distinct.  That was a pleasant shock.  The second was how much I enjoyed her despite having only six guns.

 The Gneisenau is an excellent ship.  But she’s going to make you work for the damage she puts out.  Wracking up 100,000 totals can be done, and done readily, but you need to be planning out how you’re going to accomplish it.  Charging in will just get you killed.  Her fish are good, but not that good.  A full broadside of torpedoes might earn you 30,000 extra damage off of a Battleship which is only enough to gut, not kill one.  So you need to do work with your guns beforehand.  You need to find isolated or half-beaten prey and run them down.
One of the real dangers this ship presents is how well she supports other vessels.  She can (almost) keep pace with destroyers, flexing to an early cap point to scare the pants off a cruiser hoping for an easy meal on a DD.  She can play the soak-vessel for cruisers, tanking damage to allow them to return fire and whittle down an enemy with focused attacks.  She can provide AA and fire support for a Battleship, helping create a no-fly zone around her friendly super-dreadnought.
For me, the greatest pleasure was teaming her up with her sister ship, Scharnhorst and forming a fearsome wolfpack of two high-speed Battleships and charging into the same number of enemy Dreadnoughts with guns blazing and torpedoes in the water.  They didn’t stand a chance.
 With a 2.0 knot advantage over her sister ship, a fully upgraded Gneisenau can overtake the Scharnhorst with ease.
Compared to the Tier 8 Bismarck:
When you leave the Gneisenau behind, you’re getting a very powerful ship in the form of the Bismarck. In many respects, she’s a straight upgrade. Her speed is similar and so is her handling. Her firepower is a straight improvement, keeping the same gun handling and reload but gaining an extra two-gun turret and a slight boost in range. Her secondaries, while not the vaunted 128mm of the Gneisenau have a deadly 7.0km base range. Most impressively, she gains durability. The Bismarck has 32mm of bow armour and a 50mm armoured deck which will allow her to tank 380mm & 410mm rounds bow on — something the Gneisenau could never do.
There’s a slight cost, though. You lose your torpedoes, for one. That knock out blow in close quarters has disappeared. But you really won’t miss them.
The Bismarck also gains access to two important abilities. The first, she has the 5th module upgrade slot which should be put towards Target Acquisition System Modification 1 and then combined with her new consumable: Hydroacoustic Search. This allows the Bismarck to approach into close quarters with more confidence than any other Battleship before her. For a brawler, this is a safety net which lets her do what she does best with confidence and the Gneisenau can only wish she had access to both.
The Bismarck probably won’t replace the Gneisenau for some even with these improvements.

Outfitting the Gneisenau

Recommended Modules

Like her sister ship, the manner in which you choose to equip your Gneisenau will affect how flexible she can be.

  • For your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 is (still) the only one worth taking Like the Scharnhorst, you can’t afford to be losing your turrets.  Your guns will be taking a lot of hits, so buff up their durability.
  • For the second slot, the best choice will always be Aiming Systems Modification 1 as this improves the performance of your main battery, along with providing a small increase to your secondaries and the handling of your torpedoes.
    However, if you want to emphasize your secondaries, Secondary Battery Modification 2 will give them a big boost. With a combination of Captain Skills, you can make your secondaries rather frightening.
    Alternatively, I could also recommend AA Guns Modification 2 if you really hate carriers.  Trust me, this one is funny but you’re going to have to invest in some other AA buffs with your Captain Skills to make sure they get the punchline.
  • For your third slot, they’re all terrible! No, really. Pick whatever you want. I usually take Damage Control System Modification 1. It’s not that good, but none of the choices really are.
  • Lastly, for your final slot, you again have the choice. I prefer Damage Control System Modification 2 to help reduce the duration of fires. I find this helps take the strain off my Damage Control Party consumable. However, Steering Gears Modification 2 isn’t a bad choice either to reduce her rudder shift time.  Keep in mind, even with this steering mod, your agility is only going to go from “barfy face” to “boogers hanging from their nose face”.  It’s still gross.  Just not sympathetic vomit inducing.

Recommended Consumables

As a Battleship, I have to stress taking a premium version of her Damage Control Party. This keeps the same immunity period of 15s but it reduces the reset timer from 120s to 80s. I also find value in the premium version of her Repair Party to reduce the reset timer for similar reasons.  For her plane consumable, I would recommend her Spotter Aircraft over her Float Plane Fighter.  Your guns perform alright at a distance and the extra reach is welcome, particularly in some of the highest tiered matches.  Still, the latter is nice for helping disrupt attack formations and can be worthwhile for a Captain wanting to specialize in AA power.

For camouflage, I wouldn’t spend much in the way of credits on this and stick with the disruption type (Type 2).

Recommended Captain Skills

You should choose Captain Skills that will compliment the modules you have selected.  If you’re keeping a Captain over from the Bayern and plan to move her onto the Bismarck, I would strongly recommend skills that specialize either her primary or secondary gun batteries.

  • For the first tier,  Basic Fire Training is important.  All German Battleships have excellent secondaries and the Gneisenau is no different.  This will also boost your AA power for those looking for an AA build.   Basics of Survivability is also well worthwhile to help reduce damage caused by fire and flooding.
  • At the second tier,  Expert Marksman is your best choice.  If you’re keeping a dedicated brawling Captain for the Gneisenau, you may also consider Torpedo Armament Expertise which will get her torpedo reload down to 61.2s… which is insane.
  • At the third tier, you’ve got a choice. Superintendent looks nice on the surface as it will give you an extra charge of your Repair Party, but you’re unlikely to ever need more than 3 to 4 charges per battle. Vigilance is nice to help spot incoming torpedoes. High Alert is also highly desirable to reduce your Damage Control Party reset timer from 120s / 80s down to 108s / 72s.  Any of these three are very good choices and it’s really up to personal preferences.
  • There are, again, two good skills to grab at tier 4. Advanced Fire Training is hands down, the best choice.  This will increase the range of both your secondary gun batteries and your AA guns.  If you are making a dedicated AA ship, get this skill first.  Then afterwards, save up for Manual Fire Control for AA Armament because you hate carriers sooo much.
  • There’s are two skills worth considering at tier 5.  For AA ships, short of training a 19pt Captain, if you double up on tier 4 skill you won’t have access to these.  Jack of All Trades helps increase the durability of your Gneisenau by reducing the reset timer on your Repair Party and Damage Control Party.  Personally, I prefer Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament, which increases the accuracy of your secondaries by 60% when you manually target a ship.

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