GRAF SPEE

14″ by 19″    Acrylic on board

The Graf Spee and her two sister ships were a clever solution to the restrictive condition imposed upon Germany’s navy by the Versailles Treaty.   This limited her ships to !0,000 tons and guns no larger than 11″.   This resulted in the so-called ‘pocket battleships’ although the Germans never called them by this name, they preferred ‘panzerschiffe’ or armoured cruiser.   The armour and speed was that of a heavy cruiser, their long range endurance was achieved by diesel engines, the first (and last) to be mounted in a large warship. But the most startling aspect of this design was her six 11″ battleship guns mounted on a cruiser hull. They were perfect commerce raiders and in the weeks prior to the outbreak of war they were dispatched with their supply ships to the north and south Atlantic ready to prey on the merchant ships of their enemies.   Shortly after the outbreak of war, merchant ships started to disappear and the Royal Navy started to hunt for the raiders, tracking Graf Spee to the River Plate and after a brilliantly fought battle by Commodore Harwood and his three cruisers, the Graf Spee sought sanctuary in Montevideo before being blown up by her crew.