The warships of the World War II era German Navy are among the most popular subject in naval history with an almost uncountable number of books devoted to them. However, for a concise but authoritative summary of the design history and careers of the major surface ships it is difficult to beat a series of six volumes written by Gerhard Koop and illustrated by Klaus-Peter Schmolke. Each contains an account of the development of a particular class, a detailed description of the ships, with full technical details, and an outline of their service, heavily illustrated with plans, battle maps and a substantial collection of photographs.
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the subject of this volume, were the product of a long, involved and politically determined design process that saw them develop from an improved Pocket Battleship to what many described as a battlecruiser, although they were really fast battleships. They were the most active, and successful, of the Kriegesmarine's major warships, taking part in numerous famous operations, including the infamous 'Channel Dash'.