Gneisenau was a German ship described both as a battleship and a battle cruiser. She was the second vessel of her class. Her sister ship was the Scharnhorst. She was built in Kiel, laid down on 6 May 1935 and launched on 8 December 1936. The ship was armed with a main battery of nine 28cm C/34 guns in three triple turrets. Plans were approved, once construction had started, to replace her guns with six 38cm SK C/34 guns in twin turrets, but as involved a lot of redesign, construction continued with the lower caliber guns. The intent was to make the upgrade in the winter of 1940–41, but the outbreak of World War II stopped this.