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Z38 was a Type 1936A (Mob) destroyer built for the Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was laid down in 1941, and completed two years later. Her anti-aircraft armament was modified heavily under Project Barbara. She served with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla her entire time under German service, and spent much of her life escorting task forces, patrolling areas of sea, laying mines, and bombarding land forces. She served in the Baltic briefly in 1943, before being reassigned to the Arctic area around Norway from 1943 to 1945, and then serving in the Baltic again in 1945.

Z38's sister ship, Z39, underway under American control, 1945
Nazi Germany
Name: Z38
Ordered: 19 September 1939
Builder: Germaniawerft, Kiel
Yard number: G628
Laid down: 15 April 1940
Launched: 15 August 1941
Completed: 20 March 1943
Fate: Transferred to the Royal Navy in September 1945.
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Nonsuch
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Type 1936A (Mob) destroyer
Length: 127 m (416 ft 8 in) o/a
Beam: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)
Draft: 4 m (13 ft 1 in)
Installed power:
Speed: 38.5 knots (71.3 km/h; 44.3 mph)
Range: 2,293 nmi (4,247 km; 2,639 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)
Complement: 332

After the war, she was taken by the Royal Navy, renamed Nonsuch, the sixth ship of her name. She was used for extensive machinery trials, before being used to test a 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) charge, which broke her keel and flooded her. She was too damaged to refloat, and instead sold to Arnott Young & Co Ltd, on 8 November 1949, to be scrapped.

Design and armamentEdit

Z38 was 121.9 metres (400 ft) long at the waterline and 127 metres (417 ft) long overall, had a beam of 12 metres (39 ft), a freeboard of 6.6 metres (22 ft), and a draft of 4 metres (13 ft). She had a displacement of 3,083 long tons (3,132 t) at standard load, and 3,691 long tons (3,750 t) at full load. She had a complement of 332. She had 15 watertight compartments, and carried 825 tonnes (812 long tons; 909 short tons) of oil.[1][2][3]

Before her Project Barbara modifications, Z38 was armed with a twin 15-centimetre (5.9 in) L/48 gun in a turret forward (200 rounds of ammunition), three single 15 cm (5.9 in) L/48 guns in a gunhouse on her aft (600 rounds), ten 2 cm (0.8 in) (20,000 rounds), four 3.7 cm (1.5 in) anti-aircraft guns (8,000 rounds), two quadruple 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes, and 60 mines. After her modifications, she carried sixteen 2 cm guns and six 3.7 cm guns, and the rest of her armament was unchanged.[4][5][6]

Her propulsion system consisted of six Wagner boilers feeding high-pressure superheated steam (at 70 atm (1,029 psi; 7,093 kPa) and 450 °C (842 °F)) to two sets of Wagner geared steam turbines.[7][8] These gave the ship a rated power of 70,000 PS (51,000 kW; 69,000 shp), and a top speed of 38.5 knots (71.3 km/h; 44.3 mph). She had a range of 2,239 nautical miles (4,147 km; 2,577 mi), at her cruising speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph).[9][1][3]

Z38 was fitted with a FuMO 21 radar on her bridge, and four FuMB 4 Sumatra aerials were placed around the searchlight platform on her foremast.[10] She had a degaussing coil around her forecastle.[11]

Service historyEdit

Z38 was ordered on 19 September 1939; was laid down by Germaniawerft in Yard G628 in Kiel in 1941; was launched on 5 August 1941, and was commissioned on 20 March 1943.[12] Z38 was immediately assigned to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla.[13]

In August 1943 Z38 served as a practice torpedo retrieval boat for the training cruisers Nürnberg and Emden.[14] On 24 September Z38 travelled from Sassnitz to Trelleborg, to escort Lützow during Operation Hermelin, alongside German destroyers Z5 Paul Jacobi, Z14 Friedrich Ihn, Z15 Erich Steinbrinck, and Z27.[15]

On 22 October Z38 left Swinemünde for Kaafjord. On 25 December, a task force, under the command of Rear Admiral Erich Bey, made up of the German battleship Scharnhorst, and destroyers Z29, Z30, Z33, Z34, and Z38, were ordered to intercept Convoy JW.55A, which was made up of 19 ships.[13] On 26 December Bey formed a patrol line using his destroyers.[13] After ordering the destroyers back to base, Scharnhorst was located by British cruisers, who opened fire upon her. [16] During the ensuing Battle of North Cape, Scharnhorst was sunk by the British fleet, including the British battleship Duke of York.[13]

From 30 to 31 May 1944 Z29, Z33, Z34, and Z38 formed a patrol line between Bear Island and the North Cape.[17] Between 30 June and 1 July Z29, Z31, Z33, Z34, and Z38, sortied to Bear Island.[18] On 31 July German battleship Tirpitz, Z29, Z31, Z33, Z34, and Z38 sailed into the Arctic Ocean from Altafjord, for exercises.[19] From 21 to 31 October Z29, Z31, Z33, Z34, and Z38, covered the evacuation of the Mountain Corps Norway unit, from around Murmansk to Norway.[20] From 6 to 17 November Z31, Z33, Z34, and Z38 covered German forces retreating from Tanafjord.[21]

On 22 January 1945 Z31, Z34 and Z38, laid mines in Magerøya, Laafjord, and Brei Sounds.[22] On 25 January Z31, Z34, and Z38 sailed out of Tromsø, making for the Baltic.[14][23] On 28 January while off the Sognefjord the three destroyers were intercepted by a squadron of British ships, including the light cruisers Diadem, and Mauritius.[24] During the battle, one of Z38's funnels caught fire, splitting a boiler tube. After this Z38 broke off from the battle, and made for Kiel alongside Z34. Once there Z38 received 200 coastal artillerymen, to be taken to Gotenhafen.[25][26]

From 16 to 20 February Z34, Z38, T5, and T6 escorted the passenger liner Hamburg to Sassnitz. On 22 February Z38 escorted the German steamer Deutschland to Sassnitz. On 18 and 19 February Z38, alongside German cruiser Admiral Scheer, destroyer Z43, and minelayers T28 and T35, bombarded Soviet 39th Army positions, near Peyse and Gross-Heydekrug, on the south coast of Samland. On 23 February Z38, Z43, and T28 bombarded these locations again.[25][26] At one point during this, while between Königsberg and Fischhausen, Z38 and T8 became icebound, and were freed by tugs. From 4 to 6 March Z38 bombarded Soviet armour and positions near Wollin,[27][26] before taking refugees from Pillau to Gotenhafen. On 7 March Z35, Z38, and T28 escorted the steamship Pretoria to Copenhagen. On 13 March after returning to Gotenhafen Z38 bombarded Großendorf. For the rest of March Z38 was controlled by the Wehrmacht (German army), rather than the Kriegsmarine. On 4 April her upper deck was damaged in an air raid. On 5 April Z38 became involved in a battle off Oxhöfter Kämpe. On 9 April Z38 escorted German cruisers Lützow and Prinz Eugen from the Bay of Danzig to Swinemünde. From 28 April to 4 May Z38 helped defend the Dievenow channel of the Oder river.[26][28]

On 3 May Z38 and Z39 escorted the battleship Schlesien, which had hit a mine near Greifswalder Oie, to Swinemünde. On 4 May Z38 picked up refugees from Swinemünde, and made way for Copenhagen. On the same day, Z38 and T33 rescued the crew of the training ship Hektor, which had been heavily damaged in an air raid. On 7 May Z38 returned to Swinemünde and transported more refugees to Copenhagen. On 8 May Z6, Z10, Z14, Z20, Z25, Z38, Z39, T17, T19, T23, T28, and T33 set sail from Hela to Glücksburg, with 20,000 soldiers and civilians, arriving on May 9.[26][28] On 9 May Z38 arrived at Kiel, after delivering her War Diary to the commanding officer's house off of Flensburg Förde. On 8 May Z38 was decommissioned.[29] At some point after her decommissioning, Z38 was sailed by a mixed German and British crew to Wilhelmshaven, and then, on 6 July 1945 Z38 sailed for Portsmouth, to be used as a trial vessel. Her German crew remained on board until 22 September 1946.[29]

While in British service, Z38 was renamed Nonsuch, the eleventh of her name, and used for testing purposes. Z38 was originally given the pennant number R40, but this was later changed to D107. After arriving in England, Z38 was used for various trials and evaluations in the Firth of Clyde, before being laid up in the Portchester creek. In October 1946 it was decided that Z38 was to be commissioned for extensive machinery trials, at the same time as being used as an air target ship under the Commander-in-Chief, Rosyth. In January 1947 Z38 was at full complement, and expected to enter service in June of the same year, in order to relieve HMS Fernie as an air target ship. In September 1948 Z38 was scheduled to be paid off into a reserve fleet, after her trials were finished in mid-October.[30]

In December of that year, it was decided that Z38 would be scrapped, after showing off her auxiliary machinery to British shipbuilders, and removing certain equipment. However, in March 1949 Z38 was instead used for ship target trials, replacing Kimberley. After this decision was made, Z38 was disarmed and then towed to Loch Striven. In October 1949, Z38 was placed over a 500-kilogram (1,100 lb) charge, which was then detonated. The explosion threw up a plume of water that was 250 feet (76 m) high, and broke her keel approximately 1.6 seconds after the explosion. Her second boiler room flooded almost immediately, and the other two gradually filled with water.[31][29] Z38 was then beached,[30] and after inspection shown to be too damaged to refloat, and so it was decided that Z38 was to be handed over directly to shipbreakers while still beached.[32]

On 8 November 1949 Z38 was sold to Arnott Young & Co Ltd for scrapping.[33] By August 1950, the shipbreakers had removed the damaged section, and refloated her after-end. The after-end was taken to the breakers yard in Dalmuir for further inspection, but the fore-end was broken up as it was laid on the beach.[32][33]



  1. ^ a b Showell 2009, p. 165.
  2. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 26.
  3. ^ a b Gröner 1990, p. 204.
  4. ^ Whitley 1991, p. 75.
  5. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 34.
  6. ^ Gröner 1990, p. 203.
  7. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, pp. 42–42.
  8. ^ Lenton 1975, p. 75.
  9. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, pp. 27 & 75.
  10. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 40.
  11. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 33.
  12. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 24.
  13. ^ a b c d Rohwer 2005, p. 293.
  14. ^ a b Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 117.
  15. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 277.
  16. ^ Garzke & Dulin 1985, p. 170.
  17. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 328.
  18. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 339.
  19. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 345.
  20. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 365.
  21. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 372.
  22. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 388.
  23. ^ Whitley 1991, p. 172.
  24. ^ Koop & Schmolke 2003, pp. 117–118.
  25. ^ a b Rohwer 2005, p. 387.
  26. ^ a b c d e Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 119.
  27. ^ Rohwer 2005, p. 395.
  28. ^ a b Rohwer 2005, p. 414.
  29. ^ a b c Koop & Schmolke 2003, p. 118.
  30. ^ a b Whitley 1991, pp. 193 & 194.
  31. ^ Whitley 1991, p. 193.
  32. ^ a b Whitley 1991, p. 194.
  33. ^ a b Whitley 1991, p. 207.


  • Garzke, William H.; Dulin, Robert O. (1985). Battleships: Axis and Neutral Battleships in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-101-0.
  • Gröner, Erich (1990). German Warships: 1815–1945. Volume 1: Major Surface Warships. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-790-6.
  • Koop, Gerhard & Schmolke, Klaus-Peter (2003). German Destroyers of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-307-9.
  • Lenton, H. T. (1975). German Warships of the Second World War. London: Macdonald and Jane's. ISBN 978-0356-04661-7.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-119-8.
  • Showell, Jak Mallmann (2009). Hitler's Navy: A Reference Guide to the Kriegsmarine 1935–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-78346-451-7.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1991). German Destroyers of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-302-2.

External linksEdit