The reborn German Navy ("Kriegsmarine") of the 1930s laid down a total of five warships in the Admiral Hipper-class standard. These were heavy cruisers by classification, developed during the period free of the restrictions put in place by the Versailles Treaty that followed World War 1 (1914-1918) - thanks in large part to the Nazi party now in control. The group consisted of Admiral Hipper herself (as the lead ship), Blucher and Prinz Eugen. Two other warships, Seydlitz and Lutzow, were intended to join their sisters but the former was set aside for conversion to an aircraft carrier (which was not completed) and the latter was sold in its unfinished state to the Soviets.
The newer class was used by the Kriegsmarine to succeed the Deutschland-class of which three were built from 1929 to 1936. On the whole, the Admiral Hipper-class ships were very similar in terms of machinery, protection scheme and armament suite to the warships they followed into service.
Blucher was named after Gebard Leberecht von Blucher (1742-1819), the Battle of Waterloo hero, and followed the original SMS blucher of the World War 1 period into service (this particular vessel was lost in January of 1915). The resurrected Blucher displaced 17,820 tons under standard load and up to 18,500 tons under full loads. Overall length reached 665.3 feet with a beam measuring 70 feet and a draught down to 24 feet. Power was from 3 x Blohm und Voss steam-based engines developed 132,000 horsepower to drive three-shafts under stern. The warship could make headway at speeds up to 32 knots with a range out to 6,800 nautical miles (these performance specifications were very similar to that of the Deutschland-class mentioned earlier).
Aboard was a crew of 42 officer and 1,340 enlisted personnel. Armor protection reached 4.1" at the primary turrets, 3" at the belt, 2" at the conning tower and nearly 2" along the main deck. There were facilities to support the launching (single catapult) and retrieval of a trio of Arado Ar 196 floatplane aircraft (detailed elsewhere on this site) - these aircraft used to provide a critical eye-in-the-sky function for both artillery-spotting and reconnaissance. Two Ar 96 aircraft were typically carried.
Armament was led by 8 x 8" main guns set in four twin-gunned turrets. This was backed by 12 x 4.1" SK C/33 secondary "Dual-Purpose" (DP) guns and 12 x 1.5" SK C/30 guns. Close-in work would be handled by 8 x 20mm C/30 Anti-Aircraft (AA) guns. 12 x 533mm (21") torpedo launchers were installed for good measure and these were in four triple-tube mountings located at the corners of the primary hull superstructure.
Blucher saw her keel laid down in August of 1936 and she was launched in June of 1937. She was readied just in time for service in World War 2 when hostilities broke out in September of 1939 (the German invasion of neighboring Poland). Her profile involved two primary turrets set at the forecastle and two set aft. The bridge superstructure was aft of the forward pairing and the main mast works were positioned aft of this structure. The smoke funnel protruded upwards near midships with the second mast positioned next. The aft-superstructure ran behind the secondary mast and ahead of the aft primary turret pairing. Floatplane aircraft were positioned at midships.
In April of 1940, Blucher was part of the German invasion force attempting to subdue Norway once Hitler's attention had turned from his conquests of mainland Europe to Scandinavia. She was assigned as flagship and led the German warships into Oslo waters in the late hours on April 8th. However, her wartime luck was quick to run out for Norwegian coastal fort guns, coupled with land-based torpedo attacks, did her in as she took on severe damage. With fires raging, the magazine stores inevitably ignited and destroyed the ship - she went down where she sat on April 9th, 1940, a victim of what came to be recognized as the Battle of Drobak Sound. As many as 1,000 personnel went down with her. While a tremendous victory for the defending Norwegians, the Germans paid a terrible price for their invasion attempt - which ultimately proved successful in the end regardless.