The Zerstörer (German word for Destroyer) 1934-class were the first German Destroyers built since World War 1. They were based on the same design principles as the torpedo boats, as those ships showed some serious problems after completion, which was partly caused by the fast naval construction programs after 1933. They were very bad seagoing ships, like most other German vessels they took over a high amount of water during heavy seas, making their forward artillery unusable. Further they showed a structural weakness since the hull started to bend in heavy seas and were burdened with heavy vibrations produced by the engines.

The engines were newly designed high pressure turbines that promised much but was disappointing once installed: maintenance was difficult and they caused excessive vibration. In addition, the class' range was limited (less than half of equivalent British ships) and they had limited magazine capacities (again half of the British equivalents). The ships were named after Imperial German Navy personnel killed in action during World War I.

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