The Admiral Hipper, and destroyers Paul Jakobi, Theodor Riedel, Bruno Heinemann, and Friedrich Eckholdt formed No. 2 Warship Group that was to carry the 138th Gebirgsjäger Regiment to take Trondheim. They sailed on April 7 with No. 1 Warship Group which included the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst.
In the morning of April 8, 1940 the Blücher sailed for Norway with the Lützow and Emden. The HMS Triton (submarine) saw them and fired a torpedo at the Blücher while passing through Kattegat and Skagerrak.
The ships arrived in Oslofjord around midnight and were lit up by Norwegian searchlights. Initially no shots were fired but that soon changed when a warning shot was fired and the navigation lights turned off.
Blücher offloaded her infantry to the escorting ships at 12:46 AM. Then at 4:40 AM the searchlights were back on and at 5:21 AM shore batteries at Oskarsborg opened fire. Several hits were scored and the Blücher tried to get past the batteries.
At 5:30 AM two torpedoes hit the Blücher. The Norwegian batteries stopped firing at 5:34 AM as they couldn't traverse enough to bring the Blücher into their sights.
Seeing the damage done on the Blücher, the Lützow reversed course.
Fires raged on the Blücher out of control with ammunition from the infantry troops and her own magazines started to explode.
The crew was ordered to abandon ship and the Blücher rolled over at 7:30 AM.
Surprise was lost when a Swedish warship reported seeing the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen on May 20, 1941, and the British heard the message.
On May 21, 1941, British aircraft sighted the pair in Kalvenes Bay.
On May 22, 1941, the destroyer escort was sent back and the two warships went on alone.
On May 23, 1941, the pair rounded Iceland headed through the Denmark Strait. The HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk sighted them on radar, the mist was very heavy, but shell fire made them keep their distance.
On May 24, 1941, the pair detected British ships on hydrophone and assumed they were still the cruisers but they were in fact the HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales. Hood opened fire at the Prinz Eugen 5:53 AM. Prinz Eugen fired a broadside back and on the third salvo made hits.
Prinz Eugen then started firing on the Prince of Wales and the Bismarck started firing on the Hood. A direct hit was scored on the Hood and at 6:01 AM was destroyed by a massive explosion. Prince of Wales also sustained some hits and turned away. Firing stopped at 6:09 AM.
The Bismarck was hit and suffered a bow down attitude due to flooding which reduced speed and caused a fuel leak.
Admiral Lütjens decided to send the Prinz Eugen on and continue with the mission while the Bismarck would return to France.
On May 26, 1941, the Prinz Eugen met up with a tanker and refueled. Contaminated fuel and other mechanical issues caused the Prinz Eugen to cancel the rest of the mission and return to port.
On May 31, 1941, the Prinz Eugen arrived in Brest.
Adolf Hitler ordered the Gneisenau, Scharnhorst, and Prinz Eugen to return to Germany from Brest by going through the English Channel.
In the dark on February 11, 1942, the ships, with a large escort of destroyers and torpedo boats, set out and were undetected by British submarine patrols and radar. Heavy air cover was provided.
The group was discovered by a reconnaissance aircraft when they were off Le Touquet and identified as a merchant convoy.
Shore batteries at Dover fired on the ships and missed. British torpedo boats went in for an attack but the German escorts drove them off. Four Swordfish torpedo aircraft were then shot down and the rest of the force was driven away.
Prinz Eugen fired on and hit some British destroyers.
On February 13, 1942, the Prinz Eugen arrived in Brunsbüttel.
Admiral Hipper, Tirpitz, Lützow, and Admiral Sheer were ordered to attack convoy PQ17 going to Murmansk. Lützow and two destroyers ran aground. The convoy dispersed and the ships were ordered home. The Luftwaffe and U-Boats sank 21 ships.
Battle of Barents Sea
Admiral Hipper, Lützow, and destroyers sortie to intercept Convoy JW 51B on its way to Murmansk. The British only had five destroyers escorting the convoy. After several hours the German force got the upper hand when the HMS Sheffield and HMS Jamaica arrived on the scene.
The Admiral Hipper was hit in the hull by one of the British cruisers. As the damage was heavy she retired from battle.
Icing of rangefinders impeded accurate firing on both sides during the battle.
With no damage to the convoy done the Germans returned to Alta Fjord. After this failure Adolf Hitler ordered the navy scrapped and all guns moved to land. Grossadmiral Raeder was forced to resign and Karl Dönitz became Commander in Chief of the German Navy.
Some German naval units were taken out of service after Adolf Hitler was persuaded to not scrap the fleet.