A very good and clear peacetime photograph of Gneisenau. As to her appearance as a troopship, please see this image: http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/351305/title/troopship-gneisenau/cat/519
Does someone here know exactly know why this class was built with the Maierform foreship configuration, can this really be an advantage in heavy seas and rough waters for a passenger liner in southern seas? This form could hardly never be seen on later ships and liners, for example the contemporary Hamburg built diesel-electric liner PATRIA (Deutsche Werft 1938) had no such foreship, built for the Germany to South America line around the Cape Horn up to Chile, neither on her forerunners CORDILLERA and CARIBIA by Blohm und Voss in 1933. I have seen this foreship hull form on ships built for better ice-breaking capability in Arctic polar waters - but here it is a bit of a technical mystery of choice for liners for the Med, Indian Ocean and Pacific routes.
I can report on what I have read but am not anywhere near an expert on the subject. Only the SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU had the Maierform, POTSDAM had a bulbous bow. My understanding, which is culled from an interesting debate that appeared in the pages of "Shipbuilder and Marine Engine Builder" throughout 1935, is that the improvements gained from using the Maierform had to do with speed and performance of the vessel as well as pitching and rolling. After numerous tests were performed both forms gave practically identical favorable results. Additionally, however, there was an expected improvement in pitching motion in long waves, which were characteristic of the ship's intended trade route. This induced NGL to adopt the Maierform for two of the three liners.This info. is based on Arnold Kludas, articles from "Shipbuilder" and an article in the Singapore Free Press' shipping pages.
Here is a list of vessels converted/built to the Maierform design at the time GNEISENAU was being completed, transcribed as written: