Unfortunately my primary source author Wolfgang Kähler does not provide number or details of Gneisenau’s expenditure but according to K/S, which appears to present the duel via German sources, Gneisenau never fired base fused HE projectiles. She accounted for 44 x 283 mm nose fused HE and 10 x 283 mm armour piercing projectiles. Scharnhorst accounted for 182 x 283 mm armour piercing projectiles and 13 x 283 mm nose fused HE projectiles. I can’t help but thinking that Gneisenau’s identification error, Renown being sighted and identified as ‘a Nelson-class’ might be a factor contributing to her choice of shell type.
I do agree with your analysis derived from the ever-classical British identification error and hereunder their probable battle evaluation. Scharnhorst being identified as a heavy cruiser may, according to a rookie sense of logic, reduce her value in any immediate threat analysis made aboard Renown as opposed to the other Scharnhorst, commonly known as Gneisenau. So forth we’d have a plausible motive to support the 114 mm hits landed.
Further note of interest is reported range and bearing of the hits recorded aboard the Galloper. Both 283 mm came in bearing green 90 at about 18 000 yards. After sighting Gneisenau Renown increased speed towards 20 knots and, at 0459 hours, hauled right around from previous course 080° onto new course 305° thus bringing her up on a parallel course ‘abaft the beam of the leading German ship’ whereupon she opened fire at a range of 18 600 yards, at 0505 hours. At that current time S&G steamed on a course 310° at a moderate speed of 12 knots, providing similar heading but also a noteworthy difference of speed during the initial phase.
Löwisch’ report states that ‘prospect of hits existed at phase I and beginning of phase II’ which provides a plausible time frame between 0510 hours until 0520 hours, whereas both adversaries presented their beams. Author Brown states that Gneisenau’s foretop hit at 0516 hours occurred ‘at a range of 14 600 yards’ making time of impact for the two 283 mm projectiles a marginal window of opportunity. After Lütjens order at 0519 hours, with S&G steering away from Renown, the latter also turned due north and by doing so eliminated the chances of any green 90 hits during the later withdrawal.
As I’m able to interpret from this, over a period of ten minutes distance between combatants was closed by some 4 000 yards, hence my remark on difference in speed. S&G opened fire at 0510 which would set an approximate range to some 16 000 yards and I’m compelled to believe those two 283 mm hits so forth must have occurred pretty early, possibly during the initial salvos. Taking into account Scharnhorst’s high expenditure of armour piercing projectiles, as the hit aft seem to support, and also the apparently more favourable position of Scharnhorst, astern of Gneisenau and thus presented with ‘more target’ she’s to me a very good candidate to land a ‘green 90’ hit.
Your inputs are, as always, very appreciated.