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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's K class cruisers

Photos

KMS Karlsruhe:
KMS Karlsruhe
Imperial War Museum, HU-1017
KMS Karlsruhe:
KMS Karlsruhe
Imperial War Museum, HU-1021
KMS Köln:
KMS Köln
Imperial War Museum, HU-1048
KMS Königsberg:
KMS Königsberg
Imperial War Museum, HU-1019
KMS Königsberg:
KMS Königsberg
Imperial War Museum, HU-1023
KMS Königsberg:
KMS Königsberg
Imperial War Museum, HU-3304

Design

The Königsberg (Kreuzer B) was ordered for construction on March 28, 1925, to replace the Thetis, the Karlsruhe (Kreuzer C) on May 21, 1926, to replace the Medusa, and the Köln (Kreuzer C) on October 25, 1927, to replace the Arcona.1,4

Electric welding was used in the construction to save on weight.2,3,5

Aircraft

There was one catapult to launch the aircraft.1,3 However, the Treaty of Versailles prohibited their mounting.1

The aircraft that were eventually carried were the He 60 and then the Ar 196.1

In 1940 the Köln conducted helicopter trials.4

Armament

The Königsberg class was the first German cruisers to use a triple turret.1 There were two turrets aft and they were set off center.2,5

  Shell Weight Rate of Fire Range Elevation
15 cm SK C/251,4 45.5 kg1   25,700 m4 40°2

Engines

Originally having all diesel engines was considered however, at the time, diesels weren't powerful enough.1 Instead standard turbine engines were installed that gave the main power and the diesels were intended for cruising.1 They were not used at the same time.2 However, the concept wasted a lot of space.1

Ships

KMS Königsberg

  • Cost: 38,000,000 RM4
  • Manufacturer: Marinewerft-Wilhelmshaven1, Marinewerft at Wilhelmshaven4, Wilhelmshaven Dock Yard5, Wilhelmshaven Navy Yard2
  • April 12, 19262, April 14, 1926: Laid down.1,2
  • 19273, March 26, 1927: Launched.1,2,3,4,5
  • April 17, 1929: Completed.1,2,4
  • October 18 - 26, 1929: Represented Germany at Barcelona World Exposition.4
  • January 1, 1930: Became BdA (Befehlshaber der Aufklärungsstreitkräfte) flagship.4
  • April 2 - June 19, 1930: Spain and Mediterranean goodwill cruises.4
  • 1931: Refit. Foremast shortened.4
  • May 19, 1931: Member of fleet celebrating launching of Deutschland in front of Reich President Hindenburg.4
  • June 15 - July 3, 1931: Visited Norway.4
  • August 15 - 16, 1931: Visited Scharbeutz.4
  • Winter 1931: Refit.4 Deckhouse enlarged.4
  • June 11 - 17, 1932: Visited Stockholm.4
  • May 22 - 23, 1933: Member of fleet visited by Adolf Hitler.4
  • July 26 - August 6, 1933: With Schleswig-Holstein visited Norway.4
  • 1934: Refit.4 Two 8.8 cm FlaK guns added.4
  • July 9, 1943: With Leipzig conducted first goodwill visit to England since World War I.4
  • Early 1935: Refit.4 Aircraft catapult added.4
  • August 19, 1935: Conducted Fleet gunnery exercises in front of Adolf Hitler.4
  • August 22 - 25, 1935: Visited Gotenhafen, Poland.4
  • Winter 1936: Refit.4 Deckhouse enlarged.4 8.8 cm FlaK twin mount replaced single mount.4
  • February 23, 1936: Became flagship of Gunnery Inspectorate Training Ship.4
  • November 25 - 28, 1936: Sailed from Kiel to El Ferrol to help with evacuation of German citizens during Spanish Civil War.4
  • January 15, 1937: Returned to Kiel.4
  • June 12 - 28, 1937: Visited Norway.4
  • December 5, 1937 - February 1938: Refit.4
  • August 22, 1938: At Naval Review in front of Adolf Hitler and Admiral Horthy (regent of Hungary).4 Prinz Eugen was also launched.4
  • May 11 - 15, 1939: Visited Finland.4
  • September 3 - 30, 1939: Mined in North Sea.4
  • November 19, 1939: Refit.4 Bridge made shorter.4 Degaussing system added.4
  • April 9, 19403, April 10, 1940: Sunk during Norwegian invasion by carrier Skua dive bombers while in Bergen.1,2,3,5
  • 1943: Refloated.5
  • September 22, 1944: Sunk.5

KMS Karlsruhe

  • Cost: 36,000,000 RM4
  • Manufacturer: Deutsche Werke at Kiel1,2,4,5
  • February 27, 19264, July 27, 1926: Laid down.1,2,4
  • 19273, August 8, 19274,5, August 20, 1927: Launched.1,2,3,4,5
  • November 6, 1929: Completed.1,2,4
  • 1929: Training ship.5
  • May 24 - December 12, 1930: Sailed to East Africa, South-West Africa, South America, Spain, and Kiel.4
  • November 30, 1931: Sailed to West Indies, Mexico, South America, Hawaii, North America, Cape Horn, New York, and Kiel.4 Had 524 crewman and officers, 58 cadets, 409 rates and civilians.4
  • 1933: Two 8.8 cm FlaK guns added.4
  • October 14, 1933: Cruise to East Asia, Hawaii, United States, Spain, and Kiel.4
  • October 5, 1934 - June 15, 1935: Cruise to South America, Cape Horn, United States, Peru, Panama Canal, and Kiel.4
  • 1935: Catapult added.4
  • October 21, 1935: Sailed to West Indies, Hong Kong, and Japan.4 Almost capsized during Force 12 (hurricane) Pacific storm.4
  • October 23, 1935: Arrived in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.4
  • April 1936: Repair damage in hull plating in San Diego.2,4
  • April 17 - June 8, 1936: Sailed to Kiel.4
  • July - September 9, 1936: Refit.4 Deckhouses added and enlarged.4 8.8 cm twin mounts replaced single mounts.4
  • December 27, 1936 - January 1, 1937: Sailed to El Ferrol to conduct Spanish Civil War patrols.4
  • May 1938, May 20, 1938 - November 13, 19394: Refit.1,4 Funnel caps and additional armor added.1,4 10.5 cm FlaK twin mounts replaced 8.8 cm twin mounts.4
  • 1940: Refit.4 Degaussing system added.4
  • April 9, 19402,3, April 10, 19401,5: Sunk during Norwegian invasion by submarine HMS Truant near Kristiansund.1,2,3,5

KMS Köln

  • Cost: 36,000,000 RM4
  • Manufacturer: Marinewerft-Wilhelmshaven1, Marinewerft at Wilhelmshaven4, Wilhelmshaven Dock Yard5, Wilhelmshaven Navy Yard2, Wilhelmshaven3
  • August 7, 1926: Laid down.1,2,3,4
  • May 23, 1928: Launched.1,2,3,4,5
  • January 19303, January 15, 1930: Completed.1,2,3,4
  • 1930: 8.8 cm FlaK single mounts replaced by twin mounts.4
  • June 20, 1931: Member of fleet celebrating launching of Deutschland in front of Reich President Hindenburg.4
  • June 24, 1931: Visited Norway.4
  • June 29 - July 3, 1931: Fleet exercises.4
  • September 2 - 11, 1931: Fleet exercises.4
  • January 7, 1932: Three week Atlantic cruise.4
  • 1932: One 8.8 cm FlaK gun removed.4
  • September 16 - 21, 1932: Visited Stavanger, Norway.4
  • December 8, 1932 - December 12, 1933: Cruise to Spain, Suez, East Indies, Australia, Japan, China, India, Crete, Gibraltar, and Wilhelmshaven.4
  • July 26 - 27, 1935: Adolf Hitler on board during gunnery exercises.4
  • September 27 - November 8, 1935: Dry dock at Wilhelmshaven.4
  • 1936 - 1939: Member of Non Intervention Patrol during Spanish Civil War.5
  • February 20 - March 4, 1936: Visited Norway.4
  • July 27 - August 26, 1936: Left for Spain to help with German citizen evacuations.4
  • September 3 - 22, 1936: Dry dock at Wilhelmshaven.4
  • October 5, 1936: Sailed for Spain.4
  • December 1 - 9, 1936: Dry dock at Wilhelmshaven.4
  • January 5 - March 15, 1937: Third patrol off Spain.4
  • June 7 - 29, 1937: Fourth patrol off Spain.4
  • June 30 - July 19, 1937: Refit.4 Dry dock at Wilhelmshaven.4
  • 1937: Aircraft equipment removed.4
  • July 30 - October 8, 1937: Fifth patrol off Spain.4
  • October 20 - 26, 1937: Dry dock at Wilhelmshaven.4 Aircraft catapult and crane removed.4
  • August 22, 1938: At Naval Review in front of Adolf Hitler and Admiral Horthy (regent of Hungary).4 Prinz Eugen was also launched.4
  • Summer 1938: Aircraft equipment removed.1
  • August 25, 1939: Patrolled between Bornholm and Bay of Danzig to prevent the Polish navy from breaking out.4
  • September 1939, September 3 - 18, 19394: Mine laying in North Sea.1.4
  • October 1939: Merchant ship patrols in Skagerrak.1
  • 1940: After torpedo tubes and two 3.7 cm twin mounts removed.1 Became training ship.1
  • April 1940: Supported invasion of Norway.1,5
  • May 1940: Mine laying in North Sea and Skagerrak.1
  • June 26 - August 10, 1940: At Deutsche Werke, Kiel.4
  • November 19 - March 28, 1941: Refit at Gotenhafen.4 Aft torpedo mount removed.4 Degaussing added.4 Wooden helicopter pad added to Turret B.4
  • December 1940: Mine laying in North Sea and Skagerrak.1
  • Autumn 1941: Member of Northern Group of Baltic Fleet.4
  • October 1941, October 12 - 21, 1941: Bombarded Ristna and Dago.1,4
  • 1942, February 5 - May 23, 19424: Refit.4 Catapult and torpedo tubes removed.2
  • July 1942, July 13 - August 6, 19424: Sailed to Norway for active duty.1.4
  • 1943: Six torpedo tubes removed.5
  • February 8, 1943: Returned to Germany.1
  • February 17, 1943: Decommissioned.4
  • June 1943 - February 1944: Accommodation ship in Kiel.1
  • 1944: Four 4 cm FlaK and eight 2 cm twin mounts added.1
  • 19442, June 1944: Training ship.1,2
  • October 1944, October 11, 19444: Went to Skagerrak to become flagship of destroyers laying mines.1,4
  • March 3, 1945: Sunk by RAF aircraft.2
  • March 30, 1945: Sunk by B-24s.1
  • April 30, 1945: Sunk.2,5
  • April 1945: Turrets were still usable and were fired against British forces closing in on Wilhelmshaven.1

Usage

The Königsberg class went on several world cruises and patrolled off Spain during the Spanish Civil War.1,4

Mine laying

At the start of World War II all three did Mine laying in the North Sea.2,4

Invasion of Norway

Königsberg was a member of Task Force 3 / Warship Group 34 and was damaged by Norwegian shore batteries in Bergen.2 On April 9, 19403 / April 10, 1940, she was hit by Skuas from the HMS Sparrowhawk (Orkney island airbase) and set on fire which put her out of the war.2,3,4

Karlsruhe was a member of Task Force 4 that was to invade Kristiansand and Arendal.2,4 On April 9, 1940, she was torpedoes by HMS Truant.2,3,4 Torpedo boat Greif finished her off.2

Köln was a member of Task Force 3 / Warship Group 34 in the invasion at Bergen.2,4

 

Specifications

  K class
Crew 5713, 8201,5, 8502
Officers: 214
Men: 4934
Flagship Personnel: 264
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 6,000 tons3,4, 6,650 tons1,2,5
Displacement - Loaded 7,700 tons4, 8,130 tons1,2
Length 570'3,5, 570' 9"1, 570' 10"2
174 m1,2,4
Length - Water Line 554'5, 554' 4"1, 554' 5"2, 554' 5.5"3
169 m1,2,4
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam 50'1,5, 50' 2"2, 53' 6"5
15.2 m4, 15.3 m1,2
Draft / Height 17' 9"3, 18'5, 18' 3"2, 18' 4"1
5.56 m1,2,4
Draft / Height - Maximum 20' 7"2
6.28 m2
Performance  
Speed 32 knots2,3,4,5, 32.5 knots1
Range at 10 knots (diesels) 1,800 nautical miles2, 8,000 nautical miles4, 10,000 nautical miles3
Range at 13 knots 3,100 nautical miles1
Range at 14 knots (diesels) 5,500 nautical miles3
Range at 17 knots 7,300 nautical miles4
Range at 18 knots 3,3400 nautical miles4
Range at 19 knots 5,700 nautical miles4, 5,200 nautical miles5
Armament 5.9" triple turrets: 35
5.9" L/50: 93
5.9", 15 cm SK C/25 triple turrets: 31
15 cm L/60 C28 triple turrets: 32
Anti-Aircraft 3.5": 63
3.5" twin mounts: 35
3.5", 8.8 cm L/45 twin mounts: 31
8.8 cm L/45 C32: 22
3 pdr: 83
37 mm twin mounts: 41,5
37 mm L/83 C30 twin mounts: 42
20 mm: 41
20 mm C30: 82
Machine gun: 43
Anti-Aircraft - 1940 8.8 cm L/76 C32 twin mounts: 42
Torpedo Tubes 21": 123
21", 50 cm: 3 mounts with 4 tubes each1,2,5
Aircraft 21,2,3,5
Armor  
Belt - Main 2" - 2.75"2, 3" - 4"3,5
5 cm - 7 cm1
Control Tower 1.25" - 4"2, 3"3,5
10 cm1
Deck 0.75" - 1.5"2
4 cm1
Torpedo Bulkheads 0.5"2
Turrets 1.25"2, 2"3, 3"5
2 cm - 3 cm1
Engines  
Boilers Marine: 61
Navy: 62
Schulz-Thornycroft: 63
Engines Diesels: 25
10 cylinder diesels: 23
MAN diesels: 21
MAN 10 cylinder diesels: 22
Shafts 21,2,3
Turbines Geared3,5
Navy geared2
SR geared1
HP 65,0002,3, 68,0001,5, 68,2004
HP - Diesels 1,8004,5, 18,0002
Diesel 139 tons4, 261 tons1, 300 tons3
Oil 1,100 tons4, 1,184 tons1, 1,200 tons3
  Karlsruhe after 1936 refit
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement - Loaded 8,350 tons2
Beam 54' 5.5"2
Performance  
Speed 30 kntos5
  Köln
Crew 820 - 8504
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 6,752 tons4
Displacement - Loaded  
Length - Water Line 169 m4
Beam 15.2 m4
Draft / Height 5.7 m4
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft 8.8 cm L/45 C32: 42
Engines  
HP 68,4824
Diesel 600 tons4
Oil 1,300 tons4

Sources:

  1. Cruisers of World War Two An International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1995
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  3. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  4. German Light Cruisers of World War II, Gerhard Koop, Klaus-Peter Schmolke, 2002
  5. German Warships of World War II, J. C. Taylor, 1966
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site