German Light Cruiser Königsberg

I have written about the German light cruisers previously including the Königsberg. The Königsberg was the first of the three ‘K’ class light cruisers built and so they are also referred to as Königsberg class according to naval tradition.

The K class light cruisers suffered from many design problems since they were designed and built in the late 1920’s and had to adhere to the strict limit’s imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. As the design problems became increasingly apparent, the duties of the ships were limited to compensate and they increasingly failed to serve in the role they were intended to.

The Königsberg served in the Baltic for the majority of the war as a glorified mine layer until being sunk in the Invasion of Norway. Collected below are the photographs of Königsberg from on deck and close up.

At Swinemunde, Germany, with a sentry on guard in the foreground. The original photograph, from Office of Naval Intelligence files, was dated 1938. However it appears to have actually been taken earlier in that decade. Note Königsberg‘s searchlights and torpedo tubes. The light cruiser Leipzig is in the right distance.

Halftone reproduction of a view taken on board in about 1930, looking forward from the foremast. Note the ship’s forward 15cm triple gun turret, anchor chains, and crewmen relaxing on deck.

Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken on board, circa 1930, looking forward from the stern with her after 15cm triple gun turrets trained out on the starboard quarter. Note the marked offset arrangement of these turrets, and the capstan and open hatch in the foreground.

View looking aft from the port side searchlight platform while the ship was underway, circa 1930. Note the gunfire control position in the foreground, 8.8cm anti-aircraft guns, and the after 15 cm triple gun turrets trained to starboard.

View of the ship’s forward superstructure, with visitors on the gangway and on shore in the foreground during an “open house” at a European port, circa 1930.

View on deck amidships, looking forward on the port side, circa 1938. Note details of smokestacks, boat cradles, cranes, and searchlights. A mounting for a 20mm anti-aircraft machine gun is visible in the lower right foreground.

[Images courtesy of the Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center 1 and 2 and Wikimedia.]

German Light Cruiser Königsberg

I have written about the German light cruisers previously including the Königsberg. The Königsberg was the first of the three ‘K’ class light cruisers built and so they are also referred to as Königsberg class according to naval tradition.

The K class light cruisers suffered from many design problems since they were designed and built in the late 1920’s and had to adhere to the strict limit’s imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. As the design problems became increasingly apparent, the duties of the ships were limited to compensate and they increasingly failed to serve in the role they were intended to.

The Königsberg served in the Baltic for the majority of the war as a glorified mine layer until being sunk in the Invasion of Norway. Collected below are the photographs of Königsberg on foreign tours to the UK and Poland.

Firing salutes in 1934. She is flying the British Royal Navy’s White Ensign at her forepeak.

Halftone reproduction of a photograph showing her firing salutes in 1934, while flying the British Royal Navy’s White Ensign at her forepeak. The German light cruiser Leipzig is in the center background, and a British “C” class light cruiser is in the upper right.

Off Gdynia, Poland, circa November 1935.

Visiting Gdynia, Poland, circa 1935.
Note the National Socialist eagle decoration on her stern and the German Navy ensign flying from her flagstaff.

Visiting Gdynia, Poland, circa 1935.
Note her forward 15cm triple gun turret, rangefinders, jack and heraldic shield.

Visiting Gdynia, Poland, circa 1935. Note the National Socialist eagle decoration on her stern and the German Navy ensign flying from her flagstaff.

Visiting Gdynia, Poland, circa 1935. Note the offset arrangement of her after 15cm triple gun turrets.

[Images courtesy of the Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center 1 and 2 and Wikimedia.]

German Warships of World War Two: The Light Cruisers Leipzig and Nürnberg

I have a tendency to start a series of posts on a specific subject then stop before I’m through so I’m trying not to do that. This is the final post on German light cruisers.

Let’s start with the basic question: was there anything special about the light cruisers Leipzig and Nürnberg? No. They were just as badly designed as the other light cruisers I’ve discussed and accomplished almost nothing. Both ships were torpedoed on 13 December 1939 in the North Sea by the British submarine, HMS Salmon. The ships were not far from Germany and both limped back to port. The Leipzig was too badly damaged to justify a complete repair so she was patched up and used as a training ship in the Baltic.

On 15 October 1944 Leipzig was approaching the port of Gotenhafen (Gdynia). Because Soviet aircraft and submarines regularly dropped mines into the main channel, ships used a narrow channel which was constantly swept for mines and this narrow channel was divided into two narrower channels: one for entering the port and one for exiting the port.

For reasons the Kommandant never fully explained, the Leipzig steamed into the wrong channel. She then stopped all engines and drifted astride the line dividing the exit channel and the entrance channel. It was evening, it was dark, and there was heavy fog. Fearing she might be torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, the Captain orders all navigation lights extinguished. So there she drifts: astride the two channels, lights extinguished, engines off. One doesn’t have to be Fleet Admiral Nimitz to realize this is not a very intelligent thing to do.

You might imagine what happens. A few minutes later, the following entry is made into the log of the Leipzig: ‘Heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen collided into compartment X, port side, at an angle of 35 degrees.’

Prinz Eugen, steaming in the correct channel, on the correct course with her navigation lights on, rams the Leipzig amidships. Prinz Eugen isn’t badly damaged but her bow cuts clean through to the center line of the Leipzig.

After being towed into Gotenhafen, the crew patched up the Leipzig and for the next few months it crept around the Baltic providing fire support to German troops retreating from the East. The ship took off refugees and wounded troops and ended up in Denmark at the end of the war where she was seized by the Royal Navy and later scuttled.

The Nürnberg did almost nothing during her career – not even get rammed. After the torpedo damage was repaired she served as a training ship and wandered around the Baltic. One gets the impression the German Navy High Command forgot about her. Later in the war she provided fire support in the East and was then sent to Norway to help lay mines and escort German ships through the minefields. She managed to do so without hitting one of her own mines unlike her assistant, the minelayer Elsass, which hit one of her own mines and sank on 5 January 1945. For reasons I can’t figure out, the Nürnberg steamed to Copenhagen (Denmark being under German occupation) and dropped anchor on 27 January 1945. Because of the critical fuel shortages affecting the German navy, the ship just stayed there until Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945. I find this strange because the German navy found fuel for all their other warships which performed an incredible feat by lifting off over 1.5 million people trapped in East Prussia by the Soviets.

The ship was awarded as a prize of war to the Soviets and was used by the Soviet Navy until 1960 when she was scrapped.