German Light Cruiser Köln

Reichsmarine Light Cruiser Köln

Reichsmarine sailors pose in front of a turret on light-cruiser Köln during a visit to Sydney, Australia.

 

Köln was the third of the three ‘K’ class light cruisers built for the Reichsmarine.

 

STARBOARD SIDE VIEW OF GERMAN LIGHT CRUISER KOLN WHICH VISITED MELBOURNE BETWEEN 1933-04-10 AND 1933-04-19. NOTE THE TALL TUBULAR MAST AND THE CONCENTRATION OF HER TRIPLE DRH LC/25 TURRETS WITH THEIR 15 CM SKC/25 GUNS AFT. SHE IS PAINTED IN THE STANDARD GERMAN SCHEME OF THE PERIOD WITH A MEDIUM GREY HULL AND LIGHT GREY FUNNELS. (NAVAL HISTORICAL COLLECTION).

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 roles they were supposed to perform in the fleet.

The Köln patrolled the coasts of Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and then spent the remainder of her life in the Baltic and North Sea. She participated in the Invasion of Norway and then she resumed mining operations and limited attacks on Allied Convoy shipping. In February 1943, the Köln was damaged in a submarine attack and remained out of service until March 1944 receiving repairs.

Light cruiser Koln in Baltic Stripe camouflage

 

She recommissioned as a training ship for cadets. On 12 December 1944, she was heavily damaged by a British bombing raid. She was transferred to Wilhelmshaven in February 1945 to begin extensive repairs. Once there, she was sunk on even keel during another British bombing raid on 3 March 1945. Her turrets remained above water and continued to shell the oncoming Allied advance.

The Köln was captured on 5 May 1945 by the Polish First Armored Division along with 200 other ships of the Kriegsmarine in the surrender of the Wilhelmshaven garrison. She was finally scrapped in 1946. Collected below are photographs of Köln during World War Two.

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“Conquest of Bergen by German Light Cruisers”
Artwork by Adolf Bock, 1941, published in a book on the German Navy published by Erich Klinghammer, Berlin, during World War II. It depicts the light cruisers Köln and Königsberg landing troops at Bergen, Norway, on 9 April 1940.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945).
Reconnaissance photograph, probably taken by the British Royal Air Force, showing the ship (marked by arrow) moored to the shore in the Fætten Fjord, about 30 KM ENE of Trondheim, Norway, 19 July 1942. Note rafts and netting used to camouflage the ship, and anti-torpedo booms moored to protect her from attacks from abeam and astern. Booms abeam have been folded to simulate a ship.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945).
Reconnaissance photograph, probably taken by the British Royal Air Force, showing the ship (marked by arrow) moored to the shore in the Fætten Fjord, about 30 KM ENE of Trondheim, Norway, 19 July 1942. The southern side of the Fjord is in the top center of the image.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945).
Reconnaissance photograph, probably taken by the British Royal Air Force, showing the ship (marked by arrow) moored to the shore in the Fætten Fjord, about 30 KM ENE of Trondheim, Norway, 19 July 1942. Note rafts and netting used to camouflage the ship, and anti-torpedo booms moored to protect her from attacks from abeam and astern. Booms abeam have been folded to simulate a ship. The southern side of the Fjord is just beyond the top of the image.

 

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German cruiser Köln sunk by Allied bombing on 7 May 1945 in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

[Images courtesy of Wikimedia and the Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command.]

Reichsmarine German Light Cruiser Köln

The Köln was the third of the three ‘K’ class light cruisers built.

 

Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945) Underway during the later 1930s. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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.

 

Köln underway 1936 photo US Navy History and Heritage Command. Many photos such as this were taken by American Naval Attaches for intelligence purposes.

The Köln patrolled the coasts of Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and then spent the remainder of her life in the Baltic and North Sea. She participated in the Invasion of Norway and then she resumed mining operations and limited attacks on Allied Convoy shipping. In February 1943, the Köln was damaged in a submarine attack and remained out of service until March 1944 receiving repairs. She recommissioned as a training ship for cadets. On 12 December 1944, she was heavily damaged by a British bombing raid. She was transferred to Wilhelmshaven in February 1945 to begin extensive repairs. Once there, she was sunk on even keel during another British bombing raid on 3 March 1945. Her turrets remained above water and continued to shell the oncoming Allied advance.

The Köln was captured on 5 May 1945 by the Polish First Armored Division along with 200 other ships of the Kriegsmarine in the surrender of the Wilhelmshaven garrison. She was finally scrapped in 1946. Collected below are photographs of plans produced by the US Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence of the Köln for use during World War Two.

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Silhouette of the German light cruiser Koln. August 1942.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Plan for making a recognition model of the ship. Dated November 1942, it is part of the World War II “Master Models” series, which was probably prepared by the US Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence.

 

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Description of a Königsberg-Class light cruiser.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). World War II recognition drawings, probably prepared by the US Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence.

[Images courtesy of Wikimedia and the Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command.]

Bad Design on Light Cruiser Köln at Sea

I have written about the German light cruisers previously including the Köln. The Köln was the third of the three ‘K’ class light cruisers built.

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 Köln patrolled the coasts of Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and then spent the remainder of her life in the Baltic and North Sea. She participated in the Invasion of Norway and then she resumed mining operations and limited attacks on Allied Convoy shipping. In February 1943, the Köln was damaged in a submarine attack and remained out of service until March 1944 receiving repairs. She recommissioned as a training ship for cadets. On 12 December 1944, she was heavily damaged by a British bombing raid. She was transferred to Wilhelmshaven in February 1945 to begin extensive repairs. Once there, she was sunk on even keel during another British bombing raid on 3 March 1945. Her turrets remained above water and continued to shell the oncoming Allied advance.

The Köln was captured on 5 May 1945 by the Polish First Armored Division along with 200 other ships of the Kriegsmarine in the surrender of the Wilhelmshaven garrison. She was finally scrapped in 1946. Collected below are photographs of the Köln during the 1930’s.

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Underway in confined waters, circa 1930. Note the offset arrangement of her after two triple 150mm gun turrets.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945)

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Underway in confined waters, circa 1930.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Photographed from astern, while manning her rails in 1935. Note the decorative National Socialist eagle mounted on her transom, and the recessed anchor stowage.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Underway with rails manned, circa 1936. Note the heraldic shield mounted on her bow and the large flag flying from her foremast peak.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Underway during the later 1930s. A He 60 floatplane is flying overhead.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Photographed from a Royal Air Force aircraft from Thorney Island, United Kingdom, 2 March 1939. Plane’s altitude was 150 feet. Distance from ship was 800 yards. Ship’s speed was 12 knots.

[Images courtesy of Wikimedia, the Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command, and Die Marine.de.]

German Light Cruiser Köln

I have written about the German light cruisers previously including the Köln. The Köln was the third of the three ‘K’ class light cruisers built.

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 Köln patrolled the coasts of Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and then spent the remainder of her life in the Baltic and North Sea. She participated in the Invasion of Norway and then she resumed mining operations and limited attacks on Allied Convoy shipping. In February 1943, the Köln was damaged in a submarine attack and remained out of service until March 1944 receiving repairs. She recommissioned as a training ship for cadets. On 12 December 1944, she was heavily damaged by a British bombing raid. She was transferred to Wilhelmshaven in February 1945 to begin extensive repairs. Once there, she was sunk on even keel during another British bombing raid on 3 March 1945. Her turrets remained above water and continued to shell the oncoming Allied advance.

The Köln was captured on 5 May 1945 by the Polish First Armored Division along with 200 other ships of the Kriegsmarine in the surrender of the Wilhelshaven garrison. She was finally scrapped in 1946. Collected below is a photograph and account of the Köln during her visit to Guam in June 1933.

Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945). Underway, circa the early 1930s. This photograph was presented as a gift to Mrs. Ruth M. Bence at the time of the ship’s visit to Guam in late June 1933. See below for her comments on Köln‘s stay at Guam.

Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command

Comments by Mrs. Ruth M. Bence, provided in 1975. In 1933 she and her husband, Lieutenant Clarence E. Bence, USN, were stationed at Guam.

“From the writeup I did while I still had the details on tap. My two girls were teenagers at the time.”

“On June 30th, 1933 the German Cruiser ‘KOELN’ made us a visit on a Round the World Tour. Before it arrived all officer personnel were asked to entertain an officer or some cadets and be their official hosts during the visit. We decided to give our teenagers a break & volunteered to entertain 4 cadets, all tall.”

“Governor and Mrs. Root gave a garden party & reception for the incoming Governor Alexander (both Root and Alexander were Navy Captains) and the officers & cadets from the KOELN. Clarence & I went to this affair where we met our four cadets. However, Lieut. Von Mudhlendahl, radio officer on the KOELN, had himself introduced to Clarence as he wanted to discuss communications with him. It developed that he had not been assigned to anyone in Guam so we invited him to come home with us also. It was a bit awkward because evidently officers & cadets did not mingle socially. However after dinner the Knowles (Navy Doctor) brought down their two cadets and their victrola and the young folks danced at one end of the lanai (it was 10′ wide by 60′ long) while the rest of us sipped our drinks and chatted at the other end.”

“The KOELN stayed a week & one afternoon the girls & I had coffee aboard with Lt M. and had a partial tour of the cruiser. Everything was very clean & neat & the crew, working with nothing on above the belt, were a perfect physical example of what the Nazis were hoping to build as the ‘Master Race’. The cadets were all on duty. As mascots on the ship they had a lion cub that roamed at will, a kangaroo that did likewise, and a tiny puppy whose name was ‘Whiskey”. The Lt. was quite annoyed with the lion cub who had wandered into his room while he was absent and chewed a hole in a woven rug he had bought in Suva.”

“Of our four cadets two were German, one Polish & I think the other was Russian. We liked the Lt. very much. He had spent a couple of years in the US and spoke English very well. He was anxious to get home and see his first baby, a boy, who had been born during his absence. We had an urgent invitation to visit him and his family in the Black Forest but never made it and have often wondered what happened to him and his little family in WWII.”

“The name on the picture I do not recall. It is likely that these recollections are interesting only to me but use any part if you wish. I have set down only part of that week which was a series of parties ashore & on board all week.”

[Images courtesy of the Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command.]