Have you been waiting? I know they were waiting. We wrote in the comments. Well, it's time to talk about probably the most useless ships of the light cruiser class of World War II. These are worthy rivals to the Soviet cruisers, which stood in ports (with the rare exception, such as the "Red Caucasus") throughout the war. Only these ships tried to do something like that, but ...
To be fair, the K-class light cruisers did everything they could to accomplish their missions. Another question is that they could do little more than nothing.
But - as always, in order.
Here is the cruiser that led to the construction of ships of a new type. Even then, when it was built, in 1925, by the German naval it became clear to the commanders that the cruiser was not a cake and was outdated even on the slipway. The only thing more or less the ship possessed was speed. Everything else needed improvement. Especially weapons and armor.
And while the Emden was being completed, by the way, the first large German ship of the post-war period, the designers were imprisoned for the development of the cruiser, which will have to replace the Emden. Faster, more powerful and generally. The main thing is not to go beyond the limit of 6 tons, which was valid for Germany under the terms of the Versailles Treaty.
It is clear that miracles do not happen, and therefore you have to sacrifice something.
But the Germans would not have been Germans if they had not shown miracles in terms of engineering solutions. It is clear that the only action that would solve all the problems would be to disregard the terms of the Versailles Treaty and the construction of a ship in the absence of restrictions on tonnage. However, so far no one would have allowed Germany to do this (1925 - not 1933), they had to get out as best they could.
And the Germans managed a lot.
First, the tonnage of the ship was "slightly" overestimated. By a little bit, up to 6 metric tons.
Secondly, the cruising range was sacrificed. 7 miles at a cruising speed of 300 knots - this, in comparison with British light cruisers, which easily gave out twice the range, did not look very weighty.
However, the German designers were able to offer a very interesting move to increase the cruising range: between the propeller shafts, they managed to place two diesel engines of economic speed.
Original, but not very effective. Under diesels, the ship developed only 10,5 knots. In addition, the cruiser could go either on diesel engines or on boilers. Plus, there was a need for two types of fuel: oil for boilers and solar oil for diesel engines. Alas, diesel engines do not work on heavy oil, just as diesel fuel boilers are also not to their taste.
Therefore, the cruising range under diesel engines with a full refueling of 18 miles remained a theoretical parameter. This is if all containers are filled with solarium. But this is also not a solution, you must agree. Still, a cruiser, not a dry cargo ship. Moreover, anyone, even a British battleship, could catch up with the ship at such a speed. Refueling from 000 tons of oil and 1200 tons of diesel fuel was considered normal.
Plus, the process of switching from one power plant to another became a big problem. Connecting diesel engines instead of turbines took several minutes, but when it was necessary to make the reverse transition, it was necessary to align the propeller shafts with respect to the turbines. And the acceleration of the turbines to operating power took some more time. In general, the use of diesel engines in a combat situation was not something that was not welcomed, it was ruled out.
But we will talk about how convenient and safe it was in the article about Leipzig.
However, in 1926, a contract was signed for the construction of three light cruisers, which were built and, when launched, were named "Konigsberg" (April 1929), "Karlsruhe" (November 1929) and "Cologne" (January 1930).
The ships turned out to be completely identical in terms of size. Length 174 meters, width 16,8 m, draft with standard displacement - 5,4 m, with full - 6,3 m.
The power plant looked original, but not impressive. Compared to light Italian cruisers, everything looked quite modest. The main unit consisted of six oil boilers and turbo-gear units with a total capacity of 68 hp. and allowed the ship to reach speeds of up to 200 knots.
The auxiliary unit consisted of two 10-cylinder MAN diesels with a total capacity of 1 hp. Under diesels, cruisers could accelerate to a speed of 800 knots.
Here you can draw an analogy with the Italian cruisers "Condottieri" of the first series. That is, there was no armor.
The main belt of the ship was 50 mm thick, plus lining on it with a thickness of up to 20 mm, at best, gave 70 mm. The deck had a thickness of 20 mm, above the ammunition storage there was an additional 20 mm booking.
The turrets had armor of 30 mm in the front and 20 mm in a circle. The conning tower had a frontal thickness of 100 mm, side walls 30 mm.
In general, the booking could be called splinterproof, nothing more.
The crew of the K-class cruiser in peacetime consisted of 514 people: 21 officers and 493 lower ranks. Naturally, in wartime, the number of the crew increased and in 1945 reached 850 people on the "Cologne".
The main caliber was represented by new 150 mm guns with a barrel length of 65 calibers. The guns fired shells weighing 45,5 kg with an initial speed of 960 m / s for a maximum range of 14 nautical miles (26 km), rate of fire - 6-8 rounds per minute.
The guns were arranged in three three-gun towers in a very strange way. Two towers were in the stern and one in the bow. This was justified by the fact that the cruiser was entrusted with the functions of a light reconnaissance ship, therefore the battle was supposed to be conducted on a retreat.
The aft gun turrets were not installed in line; to improve the forward firing sectors, the first aft turret was slightly shifted to the left side, and the second to the right.
Controversial design. In order to fire on the forward course from the stern tower, the ship had to be turned. And if we consider that the tower was not turned to the maximum angle so as not to hook the superstructures, then in an amicable way, only the bow tower could be used for course shooting.
Not the most powerful volley, you must agree.
The auxiliary artillery was even weaker than that of the Emden. There were at least three 105-mm guns and two 88-mm anti-aircraft guns. On K-class cruisers, for a start, they decided to do with two 88-mm guns for all occasions.
True, in the 30s it was decided to strengthen the universal artillery. And on the ships they installed three paired installations with 88-mm guns. The first twin 88-mm unit was installed in front of the "B" turret of the main caliber, the other two - on platforms to the right and left of the stern superstructure.
In 1934-35, during the modernization of the cruiser, they received 4 paired 37-mm anti-aircraft guns and 8 single 20-mm anti-aircraft guns. And the end of the war "Cologne" met with 10 automatic cannons 37 mm, 18 anti-aircraft guns 20 mm and 4 "Bofors" 40 mm.
Torpedo armament could be the envy of any destroyer. 4 three-tube torpedo tubes, first with a caliber of 500 mm, and then 533 mm. All cruisers had the ability to take on board 120 mines of the barrage and equipment for setting them.
The main caliber artillery fire control was carried out using three optical rangefinders with a base of 6 m. But the cruisers became a testing ground for the first German radars. In 1935, a GEMA search radar was installed at Cologne, operating on a wavelength of 50 cm. The experiments with the radar were generally recognized as successful, but the station itself was not very reliable in operation, and therefore the radar was dismantled from the ship.
In 1938, the Seetakt radar was installed on the "Konigsberg". And again the experiment was recognized as successful, if not for the reliability of the radar. The radar was also dismantled.
The second attempt with "Cologne" in terms of radar was carried out in 1941. This time they installed the FuMO-21 radar, with which the ship served the entire war.
In general, the ships turned out to be very strange in terms of the power plant and weapons. We'll talk about the power plant later, but it's about time the ships' combat career.
He was baptized by fire on September 3-30, 1939 during Operation Westwall, during which the ships of the Kriegsmarine carried out mining operations in the North Sea.
On November 12-13, 1939, she provided mining of the Thames estuary together with the light cruiser Nuremberg.
At the beginning of April 1940 he took part in Operation Weserubung (invasion of Norway) together with the cruiser Cologne.
On April 9, 1940, having on board 750 troops, he successfully landed in the Bergen area. While retreating, he came under fire from 210-mm Norwegian coastal batteries and received three direct hits. Since the cruiser's armor was not designed to be hit by shells of this caliber, the shells hitting the boiler room caused flooding, extinguished the boilers, and the ship lost its course. In addition, the ship's power plant, steering and fire control system were out of order. Only three shells, albeit a large caliber.
The command put the cruiser in the dock of the port of Bergen for repairs, where on April 10, 1940, two squadrons of Skewa bombers achieved three direct hits on the cruiser and three hits near the side.
As a result, the hull of the ship could not withstand, the cruiser received a large amount of water, and, turning upside down with a keel, sank.
It was raised in 1942, but it did not come to transport to Germany, and therefore it was disposed of by the Norwegians in 1945.
The combat career of this ship, to put it mildly, did not work out. Unlike its predecessor with the same name.
The cruiser took part in Operation Weserubung, aiming to capture the port of Kristiansand. On board were placed several hundred paratroopers, with whom on April 9, "Karsruhe", despite the shelling of Norwegian coastal batteries, broke into the harbor of Kristiansand and landed troops. The city's garrison capitulated.
At 19:21 the same day, "Karlsruhe" went to sea, accompanied by three destroyers, heading back to Germany. The ship sailed at a speed of 10 knots, performing an anti-submarine zigzag. The British submarine Truant attacked the cruiser, firing a volley of XNUMX torpedo tubes.
Only one torpedo hit the cruiser, but it was very successful, from the point of view of the British, by turning the stern. The crew moved to the escort ships, and the destroyer "Greif" finished off the cruiser with two torpedoes.
Only one torpedo hit the target, but the damage was so serious that the crew moved to the destroyers Luchs and Seeadler. The commander left the ship last, after which the destroyer Greif fired two torpedoes at the damaged ship.
She began her combat service together with the "Konigsberg" laying mines on September 3-30, 1939.
In October-November 1939 he escorted the battleships "Gneisenau" and "Scharnhorst" in the North Sea to the coast of Norway.
In April 1940, he landed troops in Bergen together with the "Konigsberg", but did not receive any damage, unlike the sistership.
In September 1941, he was transferred to the Baltic in order to prevent the Soviet fleet from leaving for neutral Sweden. He supported the landing operations of German troops on the Moonsund Islands, fired at the Soviet positions at Cape Ristna on Hiiumaa Island.
On August 6, 1942, he was transferred to Norway, to Narvik, to replace the battleship "Luttsov". Together with the heavy cruisers Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper, he formed a detachment that was supposed to attack the northern convoys, but the operations were canceled.
In 1943 she was transferred to the Baltic, withdrawn from the fleet, used as a training ship.
He completed his last combat mission in October 1944, deploying 90 mines in the Skagerrak Strait.
Sunk by an American aviation in Wilhelmshaven, sat on the ground, did not completely submerge.
In April 1945, the main caliber towers "B" and "C" fired on the advancing British troops for two nights. Shells and electricity were supplied from the shore.
In general, it cannot be said that the K-class cruisers were useful ships. Practice has shown that it is impossible to use these ships in the North because of the over-lightened welded hull, the cruisers were also not able to fight off aircraft with such modest anti-aircraft weapons at first, not very high speed - it all came together. A 100% unsuccessful career.
The only thing that the K-class cruisers were capable of was playing the role of an armed and fast amphibious transport during the operation in Norway. And even then the loss of two cruisers out of three is not an indicator of success.
In general, the very idea of building such kind of ships was not very good. However, the Germans did not calm down and began work to improve their light cruisers.
Type "E": "Leipzig" and "Nuremberg"
This is a kind of "correction of errors", that is, an attempt to somehow improve the characteristics of cruisers, especially in terms of survivability and speed.
These two ships were very different from type "K", on the one hand, and inherited almost all the shortcomings of their predecessors, on the other.
External differences: one chimney instead of two or more straight stem of the "Atlantic" type. Well, the hulls of the ships became a little longer, 181 meters versus 174. The standard displacement is 7291 tons, the total displacement is 9829 tons, the draft at the standard displacement is 5,05 m, with the full displacement - 5,59 m.
The main difference was inside. A slightly different power plant, a slightly different layout. A third propeller was added, which was driven by two seven-cylinder two-stroke diesel engines from MAN with a total capacity of 12 hp.
The idea was not bad, the main course under the turbines on two propellers, economical on diesel engines on a separate propeller. In theory. In practice, the moment of transition from diesels to turbines still for some time deprived the ship of its progress and made it difficult to control. It turned out that it is very difficult to "pick up" the speed of the turbines on diesel engines. As a result, very often ships at such a moment were completely deprived of their course, which eventually resulted in an emergency.
But on the whole, this combined setup has proven to be very useful. When in 1939 Leipzig received a British torpedo exactly in the area of the boiler room and the cars stopped (the left one is clear for what reason, and the right one because of the general drop in steam pressure), the urgently launched diesel engines allowed to develop a speed of 15 knots and leave the dangerous area ... But the average speed on diesels was still around 10 knots. That is not enough.
Well, an epic stories with the combined installation, an incident occurred on the night of 14-15 October 1944. The case is well-known, when the heavy cruiser "Prince Eugen", returning from Klaipeda, where he fired at the Soviet troops, rammed the "Leipzig", which was going to the Skagerrak strait to lay mines. It was at night, in the fog, why the radar posts of both ships were silent, it is difficult to say, but the Eugen crashed into the Leipzig all the way, which ... stood, switching the main gearbox from diesels to turbines!
As you can see in the photo, Leipzig hit exactly the center of the hull between the bow superstructure and the tube. The bow engine rooms were destroyed, the cruiser took 1600 tons of water. 11 crew members were killed (according to other sources - 27), 6 were missing, 31 were injured. At "Eugen" the stem was destroyed, several sailors were injured.
The ships could not disengage on their own, so they swam all night together with the letter "T". Towards morning tugs arrived from Danzig. Only with their help was it possible to disengage.
The Leipzig was dragged on a cable to Gotenshafen, where the damage was hastily patched up and no further repairs began. The cruiser was turned into a self-propelled floating battery, since on diesel engines it could still give its 8-10 knots.
Combat use of the cruiser "Leipzig"
First use - September 3-30, 1939, Operation Westwall, laying minefields in the North Sea.
On November 7, 1939, Leipzig collided with the training ship Bremse. The damage was of moderate severity, but even then it became clear that the ship still had the planid.
In November-December 1939, he ensured the laying of mines at the mouth of the Humber River, went to the retinue of the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and laid mines in the Newcastle region. After laying mines, he received a torpedo from the British submarine "Samone", but safely reached the base.
In September 1943 he was transferred to the Baltic, where he planted mines and fired at Soviet troops. October 15, 1944 collided with the heavy cruiser "Prince Eugen", was towed to Gotenhafen (Gdynia) for temporary repair. In March 1945, he fired at the Soviet troops advancing on Gdynia, having used up the main caliber ammunition, took on board the wounded and evacuated civilians and crawled away on diesel engines in Apenrade (Denmark).
On July 9, 1946 she was sunk in Skagerrak.
"Nuremberg" ... "Nuremberg" is generally not very logical to equate with all the previous ones. In fact, the "Nuremberg" was much larger than all its predecessors, by about 10% in size and displacement. Actually, this is not surprising, since the "Nuremberg" was built in 1934, five years later than "Leipzig".
However, the increase in size and displacement did not affect survivability or any other characteristics at all. Alas. The full length of the "Nuremberg" is 181,3 m, the width is 16,4 m, the draft at a standard displacement is 4,75 m, and at full displacement is 5,79 m. The standard displacement is 7882 and the total displacement is 9965 tons.
The power plant was also different from the same "Leipzig". The boilers were the same, TZA from Deutsche Werke, but the diesel group consisted of four 7-cylinder M-7 diesel engines from MAN with a capacity of 3100 hp. Under diesels, the cruiser developed a full speed of 16,5 knots.
The booking was disappointingly identical to the K type booking, with no improvement.
The armament was also absolutely identical to the K-type cruisers, the only difference was that the placement of the towers was the same as on the K-type cruisers, but the aft towers were located strictly on the longitudinal axis, without offset from the center axis.
Auxiliary artillery consisted of the same 88-mm guns in three twin mounts, small-caliber anti-aircraft artillery consisted of 37 mm and 20 mm automatic cannons.
Radars. It was more interesting here than on Type "K". At the end of 1941, a FuMO-21 radar was installed on the Nuremberg. In 1943, it was replaced by the FuMO-22, the antenna of which was mounted on the foremast platform. In the upper part of the bow superstructure, an antenna for the fire control radar of 37-mm anti-aircraft guns was mounted, and the antennas of the FuMB-1 warning system were installed along the perimeter of the superstructure, which warned of irradiation with enemy radars. At the end of 1944, the FuMO-63 air target detection radar was mounted on the cruiser.
Combat career of the cruiser "Nuremberg"
The beginning of his combat career - together with the rest of the cruisers, on setting mines on September 3-30, 1939.
In November-December 1939, he provided mine laying in the Thames estuary, in the Newcastle area, was damaged by a torpedo in the bow from the British submarine Salmone.
From August 1940 to November 1942 he performed various tasks in the Baltic. In November 1942-April 1943 he was in Narvik, in the Tirpitz group. In May 1943 he was transferred back to the Baltic. In January 1945 he set up a minefield in the Skagerrak, transferred to Copenhagen, where he was captured by the British in May 1945.
On November 5, 1945, according to reparations, transferred to the representatives of the Soviet Union, renamed the cruiser "Admiral Makarov". In 1946 she was commissioned into the Baltic Fleet, used as a training ship.
In 1959 it was excluded from the lists of the fleet and in 1961 it was cut into metal.
In general, it is difficult to adequately assess the entire project. The construction of the Leipzig began before the K-class cruisers entered service. But even then it became clear that the cruiser was so-so. Why it was necessary to lay down Leipzig and Nuremberg is hard to say. Perhaps just undercover games for a budget. Perhaps something else.
By the time the Nuremberg was laid down, all the shortcomings of the K-cruisers had become apparent. And the fact that the K-class cruisers could not be used for cruising operations did not raise any doubts at all either in terms of seaworthiness, or armor, or weapons.
The only thing that could justify the massive construction of such controversial ships is that they were better than the Emden, and there was nothing better than them at all.
It would be worthwhile to wait and build something more substantial, like taking the Admiral Hipper project and just shrink it.
But the leadership of the fleet (and maybe even higher) did not want to wait, so they built five very controversial ships.
And it is not surprising that all German light cruisers turned out to be of little use in northern waters due to their frankly weak hull, and their small cruising range did not allow sending ships to raider operations.
And the ships naturally turned out to be completely not tenacious in battle. One cannot but agree with this, because three 210-mm shells or one British (not the most powerful for sure) torpedo is not fatal damage. Nevertheless…
It remains only to state that the project of the K-class cruisers contained a huge number of flaws and shortcomings. And even with the revision in "Leipzig" and "Nuremberg" it was not possible to get rid of them.
German cruisers lost the most important thing - their survivability, which was the envy of the British in the First World War.
In general, it would be better to use metal for construction tanks Guderian, Wenck and Rommel. Honestly, there would be more benefits. Six light cruisers (including the Emden) were unable to exert even the slightest effect on the situation at sea, but absorbed so many resources that it is simply impossible not to regret it.