Combat ships. Cruisers. The unique monsters of the Kaiserlichmarine
Having written about the British high-speed interceptor cruisers "Ebdiel", I realized that it would be simply criminal to ignore what it started with. story minelayer cruisers. Simply because the ships from which this story began, remained unsurpassed in their class and, having done business at sea, sank to the bottom in Scapa Flow with their flags raised. That is, worthy.
The most interesting thing is that there were attempts in several countries to create something similar at once. But alas, the attempts were not entirely successful. For example, British mine loaders were faster, but they took much less mines. But let's go in order.
So, our heroes are light minelayer cruisers of the Brummer class.
These ships were created by converting light cruisers into minelayers. The re-equipment was so successful that, although having lost a certain number of artillery barrels, the minelayers were able to take on board up to 400 mines. "Brummer" and "Bremse" participated in the First World War, after which they were interned in Scapa Flow, where on June 21, 1919 they were flooded by crews.
Mines. Very old, but still very powerful weapon... All maritime powers each went their own way in the development of mine work, Germany was no exception, rather the opposite. The Germans have always paid much attention to the defense of their maritime borders and coastlines, so that the first minefield was laid by them during the Danish-Prussian War in 1849 to protect the harbor of Kiel. And a lot of time and money was devoted to the mine business, creating new samples of mines and building ships.
By the way, in 1898 a Mine Testing Commission was created in Kiel, headed by the former commander of the Pelican minelayer, corvette captain Count Maximillian von Spee. With all the ensuing consequences.
By the beginning of the First World War, the Germans had organized their mine forces quite well. There were also minelayers in the Kaiserlichmarin, and the main types of ships could place mines. Light cruisers of the "Kolberg" type carried up to 120 minutes, conventional destroyers took on board from 24 to 30 minutes.
In general, the Germans have achieved significant success in converting any ships and vessels into mine layers, from passenger steamers to ferries. Everything that was at hand could go into action.
And this practice has shown its worth. On July 28, 1914, the First World War began, and on August 6, the British light cruiser "Amfion" died on mines set by the Princess Louise minelayer, converted from a passenger steamer. But on October 27, the largest ship in the history of the war was killed by mines. The battleship "Odeshes" ("Daring") ran into a mine, which was put up by the mine cruiser "Berlin", also converted from a passenger liner.
Liverpool (left) and Fury (center) try to tow Odeshes (right).
The battleship, with a displacement of 25 tons, carrying 000 10-mm guns, was completely helpless in front of mines and sank.
And in German navy realized the usefulness of minelayers, which will have good speed and range and carry decent weapons and mines.
By the end of 1914, the project was ready, the basis of which was the light cruiser "Wiesbaden".
This is an important moment for us, since the ship was originally conceived as a cruiser, and only then it was converted into a minelayer.
The project was pretty fantastic. The minesag cruiser had to go at a speed of at least 28 knots (this was pretty decent at that time), take on board 300 or even more mines, and for camouflage it had to look like a British cruiser of the "Arethusa" class.
Happened. The minesag cruiser at the Wiesbaden base could indeed go at a speed of 28 knots and take on board 400 mines, even more than planned. True, I had to pay for this. An ordinary German light cruiser carried 7-8 150-mm guns. The minelayer received four 150-mm guns, that is, half the size. Armor also had to be sacrificed, the armor belt decreased from 60 to 40 mm, the armor deck became thinner from 50 to 15 mm. And the bevels of the armored deck, which became the hallmark of German cruising booking, had to be removed altogether. All for the sake of placing mines.
On December 11, 1915, the first ship was launched. He received the name "Brummer".
The second ship left the stocks on March 11, 1916 and received the name "Bremse".
By the way, the names ("Brummer" - "Bumblebee", "Bremse" - "Gadfly" or "Blind") emphasized a certain special status of ships, since light cruisers in the German navy were always given the names of cities.
The ships had two solid decks, upper and main / armored. The hull was divided by bulkheads into 21 compartments. The normal displacement of the ship was 4 tons, and the total displacement was 385 tons. Draft at normal displacement is 5 m.
The bow superstructure was quite typical for the German light cruisers of the First World War. The conning tower was located on the forecastle deck behind the bow gun, as if "torn off" from the navigating bridge. Not the best solution, as practice has shown. The aft superstructure was missing, since the ship was supposed to resemble British light cruisers.
An armored belt 40 mm thick covered more than 70% of the hull length - from V to XX compartments inclusive. Armored traverses closed it in front and behind. In this case, the stern traverse had a thickness of 25 mm, and the bow - 15 mm. In addition, there was another traverse, 25 mm thick, covering the front of the compartment of diesel generators and the cellar of the bow group of main battery guns.
The armored deck 15 mm thick also served as a roof for the ammunition cellars. In the stern there was an armored box 15 mm thick, which protected the steering gear.
The conning tower was very well booked. The walls were 100 mm thick, the floor and ceiling were 20 mm thick. A communication pipe 60 mm thick led to the central post.
The 150 mm and 88 mm guns were covered with 50 mm shields.
The "heart" of the cruisers were steam turbines manufactured by AEG-Vulcan, which were powered by steam from 6 two-fired water-tube boilers of the Schulz-Thornicroft system. These boilers were also called "standard naval".
Each boiler was located in its own compartment, boilers No. 3 and No. 5 were heated with coal, and No. 1,2,4,6 had oil heating. Chimneys of two boilers were taken out into each pipe.
The normal fuel supply included 300 tons of coal and 500 tons of oil, the maximum - 600 tons of coal and 1000 tons of oil. This provided a cruising range of 5 miles with a 800-knot or 12 miles with a 1-knot.
Around these boilers and turbines there are many legends that they were ordered by the Russian Empire for their ships, either for the battle cruiser Navarin, or for the cruisers Svetlana and Admiral Greig. With the beginning of the war, the units were confiscated by Germany and used for their own needs. Some facts speak in favor of this, but there are those that refute this story.
On trials with full boost of the machines "Brummer" developed a power of 42 hp, "Bremse" - 797 hp. The ships showed an average speed of 47 knots. For a short time, the cruisers could show up to 748 knots, but this with a significant lightening of the ship. For example, by placing all the mines.
The main caliber of the Brummer-class cruisers consisted of only four 150-mm SK L / 45 guns of the 1906 model in MPL C / 13 mounts on the central pin.
One gun was installed in the bow, the second on the boat deck between the first and second chimneys, two in the stern in a linearly elevated pattern.
A 150-mm projectile weighing 45,3 kg flew out of the barrel with an initial speed of 835 m / s and flew to a distance of 17 km. The gun had separate manual loading, which had a negative effect on its rate of fire, which was 3-5 rounds per minute. But this was almost the only drawback of the weapon, which proved to be a reliable system.
We can say that the placement of guns on ships was the second drawback. The bow gun was flooded with water on the move in waves, the second gun was difficult to supply ammunition due to the distance from the cellars, and the fourth, the stern gun, could not be used at all with a full mine load.
So artillery combat was not an easy task for these minelayers. The ammunition was stored in four cellars under the armored deck. Full ammunition consisted of 600 shells, 150 per barrel.
Mine cruisers were the first German ships, which were originally included in the project 88-mm anti-aircraft guns.
The Broomer was equipped with just such a weapon, but it is not in the picture.
Two such guns were installed on the boat deck behind the chimneys. The initial velocity of the projectile was 890 m / s, which provided a 9-kg projectile with a flight range of more than 11 km or more than 9 km in height. The practical rate of fire is 15 rounds per minute. Ammunition load of 400 rounds per gun.
Launching a torpedo from a Brummer during an exercise
Under the platform of the second gun, two single-tube torpedo tubes of 500 mm caliber were located side by side. The guidance sectors were quite decent, 70 degrees forward and aft. Ammunition consisted of four torpedoes, two spare were stored next to the torpedo tubes in special containers.
Mines were to become the main weapon of the minelaying cruisers, and the possibility of receiving a large number of mines by the Brummer-class minelayers became the most interesting feature of the project.
The main weapon of the minelayers was the EMA type mines of the 1912 model. Initially, this abbreviation stood for Elektrische Mine A (type A electric mine), and then Einheitsmine A (single mine A), which indicated that the mine had become standard for the German fleet.
Externally, the EMA consisted of two steel hemispheres connected by a cylindrical insert, which contained 150 kg of pyroxylin. The total weight of the mine was 862 kg with an anchor and a 100-meter mine.
The second mine, which the Germans adopted, was the EMV. Structurally, it differed slightly, but the warhead was increased to 225 kg.
It was for laying mines like EMA and EMB that the minelayer cruisers of the Brummer type were designed.
The total mine load of the cruisers included 400 mines of the indicated types, which was simply a unique result, which the British and French were never able to achieve. But even this number was not final. In the overload, it was possible to place about two dozen more mines in the corners, which ultimately gave just a crazy figure of 420 minutes.
About half of the mines were located on the upper deck. A pair of mine rails ran from the first chimney to the stern section, along which mines were thrown into the water. The second pair of mine rails was in the mine hangar and reached the anti-aircraft guns. Two more pairs of mine rails ran along the main deck.
For loading mines on the main deck, there were 8 mine loading hatches in the upper deck, located in pairs in the area of the first and second chimneys. The mines were loaded with the help of four removable cargo arrows, which were installed on the roof of the "mine hangar" and near the gun # 2.
The mines were lifted from the main deck to the upper deck through two hatches inside the "mine hangar".
The crew of the Brummer-class mine cruiser consisted of 309 people, 16 officers and 293 sailors.
"Brummer" entered service on April 2, 1916, and simply did not have time for the main naval battle of the First World War (Jutland, May 31 - June 1, 1916).
The first combat campaign "Brummer" made as a light cruiser in the squadron of Admiral Hipper, which included the battleships Bayern, Grosser Kurfürst, "Margrave", the battle cruisers "Von der Tann" and "Moltke", the cruiser "Stralsund "," Frankfurt "," Pillau "and" Brummer ", plus two fleets of destroyers.
The British also went out to meet, but the artillery battle did not work. Both squadrons suffered all losses from submarine operations. The Germans damaged the battleship Westfalen, which became part of Hipper's group later, the British lost the cruisers Nottingham and Falmouth.
"Brummer" twice opened fire on British submarines, once the attack could not be thwarted, but the cruiser dodged the torpedoes fired by the British.
In the role of a minelayer "Brummer" acted only at the beginning of 1917. Together with the Bremse, which entered service in January, the Brummer laid nearly a thousand mines in a barrier between the islands of Helgoland and Nordenai.
In February, the Brummer carried out the opposite operation: it covered the minesweepers, which eliminated the British setting at Terschelling. The minelayers "Princess Margaret" and "Wahine" put up 481 mines, which greatly impeded the actions of the German fleet in the area. Oral surgery continued until June 1917.
In September 1917, the German command decided to conduct an operation to seize the Baltic Islands. On October 11, this operation began, and since it was very large, attracting attention, it was proposed to send part of the forces of the fleet to attack the Scandinavian convoys between Norway and Great Britain. For these convoys, ships from neutral countries were used, guarded by British warships.
"Brummer", "Bremse" and four destroyers were to find and destroy such a convoy. The detachment was commanded by frigatten-captain Leonardi. On October 15, the detachment went to sea along with minesweepers, who were supposed to lead the ships through the minefields. The weather worsened, and Leonardi dismissed the destroyers after the minesweepers.
The radio operators of the German ships intercepted messages, from which it was concluded that a convoy was walking nearby, which was guarded by one or two destroyers. The British, by the way, also intercepted the negotiations between the Brummer and the minesweepers, but they did not strain at all, because the minelayer and minesweepers testified to another mine setting. Yes, to the south, light cruisers and destroyers were deployed to intercept the mine.
By October 17, the British fleet had deployed an impressive force in the North Sea - 3 battle cruisers, 27 light cruisers and 54 destroyers.
And from Lerwick there was a convoy of 12 transports and 2 destroyers, "Strongbow" and "Mary Rose"
At about 7 am on October 18, a convoy was spotted from the Brummer. Mary Rose was in the lead, Strongbow was in the rear. The transports went between the destroyers.
The Strongbow also noticed ships approaching the convoy, but what was said at the very beginning played a role here: the Brummer and Bremse looked like the British Arethusa. From aboard "Strongbow" they asked for identification signals three times, the Germans in response simply duplicated what was transmitted by the British. Until the destroyer realized that they were just fooling around on unidentified ships, while they played a combat alert ...
"Brummer" and "Bremse" approached at close range and opened fire from their 150-mm guns. At close range, it is 2800 meters. Nothing by sea. The second volley of German artillerymen interrupted the main steam line and destroyed the radio station. The Strongbow was enveloped in steam and lost its speed. There were many wounded and killed on board. For another ten minutes the Germans fired at the destroyer, after which Leonardi ordered the Bremza to finish off the destroyer, and he himself went to the transports.
24 minutes after the start of the battle, at 7.30, the Strongbow sank.
The Brummer caught up with the transports and at that moment the armed trawler Alice opened fire on it. The shells lay down with a slight undershoot, within one cable, the gaps gave a yellow color, from which the Germans concluded that they were fired at with gas shells. Leonardi ordered to open fire on all ships, regardless of nationality, from all barrels, including 88-mm anti-aircraft guns. Outright panic began on the transports, ships of neutral countries began to lower boats.
And on the leading "Mary Rose" they finally heard the shooting. Since the Strongbow was not broadcasting anything, Mary Rose commander Fox decided they were shooting at a German submarine. Fox turned the destroyer around and went to meet the ships. The story of not identifying the German cruisers was repeated, the Germans played the same game, plus they hammered the destroyer's signals with their more powerful radio station. By the way, the first use of electronic warfare in the history of the German fleet.
In general, "Mary Rose" hit the Brummer with one shell, but apart from a small fire, it did not cause much damage.
The Brummer responded with 15 hits with its 150mm shells and at 8.03 the crippled Mary Rose sank.
"Mary Rose" is drowning
Of the 88 crew members, 10 survived.
Meanwhile "Bremse" sank 9 steamers with artillery fire. As a result, both cruisers, not becoming to save the crew members of the sunken ships, left the area and arrived in Wilhelmshaven on the evening of October 18.
"Brummer", having made several patrol exits with minesweepers, got up for repairs, from which it left in May 1918. Since the beginning of June, the mine cruiser has been actively laying mines in the German Bay. It was delivered in three exits 270, 252 and 420 mines, plus another 170 mines were put up by the cruiser "Strassbourg".
And then, in fact, until the end of the war, "Brummer" was in the harbor. The new commanders of the fleet, Admiral Hipper, and the chief of the naval staff, Admiral Scheer, insisted on the conduct of submarine warfare, so that the surface ships did not actually take part in the war. Until the end of the war, "Brummer" once went to sea to cover the minesweepers in September 1918.
At the very end of the war, the final exit of the High Seas Fleet was planned for a general battle with the enemy. "Brummer" and "Bremse" received a separate task, they had to mine the likely routes for the advancement of the British fleet. For this, the minelayers took 420 mines aboard to Cuxhaven and, together with the cruisers of the Reconnaissance Group "Frankfurt", "Regensburg", "Strassburg", prepared to leave. However, the exit was canceled due to the mutiny on the battleships "Thuringia" and "Helgoland", the mines were unloaded and the cruisers left for Kiel.
On November 19, 1918, the Brummer, with the entire High Seas Fleet, embarked on her last voyage to Scapa Flow. On November 26, the cruiser anchored.
On June 21, 1919, the remnants of the crew on the Brummer raised the German flag and the ship was sunk. They did not lift it, "Brummer" still lies on the starboard side at a depth of 21-30 meters.
Entered the fleet on July 1, 1916. The first combat exit was made on November 27 to search for and provide assistance to the L21 and L22 zeppellins, along with other cruisers.
In December 1916 "Bremse" was transferred to the IV Reconnaissance Group together with "Brummer". Together with other cruisers, the Bremse took part in a reconnaissance mission on December 27 to the area of the Big Fish Bank, and on January 10 of the following year, with the Brummer, laid mines between Nordernai and Heligoland.
The history of the Bremse service throughout 1917 was no different from the actions of the Brummer; the interdicting cruisers acted together.
During a raid on a Scandinavian convoy, the Bremse gunners sank 9 transport ships while the Brummer was busy with the cover destroyers. The Bremza used 159 150-mm shells.
In April 1918, "Bremse" twice went to mine laying, placing 2 mines in the North Sea on April 304, and then on April 11 - 150 more.
On April 23-25, the cruiser took part in the last exit of the German fleet to the sea. It was planned to intercept the next Scandinavian convoy, but the German squadron did not find it. The exit generally ended sadly, because the leader of the squadron, the battle cruiser Moltke, received a torpedo from the British submarine E-42.
The German command received information that British minelayers had set up several obstacles in the Kattegat Strait. The torpedo boats sent for verification discovered minefields. It was decided not to clear out the barriers, but to stick their mines around so that the British ships in the "safe" passages would get theirs.
"Brummer" was under repair, so "Bremse" alone on May 11 put three lines, two of 140 minutes and one of 120 minutes. On May 14, the Bremse, Regensburg, Stralsund and Strassburg went to sea. While the cruisers were performing the task of blocking trade routes, "Bremse" put another 420 mines away from previous missions.
As a result, the Germans practically blocked the Kattegat with mines, leaving a channel six miles wide for their submarines and in Aalborg Bay - a passage for surface ships. True, the Swedes dumped many mines, since they did not really like the fact that a German minelayer was operating in their waters.
On November 19, the cruiser, under the command of Ober-Lieutenant-zur-see Fritz Schake, left for her last campaign.
On June 21, 1919, at Scapa Flow, the Bremse crew attempted to sink their ship, but they failed. The ship was rescued by the British, a detachment of British sailors arrived on board the cruiser, who tried to save the Bremse. But the compartments in which the Germans opened the Kingston were already flooded, and it was not possible to stop the flow of water.
The destroyer Venezia pulled the Bremse to a shallower part of the bay off the Isle of Mayland, where the cruiser still sank, falling to starboard at a shallow depth.
In 1929, entrepreneur Ernest Frank Cox bought all the sunken German ships from the British Admiralty for cutting into scrap and was able to raise the Bremse.
There were problems in the form of oil that spilled inside the ship. There were problems in the face of the cruiser itself, who resisted the British as best he could. During the work on lifting the cruiser, several people were injured, two were seriously injured by explosions of oil vapors when the hull was cut with burners.
But they began to straighten the ship, at the same time raising. However, "Bremze" did not want to float and presented the workers with an unpleasant surprise: the cruiser capsized on the starboard side, oil began to pour into the water from the tanks, and someone came up with a simply unmatched idea to set fire to oil in order to get rid of it faster.
The fire raged for several days and as a result, the entire bow of the cruiser burned out completely. On November 29, the Bremse was taken to Lineness, where it was dismantled.
In general, not many mine cruisers were created, but they were. In Germany, Italy, France, Great Britain, USSR, Japan, USA.
German designers have created a really breakthrough ship, which determined the vector of development of minelayers for many years to come. Brummer and Bremse were in fact better than all the followers that were created even after many years.
What's the mystery? In a timeless compromise. In "Brummer" and "Bremza" it was possible to achieve just a perfect balance between desires and possibilities. The transformation of a light cruiser into a mine cruiser turned out to be so painless that it made it possible to use these ships not only as minelayers.
Yes, in terms of artillery, the Brummer type seemed to be weaker than the usual German cruisers. "Brummer" had 4 150-mm guns, and "Magdeburgs" - 7 or 8. However, "Brummer" guns were placed diametrically, on one line. And the "Magdeburgs" had a side-symmetric layout, and only two stern guns were linearly elevated, like on the "Brummer".
As a result, the Brummer's side salvo consisted of four guns, while the Magdeburg's had only five.
And as the raid on the Scandinavian convoy showed, four 150-mm guns are more than enough to sink the steamers. Yes, if “Brummer” and “Bremse” were met not by destroyers, but by cruisers, then the outcome could have been more sad for the Germans. But the mine cruiser is not created for fighting with their own kind.
Armor. The armor was weakened very much, but again, armor is not needed at all for laying mines, and when attacking destroyers and merchant ships, the one that was available was enough.
By the way, British researchers believe that the German minelayers had a speed much higher than the declared 28 knots. Whether it was due to successful misinformation on the part of German intelligence or the British were wrong, they seriously believed that the Brummer could develop 32 knots. And after the defeat of the convoy, the British began urgently to work on a project of an interceptor cruiser capable of catching up with such ships.
This is how class E cruisers appeared. Not entirely successful, but fast ships.
But cruising is not the main task for the Brummers. But as minelayers, the German ships were unmatched. Probably the only drawback was the placement of mines on the open deck and the associated danger.
However, in 1924 the British built the Adventure minelayer, which was larger than the Brummer, had an enclosed mine deck, but was otherwise weaker. Speed, armor, weapons - everything was worse than that of the Germans.
The French built the minelayer "Pluto" in the image and likeness in 1929, and in 1933 the cruiser with the function of the minelayer "Emile Bertin". The Emile Bertin looked like the Brummer as a cruiser, but had almost no armor as such.
However, in terms of functionality, that is, the number of mines taken on board, the Brummer was unmatched. 420 minutes "Adventure" could take 280, "Pluto" - 290, "Emile Bertin" - 200 minutes.
Here, of course, one could recall the Russian "Amur" and "Yenisei", which could carry 320 mines each and were armed with five 120-mm guns. True, the Russian ships did not carry armor and had a catastrophically low speed of 18,5 knots.
"Brummer" and "Bremse", although they lived a very short life, we can say that they were rich and useful. Unlike many of its large counterparts.
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