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karlsruhe - Light Cruiser


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 Special thanks to Michael Emmerich of for the use of images and information in this section.

Leichter Kreuzer Karlsruhe in 1940


The three K-class Light Cruisers were the first modern cruisers of the German navy after World War I. For the first time, the main artillery of a German CL was mounted in real turrets and not in single mounts as before.  An interesting detail was that the afterwards turrets were mounted off the centerline to give them a better arc of fire. The preserve weight, about 85% of the hull was welded, but this causes one of the major drawbacks for those ships, their structural weakness.

With the idea of commerce war in mind, those ships should have been used in the North Atlantic, but their much too short endurance and structural problems made this kind of duty impossible.
The first of the three ships, the Kreuzer B (later Königsberg ) was laid down on April 12th 1926 and completed three years later. The Kreuzer C (Karlsruhe ) joined the fleet in November 1929 while the Kreuzer D (Köln ) was commissioned in January 1930.

All three cruisers made several voyages in many countries of the world before World War II  to "show the flag". During the war they did see action in the North and Baltic Sea. Two of them were sunk during Operation "Weserübung", the invasion of Norway,  while the third was sunk at the end of the war.


Construction Data Dimensions Commanders
Laid down:     Deutsche Werke Kiel, 27.07.1926
Launched:     20.08.1927
Commissioned:     06.11.1929
Fate:     sunk by Submarine 09.04.1940 (Kristiansand)
Costs:     36 Mio Reichsmark
Size (Max):     7700 t (8350 t since 1939)
Length (Total):     174,0 m
Length (Waterline):     169,0 m
Beam:     15,2 m (16,8 m since 1939)
Draft:     6,28 m (6,20 m since 1939)
Crew:     514-850
FK/KzS Eugen Lindau:     06.11.1929 - Sep 1931
FK/KzS Erwin Waßner:     Sep 1931 - Dec 1932
FK/KzS Freiherr Harsdorf von Enderndorf:     Dec 1932 - Sep 1934
KzS Günter Lütjens:     Sep 1934 - Sep 1935
FK/KzS Leopold Siemens:     Sep 1935 - Sep 1937
KzS Dr. Wernder Förste:     Sep 1937 - May 1938
KzS Friedrirch Rieve:     13.11.1939 - 10.04.1940



Armour and Aircraft

Engines & Performance

15 cm C/25 (5,9"):     9
8,8 cm L/45 C/32:     2 (4 since 1933, 6 since 1936)
3,7 cm L/83 C/30:     8 (since 1934)
2 cm MG L/83:     up to 8
53,3 cm Torpedoes:     12 (50 cm until 1934)
Mines:     120
Deck:     40 mm
Belt:     50-70 mm
Command Tower:     100 mm
Turrets:     20-20 mm
Shafts:     3
Engines:     4
Type:     MAN 10-cyl. diesel
Turbines:     2
Type:     Geared turbines
Total Performance:     68000 shp
Speed:     32,1 kn
Range:     7300 miles at 17 kn

Operational History

15.10.1929:   First trials under the civilian flag.
15.10.1929:   Commissioned.
January - March 1930:   Trials in the Baltic Sea.
24.05.1930-12.12.1930:   First international voyage: Mediterranean, Suez Channel, East Africa, Cape of Good Hope, West Africa,
South America, Spain.
- November 1931:   Fleet operations.
30.11.1931-08.12.1932:   Second international voyage: West Indies, Central America, Panama Channel, South America,  Cape Horn, New York.
- October 1933:   Fleet operations.
14.10.1933-16.06.1934:   Third international voyage, around the world: Mediterranean, East Asia, India, Indonesia, Hawaii, USA,
Panama Channel, USA.
22.10.1934-15.06.1935:   Fourth international voyage: South America, Cape Horn, South America, Central America, North America, Canada, Panama Channel, USA, Spain.
21.10.1935-13.06.1936:   Fifth international voyage, around the world: South Africa, Seychelles, Indonesia, China, Japan, USA. In San Diego repairs after heavy storm damage.
-December 1937:   Fleet operations.
27.12.1936-22.02.1937:   Operations in the North Atlantic, near Tanger, the Spanish coast and Portugal.
-May 1938:   Fleet Operations.
20.05.1938-13.11.1939:   Major refits in Wilhelmshaven Naval Shipyard.
April 1940:   Operation "Weserübung":  
Together with torpedo boats Seeadler , Greif and Luchs , the Karlsruhe forms  Squadron 4 heading for Kristiansand South and Arendal
09.04.1940:   British submarine Truant attacks CL Karlsruhe off Kristiansand. One torpedo hit in Sections V and VI, disabling both engines and power stations. Crew is taken over by torpedo boat Greif which sinks the crippled cruiser with two torpedoes at 22.50.