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Koln - Light Cruiser


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

Leichter Kreuzer Köln in 1941


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. To 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:     Reichsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven, 07.08.1926
Launched:     25.05.1928
Commissioned:     15.01.1930
Fate:     sunk by bombs 31.03.1945 (Wilhelmshaven)
Costs:     36 Mio Reichsmark
Size (Max):     7700 t
Length (Total):     174,0 m
Length (Waterline):     169,0 m
Beam:     15,2 m
Draft:     6,28 m
Crew:     514-850
FK/KzS Ludwig von Schröder:     15.01.1930 - Sep 1932
FK/KzS  Otto Schniewind:     Sep 1932 - Mar 1934
FK/KzS Otto Backenköhler:     Oct 1935 - Oct 1937
KzS Theodor Burchardi:     Oct 1937 - 14.01.1940
KzS Ernst Kretzenberg:     15.01.1940 - May 1941
KzS Friedrich Hüffmeier:     May 1941 - Mar 1942
KK Hellmuth Strobel:     Mar 1942 - May 1942
KzS Martin Balzer:     May 1942 - 12.12.1942
KzS Hans Meyer:     13.12.1942 - Feb 1943
FK/KzS Hellmuth Strobel:     Apr 1944 - Jan 1945
KK Frotz-Henning Brandes:     Jan 1945 - 30.04.45



Armour and Aircraft

Engines & Performance

15 cm C/25 (5,9"):     9
8,8 cm L/45 C/32:     4 (4 since 1933, 6 since 1936)
3,7 cm L/83 C/30:     8 (since 1934)
2 cm MG L/83:     8 (18 since 1945)
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
Heinkel He 60:     2 (between 1935 and 1935)
Flettner Fl 265:     1 (between 1939 and 1940, landing platform on turret B)
Shafts:     3
Engines:     4
Type:     MAN 10-cyl. diesel
Turbines:     2
Type:     Geared turbines
Total Performance:     68485shp
Speed:     32,5 kn
Range:     7300 miles at 17 kn

Operational History

15.01.1930:   Commissioned.
July - October 1930:   Trials and training in the Baltic and North Sea.
28.10.1930-05.12.1930:   Artillery drills in the North Atlantic, meets Karlsruhe on her first international voyage.
 -June 1931:   Training and trials in the Baltic Sea.
June 1931:   Voyage to Norway, followed by fleet operations in the North Sea, Jutland and the Baltic Sea.
-January 1932:   Training and artillery drills in the Baltic Sea.
07.01.1932-29.01.1932:   Artillery drills in the North Atlantic, followed by training in coastal waters.
08.12.1932-12.12.1933:   First international voyage: Mediterranean, Alexandria, Suez Channel, India, Indonesia, Australia, Pacific, Japan, Tsingtau, China, Indonesia, Ceylon, Suez Channel, Greece, Italy and Spain.
-June 1934:   Fleet operations.
09.06.1934-28.06.1934:   Artillery drills together with Panzerschiff Deutschland .
Nov - Dec 1934:   Repairs in Wilhelmshaven.
-April 1936:   Fleet operations.
May - June 1936:   Atlantic operation near Portugal.
07-29.06.1936:   Operations at the Spanish coast.
30.07 - 08.10.1936:   Operations at the Spanish coast.
1937:   Several operation at the Spanish coast.
Jan - Feb 1938:   Repairs and refits in Kiel.
-October 1938:   Fleet operations.
31.10.1938 - Mar 1939:   Repairs and refits in Kiel.
13.04 - 16.05.1939:   Training in the North Atlantic.
08.10.1939:   Köln takes part in a North Sea raid together with BC Gneisneau and the destroyers Wilhlem Heidkamp , Friedrich Ihn , Diether von Roeder , Karl Galster , Max Schulz , Paul Jakobi , Bernd von Arnim , Erich Steinbrink and Friedrich Eckoldt with no special events.
12-13.12.1939:   Screening a mining mission of five DD with CL Nürnberg and CL Leipzig .
April 1940:   Operation "Weserübung":
Part of Squadron 3 (Bergen), returns to Wilhelmshaven on April 11th.
Sep - Oct 1941:   Supports army to take islands Dagö and Ösel, disabling Russian coastal batteries at Cape Ristna.
1941-1942:   Tests and trials with ship based helicopter Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri.
February - May 1942:   Repairs and refits in Wilhelmshaven, sent to Norway.
13.07.1942:   Left Oslo for northern Norway.
06.08.1942:   Arrived at Narvik, joins Battle Group.
10.09.1942:   Together with Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper , the Köln moves to the Alta Fjord to attack Convoy PQ18. Unsuccessful British submarine attack, the attack on the convoy is stopped.
February 1943:   Admiral Hipper and Köln sail to the Baltic to be withdrawn from service.
Mar 1943 - Mar 1944:   Out of service.
March 1944:   The Köln is towed from Kiel to Königsberg.
01.04.1944:   Recommissioned to train cadet engineers.
April- July 1944:   Refits.
July - September 1944:   Battle training.
September 1944:   Mining operations in south Norwegian sea.

Oct - Nov 1944:  

Convoy operations between Norway and Denmark.
13.12.1944:   Heavy damages from bombing attacks: power stations and starboard engine destroyed.
31.12.1944:   Additional damage cause by repeated bombing attacks.
January 1945:   Sailed to Wilhelmshaven for repairs, damaged by bombs near the island Wangerooge.
14.02.1945:   Reached Wilhelmshaven.
31.03.1945:   The CL Köln is sunk after hit by five heavy bombs during the last British night raid on Wilhelmshaven. The ship sinks on its keel, the turrets remain operational even after the ship was taken out of service.
April 1945:  

The main artillery is used against troop concentrations near the villages of Neuenburg and Bockhorn for two nights.