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Kriegsmarine Destroyer

Z4 Richard Beitzen - Zerstorer 1934



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

Z4 Richard Beitzen (1942)


The destroyers of the "Zerstörer 1934" class were the first four destroyers build in Germany after World War I.

Based on the same design principals as the torpedo boats, those ships showed some serious problems after completion, which was partly caused by the fast naval construction programs after 1933.  They were very bad seagoing ships, like most other German vessels they took over a high amount of water during heavy seas, making their forward artillery unusable. Further they showed a structural weakness since the hull started to bend in heavy seas and were burdened with heavy vibrations produced by the engines.

Their high pressure turbine engines caused many problems during operations, which were limited by the short range of those ships. The idea was to equip the ships with the newly designed high pressure turbines because this system seemed to have several advantages about normal turbine systems - at least on the paper. Test installations on land were very promising, but when installed on board on the destroyers, the engines rooms got very crowded making maintenance very difficult.

Like all other German destroyers, they were all equipped for mine laying which was intensively used during the first months of the war.

Most ships of this class did not survive the second year of the war, two of them were even sunk by own bombers, but in their few operational months, they did some successful mining operations near the British coast.


Construction Data Dimensions Commanders
Laid down:     Deutsche Werke Kiel, 07.01.1935
Launched:     30.11.1935
Commissioned:     13.05.1937
Fate:     scrapped 1947
Costs:     13,7 Mio Reichsmark
Size (Max):     3156 t
Length (Total):     119,0 m
Length (Waterline):     114,0 m
Beam:     11,3 m
Draft:     4,23 m
Crew:     325
KK Gadow:     May 1937 - May 1938
KL/KK Schmidt:     May 1938 - Oct 1939
KK/FK v. Davidson:     Oct 1939 - Jan 1943
KK/FK Dominik:     Jan 1943 - Jan 1944
unknown:     Jan 1944 - Apr 1944
KL Lüdde-Neurath:     Apr 1944 - Jun 1944
KK Gade:     Jun 1944 - Sep 1944
KK/FK Neuss:     Sep 1944 - May 1945



Armour and Aircraft

Engines & Performance

12,7 cm L/45 C/34 :     5
3,7 cm L/83 C/30:     4
2 cm MG L/65 C/30:     4-6
53,3 cm Torpedo tubes:     8
Mines:     60
Shafts:     2
Turbines:     2
Type:     Wagner Geared Turbines
Total Performance:     70000 shp
Speed:     36,0 kn
Range:     1900 sm at 19 kn

Operational History

Named after KL Richard Beitzen, commander of the 14th torpedo boat half flottilla in WW1 who died while trying to save two other torpedo boats who run into a mine field.

Z4 Richard Beitzen was part of the 1st destroyer division at the outbreak of the war, operating in the Baltic Sea near Danzig and later transferred to the North sea after the Polnish campaign. Z4 Richard Beitzen took part in three mining operations off the British coast, including the ill fated Operation Wikinger. In 1940/41, the ship was send to France, damaging the British destroyer Javelin in November 1941. After repairs and refits in Germany, Z4 Richard Beitzen was send to France again in January 1942 as part of the 5th Z-Flottila and was used as an escort vessel during Operation Cerberus . After this, the whole flotilla was operating in Norway and Z4 Richard Beitzen took part in the Battle of the Barents sea on 31.12.1942 . The ship remained in Norway until the end of 1943, then used for escort duties between Norway and Germany and patrols at Jutland while being stationed in Horten. In March 1945 it was badly damaged in a night air raid while escorting a convoy at Jutland and it was taken over by the British on 14.05.1945 in Oslo. Transferred to England and scrapped in 1947.