The Kolberg class is a class of light cruisers built for the Kaiserliche Marine shortly before the early 1910s. Four ships, SMS Kolberg, Mainz, Cöln, and Augsburg, were designed by the shipyards Schichau-Werke, AG Vulcan, Germaniawerft and Kaiserliche Werft from the cities of Danzig, Stettin and Kiel.
SMS Augsburg Dreblow
The ships had a waterline length of 130 meters and an overall length of 130.50 meters, a beam of 14 meters and a draft of 5.45 meters at the bow and 5.73 meters at the stern. They displaced 4,362 tons at nominal load and 4,882 to 4,915 tons at full load.
Their hulls were constructed with longitudinal steel frames. The hulls have been divided into thirteen watertight compartments and incorporate a double bottom, extending 50% of the length of the keel. Considered excellent cruisers holding the sea well, they had a large turning radius. Steering was controlled by a single rudder. Their transverse metacentric height was 0.83 m.
The crew consisted of 18 officers and 349 crewmen. They embarked on several smaller vessels, including a picket ship, a barge, a cutter, two yawls and two dinghy.
Their shielding was made of Krupp-type steel. From stern to bow, the deck was covered with armor plate. This was 20 mm (0.79 in) at the bow, 40 mm (1.6 in) thick above the machinery spaces, 20 mm forward of the machinery spaces and 80 mm (3.1 inches) at the bow. The funnel coamings were 100 mm (3.9 in) thick. The castle had 100mm thick sides and a 20mm thick roof. The armor of the stores was 40 mm thick and the turrets protected by shields 50 mm thick (2 inches).
The four ships had slightly different propulsion systems to test the best ones for future builds. The Kolberg was fitted with two sets of Melms & Pfenniger steam turbines, driving four three-bladed propellers 2.25 m in diameter. The Mainz was fitted with two sets of AEG-Curtiss turbines, driving a pair of three-bladed propellers 3.45 m in diameter. The Cöln was initially fitted with Zoelly turbines, before being replaced shortly before the start of her sea trials by a set of Germania turbines, driving four three-bladed propellers; two with a diameter of 2.55 m and two others of 1.78 m. The Augsburg was fitted with two groups of Parsons turbines, driving four 3-blade propellers 2.25 m in diameter. All four ships were fitted with fifteen coal-fired Marine-type water-tube boilers, divided into four boiler rooms on the centreline. The boilers were distributed in three chimneys, themselves distributed in a uniform way. In 1916 the Kolbergs and Augsburgs were fitted with an oil-fired heating system to increase the burn rate of the coal-fired boilers2, the Mainz and Cöln having been sunk at this time3.
Engine power was 19,000 horsepower (14,000 kW), except for those in the Mainz, rated at 20,200 hp (15,100 kW). This produced a top speed of 25.5 knots (47.2 km/h), Mainz’s more powerful engines gave her a half knot speed advantage. All four ships exceeded these figures in speed trials, however, and all four cruisers reached speeds in excess of 26 knots. The Kolberg carried 970 tons of coal and, after 1916, an additional 115 tons of fuel oil. This fuel gave it a maximum range of around 6,250 km at 14 knots (26 km/h). The Mainz carried 1,010 tons of coal, giving it a maximum range of around 6,720 km at cruising speed. The Cöln carried 960 tons of coal for a cruising radius of 6,500 km. The Augsburg carried 940 tons of coal and had the same range as the Cöln2.
Their main armament consisted of 12 single guns of 105 mm SK L/45 mounted on a base; two were placed side by side forward on the forecastle, eight amidships (four on each side), and two in superimposed turrets aft3. These guns fired a 17 kg shell at a muzzle velocity of 710 meters per second4. Their rates were 15 shells/min. The guns had a maximum elevation of 30 degrees, which allowed them to engage targets up to 12,700 meters4. For the Kolberg and Augsburg, the 105 cm guns were replaced in 1916-1917 by 6 x 150 mm SK L/45 guns. The 150 mm guns fired a 45 kg shell at a muzzle velocity of 835 meters per second. Their rates were 4.5 shells/min. The guns had a maximum elevation of 27 degrees, which allowed them to engage targets up to 16,800 meters4. Initially, their secondary armament consisted of 4 x 5.2 cm SK L/55 guns, quickly replaced in 1918 by 2 x 88 mm SK L/45 anti-aircraft guns. These guns fired 10 kg shells at a muzzle velocity of 765 m/s, for a rate of 15 shells/min. Their range was 11,800 meters at 45 degrees. The ships also included 2 x 450 mm (17.7 in) torpedo tubes (submerged in the keel), carrying 450 mm C/034 torpedoes. With a load of 176 kg, their range was 1,500 meters at 31 knots (57.4 km/h) and 3,000 meters at 26 knots (48.2 km/h)4. In 1918 Kolberg and Augsburg were fitted with two additional 500 mm (19.7 in) torpedo tubes, mounted on the deck. Carrying 500 mm G7 torpedoes, their load was 195 kg, their range was 4,000 meters at 37 knots (68.5 km/h) and 9,300 meters at 27 knots (50 km/h)4. Ships of the class carried on board up to 100 marine mines.
Ordered under the contract name “Ersatz Greif”, the Kolberg was laid down on January 15, 1908 at the Schichau-Werke shipyard in Danzig, under the hull number 814. She was launched on November 14, 1908 and then commissioned in the Hochseeflotte on June 21, 1910. Its construction will have cost 8,181,000 marks. The cruiser was in drydock at the Kaiserliche Werft yard in Kiel between 1916 and 1917.
Ordered under the contract name “Ersatz Jagd”, the Mainz was laid down in September 1907 at the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin, under the hull number 288. It was launched on January 23, 1909 and then commissioned in the Hochseeflotte October 1, 19096. Its construction will have cost 8,777,000 marks.
Ordered under the contract name “Ersatz Schwalbe”, the Cöln was laid down in 1908 at the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, under the hull number 191. She was launched on June 5, 1909 and then commissioned into the Hochseeflotte on June 16 June 1911. Its construction cost 8,356,000 marks.
Ordered under the contract name “Ersatz Sperber”, the Augsburg was laid down in 1908 at the Kaiserliche Werft shipyard in Kiel, under the hull number 34. She was launched on July 10, 1909 and then commissioned into the Hochseeflotte October 1, 1910. Its construction will have cost 7,593,000 marks. The cruiser was in drydock at the Kaiserliche Werft shipyard in Kiel between 1916 and 1917.
⚙ Kolberg class specifications
|Dimensions||130.5 x 14 x 5.45/57.3 m (428 x 45 x 17 ft)|
|Displacement||4,362 tons standard, 4,882/4,915 tons Fully Loaded|
|Crew||18 Officers, 349 sailors peacetime|
|Propulsion||2 shafts turbines, 15 boilers, 20,200 hp (15,100 kw).|
|Speed||25.5 knots (47.2 km/h)|
|Range||6,250-6,720 nm @ 10 knots.|
|Armament||12× 10,5 cm, 4x 5,2 cm, 2x 45 cm TTs|
|Protection||Deck 20–40 mm, Gun shields 50 mm, CT 100 mm (3.9 in)|
Prewar and WWI career
S.M.S. Kolberg Postcard
The Kolberg witnessed several face-to-face encounters with the British during the war, including the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in December 1914 and the Battle of Dogger Bank the following month. It also faced the Russians twice9, during the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in August 1915 and during Operation Albion in November 191710. After the end of the war, it was ceded to France as a war prize and renamed Colmar . She served briefly in the French Navy, including a deployment to Asia in 192411. The Colmar was withdrawn from service in 1927 and scrapped two years later.
After commissioning, Mainz served with the II Scouting Group, part of the reconnaissance forces of the Hochseeflotte13. She was assigned to patrols off Heligoland Bay at the outbreak of World War I in early August 191414. In late August 1914 she fought in the First Battle of Heligoland in which she was sunk by British cruisers and destroyers on the morning of 28 August15.16. The British rescued 348 crew before the ship rolled over and sank. Eighty-nine men were killed in the battle, including its commander.
After commissioning, Cöln served with the II Scouting Group, part of the reconnaissance forces of the Hochseeflotte. She was assigned to patrols off Heligoland Bay at the outbreak of World War I in early August 1914. In late August 1914 she fought in the First Battle of Heligoland in which she was sunk by British cruisers and destroyers on the morning of 28 August. The crew abandoned ship, but German forces did not search the area for three days; only one man was found alive.
At the beginning of her career, Augsburg served as a torpedo test ship, then as a gunnery training ship. After the outbreak of the First World War, he was assigned to the Baltic Sea, where she spent the entire duration of the war. On August 2, 1914, he took part in an operation during which the first shots of the war were fired against the Russians. It then took part in the Battle of the Gulf of Riga20 in August 1915 and Operation Albion in October 1917, as well as many smaller engagements throughout the war. In January 1915, it hit a mine and was inoperative for many months. After the end of the war, she was ceded to Japan as spoils of war and renamed simply as Y. The cruiser was scrapped in 1921.
Colmar (ex-Kolberg) in Shanghai, 1924
Colmar in Indochina 1925
SMS Kolberg was stricken on 5 November 1919 and handed to the French in Cherbourg on 28 April 1920 as “W”. She was recommissioned as Colmar in 1922, her original 8.8 cm guns replaced by 75 mm ones. A new aft deckhouse was built and an extra 75 mm gun installed on its roof. Her sea trials lasted until late 1922, and she was sent for colonial service in French Indochina, departed in June and arriving on 7 September 1922. She replaced Montcalm as flagship of the Naval Division of the Far East and was sent in Vladivostok in 1923 after the Great Kantō earthquake, proceeding to Yokohama to assist in the relief effort with Jules Michelet, Victor Hugo, and Jules Ferry. In 1924, Colmar and Jules Ferry also landed troops to protect western interests during the violence in Shanghai. Colmar was back in France in February 1925 and lasted in service a few more months, until decommissioned in November. She was cannibalized until 1927, for the other ex-German cruisers until and stricken on 21 July 1927, sold for BU. See also about Colmar/Kolberg.