Dresden class cruisers

German Empire (1906)
Cruisers – Dresden, Emden

Two famous ships

The Dresden class, part of the 1905/1906 program was derived from the previous Königsberg class and shared most of its characteristics, their design merely constituted an improvement. These cruisers were built at Blohm & Voss (Dresden) and Kaiserliche Werft, Danzig yards (Emden) and launched in 1907-1908, entering service in 1908-1909. Larger by one meter, wider by 30 cm and heavier by 200 tonnes, they were slightly faster (23.5 and 24 knots compared to 23), but possessed the same firepower. However, their destinies were among the most interesting, the most adventurous. (See Emden’s Odyssey).

SMS Dresden through the Kiel Canal


Both ships had this characteristic three-funnels silhouette, and its ten 105 mm (4.1 in) guns were placed as follows: Two side by side on the prow and bow, and the others six on the sides, each with its own mask. Propulsion relied on two propellers, and they possessed three 4-cylinder engines, 12 standard boilers, for a total of 13,500 hp, and top speed of 23.5 knots. Their armour was slightly improved, with the deck and turrets protected by 30-50 mm, the hull belt about 30 mm, casemate and conning tower 100 mm. The crew comprised 361 officers and sailors.

Jane’s 1914 Dresden class diagrams and drawing

SMS Emden

Although the subject would by widely covered in an article, in short, the cruiser was stationed in Tsingtao (Kiautschou Bay concession), China, when the war broke out in 1914. Part of the German East Asia Squadron in 1913, she came under the command of Karl von Müller. In 1914, Emden captured a Russian steamer and converted her into the commerce raider Cormoran, then joined the East Asia Squadron, and detached for independent raiding in the Indian Ocean (also as a diversion). In two months she captured nearly two dozen ships and late October 1914, she attacked on Penang, sinking the Russian cruiser Zhemchug and the French destroyer Mousquet, blazing the oil supplies. Then she raided the Cocos Islands, landing a contingent to destroy British facilities and radio. But here she was soon attacked by the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney which seriously damage her. To avoid sinking, she was ran aground as 133 of the crew has been killed in action. Most of the survivors were taken prisoner but escaped, captured an old schooner and eventually returned to Germany after an epic trip through the desert…

SMS Emden
SMS Emden in its white colonial livery

SMS Dresden

Dresden was in fact part of the international force deployed during the Mexican Revolution in 1910. When war broke out, she made a hasty retreat in the eastern Indian Ocean. Passing by the Cape of Good Hope, dhe descended on the southern Atlantic in search of preys to hunt. It was one of the “raiders” deployed as privateers against the allied merchant shipping. Being part of Admiral Von Spee squadron, she made her mark in combat during the first Falklands battle, opposed to the units of admiral Sir Cradock. Venturing into the Pacific after the battle, she was pursued by the cruisers Kent and Glasgow and took refuge off the Chilean island of Mas a Fuera. Refusing to surrender, she scuttled herself on March 14, 1915.

SMS Emden, beached at North Keeling Island

Kaiserliches Marine

SMS Emden adventure, by the Great war Channel


The Emden on wikipedia
The Dresden on wikipedia

Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1921-1947.

Dresden class specifications

Dimensions 118,30 x 13,50 x 5.53 m
Displacement 3660 t/4270 t FL
Crew 361
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 Brown-Boveri Steam turbines/ TE engines, 15000/13500 cv
Speed 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Range ? nmi (? km, ? mi) 19 knots (35 km/h, 22 mph)
Armament 10x 105 mm, 8x 52 mm, 2 450 mm sub TT.
Armor Belt 50 mm, deck 30mm, bulkheads 50 mm, CT 100 mm


Emden Illustration
Illustration of the Emden, the “white cruiser”, and its colonial livery.

Emden in Tsingtao, early 1914

Cruise of the Emden

Penang raid map

SMS Dresden in New York, in prewar two-tones livery (white hull, canvas brown superstructures)

Hudson-Fulton Celebration, 1909, Dresden in company of other cruisers

SS Great Britain (1843)

United Kingdom (1843)

SS Great Britain 1843

Brunel’s industrial age marvel

SS Great Britain was one of the most famous ships in history. It was the first all-iron large oceanic liner, although not truly the first screw steamer: The “prototype” was indeed the little HMS Archimedes, developed around the idea of ​​the original screw of archimedes. It was launched in 1838 and in 1840 had already carried out some cruises, proving the concept. Star engineer Isambard K. Brunel, designer of the Great Western Railway, was convinced by Richard Guppy, who had borrowed this ship, to equip his proposed Great Britain with a propeller instead of paddles.

Brunel bought the Archimedes in order to experiment it, then opted for this revolutionary mode of propulsion for his great steamer. Brunel wanted the Great Britain to be the best ship of the kind ever built, and size was also a solution to reduce the ship’s rolling, improve passengers comfort. With 98 meters and 3500 tons she became indeed also the biggest ship afloat at its launch. She was chartered by the company created by Brunel in 1836 and was already operating the for Great Western Ship Co. Finished and armed in London, she was ready in 1845 for here inaugural cruise to New York. The round trip took 14 and 15 days, which was relatively slow.

1st class dining room

Model of the steam engines


On her return, she broke her propeller and finished under sails. This unfortunate accident stopped her, but the great ship was back in 1846. On the night of 22-23 September she ran aground in Dundrum Bay between Belfast and Dundalk, and remained prisoner of tide, where Many curious came to see her laying like a dead whale (a painting was made of the event). This new incident paralyzed her for a long time and ruined the Great Western Ship Co.

She was finally towed to Liverpool and resold in 1850 to Gibbs, Bright & amp; Co. which made profound changes: New screw, new machines, less powerful, with two chimneys, sail surface reduced to four masts, but taller, so much so that the advertising brochure of the time which praised its merits, spoke of a “Steam clipper”. After her inaugural trip to Australia, she made 32 trips to this continent before returning to the prestigious Atlantic line.

In 1882, she was bought by A. Gibbs and modified again. Machines were removed, rig was reduced to three masts and she became a pure sailboat. A storm hit her at Cape Horn and she had to take refuge in the Falklands, waiting to find a new buyer. Finally, she was stripped of her masts and served locally for long as a coal depot.

Stranded at Dundrum Bay

But her career did not stopped there: In 1933, after having been used to stock also bales of wool from Argentina, the former big steamer was no more than an anonymous, rusty hull. Left over to rot, one of its moorings dropped in 1937 and the unfortunate ship was dropped on the coast, at Sparrow Cove. She was recognized, raised and eventually carried by a barge in 1970, and then transported back to Bristol. After intense repairs and reconstruction efforts, SS Great Britain is now currently showcased to the public, in very the same dockyard where where she was built.

Launch at Bristol, 1843

Caracteristics :

  • Displacement: 3500 tonnes
  • Dimensions: 98 x 15,2 x 6,5 m (PP length, width, waterline).
  • Propulsion 1 screw, one 4-cylinders, 500 hp.
  • Speed 10 knots.


On wikipedia

Pennsylvania class armoured cruisers

USA (1903)
USS Pennsylvania, 6 ships

The first 1900 Armoured cruisers serie

The Spanish-American War showed the numerical inferiority of the US Navy and triggered a wave of new constructions, including new classes of armoured cruisers. Ordered in fiscal years 1900 (ACR-4/6) and 1901 (ACR-7/9) and succeeding Tennessee-class ships they were called the “Big Ten”. Intended to operate in the battle line with battleships but their role was changing even after entering service.

USS South Dakota 1915, notice the cage mast

The 1904’s report Navy’s Bureau of Navigation after the Russo-Japanese War concluded that armored cruisers role were auxiliaries to battleships, and they can serve with these battleships, though not replacing them. Since most battleships were concentrated in the Atlantic, 3-4 armored cruisers were assigned to the Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines, to counter Japan’s rising naval power.
The new armoured cruisers were named Pennsylvania, West Virginia, California, Colorado, Maryland and South Dakota and rebaptised as new dreadnoughts were given these names (see later). They had been built at William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Union Iron Works, San Francisco, and Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia (two each), launched 1903-1904 and in service by 1905-1908.

USS Pennsylvania's Eugen Ely landing on USS Pennsylvania, in 1911
USS Pennsylvania’s Eugen Ely landing on USS Pennsylvania, 04/18/1911.


Captain Sigsbee, argued for adequate armor protection at the cost of speed. Belt armor was 6 in (152 mm) waterline, (127 mm) upper belt, the turrets 6.5 in (165 mm) faces. The protective deck was 4 in sloped (102 mm) 1.5 in (38 mm) flat. The conning tower was 9 in (229 mm)
The Pennsylavia series has originally to be armed with four 8-inch (203 mm)/40 caliber Mark 5 guns (twin turrets fore and aft) replaced later with 45 caliber Mark 6 guns by 1911 (a result of a gun burtsing on USS Colorado in 1907). This was completed by fourteen 6-inch (152 mm)/50 caliber Mark 6 in side casemates. Light armament included eighteen 3-inch (76 mm)/50 caliber QF guns, twelve 3-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in)). Outside the 1-pounder (37 mm (1.5 in)) saluting guns, there were two 18-inch (457 mm) submarine torpedo tubes.

USS Huntington (Former Pennsylvania)
USS Huntington (Former Pennsylvania)

Propulsion was assured by two inverted vertical four-cylinder triple-expansion engines served by 16 coal-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers (32 Niclausse on Pennsylvania and Colorado) giving 250 psi (1,700 kPa) for a total of 23,000 ihp (17,000 kW) and 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). On trials South Dakota achieved 22.24 kn (41.19 km/h; 25.59 mph) at 28,543 ihp. Coal carried originally was about 900 tons, later increased to 2,000 tons.


In 1911 the main 40 caliber guns were replaced with four 45 caliber Mark 6 guns in Mark 12 turrets
and also from 1911 military foremasts were replaced with cage masts. The USS Pennsylvania was given an after flight deck used on 18 January 1911 by pilot Eugene Ely (second takeoff from a ship)
From 1915 to April 1917, USS Huntington was given catapults for seaplanes (on the after turret) and carried up to four aircraft, and an observation balloon for convoy escort duty. All was cancelled in late 1917.

USS Huntington’s reconnaissance Balloon trials, Pensacola FL, 1917.

From 1917, all but four 6-inch guns were removed (reallocated on merchant ships) also as to avoid lower casemates flooding (probably a cause for USS San Diego sinking in July 1918). 3-inch QF guns were reduced to ten but two AA 3-inch/50 caliber added. Power was also affected as in 1919 the 32 Niclausse boilers in Pittsburgh (ex-Pennsylvania) and Pueblo (ex-Colorado) were replaced by 20 Babcock & Wilcox boilers along with other changes in 1921 with “modified Niclausse” boilers. In 1922, Pittsburgh’s forward funnel and associated boilers were removed. Modernization were thought of but never performed.

USS San Diego, ex-California January 1915.

Active career

The Pennsylvania class spent the years prior to 1917 patrolling Latin America and the Western Pacific. Colorado landed troops in a 1912 intervention in Nicaragua. In early 1917, the ships operated in the South Atlantic and the Pacific, and transferred to convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic. USS
USS Pittsburgh remained in the Pacific, to search for German commerce raiders. The first Medal of Honor was awarded to shipfitter Patrick McGunigal for rescuing a balloon pilot. USS San Diego was sunk on 19 July 1918, (mine) off Fire Island, New York.

USS California in 1907

The six ships were rechristened between 1912 and 1920 Pittsburgh, Huntington, San Diego, Pueblo, Frederick, and Huron, notably to leave these names to the new Dreadnoughts in construction.

Most ships were decommissioned or relegated as “receiving ship” in the early 1920s; Pittsburgh and Huron continued on to 1930. All were sold for scrap in 1930-1931 (London Naval Treaty tonnage limits). Huron was converted as a floating breakwater in Powell River, British Columbia (lost in a storm 1961).

USS Colorado in 1907

-Displacement: 13 700t, 15 140t FL
-Dimensions: 504 x 69 x 26 feets (153,6 m x 21,2 m x 7,95 m)
-Propulsion: 16 Babcock & Wilcox/32 Niclausse boilers, VITE steam engines, 2 screws 23,000 ihp (17,000 kW) and top speed 22 knots.
-Armour: 1.5 in (38 mm) flat (belt) to 9 in (229 mm) Conning Tower.
-Armement: 4 x 8in (208 mm), 14 x 6 in (152 mm), 18 x 3in (76 mm), 12 x 3pdr (47 mm), 2 saluting guns, 2 TT 18 in (427 mm) sub sides.
-Crew: 830 sailors and officers

Src: The Pennsylvania class on Wikipedia

USS Frederick, ex-Maryland in 1918.

Illustration of the USS Pittsburg in 1915.

Diadem class armoured cruisers (1896)

United Kingdom (1896)
HMS Diadem, Amphitrite, Andromeda, Argonaut, Ariadne, Europa, Niobe, Spartiate

Back to (too?) normal

The 8 Diadem signed an attempt to stand out from the gigantic Powerful, deemed too expensive. They had reduced their size, armor and saved a total of 3,000 tons with a saving of 100,000 pounds per ship, which was almost the price of another light cruiser. Constructed in two groups, the following had more powerful machines for a gain of half a knot. Good walkers, they easily reached their desired speeds, although the Niobe suffered from machine failures and other units in the class had problems with boilers in service. They were criticized for their lack of heavy parts and insufficient protection (shields rather than turrets).

HMS Diadem 1894 plan and elevation

Active carrer

At the beginning of their career, three of these ships operated in China and one in the Mediterranean, the others remained in territorial waters.


The HMS Amphitrite was stationed at Cape Verde at the beginning of the war, in the 9th Cruiser Squadron. From June 1915, he rallied to Portsmouth to be converted into a minesweeper. In August 1917 it had been rearmed with only 4 pieces of 152 mm (bow and stern) and one of 102 mm AA. It could carry 354 mines and since its release in August 1917, anchored some 5053 mines, replacing the Ariadne on the Dover dam. And it was the great northern dam in the company of the US Navy. He was involved in a collision in September 1918 with destroyer Nessus and retired from service in June 1919.


HMS Andromeda was anchored at Devonport and served as a training ship, a role he held until 1919. Then, renamed Impregnable II, he held his role until 1929. In 1931 she became a torpedo ship renamed Defiance, and survived as a schoolship until 1956.

HMS Andromeda in China, 1904


HMS Argonaut was stationed until 1915 at Cape Finisterre with the 9th squadron of cruisers. She captured the German armed cargo ship Graecia. It was set aside in Portsmouth in October 1915, then converted into a hospital ship until 1917, then a bark vessel until 1920. HMS Ariadne was a driver training ship in 1914 in Portsmouth. He was transferred to Devonport in 1915 and was converted into a mineswincher such as the Amphitrite in 1917. He was able to anchor 400 mines, and from March he was sent to anchor mines at Dover Dam and Heligoland Bay , But on 26 July he was torpedoed by UC 65 in front of beachy Head, with 38 victims.

HMS Argonaut in the late 1890s


The HMS Diadem was stationed as a driver training ship in 1914 in Portsmouth. In October 1915 his activities were terminated, which he did not take back until 1918 for a brief moment. It was sold in 1921. The HMS Europa operated at Finisterre Cape in 1914 with the 9th squadron of cruisers, of which he was the flagship. He was then sent to the Mediterranean, operating in Mudros and Malta after the war. It was sold in 1920.

HMS Diadem in 1914


HMCS Niobe operated with the RCAN and was the victim of a stranding before the war. In 1914, he was based in Bermuda. In October 1915 it was anchored in Halifax, disarmed, as ship-deposit of ammunition. A nearby warehouse that exploded damaged it severely. It was not repaired but remained as a pontoon until 1922.


HMS Spartiate was a training ship of drivers in 1914, a role that it held until 1932, under the name (from 1915), of HMS Fisgard.

HMS Spartiate in 1898

HMS Ariadne


The Diadem class on wikipedia
On historyofwar.org
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1860-1905.

Diadem class specifications

Dimensions 141 x 21 x 7,7 m
Displacement 11,000 t FL
Crew 677
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 TE steam engines, 18 Belleville WT boilers, 16-18,500 hp
Speed 20 knots (38 kph; 24 mph)
Range 2,000 nmi (3700 km; 2400 mi) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 21 mph)
Armament 16x 152, 14x 76, 3x 47, 2 TT 457 mm (SM), 8 MG
Armor Deck: 2.5–4 in (64-102 mm) CT: 12 in (300 mm), casemates/gun shields 4.5 in (110 mm)


HMS Diadem
HMS Argonaut with the 9th cruiser sqn, illustration in 1915.

HMS Amphitrite as a minelayer in 1918, notice de Dazzle camouflage

HMS Niobe in drydock

HMS Niobe in service

HMS Europa in WW1

Loading the QF 6 inches gun