A brief overview of the German light cruiser Leipzig of 1931
After World War One, and in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles, the navy of Germany was left with only eight cruisers, two of them kept in reserve (These cruisers were Niobe
). All of them were pre-WW1 designs, had a displacement of around 3,000t, a top speed of 23kn and were armed with 105mm guns. All of them were outdated and were not very seaworthy due to their age.
The Treaty of Versailles only allowed for cruisers with a maximum displacement of 6000t and a maximum caliber of 150mm. This had been followed by all previous four cruisers and was done so with the fifth. Design, named Kreuzer ‘E’
, was started in 1927 and should replace the old cruiser Nymphe
. Construction began in 1928, the ship was launched on October 16th 1929, the anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig. The cruiser’s name was chosen for Bremen
-class light cruiser SMS Leipzig
that had been sunk in the Battle of the Falkland Islands. After fitting out, Leipzig
was commissioned on Oktober 8th 1931.
The overall ship design was very similar to the previous K
was armed with nine 150mm L/60 C/25 guns arranged in three C/25 triple turrets; two facing aft and one forward. It was originally planned to arm her with the new 88mm twin Flaks L/75 C/25, but after trials on the cruiser Köln
proved the design unsatisfactory, Leipzig
got the usual WW1-relic 88mm L/45 in MPL C/13 singles until a new design would be ready. Twelve 500mm torpedo tubes were arranged in four triple arrangements around the ship and there were capabilities to carry up to 120 mines.
also had a similar engine arrangement like the K
-class, but the auxiliary diesels were had a separate, third screw, instead of being linked to the others. Also, the hull shape was changes, having a more round rear, like Emden
and a widening overall hull, mainly below the waterline.
By 1934, there had been several modifications: The AA was increased by two additional 88mm singles, once again in a similar arrangement like the K
-class. Aircraft facilities included the FL-22 catapult and an aircraft handling crane. She could carry two He-60 floatplanes, one on the catapult, one disassembled below deck.
was one of the German ships that intervened in the Spanish Civil War and carried markings that clearly showed her nationality to airplanes. By 1937, she carried the newly-designed twin 88mm L/76 C/32 Flaks, three in total. Light AA had also been installed, four twin 37mm and several 20mm. From 1934 to 1938 Germany also ran evaluation trials on several Vought O2U floatplanes (designated V-85G ‘Kurier’), which had been bought in the USA .
Originally it was planned to refit the cruiser in a similar way to the planned K
-class refit to remedy some of the design’s weaknesses, but that was cancelled due to the war. The outbreak of World War 2 brought nonetheless several modifications for the cruiser: The massive aircraft crane was replaced by a lighter grate crane in 1939. In 1940, a degaussing cable was installed, in early 1941 the aft torpedo tubes were removed and installed on battlecruiser Gneisenau
. Later, the aircraft catapult was removed as well as the lower searchlight platforms.
The striped camouflage had proven ineffective during the war and in 1945, Leipzig
had the usual grey paining once again. She conducted several operations during the war, but was mostly used as a training cruiser. Because of that, AA was increased only slightly with several 20mm guns, including a quad mount near the forward mast. In 1943, radar equipment was installed; one large FuMO 24/25 instead of the forward searchlight platform, as well as two FuMB 4 ‘Sumatra’ antennas on the side of the mast house. One FuMB 6 ‘Palau’ was installed for training purposes.
aided the ground forces against the advancing Red Army in the last stages of the war and finally evacuated to the west with over 500 refugees onboard. After surrendering, she briefly served as a barracks ship before being handed over to Great Britain in 1946. Having survived several fires, attacks and a collision with Prinz Eugen
in 1944, Leipzig
was in a very poor state and barely functional. The Britains towed her to the sea and sunk her, presumed to be loaded with gas ammunition.