SMS Magdeburg

SMS Magdeburg was the name class of the Magdeburg class of light cruisers. In August 1914, while laying mines in the Baltic, she ran aground, and was destroyed by Russian cruisers. Not of great significance in itself, when the Russians boarded the ship they discovered the main German codebook was still intact.

This was the codebook used for the majority of German naval signals (a second code was used for communications between warships and merchant ships, and a third code was used by flag officers). On 13 October the Russians handed the codebook over to the British, and Naval Intelligence was soon reading German signals. As the German navy was a heavy user of radio, this gave the British a great advantage. The code compromised by the Magdeburg remained in use until May 1917, and for most of this time it was being read by the British.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - conning tower


 - gunshields


 - collision bulkhead




Armaments as built

Twelve 4.1in guns
Two 19.7in submerged torpedo tubes (beam)
120 mines

Crew complement



13 May 1911


20 August 1912


26 August 1914

The Kaiser’s Cruisers 1871-1918, Aidan Dodson and Dirk Nottelmann. Looks at the small cruisers that served in the navy of Imperial Germany, from its formation in the 1870s to the aftermath of the First World War, a period that saw the last sail powered cruisers replaced by recognisably modern steam powered turret armed warships after a prolonged period of debate, and Tirpitz come to dominate the Navy with the support of Wilhelm II. Splits the design process and service records into separate sections, so we can trace the development of the cruiser and then get a good overview of how the type performed in combat (Read Full Review)
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 September 2007), SMS Magdeburg ,

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