Kolberg class light cruisers

The Kolberg class light cruisers were significantly larger than the pervious Dresden class, although were otherwise similar in appearance. They were 650 tons heavier when fully loaded, and 40 feet longer. The extra space allowed them to carry an extra pair of 4.1in guns, one on each side, giving them a total of twelve 4.1in guns when first built.

All four ships were powered by turbines, the first time this had happened. Each ship used a different manufacturer, allowing for a comparison of the turbines produced by Melms-Pfenninger, AEG-Curtiss, Germanina and Parsons. Mainz, powered by AEG-Curtiss and using two shafts rather than the four featured on the other members of the class was the faster, at 27.2kts and also had the longest range, 3,630 nautical miles at 14kts. At the start of the First World War all four ships were in home waters.

Mainz and Cöln were sunk at the battle of Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914, Mainz when she came between the Harwich destroyers and the 1st light cruiser squadron and Cöln by gunfire from the battlecruisers HMS Lion.

Augsburg and Kolberg both survived the war, but not without incident. Augsburg spent part of the war in the Baltic. On 17 November 1914 she rescued survivors from the cruiser Friedrich Carl, but that winter she struck a mine and was out of action for three months. When she came back she was badly damaged in a clash with the Russians on 2 July 1915, needing more repairs.

Kolberg took part in the raid on the Yorkshire Coast of 15-16 December 1914, as part of the striking force. She was the only one of the light cruisers to accompany the battlecruisers to the coast, where she laid mines south of Scarborough. She was also present at the battle of Dogger Bank of 24 January 1915, where she became involved in a gunnery duel with HMS Aurora, scoring three minor hits before being hit herself close to the forward bridge and turning away.

Both ships were re-armed twice during the war. In 1916-17 the 4.1in guns were replaced by six 5.9in guns, one at each end and two on each side. In 1918 they were both given two 2.45in (88mm) Flak guns, and the torpedo tubes were increased in size from 17.7in to 19.7in.

After the war Kolberg was taken by the French, and renamed Colmar. She was stricken in 1927, and broken up in 1929. Augsburg went to Japan, but remained in Europe, and was scrapped at Dordrecht in 1922.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

Design 25.5kts
Kolberg: 26.3kts
Mainz: 27.2kts
Cöln: 26.8kts
Augsburg: 26.7kts

Armour – deck


 - conning tower


 - gunshields




Armaments as built

Twelve 4.1in guns
Two 17.7in submerged torpedo tubes
100 mines

Armament in 1918

Six 5.9in guns
Two 3.45in Flak guns
Two 19.7in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Kolberg
SMS Mainz
SMS Cöln
SMS Augsburg

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 September 2007), Kolberg class light cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_kolberg_class_cruisers.html

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