Wiesbaden class light cruisers

The two Wiesbaden class light cruisers were larger versions of the pervious Magdeburg Class, and were under construction at the start of the First World War. Compared to the previous class they were 200 tons heavier, eight feet longer and carried 89 more men. Most significantly, they were the first German designed light cruisers to carry 5.9in guns instead of the 4.1in guns used on earlier classes. These guns had first been used on the Pillau class of light cruisers, taken over from a Russian order in 1914. They would become standard on the classes that followed, while existing cruisers were often rearmed with the heavier guns.

The 5.9in guns were distributed evenly around the ship. Two were placed side by side on the forecastle. Two were carried on each side, fore and aft. Finally, two were carried at the stern, one on the lower mine deck and one on the quarterdeck, both on the centre line.

The two Wiesbaden class ships were laid down in 1913, but their construction was delayed after the outbreak of war. They were finally launched in early 1915, and entered service during August of that year.

Wiesbaden was lost at the battle of Jutland. Frankfurtwas present at the action in the Heligoland Bight of 16-17 November 1917, a British attempt to catch a force of German minesweepers and light cruisers operating outside the region of German minefields in the Heligoland Bight, escaping from a strong British force. After the war she was part of the fleet interned at Scapa Flow. She survived the mass-scuttling of the fleet, and was given to the United States, where she was destroyed during bombing trials on 18 July 1921.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - conning tower


 - gunshields


 - collision bulkhead



476ft 9in

Armaments as built

Eight 5.8in guns
Two 88mm/ 3.45in Flak anti-aircraft guns
Four 19.7in submerged torpedo tubes
120 mines

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Wiesbaden
SMS Frankfurt

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 September 2007), Wiesbaden class light cruisers , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_wiesbaden_class_cruisers.html

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