Wehrmacht History 1935 to 1945


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Light Cruiser

Köln Light cruiser

Service Data

In Service: 15 January 1930 to 31 March 1945

Production Data

Builder: Reichsmarinewerft, Wilhelmshaven
Construction No: 116
Laid down: 7 August 1926
Launched: 25 May 1928
Commissioned: 15 January 1930

Technical Data

Type: Light cruiser
Class: Königsberg

Displacement: 6,000 tons standard 7,700 tons full load
Length: 174 m
Beam: 15.2 m
Draft: 6.28 m
Propulsion: 2 × shafts 2 × steam turbines, 6 × boilers,
2 × MAN diesel engines producing up to 68,485 shp
Propellers: 2
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 5,700 nautical miles at 19 knots
Crew: 850 men and officers
9 × 15 cm L/60 SK C/25
carried 1,080 rounds
2 × 8.8 cm L/45 SK C/35
carried 800 rounds
2 × 8.8 cm L/76 SK C/32 after 1933 4 after 1935
carried 1,600 rounds
6 × 8.8 cm L/76 SK C/32 after 1940
carried 2,400 rounds
8 × 3.7 cm L/83 SK C/30 after 1945
carried 9,600 rounds
8 × 2 cm MG L/65 C/30 18 after 1945
carried 17,600 rounds
12 × 53.3 cm torpedoe tubes
24 × torpedo's carried
120 mines
Aircraft: Flettner Fl 282 helicopter
Operators: Kriegsmarine

Other: Light cruisers


Köln was a German light cruiser preceding and throughout World War II, one of three K Class cruisers called after cities starting with the letter K. This ship was named following the city of Köln.

The others in her class were the Königsberg and the Karlsruhe. The K class cruisers were designed in the 1920s and built according to the 6,000 t limit for cruisers expected of Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. To stay within this restriction, 85% of the ships were welded instead of riveted. This caused difficulties, as the welding did not survive the stress of long-term journeys as well as had been hoped.


15 January 1930
The Köln is commissioned

1 September 1939
The Köln carries out operations in the Danzig Beight along with Leipzig, Nürnberg and the destroyer Leberecht Maaß.

8 October 1939
The Köln patrol the Atlantic along with Gneisenau and the destroyers Friedrich Ihn, Wilhelm Heidkamp, Karl Galster, Bernd von Arnim, Paul Jakobi, Friedrich Eckoldt, Erich Steinbrinck, Diether von Roeder and Max Schulz.

12 to 13 December 1939
The Köln along with Leipzig, and Nürnberg conduct mining operations. The British submarine HMS Salomon torpedoes Leipzig and Nürnberg.

8 April 1940
The Köln takes part in operation Weserübung (Invasion of Denmark and Norway).

11 April 1940
The Köln returns to Wilhelmshaven.

13 July 1942
The Köln left Oslo for northern Norway.

6 August 1942
The Köln arrived at Narvik.

10 September 1942
The Köln along with Admiral Hipper, Nürnberg, and Admiral Scheer, moves to the Alta Fjord to attack Convoy PQ-18.

1 April 1944
The Köln is recommissioned to train cadet engineers.

13 December 1944
The Köln power stations and engines are destroyed in a heavy bombing attack.

31 December 1944
The Köln is attacked again more damage is caused by bomb damage.

12 December 1944
The Köln is recommissioned.

14 February 1945
The Köln arrived in Wilhelmshaven.

31 March 1945
The Köln is attacked by the RAF and sinks in the harbour of Wilhelmshaven. The ship turrets remain operational even after the ship was taken out of service.

April 1945
The Köln main artillery is used to surport the army against troop concentrations near the villages of Neuenburg and Bockhorn for two nights.


Ludwig von Schröder
Takes command on 15 January 1930
Ends command on 1 September 1932

Otto Schniewind
Takes command on 1 September 1932
Ends command on 1 March 1934

Werner Fuchs
Takes command on 1 March 1934
Ends command on 1 October 1935

Otto Backenköhler
Takes command on 1 October 1935
Ends command on 1 October 1937

Theodor Burchardi
Takes command on 1 October 1937
Ends command on 14 January 1940

Ernst Kratzenberg
Takes command on 14 January 1940
Ends command on 1 May 1941

Friedrich Hüffmeier
Takes command on 1 May 1941
Ends command on 1 March 1942

Hellmuth Strobel
Takes command on 1 March 1942
Ends command on 1 May 1942

Martin Baltzer
Takes command on 1 May 1942
Ends command on 12 December 1942

Hans Karl Meyer
Takes command on 12 December 1942
Ends command on 21 February 1943

Hellmuth Strobel
Takes command on 1 April 1944
Ends command on 1 January 1945

Frotzto Henning Brandes
Takes command on 1 January 1945
Ends command on 30 April 1945


Köln picture 2

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German Warships, 1815-1945: Major Surface Vessels.
ISBN-10: 0851775330

German Warships, 1815-1945: U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels.
ISBN-10: 155750301X

German warships of the Second World War.
ISBN-10: 0668040378

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