Big cruiser SMS Blücher

The big cruiser SMS Blücher was supposed to be the answer of the imperial navy to the new battleship set up in Britain. Only with the launch of the HMS Invincible it became obvious that the British had launched the new type of ship of the battle cruiser, which was clearly inferior to the Blücher.


Launching and design:

At the beginning of the 20th century, the arms race at sea prevailed between the German Empire and Great Britain. After informing the German navy board about the laying of new British armored cruisers, preparations began for the construction of an equivalent type of ship.

Only with the launch of the HMS Invincible, the first ship of the new Invincible class, the actual data of the ship became known. These had, as assumed not on the German side, 23.5-cm guns but had 30.5-inch guns and formed the new type of ship of the battlecruisers. Since the construction of the Blücher was almost complete, reconstruction measures were dismissed and new ships were already being planned.

The launching of the Blücher took place on April 11, 1908, the commissioning on October 1, 1909.


Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher - eponym of the ship's name


SMS Blücher


SMS Blücher


SMS Blücher


SMS Blücher


SMS Blücher


Seal mark SMS Blücher

Seal mark SMS Blücher




Use in the war:

At the beginning of the First World War, the Blücher was first transferred to the Baltic Sea, but ever changed to the North Sea. The first mission took place on November 3, 1914 with the bombardment of the British city of Yarmouth, on December 16, 1914 Hartlepool was fired at.

In January 1915, the Blücher was sent together with the battlecruisers SMS Seydlitz, SMS Moltke, SMS Derfflinger and four small cruisers and 18 torpedo boats for an advance on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea to attack there British outpost boats. Since Great Britain already had the encryption codes of the German Navy at that time, the radio messages could be intercepted and the United Kingdom send their own ships to the Germans.

On January 24, 1915, the two groups met, the German Vice Admiral Franz Hipper promptly turned his ships in the face of British superiority. On the retreat, however, fell the much slower Blücher back and got within the reach of the guns of the HMS Lion. It was followed by HMS Tiger and HMS New Zealand. At 11.30 clock the Blücher received heavy damage in the ammunition transport path in the central aisle and the main steam pipe in the boiler room 3, so their speed was further reduced.

Due to errors in the flag signaling on the British side started from 12 clock all British ships with the fire on the Blücher, which had to take 70 to 100 hits within a very short time. After two torpedo hits, the Blücher began to sink and turned so that it lay for a few minutes keel and then completely went under.

792 crew members died, 260 were rescued by the British and went into captivity.


SMS Blücher in battle on the Doggerbank

SMS Blücher in battle on the Doggerbank


The Sinking Blücher on the Doggerbank 1915

The Sinking Blücher on the Doggerbank 1915




Ship data:


SMS Blücher


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Big cruiser


Single ship


Imperial shipyard, Kiel


28.532.000 Mark


April 11, 1908


October 1, 1909


Sunk on January 24, 1915 during the battle on the Dogger Bank


161,8 meters


24,5 meters


Max. 8,84 meters


Max. 17.500 Tons


853 Men


18 × water tube boiler
3 × 4-cylinder compound machine


38.323 PS (28.187 kW)

Maximum speed:  

25,4 kn (47 km/h)


12 × Rapid Fire Gun 21.0 cm L / 45 (1020 rounds)

8 × rapid fire gun 15.0 cm L / 45 (1,320 rounds)

16 × Rapid Fire Gun 8.8 cm L / 45 (3,200 rounds)

4 × torpedo tube ⌀ 45,0 cm (11 rounds)



Belt: 80-180 mm on 30 mm teak
Citadel: 160 mm
Casemate: 140 mm
Deck: 50-70 mm
Torpedo bulkhead: 35 mm
front command tower: 80-250 mm
Aft command tower: 30-140 mm
Towers: 80-180 mm
Shields: 80 mm






You can find the right literature here:


German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard)

German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard) Paperback – February 23, 2010

Supported by official documents, personal accounts, official drawings and specially commissioned artwork, this volume is an enlightening history of the Deutschland to Osfriesland classes. Detailing the last of the pre-dreadnaught battleship classes, this book goes on to explain the revolutionary developments that took place within the German Imperial Navy as they readied themselves for war. This included creating vessels with vast increases in size and armament. This account of design and technology is supplemented by individual ship histories detailing combat experience complete with first-hand accounts. The specially commissioned artwork also brings this history to life with recreations of the battleship Pommern fighting at Jutland and ships of the Osfriesland class destroying HMS Black Prince in a dramatic night-time engagement.

Click here!



The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces

The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces Hardcover – December 28, 2016

The Imperial German Navy of WWI is a series of books (Warships, Campaigns, & Uniforms) that provide a broad view of the Kaiser's naval forces through the extensive use of photographs. Every effort has been made to cover all significant areas during the war period. In addition to the primary use of photographs, technical information is provided for each warship along with its corresponding service history; with a special emphasis being placed on those warships that participated in the Battle of Skagerrak (Jutland). Countless sources have been used to establish individual case studies for each warship; multiple photos of each warship are provided. The entire series itself is unprecedented in its coverage of the Kaiser's navy.

Click here!



German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations Hardcover – November 4, 2014

This is the most comprehensive, English-language study of the German Imperial Navy's battlecruisers that served in the First World War. Known as Panzerkreuzer, literally "armored cruiser," the eight ships of the class were to be involved in several early North Sea skirmishes before the great pitched battle of Jutland where they inflicted devastating damage on the Royal Navy's battlecruiser fleet. This book details their design and construction, and traces the full service history of each ship, recounting their actions, drawing largely from first-hand German sources and official documents, many previously unpublished in English.

Click here!



The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918

The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918 Hardcover – March 15, 2016

The battleships of the Third Reich have been written about exhaustively, but there is little in English devoted to their Second Reich predecessors. This new book fills an important gap in the literature of the period by covering these German capital ships in detail and studying the full span of battleship development during this period. The book is arranged as a chronological narrative, with technical details, construction schedules, and ultimate fates tabulated throughout, thus avoiding the sometimes disjointed structure that can result from a class-by-class approach. Heavily illustrated with line drawings and photographs, many from German sources, the book offers readers a fresh visual look at these ships. A key objective of the book is to make available a full synthesis of the published fruits of archival research by German writers found in the pre-World War II books of Koop & Schmolke, Großmer's on the construction program of the dreadnaught era, Forstmeier & Breyer on World War I projects, and Schenk & Nottelmann's papers in Warship International. As well as providing data not available in English-language books, these sources correct significant errors in standard English sources.

Click here!






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