Gunboat SMS Luchs

The SMS Luchs belonged to the Iltis class, which were designed and built at the end of the 19th century exclusively for service in the German colonies. For this the ships were particularly seaworthy and equipped with a large radius of action. In addition to the steam engine, all ships also had sailing rigging to save fuel on longer trips.


Launching and design:

From the Iltis class a total of 6 ships were built, all intended exclusively for the German colonies. For this reason, the ships were also installed a sailing rigging, which was no longer the case with all other warships of the imperial navy. The sails should allow ships to save fuel on their long journeys as the destinations were in both East-Central America, Africa and Asia and at that time the German Empire had few overseas stations serving as a base.

For the defense of the ships served only two 10.5cm fast charging guns and six 3.7cm revolver guns. Larger or more guns were not possible due to the compact design.

The launch of the SMS Luchs took place on October 18, 1899, the commissioning on May 15, 1900.


Gunboat SMS Luchs

Gunboat SMS Luchs




History of SMS Luchs:

After commissioning the SMS Luchs was initially intended for the German East America bases. During the test drives, however, there was a Boxer Rebellion in Beijing, so that the testing was stopped and the ship was relocated to Asia. On 7 July 1900, the ship left the port in Kiel, it was the last stay in the Empire.

Together with the battleships of the Brandenburg class and the small cruiser SMS Bussard the trip to Asia should be started. But since both the Luchs and the Bussard had to repair to Aden after a short time because of a machine damage, the liners continued without the other two. After the successful repair then met the last two ships on September 7, 1900 in Hong Kong. The Luchs was immediately sent to the Pearl River to monitor and control the shipping traffic there. After completion of the mission, the ship was finally officially assigned to the East Asia Squadron.

In the following years, SMS Luchs provided mostly security tasks of the imperial interests as well as some foreign trips to the neighboring countries.


Gunboat SMS Luchs

Gunboat SMS Luchs




Use in the war:

When the First World War broke out, the SMS Luchs was still in the shipyard of Shanghai. The order came immediately to drive to the German protected area Kiautschou and to secure there together with the SMS Jaguar and the torpedo boat SMS S90 the area.

A few days after the eruption, the German Reichpost steamer Prinz Eitel Friedrich of the North German Lloyd, who was to be converted to an auxiliary cruiser, arrived in the area. For this purpose, both the Luchs and the Jaguar their guns and most of their crew from. The captain of the Luchs, Lieutenant Commander Thierichens also switched to the auxiliary cruiser.





As the Japanese troops continued to advance and the German colony threatened to be overrun, the crew of the Luchs decided to blow up both their ship and the sister ships Iltis and Tiger itself, so that the ships did not fall into the hands of the Japanese troops. During the night of September 28-29, 1914, the ships were blown up and sank.




Ship data:


SMS Luchs


German Empire

Ship Type:  





Imperial shipyard, Gdansk


1.622.000 Mark


October 18th, 1899


May 15th, 1900


From 28 to 29 September 1914 sunk himself


65,2 meters


12,2 meters


Max. 9,1 meters


Max. 1.108 Tons


130 Men


2 upright 3-cylinder triple expansion steam engines


1.345 PS

Maximum speed:  

13,9 kn




2 x rapid-fire gun 10,5 cm L / 40
482 rounds

6 × 3,7 cm revolver cannon
9.000 shots








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.

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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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