Small cruiser SMS Frankfurt

The small cruiser SMS Frankfurt belonged to the, consisting of only 2 units Wiesbaden class. The Frankfurt survived the war, was delivered to the US and finally sunk with aerial bombs.


Launching and design:

The Wiesbaden class was based on the recently introduced Graudenz class. The only decisive difference was that in the Wiesbaden class on the foredeck 2 15-cm guns were installed and not just 1.

The SMS Frankfurt had been set as the successor to the SMS Hela on Kiel. The launching took place on March 20, 1915, the commissioning on August 20, 1915.


SMS Frankfurt




Use in the war:

On October 12, 1915, the Frankfurt, after several months of testing, the II. reconnaissance group assigned where she was involved in the trade war in the Skagerrak and the Kattegat.

From May 31, 1916 to June 1, 1916, the ship took part in the Battle of the Skagerrak, where it suffered only minor damage. The sister ship SMS Wiesbaden, however, was sunk. After the reparations work, the Frankfurt was entrusted with outpost and security services in the North Sea.

In the occupation of the Baltic Islands in the fall of 1917, the Frankfurt also participated, then she was relocated to the North Sea where it came on November 17, 1917 to the 2nd Battle of Helgoland. By several hits the Frankfurt had 6 killed and 18 wounded to complain.

In 1918, the ship changed several times between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, where it was mainly responsible for securing tasks. On 21 October 1918, an accident occurred on the Baltic Sea when Frankfurt rammed UB 89 and sank. 7 crew members of the submarine drowned in the disaster.





With the terms of surrender in November 1918, the Frankfurt had to intern as well as the largest part of the deep-sea fleet in Scapa Flow. On the orders of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, the fleet sank itself on June 21, 1919, as a return of the ships to the German Reich would no longer occur.

The British, however, managed to pull the Frankfurt in shallow waters and set there on reason. After the ship was made roadworthy again, it was delivered in March 1920 as a reparation to the US. These first incorporated the ship as USS Frankfurt in the US Navy, shortly thereafter, the naval leadership, however, decided to use the Frankfurt as a target ship for the dropping of aerial bombs. On July 18, 1921, during one of these exercises Frankfurt was hit so hard that it sank.


Attack with 125kg and 300kg bombs on the SMS Frankfurt


Marine observers investigate the bombing effect on SMS Frankfurt


Details of the bombing effect on the SMS Frankfurt


The burning SMS Frankfurt


The sinking SMS Frankfurt




Ship data:


SMS Frankfurt


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser




Imperial shipyard, Kiel




March 20, 1915


August 20, 1915


Sunk in 1921 as a target for aviation bombs in the United States


145,3 meters


13,9 meters


Max. 6 meters


Max. 6.601 Tons


474 Men




10 coal-fired steam boilers

2 oil-fired double-end steam boilers

2 sets of steam turbines


31.000 PSw

Maximum speed:  

27,5 kn (49 km/h)


8 × 15 cm L / 45 fast-firing cannons

2 × 8.8 cm L / 45 flak

4 × 50 cm torpedo tubes





Deck: 20 mm
Slope: 20 mm
Command state: not specified
Belt: 60 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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