Small cruiser SMS Mainz

The small cruiser SMS Mainz belonged to the Kolberg class, small cruisers of the imperial navy were the first fully equipped with a turbine drive. Together with her sister ship SMS Cöln, the Mainz was one of the losses of the first major naval battle between Great Britain and the German Empire.


Launching and design:

The design of the Kolberg class emerges from the experience of the Dresden class and was operated from 1906. For the first time, all ships in a class were equipped with turbine drives, but from a different manufacturer to gain experience in terms of performance and reliability. SMS Mainz received AEG Curtis turbines.

Further, the ships of the Kolberg class were the last ships of the imperial navy which still had a Rammbug. Although this was not as pronounced as its predecessor, the final stop for the Rammbug came only one ship class later.

The launch of the SMS Mainz took place on January 23, 1909, the commissioning on October 1, 1909.


Small cruiser SMS Mainz

Small cruiser SMS Mainz


Christmas 1913 at the SMS Mainz




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the SMS Mainz was together with some other small cruisers assigned to a federation, which should take over the remote control at Helgoland.

When British warships entered the Helgoland area on the morning of August 28, 1914, the Mainz left their berth on the Borkum roadstead and sailed for the British ships. Because of bad leadership of the German ships, there was no concentrated attack but each cruiser attacked British ships alone.

At 12:30 Mainz opened the fire on several British destroyers. These could be hit, but not sunk. Around 12:45 clock arrived 3 British cruisers of the Town class, because of the Mainz had to turn off and tried to escape at full speed. The ship ran further British ships directly into the driveway, so that the two British light cruiser HMS Arethusa and HMS Fearless and 33 destroyers opened fire on the Mainz.

Due to several torpedo hits, dozens of steam pipes fell out, and the control system was so severely damaged by hits that the ship was unable to maneuver. At 13:25, the fire was stopped by the British ships and the HMS Lurcher took over the 348 surviving crew members.


The severely damaged SMS Mainz, recorded by the HMS Lurcher

The severely damaged SMS Mainz, recorded by the HMS Lurcher


The sinking SMS Mainz





During the takeover of the crew members by HMS Lurcher, some of the last men started to open the ships valves, so that the Mainz does not fall into the hands of the opponent. When the last men had left the German ship, the Mainz began to sink completely.




Ship data:


SMS Mainz


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser




AG Vulcan, Szczecin


8.777.000 Mark


January 23rd, 1909


October 1st, 1909


Sunk on August 28th, 1914


130,5 meters


14 meters


Max. 5,6 meters


Max. 4.889 Tons


367 Men


15 Marine Boiler
2 sets of AEG Curtiss turbines


22.040 PS (16.210 kW)

Maximum speed:  

26,8 kn (50 km/h)


12 × Rapid Fire Gun 10,5 cm L / 45 (1.800 rounds)

4 × Rapid Fire Gun 5,2 cm L / 55 (2.000 rounds)

2 × torpedo tube ø 45 cm (under water, 5 shots)


Deck: 20-80 mm
Sole: 100 mm
Command tower: 20-100 mm
Shields: 50 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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