Small cruiser SMS Medusa

The small cruiser SMS Medusa belonged to the Gazelle class, which were built at the turn of the century. The Medusa was one of the few ships that served both in the first and the second world war.


Launching and design:

The designs of the Gazelle class originated in 1895 and 1896 and were the first modern small cruiser of the imperial navy. Since the ships were multiplier constructions, there were no predecessors, the experience for the construction was therefore from the Meteor class. Up to the Kolberg class of 1910, all small cruisers constructed so far took from the experience and construction of the Gazelle class.

Unlike ships of one class, the ships of the Gazelle class were planned in two phases. The first phase was based on designs from 1895 and 1896, the second phase on designs from 1897 and 1900, with the second series of ships provided a slightly larger variant.

The naming came from Greek mythology and referred to Medusa, a gorgon who instead had hair beating on the head at the sight of people froze into stone.


Medusa, the namesake of the ship


The launch of the SMS Medusa took place on 5 December 1900, the commissioning on 26 July 1901.




History of SMS Medusa:

After commissioning the usual test drives were carried out until September 11, 1901. Due to staff shortages in the Navy, the ship then had until April 1, 1903 in the reserve fleet before it was assigned to the reconnaissance forces.

Until 15 September 1907, the annual maneuvers and some trips abroad to Spain, Netherlands, Norway and Great Britain were made until the ship was replaced by the SMS Königsberg and then served as an artillery training ship. The out of service position was carried out on May 23, 1908 with simultaneous shift to the Reserve Division.


Small cruiser SMS Medusa

Small cruiser SMS Medusa




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the SMS Medusa was reactivated and entrusted with securing tasks of the Elbe until September 13, 1915. From 14 September 1915 to 1 December 1915, the ship was with reduced crew in Wilhelmshaven, then until 18 December 1916, the Medusa was entrusted in the Baltic Sea with security tasks.

After retiring, it was transferred from Kiel to Flensburg-Mürwik.




Use in the Navy of the Weimar Republic:

According to the provisions of the Armistice Treaty and the Versailles Treaty, SMS Medusa was one of the ships that Germany did not have to deliver.

The commissioning in the new navy of the Weimar Republic took place on 17 July 1920 as the first large warship. From 30 August to 5 September 1920 the Swedish ports of Fårösund, Gotland and Wisby were visited.

After the old liner ship SMS Hannover was put back into service, it replaced the Medusa as flagship. Until it was taken out of service on 26 September 1924, several manoeuvres and voyages to Swedish and Finnish ports followed.

On 27 March 1929 the ship was removed from the list of warships and subsequently used as a residential ship in Wilhelmshaven.




Use in the War Navy (Kriegsmarine):

During the Second World War the Medusa was drafted in August 1940 by the Kriegsmarine and converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery to protect the Schillig-Reede off Wilhelmshaven from air raids. During an air raid on 19 April 1945, the ship was severely damaged and 22 crew members and air defence assistants were killed.





When the 1st tank Division of the Polish Army attacked on May 3, 1945, the remains of the ship were blown up in the IV. Driveway of Wilhelmshaven in order to block them.

From 1948, the cleanup of the port began, with the wreck salvaged and scrapped until 1950.




Ship data:


SMS Medusa


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser
From 1940 anti-aircraft battery




AG Weser, Bremen


4.739.000 Mark


December 5th 1900


July 26th, 1901


Sunk on May 3rd, 1945, lifted from 1948 to 1950 and scrapped


105,1 meters


12,2 meters


Max. 5,39 meters


Max. 2.972 Tons


257 Men


9 Marine Boiler
2 3-cylinder compound machines


7.972 PS (5.863 kW)

Maximum speed:  

20,9 kn (39 km/h)


10 × 10.5 cm L / 40 Rapid Fire Gun (1.000 rounds)

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



Deck: 20-50 mm
Sole: 80 mm
Command tower: 20-80 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!






This post is also available in: Deutsch (German) Français (French) Italiano (Italian) 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) Русский (Russian) Español (Spanish) العربية (Arabic)

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!