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January 5 - Focus: Gazelle-class light cruisers and LST's

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Another day with most ships already covered by us in other topics! But, there's till plenty of good stuff out there!


Ships of note for today

1904 - SMS Undine - Gazelle-class - Commissioned

1939 - HMS Cleopatra - Dido-class - Laid down

1943 - HMS Ranee - Ameer-class - Laid down

1943 - USS Guadalcanal - Casablanca-class - Laid down

1943 - USS Niantic - Repeat Bogue-class - Laid down

1944 - USS Windham Bay - Casablanca-class - Laid down

1944 - USS Petrof Bay - Casablanca-class - Launched


General stats

Allies: 25 ships laid down, 1939 to 1945. 27 ships launched, 1937 to 1946 with appearances from  the Soviet Navy, Free France, and the Royal Norwegian Navy. And 26 commissioned from 1940 to 1946, with another appearance by the Soviet Navy.

Germany: 1 ship commissioned in 1904: the Gazelle-class SMS Undine

Italy: 1 ship launched in 1930: the Navigatori-class destroyer Nicoloso da Recco.




Today, I’m going to take you guys 110 years back in time to Kiel, in Germany. For today, the Kaiserliche Marine commissioned a new Gazelle-class light cruiser: SMS Udine.

Now the story of the Udine itself isn’t actually that interesting, but that of her class is!



SMS Undine


For the Gazelles were the first class of modern light cruisers to be built in a large number, and this was at a time when the role of the smaller cruisers was being questioned by various influential admirals around the world. Historically speaking, the light cruiser (or second/third class cruisers, as the British called them at the time) were used for scouting and long range trade protection duties. But with the dawn of destroyers and advances in the capabilities of armored cruisers, people like Lord Fisher (later First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy) openly declared the light cruiser being no longer needed, and indeed: Great Britain actually stopped building light cruisers for a while!


On the other side of the North Sea, the people in charge weren’t convinced. Armored cruisers, while very effective weapon platforms at the time, were getting more and more expensive while the operational effectiveness of destroyers were still somewhat lacking in their eyes. So something in between was needed: a ship that was capable of getting the job done, while still economically feasible.


So the German designers started working on a larger variant of light cruisers (while still smaller than those used by other navies), which made use of all the newest technologies available. The result was the Gazelle-class.


As said, the Gazelles were the first proper class of modern light cruisers in the world. They had decent range (between 3,560nmi and 4,400nmi at 10kn, depending on the ship), had a good top speed for the time (between 20kn and 21.5kn) and a very decent armament of ten 10.5cm guns and three 45cm torpedo tubes.

You can see that there’s a pretty big gap between the operational ranges and the top speeds: the reason for this was that the class had no standard machinery: the shipyard that built the ship was also responsible for supplying the machinery, which resulted in various engines being used, and the size of the coal bunkers was increased during the construction of the various batches of ships from 500t for the first three ships, to 560t for the second batch of four ships to ultimately 700t for the last three ships.


Another new feature was that the Gazelles set the standard for cruiser armaments in the Kaiserliche Marine. They used the, then new, 10.5cm/40 SK L/40 guns which was a very capable gun for its time, capable of shooting fifteen 16kg AP rounds per minute with a range of 12,200 meters (13,340 yards)…and the Gazelles carried ten of these guns (five on each broadside)! The Germans liked these guns so much that they were the standard weapon for all following light cruisers up to the second Königsberg-class of 1916.



Ships in class

SMS Gazelle

Laid down: Sometime during 1897 at Germaniawerft, Kiel

Launched: 11-21-1899

Commissioned: 09-20-1900

Fate: Struck a mine in 1915, causing considerable damage which was too expensive to repair. Scrapped in 1920



SMS Gazelle


SMS Niobe

Laid down: Sometime during 1898 at A.G. Weser, Bremen

Launched: 07-18-1899

Commissioned: 06-25-1900

Fate: Sold to Yugoslavia in 1925, lost after running aground and torpedo hits in December 1943



SMS Niobe


SMS Nymphe

Laid down: Sometime during 1898 at Germaniawerft, Kiel

Launched: 11-21-1899

Commissioned: 09-20-1900

Fate: Scrapped in 1922



SMS Nymphe


SMS Thetis

Laid down:  Sometime during 1899 at the Kaiserliche Werft, Danzig

Launched: 07-03-1900

Commissioned: 09-14-1901

Fate: Scrapped in 1930



SMS Thesis


SMS Ariadne

Laid down:  Sometime during 1899 at A.G. Weser, Bremen

Launched: 08-10-1900

Commissioned: 05-18-1901

Fate: Sunk by two British battlecruisers at 08-28-1914 during the Battle of Heligoland Bight



SMS Ariadne


SMS Amazone

Laid down:  Sometime during 1899 at Germaniawerft, Kiel

Launched: 10-06-1900

Commissioned: 11-15-1901

Fate: Scrapped in 1954 (over 50 years old!)



SMS Amazone


SMS Medusa

Laid down:  Sometime during 1900 at A.G. Weser, Bremen

Launched: 12-05-1900

Commissioned: 07-26-1901

Fate: Sunk on 05-03-1945 at Wilhelmshaven



Postcard of SMS Medusa


SMS Frauenlob

Laid down:  Sometime during 1901 at A.G. Weser, Bremen

Launched: 03-22-1902

Commissioned: 03-17-1903

Fate: Sunk by British cruiser HMS Southampton at 05-31-1916 during the Battle of Jutland



SMS Frauenlob


SMS Arcona

Laid down:  Sometime during 1901 at A.G. Weser, Bremen

Launched: 04-22-1902

Commissioned: 05-12-1903

Fate: Sunk on 05-03-1945 at Wilhelmshaven



SMS Arcona


SMS Undine

Laid down:  Sometime during 1901 at Howaldtswerke, Kiel

Launched: 12-11-1902

Commissioned: 01-05-1904

Fate: Sunk on 11-07-1915 in the Baltic Sea by British submarine E19



SMS Undine


Operational life

All the ships of the Gazelle-class had very active service lives, with Gazelle being stationed in South America and Arcona being a part of the Ostasiengeschwader (East Asia squadron) for a few years, based at Tsingtao, China.


But while the Gazelles were nothing short of revolutionary when they were commissioned, due to the rapid advances in technology they were obsolete when WW1 broke out. Because of this, all of them except Ariadne and Frauenlob were mostly used for coastal defense duties, with some of them being modified to serve as mine layers.


Being outdated didn’t keep Ariadne and Frauenlob from staying away from the action though! During the Battle of Heligoland Bight, both of them were in the thick of the fighting, and while Ariadne fell to the guns of two British battlecruisers, Frauenlob managed to severely damage the much newer and heavily armed British light cruiser HMS ArethusaFrauenlob met her end during the Battle of Jutland, when the scouting group she was part of accidentally ran into the British 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron. In the ferocious battle that followed (fought at point blank range, as there was only 730 meters between the two forces!) Frauenlob was in a duel with HMS Southampton when she was hit by a torpedo launched by the British cruiser. Only 9 men survived.


The other cruiser of this class to sink during WW1 was Undine, while performing coastal defense duties in the Baltic she was attacked by the British submarine E19, which launched two torpedoes at her at 1,000 meters range. Both hit, causing Undine’s magazine to explode. Luckily, most of the crew survived and were rescued by escorting destroyers, with only 14 men lost.


The rest of the cruisers survived WW1 and, due to their age, weren’t interned at Scapa flow. Niobe was sold to Yugoslavia, while Gazelle, Nymphe and Thetis were scrapped between 1920 and the early 1930’s. Arcona, Medusa and Amazone were used as floating barracks, with Arcona and Medusa being converted to floating AA batteries when WW2 broke out. Niobe (now known as Dalmacija) was captured by the Italians, renamed to Cattaro, and when the Italians surrendered to the Germans she was once again renamed Niobe. She ran aground in December of 1943, and presented an easy target for British torpedo boats, who finished her of.


Only Amazone survived the war intact, with the rest being scuttled or sunk, she survived as a barracks ship until 1954 and was scrapped after well over 50 years of service.



Outline of the Gazelle-class




Length (total): 105.0m

Length (waterline): 104.4m

Beam: 12.2m to 12.4m

Draft: 4.11m to 5.38m

Dispacement: 2,643t to 2,706t



10.5cm/40 SK L/40: 10

Machineguns: 10 to 14

45cm torpedo tubes: 3

Mines: 120



Deck: 25mm (max)



Shafts: 2

Engines: 2

Type: Three cylinder triple expansion



Total Performance: 6366shp (SMS Gazelle), between 8500shp and 9000shp for the rest

Max speed: 21.5kn (20kn for Gazelle)

Range: between 3,560nmi and 4,400nmi at 10kn



Officers: 14

Enlisted men: between 243 and 256 men





  • Cool 8

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Alpha Tester
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Pick A Year From 1942 to 1945


Almost every day of the war from 1942 on, there was something amphibious from the Allies hitting the water. We don't normally cover them, because this is World of Warships and these aren't warships. And also there are literally over a thousand LSTs, 2633 LCTs, 558 LSM, and 31 of the UK LCT Mark 8. The only commodities in the naval history of World War 2 more common than large beaching craft were aircraft, Higgins boats, salt water, and human stupidity. Because of that at some point we really do need to talk about them. Today, we're going to talk about the LSTs.


The origin of the Landing Ship, Tank, can be traced directly to the Evacuation of Dunkirk. The British Army succeeded in rescuing most of its men, but at the cost of their heavy equipment; tanks, artillery, anti-tank guns, and even heavier crew-served weapons had to be left behind because there was no way to get them off the beach. That also meant there was no way to get them on the beach, which was a big problem if your plan to win the war didn't involve attacking heavily defended ports head-on.


The Royal Navy was directed to solve this problem. As an interim measure they requistioned three 4000-to-4800 ton tankers designed for the very restrictive sandbars of Lake Maracaibo, Venezula, who were gutted, fitted with bow ramps and doors, and became HMS Misoa, HMS Tasajera, and HMS Bachaquero, the world's first LSTs. The “Maracaibo” class could carry 18 thirty-ton tanks or 22 25-ton tanks, plus 217 troops and drew only 4 feet of water at the bow, and 15 feet at the stern. They provided valuable service throughout the war, serving in Operations Torch, Husky, and Overlord doing what they were designed to do: carry tanks and vehicles into an open beach.


The Maracaibos: Bachaquero in civilian colors before the Royal Navy got their hands on her.



This put them one up on their immediate children, the LST Mk. 1 design. A scaled-down version intended to carry a load of 13 Churchills or 20 medium tanks on the well deck, 27 vehicles on the deck, and 193 troops. Consisting of HMS Boxer, HMS Bruiser, and HMS Thruster, they were fast for beaching craft at 18 knots thanks to a redesigned bow, but rode too deep in the water to be ideal. They were also slow to build and didn't launch until 1943, after their replacement class had already reached the water. Boxer, Bruiser, and Thruster served in the Invasion of Italy, but was outperformed by the American LST Mk2 designs. The three were heavily refitted with large amounts of radar equipment into fighter-direction ships for the Normandy landings, meant to direct the interception of a possible Luftwaffe do-or-die effort to disrupt the landings. The Luftwaffe failed to show, and they served out the remainder of the war as radar training ships.


HMS Boxer in her role as a radar training ship and fighter-direction ship in 1945.



What everyone usually thinks of when they talk about and LST is the US-designed LST Mark 2. The Admiralty contracted for several LST Mk1s with the United States, but the USN pointed out that the Boxer design was incapable of an Atlantic crossing under its own power and was in many other ways unsatisfactory. BuShips took over the design process. The result was 327 feet 9 inches long, 50 feet wide, and a draft of only 3 feet 4 inches at the bow when loaded for landing operations. Cargo carried was up to 2100 tons. British designs had inadequate ventilation for vehicles to run their engines on the well deck without endangering the crew. The Army and Navy attacked the problem by building mockup LST well decks in buildings at Fort Knox and packing them full of running tanks as if prior to a landing, then testing various methods of ventilation. (At least one of these buildings is still at Fort Knox and tours are available through the General Patton Museum.)


Dried out; LST-325 and LST-388 at low tide on the Normandy beaches, June 12 1944. You can pick out the twin-screw twin-rudder arrangement and other details, as well as the after two single 40mm guns.



The keel of the first LST Mark 2 was laid on 10th June 1942, the first of them were leaving their building drydocks in October, and twenty-three were in commission by December 31st 1942. Nobody bothered with a test ship; materials were actually ordered for many of the first LSTs before design work was even completed and contracts were let before the ink on the blueprints was dry. LSTs, because of their shallow draft, were built in places nobody had ever thought to build large ships; the Chicago Bridge and Iron works launched 156 of them during the war, while the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron and International Steel Company in Evansville, Indiana built even more than that. In total, 670 of them would be built at “inland” yards and reached the sea by rivers for fitting out at coastal ports. By 1943 time to build an LST had been reduced to four months; by the end of the war, it was down to two.


As far as the eye can see: LSTs unloading on the Normandy beaches, June 1944. Among those identifiable from the picture are LST-310, LST-532, LST-262, LST-533, and LST-524.



Two subclasses of the LST Mark 2 existed. The LST-491-class replaced the elevator from the main deck to the tank deck with a ramp hinged at the main deck, speeding up the process of moving vehicles off the main deck and onto the beach. The LST-542-class incorporated various modifications that were mainly directed towards the ability to carry an LCT amidships on the main deck, but also included upgrades in armor and armament, the addition of a water distillation plant to serve the needs of both the ship and others, and adding a navigation bridge.


The British developed another design, the LST Mark 3, which was slightly faster, but heavier over all, and intended to operate more comfortably in tropical and arctic conditions. Because of a lack of welding building capacity, the design had to be riveted. The LST Mk3 entered service in December 1944, too late for any of the major British amphibious operations of the war, and 77 were ultimately delivered; some of them after the war ended.


From their combat debut in the Solomon Island in 1943 to their last combat operations in Vietnam and Korea, the LSTs provided invaluable service wherever they went. They not only carried tanks, but amtrac assault vehicles, acted as landing craft repair ships, motherships to small craft, hospital ships, ammunition underway replenishment ships, and even yeoman aircraft carriers to light utility aircraft during Operation Huskey. In Europe they landed tanks and carried supplies into open beaches, doing what both sides had regarded as impossible: supplying an army in the field without the use of a port. In the Pacific, with the tank-landing role largely turned over to LSD/LCM combos, they carried supplies and troops ashore for every landing of the war after Guadalcanal and acted as motherships to marine amtracs during landings over coral reefs.


Going to meet the Japanese: a USCG-manned LST en route for Sansapor, New Guinea. The other ships in columns are LCIs.



Despite their crews terming them “Large Slow Target”, they proved surprisingly difficult to sink and surprisingly lethal to attack. At the New Georgia landings in the Solomons, Japanese aircraft flinched from attacking the LST landing echelon because of their fierce resistance and instead chose to go pick on their less-threatening(!) destroyer escort, while in the invasion of the Admiralty Islands USCG-manned LSTs engaged in direct-fire duels with Japanese machineguns and artillery. Of the 1051 LSTs built during the war, only 26 would be lost to enemy action; an incredibly tiny number considering the hundreds of them that stood into kamikaze-infested waters in the Pacific or beaches sighted on by heavy coastal guns in the Atlantic. Another 13 were lost to weather, reefs, or accidents.


D+1: A Sherman Firefly comes ashore on Sword Beach, June 7 1944, from an unidentified LST.



Today, the survivors of the great fleets of LSTs that helped win the Second World War are few, but some can still be found, and a number even serve active duty in the militaries of Asian nations. LST-325, originally born as LST-120 and later serving the Hellenic Navy as RHS Syros is kept in operational condition and is homeported at Evansville, Indiana as a museum ship. USS LST-510, a participant in Operation Overlord, has operated as a ferry in New England for over thirty years under the name MV Cape Henelopen and makes the Long Island NY to New London and Orient Point CT run. USS LST-393 is located in Muskegon, Michigan, as a museum ship. USS LST-938 was given to the Republic of Vietnam Navy and passed from them to the Vietnamese People's Navy, where it is currently serving under the name Tran Knanh Du. And the Philippine Navy has three ships, Zamboanga del Sur, Laguna, and Benguet (formerly LST-975, LST-230, and LST-692), still on active-duty service.


Korean Dawn: a US LST enters Incheon harbor in Korea, 13 December 1950, as part of a followup echelon to the landings there during the Korean War.



All data below is for the US LST Mark 2.



Displacement (full load): 3942 tons

Length: 327 feet 6 inches

Beam : 50 feet

Draft: 3 feet 4 inches bow and 14 feet 1 inch stern in landing configuration


Weapons (it was not uncommon for LSTs expecting to go into a hostile beach to beg/borrow/steal extra armament; in practice some of them may have had two or more times as many guns)

1x 3”/50 Mark 7 DP gun (2x on LST-542-class)

6x 40mm/56 Mark 1 or Mark 2 Bofors AAMG

6x 20mm/70 Mark 3 or Mark 4 Oerlikon AAMG

2x .50cal/90 M2 BMG AAMG

4x .30cal AAMG



2x GM 12-567 diesel engines, two shafts



10 knots



8 to 10 officers, 100 to 115 enlisted

Up to approx. 140 passengers as needed



2 to 6 LCVP

1 LCT Mark 5 for LST-542 class

  • Cool 9

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Alpha Tester
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Good job, guys (+1 to each).  Meanwhile, Ariecho is enjoying a day off.



  • Cool 5

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Supertester, Members, Alpha Tester, In AlfaTesters, Beta Testers
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Good stuff!

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Alpha Tester
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I've been lurking around forever and I've got to say that I'm surprised you are still posting these.  Keep up the good work.

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Alpha Tester
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Ummm. The unidentified LST is LST 3506


It's got that number on the bow, yes, but that doesn't make it that LST. I actually checked, and 3506 didn't enter service in time for that picture to be taken. I suspect the fine folks at the censorship and deception office were messing with us.

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Supertester, Members, Alpha Tester, In AlfaTesters, Beta Testers
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Everytime I see the Sherman Firefly I'm reminded of its extremely long absence in WoT. =(

We can pray that it is in one of the few branches coming this year.

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