"It was a beautiful, clear night which soon gave place to a splendid morning. The sun rose magnificently, covered the sea with its golden rays and soon showed us the picture of the whole High Seas Fleet. Far ahead of us steamed the small cruisers in line ahead, surrounded by a cordon of destroyers steaming ceaselessly around the cruisers, on the look-out for enemy submarines, like dogs around a flock of sheep." (Georg von Hase, Gunnery Officer SMS Derfflinger, Jutland, An Eyewitness Account of a Great Battle, 1966 Edited by Stuart Legg, at page 28)
At 0300 on May 31, 1916 the scouting forces of the High Seas Fleet steamed out into the darkness of the North Sea. The 1st Scouting Group had five battle cruisers and the 2nd Scouting Group four light cruisers. Three flotillas of destroyers, totally 30 ships, were under the command of Commodore Heinrich, who flew his flag from the light cruiser SMS Regensburg. SMS Regensburg was the second ship of the two-ship Graudenz class of light cruisers. Laid down at the Weser yard in Bremen in 1912, she was launched on April 25, 1914 and completed on January 3, 1915. The class represented the latest in the evolution of the German light cruiser.
With the Royal Navy light cruisers were built to serve a particular purpose. Some were designed with long range as a prime characteristic and were slated to perform the prime mission for trade route protection. Others were slated to serve as scouts for the battle fleet and did not have to have the long range of the trade protection cruiser designs. In contrast the German Navy tired to build one cruiser to suit all rolls. Since the colonial empire of Germany was minimal, instead of trade protection cruisers were designed for commerce raiding as well as fleet reconnaissance. The designs were not entirely suited for either role, even though the SMS Emden proved to be the most successful German raider of World War One. German battleships were noted for sacrificing gun strength for increased protection. One reason for the smaller guns carried by German battleships was that ordnance development took the longest time of any component of a battleship and the Royal Navy had a huge lead and correspondent advantage in armament development and infrastructure. The same could not be said of the armament for light cruisers. Germany already had different ordnance that would suit fitting into light cruisers. However, the German Navy was very late in adopting heavier armament for their light cruiser designs. The reason for this was not lack of ordnance or infrastructure but was because of naval politics.
In 1909 the Royal Navy mounted 6-inch guns in the Bristol class light cruisers. Thereafter, each new design carried at least a portion of the armament and later all of the armament as 6-inch guns, rather than the preceding 4-inch gun armament. German light cruisers were armed with the 4.1-inch (105mm)gun as armament from the beginning. The German Navy did not follow the British lead in mounting heavier guns in light cruisers. Although the German Admiralty favored mounting heavier guns, Admiral Tirpitz opposed this evolution. As a consequence all pre war German designs continued to be built mounting only 4.1-inch guns. When the Graudenz class was laid down and constructed the armament consisted of twelve 4.1-inch guns. In August 1914 when World War One began the Royal Navy had 20 light cruisers in commission armed with at least some 6-inch guns and 17 more under construction. In stark contrast the German Navy had none in commission and none under construction.
The change in philosophy with the German light cruiser design came not with a German cruiser design but with a Russian cruiser design. Imperial Russia had two light cruisers being built in German Yards. These were to be named Muraviev Amurski and Admiral Nevelski and were designed to mount eight 5.2-inch (130mm) guns of a Russian design. With the start of the World War One these ships were seized. Instead of using Russian guns, they were rearmed with German 5.9-inch (150mm) guns. Renamed the Pillau and Elbing, the heavier guns proved far more powerful and successful than the 4.1-inch guns mounted in all of the German light cruisers. With war experience it became increasingly obvious that the German light cruisers carrying 4.1-inch guns with a shell weight of 38 pounds were at a decided disadvantage in engaging British light cruisers mounting 6-inch guns, firing at longer range and with shells of almost three times the weight of the German ordnance.
SMS Regensburgwas the flagship for three torpedo flotillas and was part of Admiral Hipper’s battle cruiser force at the Battle of Jutland. In the "Run to the South" the Regensburg and her destroyers were steaming on the unengaged side of the German battle cruisers. Normally this would be a safe position but initial British battle cruiser fire at Hipper’s ships was so over the German battle cruisers that the shells landed far closer to Regensburg than the heavy ships and for a time HMS Tiger trained her guns on the Regensburg. Shortly after the loss of HMS Queen Mary, Admiral Beatty ordered his accompanying destroyers to attack the German battle cruisers. Hipper countered this with an order for the 9th Destroyer Flotilla, a portion of the 2nd Flotilla and Regensburg in support. The fifteen German destroyers followed by Regensburg turned to starboard and crossed ahead of their battle cruisers. Tiger again mistook Regensburg for a battle cruiser and ineffectually fired a few rounds at her. The light forces collided in the area between the opposing battle cruisers.
"- a wild scene of groups of long low forms vomiting heavy trails of smoke and dashing hither and thither at thirty knots or more through the smother and splashes, and all in a rain of shell from the secondary armament of the German battle-cruisers, as well as from the Regensburg and the destroyers, with the heavy shell of the contending squadrons screaming overhead" (Jutland, An Eyewitness Account of a Great Battle, 1966 Edited by Stuart Legg, at page 52) In this engagement Regensburg put two 4.1-inch shells into the boilers of HMS Nestor. As the Nestor glided to a stop, the rest of the British and German ships sped south. It appeared the little destroyer, although dead in the water, would not suffer further damage. Then fifteen minutes later, both British and German battle cruisers came charging back north followed by the battleships of the High Seas Fleet, all directly towards Nestor. Nestor was sunk as the German fleet passed by her.
Regensburg with her destroyer flotillas stayed with Hipper’s battle cruisers in the "Run to the North". Also with the battle cruisers were the four light cruisers of the 2nd Scouting Group. They encountered HMS Chester and quickly took the British cruiser under fire. However, Chester was scouting for the British 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron composed of the three Invincible Class battle cruisers under the command of Rear Admiral Hood. "Hood, not far away, saw the orange flashes illuminating the murk and turned toward them. He recognized Chester surrounded by shell splashes and then he saw the shadowy outlines of her assailants. At 25 knots, his three battle cruisers raced out of the mist, steering between Chester and her pursuers Heavy battle cruiser guns opened fire at close range, catching Bodicker’s surprised light cruisers in a blizzard of 12-inch shells…These totally unexpected main battery salvos sent the German light cruisers flying, screaming to Hipper by wireless that they were ‘under fire from enemy battleships." (Castles of Steel, 2003, by Robert K. Massie, at page 608)To rescue the hard pressed 2nd Scouting Group, Hipper again signaled Regensburg to attack. Regensburg with 31 destroyers went after the three Invincibles with their escorts. The British countered with the light cruiser Canterbury and four destroyers. In the murk the British totally blunted the attack. The German boats only fired twelve torpedoes. However, Regensburg engaged HMS Shark and disabled her and the British destroyer was sunk by the combined fire from a number of ships.
When Admiral Scheer recognized that he was meeting the entire Grand Fleet he ordered his battle line to execute a simultaneous turn away of 180 degrees and ordered Hipper’s battle cruisers to attack on their famous "Death Ride". A massed torpedo attack was also ordered and Regensburg again took her flock of destroyers towards vastly superior forces. However, as the boats under Commodore Heinrich’s command drew alongside of Hipper’s battle cruisers, Heinrich noticed that the British had already turned away and ordered his boats to break off the attack. With the coming of darkness, Scheer ordered Heinrich to organize three destroyer flotillas for night torpedo attacks on the British fleet. During the night Regensburg was the last ship in the German line and her destroyers spent time rescuing German and British survivors.
Although Regensburg had twice during the Battle of Jutland taken her destroyers into action between opposing battle cruiser formations, the light cruiser was one of the few larger ships that was still combat operational after the High Seas Fleet regained the safety of port. It was clear from after action reports that the 4.1-inch guns of German light cruisers were grossly outmatched by the 6-inch guns of the British light cruisers. Regensburg, along with the other modern 4.1-inch gun light cruisers was rearmed with seven 5.9-inch/45 guns. By 1917 the Regensburg appeared with her heavier and far more formidable armament. She continued in this guise for the rest of her long career. Her underwater 19.7-inch (500mm) torpedo tubes were removed and moved to the deck with two more tubes added. For anti-aircraft defense, she received two 88mm/45 guns. She was also fitted to carry 120 mines. In addition to replacing the 4.1-inch guns with fewer but larger 5.9-inch guns the Regensburg received some other cosmetic changes. Searchlights were originally clustered at the base of each mast. With the modification some were moved onto platforms on both foremast and main mast. On October 29, 1918 the High Seas Fleet was ordered out to sea for a final sortie. However, by now the morale of the ratings on the larger ships was poor and many did not report to the ships. Insubordination and near mutiny occurred on many battleships and also on the Regensburg.
As a result of the Treaty of Versailles, Regensburg was taken over by the French navy. Renamed the Strasbourg, she flew the French flag through the 1920s and early 1930s until she gave up the name for use by the new French battle cruiser. On June 13, 1936 the cruiser was renamed J and served as a barracks ship at Lorient. She was sunk by the Germans in 1944 to serve as a block ship to protect the U-Boat pens from torpedo attack. (History from Castles of Steel, 2003, by Robert K. Massie; Jutland, An Eyewitness Account of a Great Battle, 1966 Edited by Stuart Legg; Jutland, The German Perspective, 1995, by V.E. Tarrant)
H-P Models SMS Regensburg
The hull measures 7 7/8-inches in length and has many details cast into it. Some of these items are better replaced with photo-etch, such as two aztec step inclined ladders running from the main deck to the forecastle. However, these are easily removed with a hobby knife. The hull sides show the armor belt. The Regensburg had a 60mm main belt and this is shown on the model. In 1:700 scale a 2.7-inch belt probably couldn’t be seen and so its presence of the model would be over-scale However, I like having it there as the belt breaks the otherwise smooth hull lines. Both bow anchors as well as propeller guards as cast onto the sides, as well as a stern anchor. The hull is further decorated with a long row of scuttles/portholes below main deck and another shorter row above it at the raised forecastle.
The deck detail is fairly good, other than the two solid inclined ladders. The anchor chain is cast onto to the deck but appears to be of the right size. A long, low breakwater runs from forward of the 1st gun to abreast the conning tower. This feature is well done and thin. The base plates for the 5.9-inch guns and 88mm guns make attaching these guns easy. Four sets of twin bollards, as well as other deck detail add further interest to the forecastle. At the waist are four positions for single torpedo tubes, two per side, separated by solid bulkheads. There are a couple of deckhouses, which although they lack detail, help in placing the separate superstructure parts. The aft bulkheads have holes drilled for davits, which are not included in the set. Rather than use stretched sprue for davits, I would recommend using some generic photo-etch davits. The aft deck has three more base plates for 5.9-inch guns, four more twin bollard sets, in addition to other deck fittings. All in all the deck detail is pretty good. However, it is marred by a significant omission, the lack of locator lines for attaching the superstructure.
The superstructure parts are cast on a resin sheet. These are easily removed from the sheet. After cleaning these parts, dry fit them on the deck first. The forecastle parts present no problem, as the lower bridge structure has a notch, which fits over a deck fitting and the conning tower abuts a fitting forward. However, there are five separate deckhouses on the main deck. With no locator lines, care must be taken to positioning these parts. Use white glue to allow adjustments to these fittings. There are 18 parts on the superstructure sheet and the detail for most parts is quite nice. Solid bulkheads are thin and there is plenty of additional detail in the form of fittings. The three funnels are separate and with these, H-P made a mistake. The cast parts have grill caps but according to German Warships 1815-1945, 1982 by Erich Groner at page 109, the Regensburg did not have grills on the funnel tops.
A second resin sheet contains the armament, masts, boats and fittings. There is some flash on all of these fittings but this is more in the nature of thin film. Always use care in removing these smaller parts from the sheet because they are susceptible to being broken, especially gun barrels. These smaller parts are fair but nothing really stands out with the possible exception of the four single torpedo tubes, which are very nice. The 5.9-inch guns do not have a hollowed out rear for the gun house but breach blocks are depicted protruding from the rear. H-P provides eight of these parts but only seven are needed for the model. Both masts have two searchlight platforms cast onto the piece, as well as a crow’s nest. If you replace these masts with brass rod, make sure you add the searchlight platforms. However, I don’t see a problem with the resin masts provided, assuming they don’t break in removal from the sheet. They don’t appear to be overly thick and they don’t have a warp. Four 8mm guns are provided, although only three are used. Four searchlights are included but their pedestals are too thick. The ships’ boats are rather plain. Also included is a flag sheet on a square of paper.
The instructions are minimal at best. One page shows an isometric view of the assembly. This drawing has a dotted line surrounding areas for attachment of superstructure parts but this doesn’t help too much given the angle of the view. It would have been far better to have cast these parts as part of the hull or provided locator lines on the deck. Even an overhead view in 1:700 scale with the locator lines would have been of significant help but as it is, placement of the superstructure is the biggest problem with the kit. Another question that I have is the measurements of the masts, as shown on this sheet. The sheet shows the foremast at 43mm, about the length of the cast masts, and mainmast as 33mm. I have doubts about that last measurement, as drawings in the Groner reference shows both masts about the same height. If anything the main mast is slightly taller than the foremast.
One page has a plan and profile but in a scale larger than 1:700. These drawings are fairly basic in that all details are not shown. As an example, the 88mm guns do not appear on this plan and the rigging pattern is not depicted. The third sheet is a simple parts matrix, which has a drawing of each part and lists the number of copies needed.
The H-P Models 1:700 scale model of SMS Regensburg presents a good model but does present some significant deficiencies. Parts range from good to mediocre and the lack of locator lines on the deck presents a pitfall for the unwary. However, with care and a few changes a very nice model of this light cruiser can be built. The Regensburg, as well as the rest of the H-P Models line is available from Pacific Front.