At the start of the 20th century there were two types of cruisers being built. One was the armored cruiser, which were the largest, most powerful and heaviest designs. The other was the light cruiser, which could be further subdivided by mission. Some were built for long range for trade protection in the case of the Royal Navy and trade destruction in the case of France. Others were built for working with the fleet as scouts. They normally had a far shorter range. With the newly minted Imperial German Fleet, the light cruiser was designed to be a compromise between both missions. As with all compromises, there were trade-offs. German designs were slightly slower than British designs but the cruisers were slightly larger. The Konigsberg class of four cruisers belonged to two construction programs. Konigsberg was in the 1903-1904 program and had four shafts and turbine machinery. Nurnberg, Stuttgart and Stettin were in the 1904-1905 program and had two shafts with vertical triple expansion engines. Nurnberg was laid down at Kiel in 1906. She was launched August 29, 1906 and completed on April 10, 1908. The ship displaced 3,469 metric tons design, 4,002 metric tons deep load and made 23.4 knots on trials, the slowest in the class. She was armed with ten 105mm (4.1-inch) guns, ten 52mm (2-inch) guns, and two 450mm (17.7-inch) below water torpedo tubes placed for beam fire. After commissioning Nurnberg was sent to join the German East Asiatic Squadron at Tsingtao China. By 1914 the squadron was under the command of Admiral Graf von Spee and probably was the most elite unit in the German Navy. With the start of World War One, the East Asiatic Squadron was cut off from Germany. Facing the British eastern fleet and in all likelihood the Imperial Japanese Fleet, von Spee steamed across the Pacific with intentions of trying to steam halfway around the world to reach Germany.
As the German squadron crossed the Pacific in secrecy, the Japanese fleet searched for it in the west and the British in the east. One force looking for it was a cruiser squadron under Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock. He had the armored cruisers Good Hope and Monmouth, a light cruiser, an auxiliary merchant cruiser and the predreadnought Canopus. Cradock left the slow battleship behind as he looked for von Spee. The forces met at dusk 50 miles west of the port of Coronel in Chile. The German squadron was far superior and the Good Hope disappeared aflame into the night and was never seen again. The Monmouth was was badly damaged forward but managed to break contact with the German armored cruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. In an effort to survive she was crawling seaward to the west to further separate her from the German squadron. All of von Spee's cruisers were present for the battle, save one. The Nurnberg was not present for the initial battle. She was trailing many miles behind the squadron and when firing started hurried forward in an effort to get into the battle. The firing had ended when Nurnberg spotted a ship in the darkness. It was the badly damaged Monmouth. Normally the Nurnberg could not take on an armored cruiser but Monmouth was badly damaged and could not maneuver. Nurnberg took advantage of this and closed. The German cruiser kept firing into the hull of the stricken armored cruiser but Monmouth would not lower her flag. Monmouth finally turned turtle and went down with all hands.
It is ironic that on December 8, 1914 Nurnberg encountered a sistership of the Monmouth, HMS Kent. At the Battle of the Falklands von Spee encountered the far heavier force under Admiral Sturdee, centered around battlecruisers Invincible and Inflexible. At first von Spee maintained squadron integrity but when he realized that he was being chased by battlecruisers he ordered his light cruisers to escape, while he covered their withdrawal with his armored cruisers. Nurnberg was followed by HMS Kent. The Nurnberg was the slowest of the class and had spent months a sea with a degradation in her capabilities. On the other hand the Kent actually exceeded her designed speed in chasing down the Nurnberg. The Nurnberg had a broadside of five 4.1-inch guns against the broadside of nine 6-inch guns of Kent. Kent had side armor, while Nurnberg lacked side armor. The shooting of Nurnberg was excellent but her shells could not penetrate the armor of Kent. Nurnberg was pounded into a wreck and capsized.
Navis produces two versions of the Nurnberg. This is # 50S in the white and buff colors of the German East Asiatic Squadron. The other version is #50, in gray war paint, as she appeared at the Battles of Coronel and the Falkland Islands. The Navis Nurnberg, as well as the entire Navis/Neptun line, are available from Galerie Maritim, which carries a huge inventory of new and pre-owned 1:1250 scale models.