Helgoland is a Modified Spaun class scout cruiser. This class of three ships was the most modern group of cruisers owned by the K.u.K. Navy at the outbreak of WW1. They were the most active of the large KuK units and were aggressively and well-handled. A similar, but more heavily gunned, vessel was to have been built for China but was never completed. My model started as the WSW kit of her sister, SMS Saida. The main difference is the addition of large and prominent vent cowls, not carried by Saida. The class all had long lives, being ceded to France and Italy, after the demise of the KuK, eventually being discarded in the late 1930ís. Masts are brass; photo-etch is from the White Ensign Models Tiger and Chester frets, rigging being from stretched sprue. Paintwork is Humbrol, WEM and artists oils. I discarded the kitís boats and replaced them with Seals boats. The kit, although good, was badly damaged in transit and needed more work than would otherwise have been required.

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During their service with the KuK the class went through a number of changes, including the height of the mainmast. The more common photographs of Helgoland show her with a short mainmast. This was a modification carried out to give ship a profile like that of the Tatra class destroyers, a modification carried out prior to the 1917 Otranto Strait action. Otranto Strait was heavily patrolled by RN drifters and a mixed force of RN, Italian and French warships with the aim of curtailing KuK U-boat activity, the drifters being employed to form a net barrier. In 1917, the KuK attacked and sunk a number of drifters before withdrawing under cover of darkness. In this action, the KuK cruiser Novara was damaged and had to be towed home, whilst the French lost a destroyer and the RN had two cruisers damaged. A supporting force of KuK heavy units covered the withdrawal, with the armoured cruiser Sankt Georg briefly engaging RN units. Thanks to Jim Baumann for the photographs.

Rob Kernaghan

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