Warship Wednesday September 24, 2014, the Kaiser’s Far Eastern leviathans


Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday September 24, 2014, the Kaiser’s Far Eastern leviathans

Scharnhorst, 1907. Click to bigup. Scharnhorst, 1907. Click to bigup.

Here we see the armored cruiser SMS Scharnhorst of the Kaiserliche Marine, the Imperial German Navy. The huge cruiser, along with her only sister ship, SMS Gneisenau, was Kaiser Wilhelm II’s muscle in the Pacific Ocean for their brief existence.

When old Willy picked up the concession (in a lease like the Brits did with Hong Kong) from the old Manchu Chinese government at Tsingtao (Qingdao, pronounced “Ching-dow”) in 1898, he added that Chinese port to a growing list…

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The Battle of the Doppelgangers


When World War I broke out, it was not uncommon for navies on both sides to commission civilian ships for military use, either as transports or warships.  One sneaky move was to arm civilian ships, especially passenger liners, to trick the enemy.  Such ships could use the element of surprise to attack an enemy who believes the ship is nothing more than an unarmed civilian vessel.


In 1914 the German Navy armed the 18,000-ton, 613-foot long passenger liner Cap Trafalgar with two four-inch guns and six 37mm auto-cannon.  In addition the Cap Trafalgar was disguised to look like a similar British Cunard line passenger liner called the 19,524-ton, 650-foot long RMS Carmania.  The idea was that the Cap Trafalgar could approach British merchant and supply convoys with little suspicion of being a German warship.  When the convoy least expected it, the Cap Trafalgar would open fire and destroy the…

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