70652 - Light cruiser SMS Niobe, 1900, 1/700


SMS Niobe was the second member of the ten-ship Gazelle class of light cruisers that were built for the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) in the late 1890s and early 1900s. The Gazelle class was the culmination of earlier unprotected cruiser and aviso designs, combining the best aspects of both types in what became the progenitor of all future light cruisers of the Imperial fleet. Built to be able to serve with the main German fleet and as a colonial cruiser, she was armed with a battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph). The ship had a long career, serving in all three German navies, along with the Yugoslav and Italian fleets over the span of more than forty years.

Niobe served in both home and overseas waters in the Imperial Navy, serving in a variety of roles, including as a flotilla leader for torpedo boats, as a scout for the main fleet, and as a station ship with the East Asia Squadron. After the outbreak of World War I, the ship joined the vessels tasked with defending Germany's North Sea coast. By late 1915, she was withdrawn from active service and used as a headquarters ship for various commands. She was disarmed in 1917, but as one of the cruisers permitted to the postwar Reichsmarine (Navy of the Realm) by the Treaty of Versailles, she was modernized and rearmed in the early 1920s.

The ship saw no active service with the Reichsmarine and, in 1925, Germany sold the ship to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia). There, she was renamed Dalmacija and served in the Royal Yugoslav Navy until April 1941, when she was captured by the Italians during the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia. Renamed Cattaro, she served in the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) until the Italian surrender in September 1943. She was then seized by the German occupiers of Italy, who restored her original name. She was used in the Adriatic Sea briefly until December 1943, when she ran aground on the island of Silba, and was subsequently destroyed by British Motor Torpedo Boats. The wreck was ultimately salvaged and broken up for scrap between 1947 and 1952.

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