70650 - Light cruiser SMS Gazelle, 1901, 1/700


SMS Gazelle was the lead ship of the ten-vessel Gazelle class of light cruisers that were built for the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) in the late 1890s. 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 19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph). Her Niclausse boilers proved to be troublesome in service, and these were later replaced in the mid-1900s.

Gazelle initially operated with the main fleet in home waters, during which time she made a major cruise to Spain to greet the German expeditionary force that had been sent to suppress the Boxer Rebellion. In 1902, she was sent overseas; slated to join the East Asia Squadron, she instead was diverted to Venezuela in response to rising tensions that ultimately produced the Venezuelan crisis of 1902–1903. During the crisis, she operated with British and Italian warships in a blockade of the country and her crew seized the gunboat Restaurador, pressing her into German service. Following the settlement of the dispute, Gazelle cruised in North and Central American waters, visiting numerous ports in the region. She was recalled to Germany in 1904, decommissioned, and overhauled, thereafter remaining out of service for the next decade.

The ship was recommissioned after the start of World War I in 1914, serving in the Baltic Sea as part of the Coastal Defense Division, then the Detached Division, before returning to the former in late 1914. After being damaged by Russian naval mines in January 1915, she was deemed not worth repairing and was instead converted into a mine storage hulk, a role she filled for the rest of the war. She was ultimately struck from the naval register in 1920 and broken up.

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