70651 - Light cruiser SMS Medusa, 1901, 1/700


SMS Medusa was a 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). Medusa served in all three German navies—the Kaiserliche Marine, the Reichsmarine (Navy of the Realm) of Weimar Germany, and the Kriegsmarine (War Navy) of Nazi Germany—over the span of over forty years.

During her career in the Imperial fleet, she served in the reconnaissance unit for the High Seas Fleet from 1903 to 1907; during this period, she took part in cruises overseas and routine training exercises. She temporarily replaced her sister ship Nymphe as a gunnery training ship in 1908 while the latter was undergoing repairs. Medusa was herself overhauled and then placed in reserve until August 1914, when the outbreak of World War I led to her recommissioning. She initially operated in the mouth of the Elbe, supporting the flotilla tasked with defending the mouth of the river. She was transferred to the Baltic in late 1915 after her sister Undine was sunk, where she served as the flagship of the Coastal Defense Division. Decommissioned again at the end of 1916, she was used as an auxiliary ship for the rest of the war.

Medusa was among the six light cruisers Germany was permitted to retain under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and she was the first major warship to return to service in 1920; as a result, she served as the Reichmarine's flagship until relieved by the battleship Hannover in 1921. Her career in the early 1920s followed a similar pattern to her prewar years, being occupied with training exercises and visits to foreign ports. She was decommissioned for the last time in 1924 and subsequently used as a barracks ship until 1940, when during World War II, she was converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery. Based outside Wilhelmshaven, she helped to defend the port for the rest of the war, before being badly damaged in an air raid in April 1945. Her crew scuttled her on 3 May, and she was later broken up in 1948–1950.

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