The shells came thick and fast with a terrible droning hum...they tore holes in the ship’s side...They bore their way even to the stoke-hold. The coal in the bunkers was set on fire....In the engine room a shell licked up the oil and sprayed it
around in flames of blue and green, scarring its victims and blazing where it fell. The terrific air pressure resulting from explosion in a confined space left a deep impression on the minds of the men of the Blucher. The air...roars through every
opening and tears its way through every weak spot....As one poor wretch was passing through a [hatch] a shell burst near him. He was exactly half-way through. The [hatch] closed with a terrific snap..[M]en were picked up by that terrible
luftdruck [air pressure]...and tossed to a horrible death amidst the machinery.
” (Before Jutland by James Goldrick, Naval Institute Press 2015, at page 280)

The British guns were ranging. Those deadly waterspouts crept nearer and nearer. The men on deck watched them in strange fascination. Soon one pitched close to the ship and a vast watery pillar, a hundred metres high one of them affirmed,
fell lashing on the deck. The range had been found. Damn aber ging’s los!
” (With the Battle Cruisers, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland 1986, by Filson Young, at page 213)

Early on the morning of November 3, 1914, the first reports of the disaster at the Battle of Coronel were just filtering in to the British Admiralty. Admiral John “Jackie” Fisher had just returned as First Sea Lord a mere three days ago. The two primary
warships in the German East Asiatic Squadron were the armored cruisers
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. These were formidable ships but they were not the newest armored cruiser in the German Fleet. Shortly after dawn the old gunboat HMS Halcyon,
converted to a minesweeper, crept out of the port of Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast and shortly thereafter would meet the newest of the German armored cruisers, the
SMS Blucher.
The story of the design of the Blucher is an interesting one. This design was the German response to a ruse, perpetrated on the German navy by none other than the same Jackie Fisher newly returned from retirement to the Admiralty. Admiral Fisher
in his first tour as 1st Sea Lord had been the driving force behind the design and construction of
HMS Dreadnought, the first all big gun battleship to be completed in the world. Although the “Battleship Committee” tasked with selecting a new
battleship design for the Royal Navy had its primary mission as selection of a battleship design, they had more on their plates. As soon as the design for
Dreadnought was selected for construction, they launched into the task of selecting a new
armored cruiser design. In the prior seven years the Royal Navy had built seven classes of armored cruisers. Just as British pre-dreadnought battleships had a mixed battery, so too did the RN armored cruiser designs. Although the
County Class and
Improved County Class had mounted all 6-inch guns for the Counties and a combination of 7.5-inch and 6-inch guns for the Improved Counties in an economy measure, the other five classes had the tried and true 9.2-inch gun as their main guns
with 6-inch or 7.5-inch guns as the secondary. The Imperial German Navy had followed suit but their designs used 8.2-inch guns for the main battery and 5.9-inch guns for the secondary.

If the
Dreadnought marked a watershed from previous battleship designs, the new armored cruiser design selected by the committee was an even greater change from prior armored cruiser designs in that it incorporated all big guns in the design but
of 12-inch battleship caliber, far larger than the 9.2-inch guns of previous designs. The chief constructor Phillip Watts was in favor of a uniform armament of 9.2-inch guns for the new design, making them an armored cruiser equivalent to the
Dreadnought design but Jackie Fisher insisted on the 12-inch gun as main armament. By weight of his personality and position of 1st Sea Lord he got his way and the HMS Invincible class was created. At first they were still called armored cruisers
but the novelty of having a uniform 12-inch gun armament on ships faster and larger than previous cruiser designs actually created a new type of warship, the battle cruiser. Although details for the new
Dreadnought design were published, Fisher
chose to employ a deception operation in regard to the
Invincible design. It was deliberately leaked that the new armored cruiser design would have 9.2-inch guns, rather than 12-inch guns. The German navy swallowed the bait and accordingly
designed a new armored cruiser with uniform cruiser armament of 8.2-inch guns. This was
SMS Blucher. When the German navy finally tumbled to the truth, it was too late. They were committed to a design that was not only significantly slower
than the
Invincible but also far weaker in armament. They had also lost valuable time and as the Royal Navy added three more battle cruisers of the Indefatigable design, they finally responded with their first battle cruiser SMS von der Tann.

SMS Blucher was authorized in the 1906-1907 program. In appearance and turret layout, the ship was miniature of the Nassau Class battleships in large measure. Built at the Kiel Navy Yard, the cruiser was laid down on February 21, 1907, launched
April 11, 1908 and completed March 24, 1910. However,
Blucher received a significant alteration in her appearance in 1913, when her original pole foremast was replaced by a substantial tripod, the first such mast mounted on a German warship. In
an odd ammunition supply arrangement, the two forward beam turrets had to receive their ammunition from the magazines located under the two aft beam turrets. Each round was placed on an ammunition rail, which provided a conveyor belt type of
arrangement. This placed ammunition in transit outside of the armored barbettes and turrets protected only by the thinner side belt armor. This design error was directly involved in the loss of the ship at the Battle of Dogger Bank.
Blucher went
through a lengthy trials period, starting on October 1, 1909 and latter participated in gunnery experiments.
The Blucher was placed with the 1st Cruiser Squadron, which comprised the main units of the Scouting Force under Admiral Hipper, which provided the advance guard and reconnaissance for the battleships of the High Seas Fleet. Prior to
November 3, 1914 the
Blucher and German battle cruisers had not seen any significant action. They were unable to respond in time at the Battle of Heligoland Bight, in which the British battlecruisers under Admiral Beatty had sunk several light
cruisers and destroyers. They had put to sea in conjunction with sorties of the High Seas Fleet but there had been no run-ins with the Royal Navy on these occasions. Although Kaiser Wilhelm had ordered the German Fleet to act defensively with the
battleships, in late October plans were laid to use the battlecruisers, plus
Blucher, offensively in raids on the English coast. This was to serve as bait to draw out the British forces and hopefully attrit it with submarines and mines or draw an isolated
component into the guns of the German fleet.

Late in the afternoon of November 2, Hipper with
Seydlitz, Moltke, von der Tann, Blucher, light cruisers and destroyers had left the Jade for a high speed run across the North Sea during the night for a dawn raid on the port of Yarmouth. It was the
Halcyon that unwittingly provided the door greeter for the German Scouting Force. At first Halcyon spotted two unknown ships in the mist, both of which were German light cruisers. Halcyon was totally outclassed by these ships but bad
turned to worse as the light cruiser shell splashes were soon joined by the towering splashes of the 11-inch and 8.2-inch shells from the main German ships. There were so many shell splashes around
Halcyon that the small target was obscured from
the sight of the German gunners. Fortunately for
Halcyon, none of the shells hit and she scooted into the mist to escape. The only true RN warships that could respond to the arrival of the Germans were destroyers and submarines but they valiantly
put to sea as puny Davids against the German Goliaths. Hipper saw that he was just wasting ammunition on his tiny foes and turned back to Germany. As he left a few haphazard shells were fired off towards Yarmouth but all they did was to churn
up some sand on the beach. The only loss was the RN submarine
D-5, which struck a mine and sank leaving only four survivors. Three trawlers were also destroyed. The Admiralty had not responded in a timely manner and had been caught flat-
footed. First Lord Winston Churchill justified the delay in stating, “
The last thing it seemed possible to believe was that first-class units of the German fleet would have been sent across the North Sea simply in order to disturb the fisher-folk of
” Churchill said that it was believed that this was a feint to hide a much more significant operation of the German Fleet and that the Admiralty simply was awaiting developments.
Hipper was bitterly disappointed and embarrassed by the meager results of the raid on Yarmouth and was eager for another mission. Plans were prepared for another raid on the British coastline in December with a number of ports selected as targets.
The targets would be further north on the Yorkshire coast, closer to the base of the British battlecruisers. This time maybe they would get a response from British heavy units. As the German force neared the Yorkshire coast they divided with
von der
and light cruisers moving south to Scarborough and Seydlitz, Moltke and Blucher heading for Hartlepool. At 08:00 on December 16, 1914 the populace of Scarborough were jolted by the explosion of German shells. Von der Tann was back
and this time closed to within a mile and a half of the town. Shells were pumped into the town and a medieval castle and resort hotel were also targeted. After half an hour the German ships left, having killed 17 and wounded 99 civilians. At 09:00 the
ships appeared off of Whitby, 21 miles south of Scarborough. The main target was a coast guard signal station and the German ships came within a mile of the beach. Civilian losses were 2 dead and 2 wounded. The other two battlecruisers and
Blucher had a more important target.

Sixty miles north of Scarborough was the town of Hartlepool, which unlike Scarborough and Whitby, actually had legitimate military targets. This was in the form of six docks, various foundries and mills, as well as a defensive force of two light
cruisers, four destroyers and a submarine. It also had a shore battery of three old 6-inch guns and a battalion of troops. At 07:45 the four British destroyers,
Doon, Test, Waveny and Moy were at sea off Hartlepool but the light cruisers Patrol and
Forward and the submarine were still in port. Doon spotted three large ships in the mist to the south and closed to investigate. Five minutes later the ships open fire on Doon. These were Hipper’s heavy ships and Doon fired one torpedo at them,
which missed, before retiring into the mist with light damage. At 08:10 the
Blucher and battle cruisers opened fire on Hartlepool. “When the unfamiliar ships first appeared offshore, the waiting British gunners watched them with admiration; they
seemed so large, so close, and so powerful that they could not possibly be anything but British. A group of men belonging to the Durham Light Infantry was standing together near the Heugh Battery, treating the affair as if it were a holiday
display, when a shell exploded in their midst, killing seven men and wounding fourteen. Both guns of the Heugh Battery immediately fired at the leading ship. The lighthouse gun engaged the third ship in line, which was smaller than the
first two. The three enemy ships were firing 11-inch, 8.2-inch, and 5.9-inch shells at the British batteries. That the batteries were not annihilated was due to a fluke: the ships were firing at such short – almost point-blank – range that there
was insufficient time to permit the operation of their delayed action fuses. Also many of the shells were passing over the battery and hitting houses or falling onto the docks and the town behind. Other shells landing near the guns ricocheted,
bouncing along intact, before exploding.
” (Castles of Steel, Random House, New York, 2003, by Robert K. Massie, at page 323)
The old light cruiser HMS Patrol sortied from the harbor and as she cleared the breakwater was smothered in shell splashes. Her nearest antagonist was Blucher and the German armored cruiser pumped two 8.2-inch shells into the much smaller
foe. Four men were killed and seven wounded as
Patrol sheered away and ran aground. The light cruiser Forward was also in Hartlepool harbor but fortunately for her, the German ships had left before she raised steam. Submarine C-9 followed
Patrol out of the harbor but as she reached the harbor exit, she too was straddled. The submarine dove to avoid the gunfire but it was low tide. Only 18 feet of water was over the sand bar and C-9 instantly bottomed and was stuck there until after
the action. Only the three old six-inch guns of the shore battery continued to respond against Hipper. As
Seydlitz and Moltke steamed slowly across the mouth of the harbor, Blucher glided to a stop to improve her gunnery. Two guns fired at the
battlecruisers and a single gun at
Blucher. The gunners managed to score some hits but the shells bounced off the armor. At 8:52 Hipper ceased firing and his ships turned back into the North Sea. Although none of the three British guns had been
put out of action, German shells had savaged the port with the 1,150 shells expended. Two ships under construction had collapsed as their building ways had been hit. One gas tank had exploded and two others were damaged. In all 86 civilians
were killed and another 425 wounded.
Blucher had been hit with four 6-inch shells while stationary, damaging one turret and knocking two 5.9-inch guns out of action, while killing or wounding nine of her crew.

By 9:30 the two German forces had joined together and headed back toward Helgioland. The original plan had called for the High Seas fleet to support the battle cruisers but Hipper soon discovered that the fleet had returned to harbor. By the time
of this raid the British had deciphered captured German code books and knew something was afoot. On the 14th Jellicoe was informed that there was a strong possibility that the German battlecruisers would appear off of the British coast. Jellicoe
wanted to sortie the entire Grand Fleet but this was vetoed by the Admiralty. He was only allowed to use the Battle Cruiser Squadron and one division of battleships. It could have been a tremendous disaster for the Royal Navy if the High Seas Fleet
had remained in support of Hipper as originally envisioned and if contact had been made. As it was, contact between Hipper’s ships and Beatty’s battlecruisers was missed by a matter of minutes. The Admiralty did not know where Hipper would
strike so Beatty and the battleships steamed to Dogger Bank with the plan to ambush the German battlecruisers of their way back to Germany. Beatty was down to four ships,
Lion, Queen Mary, Tiger and New Zealand, as three of his ships had
been dispatched to hunt Graf von Spee’s force and others were still in the Mediterranean. The tactical command was with Vice Admiral George Warrender of the 2nd Battle Squadron and he ordered Beatty to stay within five miles of his battleships.
As dawn broke on the 16th and Hipper’s ships started shelling the three towns, the ten British ships approached Dogger Bank in ignorance of the fact that the High Seas Fleet was heading straight for them and only a few hours away. At 05:15 the
screening forces of both forces made contact. Three British destroyers were damaged but when
HMS Hardy fired a torpedo at the light cruiser SMS Hamburg, a decision point was reached. Fleet commander von Ingenohl was convinced that this
was the screen for the entire Grand Fleet and ordered a turn about for the fleet to skeedaddle for home. At that point where von Ingenohl lost his nerve, the ten isolated British capital ships were only ten miles away to the southwest. This was the
greatest opportunity that the High Seas Fleet would ever have to decisively engage an isolated portion of the Grand Fleet. Later Sir Julian Corbett, the official RN historian of the First World War, would say of von Ingenohl for this action, “
turned tail and made for home, leaving Hipper’s raiding force in the air.

Now the tables were turned and Hipper was isolated with ten capital ships between his force and the safety of home port. By 9:30 Hipper had consolidated all of his forces detached to the two bombardment forces and set course for home, steaming
southeast at 23 knots. Initially Hipper thought he was falling back onto the High Seas Fleet. He was unaware that von Ingenohl had cut him off and run. “
Where is the main fleet?’ He could scarcely believe the reply: ‘Running into the Jade.’ Hipper
let out ‘an old-fashioned Bavarian oath,’ said Captain von Waldeyer-Hartz. Ingenohl had deserted Hipper; he was alone.
” (Castles of Steel, Random House, New York, 2003, by Robert K. Massie, at page 331)  Equally as troublesome, reports
were coming in from light forces that they were encountering heavy British units in the area of Dogger Bank. As Hipper steamed towards home, he had a light screen of light cruisers in front of his main force. Beatty and his battle cruisers also had a
screen of four light cruisers. Visibility was poor and the two screens made contact and started trading fire, with
Southampton engaging Stralsund. The cruiser squadron commander, Commodore Goodenough, reported that he was engaged with a
light cruiser but failed to report the arrival of
Strassbourg and Graudenz in support of Stralsund. The rest of Goodenough’s squadron, Birmingham, Nottingham and Falmouth, turned to steam in support of their flagship. Beatty had to have a
cruiser screen for advance guard against the German battle cruisers or to warn of a destroyer attack.
Birmingham had already left to support Goodenough and then his last two screening cruisers turned to port to go south without a by or leave to

Suddenly, even these two ships began to leave him. With chagrin and dismay, Beatty watched from the bridge of Lion as his two remaining light cruisers steered across his bow on their way to join Southampton. He did not understand. He
believed that Southampton and Birmingham were engaging a single German light cruiser.
” (Castles of Steel, Random House, New York, 2003, by Robert K. Massie, at page 347) If Goodenough had signaled that he had encountered three light
cruisers not just one, Beatty probably would have realized that this was the screen for Hipper’s force. Because of Goodenough’s error, Beatty now made his own mistake. Beatty told Flag Lieutenant Ralph Seymour, “
Tell that light cruiser to resume
” But he did not specify which light cruiser and Flags Seymour did not seek clarification. Flags was a congenital bumbler and here was the chance for his first major gaff and he took advantage of it in spades. With unerring skill in
misadventure Flags simply told the signal man to flash a message to “
light cruiser” without identifying which light cruiser to return to the battle cruisers. It was aimed towards Nottingham and Falmouth but since there was no identifier, the message
was passed on to Goodenough where
Southampton and now Birmingham were in action. Goodenough thought the order was for his entire squadron and against his better judgement ordered Southampton and Birmingham to break off action and
return to the north to join Beatty. This gaff allowed Hipper to evade Beatty and then in turn Warrender’s battleships and they safely made it back home. Beatty blamed Goodenough for the German escape, rather than accept that his order to the light
cruisers was ambiguous and was greatly magnified by his bumbling Flags. Jackie Fisher pronounced Goodenough a fool and stated that heads would roll. As it was Goodenough had more powerful friends in his corner in Jellicoe and Churchill and he
was not relieved. However, Flags had now demonstrated his skill at a faux pas and this talent would again come to the fore in the story of
SMS Blucher.
The British papers went into a rage and the Germans were branded as baby killers and as an assassin squadron. However, one London newspaper, although condemning the shelling of Scarborough and Whidby, correctly observed that Hartlepool was a
legitimate target. A jury wanted to indict the German officers of the ships until it was pointed out to them that it would be rather difficult for the local police to arrest the culprits. Everyone in the RN was bitterly disappointed about the failure to bring
Hipper’s ships to justice but they would be even better prepared for the next of Hipper’s raids. Hipper was disturbed by the fact that heavy British ships always seemed to appear when he was on a raid. Neither he nor any other admiral of the High Seas
Fleet thought that the reason was through capture of code books and that the German naval code had been broken, nor that German wireless discipline was extraordinarily lax. For Hipper he thought that the reason was the British fishing smacks
operating on Dogger Bank. They had to be spies, radioing the Admiralty every time his ships passed nearby. For his next operation Hipper was determined to wipe out this nest of spies. His goal would be to destroy the multitude of fishing boats
operating around Dogger Bank.

This mission was designed by Hipper to wipe out the British fishing fleet operating around Dogger Bank, as well as any other suspicious vessels. The fleet’s involvement was just to support the return of the battle cruisers to port. On the evening of
January 23, 1915 Hipper sortied with
Seydlitz, Derfflinger, Moltke, Blucher, four light cruisers and 19 destroyers. The Royal Navy had been caught by surprise by the Yarmouth raid. They had partial information through code breaking about the
Scarborough raid but by now code-breaking was in fine form and the Grand Fleet was made aware of the steaming of Hipper’s force without
von der Tann, which was in drydock. After missing the Germans in November, Beatty was spoiling for a
fight. The British battlecruisers left harbor at 6:00 PM January 23 within an hour of the departure of Hipper. Their mission was to intercept the German force at Dogger Bank. Beatty had
Lion, Tiger, Princess Royal, Indomitable and New Zealand, as
well as supporting light cruisers and destroyers. It was not only Beatty’s force in motion. The
King Edward VII Class battleships and three armored cruisers followed Beatty at 8:30PM, the Channel force of three light cruisers and 35 destroyers
steamed northeastward and the Grand Fleet left Scapa Flow at 6:30, all to converge on the Dogger Bank on January 24. It was an all out effort to catch and destroy Hipper’s battlecruisers and possibly the High Seas Fleet if it came out in support.
Everything was working to perfection as dawn broke on the 24th. Beatty called action stations at 7:00AM even before the Germans were sighted. His battlecruisers were in position and Harwich force of the channel reported that they had reached
position. The weather was clear and Beatty felt confident of bagging the entire German force. At 7:20 the light cruiser
Aurora of the Harwich force reported contact and engagement with the German screen. Gun flashes were seen to the southeast and
Beatty ordered his cats to steam to the gun flashes. Shortly after this Goodnough, in
Southampton, five miles in front of Beatty, sighted the Harwich force to the south and the German screen to the east. It was not long before the main targets, Hipper’
s battlecruisers, were sighted.
When Kolberg reported engaging the Aurora, Hipper first thought that there were isolated British light forces in the area, which could easily be mopped up. Then ominous reports started coming in. Kolberg reported a large mass of smoke to the
southwest and shortly thereafter
Stralsund reported large masses of smoke to the northwest. Then Blucher reported seven light cruisers and more than 20 destroyers to the northwest. These were not isolated light units and Hipper quickly realized that
he was in an ambush. At 7:35 Hipper ordered his force to turn towards home at a speed of 20 knots, which was sufficient to outrun battleships but of course the pursuers were not dawdling battleships, these were the Splendid Cats. Hipper’s maximum
squadron speed was 23 to 24 knots, which was dictated by the speed of his slowest ship, the

7.47 A.M. Southampton to Lion: ‘ Enemy sighted are 4 battle cruisers, speed 24 knots.” Beatty had a significant edge in speed. Even his oldest battle cruisers were faster than the Blucher and as long as Hipper kept the Blucher in his formation, the
British could close. By 8:28 some British
M Class destroyers had closed to within 7,000 yards of Blucher. HMS Meteor opened fire and after ascertaining the exact locations of the German warships, fell back to clear the line of sight of the onrushing
Splendid Cats and follow at a discreet distance behind the German formation. In large part the withdrawal of the seven
M Class destroyers of the Harwich force was due to the firing of Blucher, which raised a forest of shell splashes among the British
light forces. At 8:34 Beatty ordered speed increased to 27 knots, followed nine minutes later to 28 knots and at 8:54 to 29 knots. A gap appeared in the British formation, as the Splendid Cats surged forward, the older
New Zealand and Indomitable
could not keep up. At 7:50 Hipper finally saw his nemesis. “
The pace at which the enemy was closing in was quite unexpected.’ he said later. ‘The enemy battle cruisers must have been doing twenty-six knots. They were emitting extraordinarily
dense clouds of smoke.
” (Castles of Steel, Random House, New York, 2003, by Robert K. Massie, at page 385)
It was now a stern chase, although Beatty was parallel not dead astern of Hipper, in order to avoid any mines that might be launched from the quarry. As the British gained distance, Beatty went and had breakfast. At 8:45 the Lion was in 20,000 yards
range of the rear German ship, the
Blucher. Lion opened fire and the poor Blucher became the punching bag for all of the pent up frustration of the Splendid Cats. The first shot was short, the next over. Blucher had been marked. At 9:00 AM Tiger
joined in the one sided contest.
Princess Royal opened up soon thereafter but Indomitable and New Zealand were still out of range. Lion drew blood at 9:09 and soon Blucher was smothered in shell splashes. The third salvo hit Blucher below the
waterline and reduced her speed and the fourth salvo wrecked the aft superstructure and disabled two aft turrets.
Princess Royal found the design weakness in Blucher as one of her 13.5-inch shells exploded amidships. The charges and shells on the
ammunition rails, which ran from the magazines of the aft beam turrets to the forward beam turrets, exploded and
Blucher instantly had a raging fire amidships.

Now the shells came thick and fast with a horrible droning hum. At once they did terrible execution. The electric plant was soon destroyed, and the ship plunged in a darkness that could be felt. ‘You could not see your hand before your nose,’
said one. Down below decks there was horror and confusion, mingled with gasping shouts and moans as the shells plunged through the decks. It was only later, when the range shortened, that their trajectory flattened, and they tore holes in the
ship’s sides and raked her decks. At first they came dropping from the sky. They penetrated the decks. They bored their way even to the stokehold. The coal in the bunkers was set afire. Since the bunkers were half empty, the fire burned merrily.
In the engine-room a shell licked up the oil and sprayed it around in flames of blue and green, scarring its victims and blazing where it fell. Men huddled together in dark compartments, but the shells sought them out, and there death had a
rich harvest.
” (With the Battle Cruisers, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland 1986, by Filson Young, at page 213)
As Tiger and Princess Royal pounded Blucher, Lion shifted fire to the battlecruisers ahead. Still Blucher was game. At 9:28 one of her 8.2-inch shells hit Lion’s A turret. Although it did not penetrate the armor, the crew was concussed and the left
gun put out of action. At 9:35AM
New Zealand was also within range of Blucher. Beatty issued an order for each of his ships to fire on its opposite number. However, Tiger made a mistake. Thinking that Indomitable was in range of Blucher, which
she was not,
Tiger joined Lion in firing of the lead German ship, the Seydlitz. This left the second German ship in column, the Moltke, free of fire. Even though Blucher now was the target of New Zealand alone, she was still being savaged. “The
terrific air-pressure resulting from explosion in a confined space, left a deep impression on the minds of the men of the Blucher. The air, it would seem, roars through every opening and tears its way through every weak spot. All loose or
insecure fittings are transformed into moving instruments of destruction. Open doors bang to, and jam – and closed iron doors bent outward like tinplates, and through it all the bodies of men are whirled about like dead leaves in a winter blast,
to be battered to death against the iron walls.
” (With the Battle Cruisers, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland 1986, by Filson Young, at page 213)

Blucher was falling astern. With the damage she sustained her speed had dropped to 17 knots and she started veering away to the northeast because of steering damage. Goodnough closed with his four light cruisers but accurate fire from Blucher
soon forced him to retreat.
Blucher wasn’t road kill yet. At 10:30 New Zealand knocked out the forward turret of Blucher. One minute later Indomitable opened up on the crippled German cruiser. However, events came to the aid of the other
German ships.
Seydlitz holed Lion at 10:01 and in-rushing seawater shorted out her electrical system. This started a cascade of events, which would save all of the German ships, except for the unlucky Blucher. At 10:18 Lion was rocked by two
simultaneous hits from either
Seydlitz or Derfflinger. These hits allowed saltwater to contaminate the fresh water feed to the Lion’s boilers. By 10:52 Lion had received 14 hits. She had 3,000 tons of saltwater in her hull and had lost all electrical
power. Shortly thereafter the port engine stopped and she dropped out of line at 15-knots. Beatty knew that he was temporarily out of the fight but he was going to make sure that
Blucher wouldn’t get away. He ordered the Indomitable to destroy the
enemy breaking away to the north, which was
Blucher. Perfect until now, Beatty now committed two errors. He thought he saw a periscope and ordered the squadron to turn 90 degrees to port. With no electricity for the radio and only two signal
halyards intact, Flags Seymour again came to the rescue of the German battlecruisers. With the signal to attack the rear of the enemy column still on the halyard, Flags raised the squadron signal to turn to the north. The officers and crew of the other
battlecruisers were perplexed. Why was Beatty letting the battle cruisers go to concentrate on the crippled
Blucher? Oh well, he is the Admiral, I guess he knows what he is doing.
At 11:09 Tiger, Princess Royal and New Zealand shifted fire from the battle cruiser to join Indomitable in the slaughter of Blucher. Hipper had been considering going to the aid of Blucher but when all of the British battlecruisers shifted fire to her, he
realized she was doomed but that he could now extricate his remaining ships and he continued to run for home, leaving the battered
Blucher to face four battlecruisers. “There were shuddering horrors, intensified by the darkness or semi-gloom. As
one poor wretch was passing through a trap-door a shell burst near him. He was exactly half-way through. The trap-door closed with a terrific snap. In one of the engine-rooms - it was the room where the high velocity for ventilation and forced
draught were at work – men were picked up by that terrible Luftdruck, like a whirl drift at a street corner, and tossed to a horrible death amidst the machinery. There were other horrors too fearful to recount.
” (With the Battle Cruisers, Naval
Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland 1986, by Filson Young, at page 214)

Tiger took out after Blucher, all the others followed. “The eight-point turn to port had enabled the New Zealand and Indomitable to cut off a corner and to fall in astern, although a long way astern, of the Princess Royal. She and the Tiger
now proceeded to circle round the Blucher, firing all the time and the other two ships fell in line astern of them. The doomed Blucher, already shot to pieces and in act of dissolution, might well have been left to the squadron of light cruisers and
the flotillas of destroyers which were rapidly closing her; but her actual destruction seems to have been a kind of obsession with the captains of the two British battle cruisers. The psychological effects attendant upon ‘blooding of the pack’ must
be ignored.
” (With the Battle Cruisers, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland 1986, by Filson Young, at pages 201-202)

Blucher was now an immobile punching bag of four vastly superior ships, which continued steaming in circles around her, firing at point blank range. “If it was appalling below deck, it was more than appalling above. The Blucher was under fire of
so many ships. Even the little destroyers peppered her. ‘It was one continuous explosion’, said a gunner. The ship heeled over as the broad-sides struck her, then righted herself, rocking like a cradle. Gun crews were so destroyed that stokers had to
be requisitioned to carry ammunition. Men lay flat for safety. The decks presented a tangled mass of scrap iron. In one casement, the only one, as they thought, undestroyed, two men continued to serve their gun. They fired it as the ship listed,
adapting the elevation to the new situation. Yet through it all some never despaired of their lives. Others from the beginning gave themselves up as lost. The disaster came upon them so suddenly that few had time to anticipate their plight or to
realize it when it came.
” (With the Battle Cruisers, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland 1986, by Filson Young, at page 214) It wasn’t just the British battlecruisers that pummeled the poor Blucher. The small fry had it get into the action as
well. At 1120 Commander Meade led the
Meteor and three other M Class destroyers to attack Blucher with torpedoes. Blucher struck the Meteor with a shell that wrecked the forward boiler room, releasing a cloud of steam and smoke that rose
hundreds of feet in the air. It was estimated that the destroyers hit the
Blucher with five torpedoes. Light cruiser HMS Arethusa, flagship of Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, closed to 2,500-yards and launched two torpedoes. One hit under the forward
turret and the other hit an engine room. Tyrwhitt signaled Admiral Moore, ”
Enemy has struck.” Blucher “was in a pitiable condition - all her upper works wrecked, and fires could be seen raging through enormous shot holes in her side.” Finally,
mercifully, after receiving between 50 to 200 large caliber hits and multiple torpedo strikes,
Blucher rolled over, being filmed as she went at 12:07PM. Arethusa and the destroyers started picking up survivors but the Zeppelin L5 showed up and rescue
operations were discontinued. Only 234 of her 1200 man crew were rescued. Beatty had transferred to a destroyer but when he boarded the
Princess Royal at 12:33, Hipper was long gone. As for  Flags, he went on to botch two signals at the Battle of
Jutland. After the war he killed himself in a matter of unrequited love. Beatty said of him at that time, “
He lost three battles for me.” In spite of her limitations and design flaws, Blucher was a fighting ship to the end. The massive amount of punishment
she sustained is tribute to the skills of the German naval designers and maximizing defense at the expense of offence. In spite of being inferior to any of the battlecruisers, it took four of them to finally sink her. (History from: (
Before Jutland by James
Goldrick, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland 2015;  
Castles of Steel by Robert K. Massie, Random House, New York, 2003;  With the Battle Cruisers, by Filson Young, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis Maryland 1986)
The Combrig SMS Blucher in 1:350 Scale - I had been eyeing this kit for some time. Free Time Hobbies had it available in the waterline format and the full hull format for only $19 more. Normally I like 1:350 scale models in full hull format, in part
because I don’t have the skill to create an attractive sea base. However, in the case of the
Blucher, I went with the waterline format. The Combrig Blucher has been around for awhile and the earlier Combrig models in this scale had separate upper
and lower hull parts joining at the waterline. Both hull parts had resin ridges running the circumference of their waterlines that would have to be removed and then sanded flush with each other. This can be fiddly in getting a smooth flush fit in order to
use minimal filling of the seam, hence my choice of the waterline format. The box states that the
Blucher kit is the 1909 fit as built with pole fore mast and the picture on the box shows this early fit. However, the kit has Blucher with a tripod fore
mast, which she carried at the Battle of Dogger Bank.
Blucher was the first of the Imperial German grossen kreuzers to be fitted with a tripod, in 1913. The kit is perfect for the Blucher’s World War One appearance. Casting quality of the kit, large
parts and small, is excellent with minimal clean up, except for the removal of the resin pour ridge at the bottom of the waterline.

Blucher hull is very graceful, something not normally associated with an armored cruiser. It does have the lines of a battlecruiser, especially the von der Tann. Casting is very sharp from the knife-edge cutwater to the stern. There were no defects
or breakage. About the only clean up involved is the removal of the casting ridge from the waterline. Hull side detail starts with the very graceful cutwater with jack staff fittings at the top of the prow. The port side has two anchor hawse fittings, which
have a fairly deep interior. There is one anchor hawse fitting on the starboard side. The lines of port holes, three on the bow and two at the stern, have the individual port holes drilled fairly deep, so there is no need to drill them out. The differences in
the armor belt, which runs from the cutwater to almost the stern, is clearly delineated as to the different thicknesses. On each side forward are two tertiary gun positions with individual gun shutters with hinge detail and a locater hole for the gun barrel.
The forward pair are in sponsons overhanging the hull sides, while the aft pair are inset into the hull. Another two of these tertiary positions are on both sides at the stern but in their case, they are in sponsons, overhanging the hull sides. The 5.9-inch
secondary guns are in inset casemates amidships. Each position has a fine opening with gun barrel locater hole and a sighting port. Other side detail includes two doors with hinge and dog detail opening onto the narrow casemate main deck on each side.
Side detail ends with a curved stern that cuts back near the waterline. My only real complaint is that the hull sides lack location points or fittings for the booms for the torpedo nets. In 1:350 scale I think these should have been provided.

Deck detail starts with fine wooden plank seams that lack butt end detail. There are three deck hawse and smooth raised anchor chain run plates running from the deck hawse to the windlass positions with two chain locker entrance fittings in front of
the circular attachment locations for the separate windlasses. Centerline on the forecastle is a twin bollard fitting with the bollards having the correct hourglass shape and aft of this fitting two circular ventilators. A detailed deck access hatch is located
between the two windlass positions and another twin bollard on each side of the Anton turret barbette. A deck edge each side has two open chocks. Aft of A barbette there is the locater outline for the forward superstructure. The forecastle is raised a
level over the shelter deck with the deck break beginning just forward of A barbette. As this deck runs aft there is a single bollard fitting at deck edge and a twin bollard fitting above and just aft of the first secondary gun position. Detailed ventilation
hatches slope from the bulkhead to shelter deck at the end of the forecastle deck. The numerous circular coal scuttle detail starts here as well crisp low bulkhead connect the forecastle to the barbettes of the forward wing main gun turret barbettes. On
centerline amidships are locater outlines for attachment of three larger parts of superstructure. The forward two positions are the base structures for the funnels and the rear position is for the aft superstructure. On each side of the aft funnel base
position are two more detailed deck access hatches and toward the deck edge circular outlines for attachment of conical ventilator fittings. Locater holes for the two boat cranes are staggered from each other at the corners of the aft funnel base outline.
Each of the four main gun wing positions have a significant barbette with ventilation hatches running from the barbette towards the other wing barbette on each side. Of course the bulk of the deck coal scuttles are located here. Aft of the rear wing
barbettes are slots for three ventilator towers. On the quarterdeck is the aft main gun barbette and quite a lot of other detail. At deck edge are two more open chocks on each side and flag staff fittings at the stern. Clustered around X barbette are
pyramid skylights, deck access hatches and twin bollard fittings. A long ventilation door fitting runs aft of X barbette with another two raised ventilators, twin bollards and deck access hatch clustered about. Quarterdeck detail concludes with two more
skylights and two deck access hatches.
Twelve large resin parts are cast separately. These include forward and aft superstructure, the two funnel base structure, both funnels and the six main gun turrets. The two superstructure parts are especially good. The forward superstructure has
three levels (01, 02, 03) with significant detail on all three levels. Level one has two 5.9-inch gun casemates on each side with the same level of detail as those found on the hull sides. Doors with hinge and dog detail are found on each side and on the
rear face. Short bulkheads extend aft from the edges of the superstructure sides. The deck above overhangs the 01 bulkheads significantly over the forward face and slightly on the sides and rear faces with short deck bulkheads above the first pair of
5.9-inch casemates. The 02 level consists of the lower conning tower with deep vision slits, a large ventilator house and the lower level of the chart house with detailed doors and port holes. The 03 level has the upper conning tower with vision slits
and short upper chart house. The aft superstructure is even more detailed. Almost all the way around the base is a sloped structure from the bulkheads to the shelter deck. The tall bulkheads are crammed with square window shutters, detailed doors
on the forward face, curved ventilators on the sides, and tall ventilators on the aft face. The deck above is surrounded with splinter shielding except for openings for inclined ladders. At the aft edge is the rear conning tower with vision slits, flanked by
small ventilator louvers. At the forward edge is a ventilator tower with lovers. At the forward corners are two more ventilators. A skylight is in the middle of the deck with locater holes for open 88mm guns separated by armored screens. The forward
funnel base has the same sloped structure on the sides, as found on the rear superstructure. Large ventilation louvers are also on the side bulkheads. The deck has two deck access hatches and two small ventilator hatches. The aft funnel base also has
long ventilation louvers on the side bulkheads. Both structures have wells for funnel attachment. Although the funnels initially appear the same, they are not. The forward funnel is round and the aft funnel has an oval shape. Both have a thicker lower
casing for the bottom half of the funnels topped by a fine apron that is the base for the thinner upper funnels. Both have a series of raised lines that represent foot/hand rungs. The tops of both funnels have significantly hollow tops. All six main gun
turrets are identical but have smaller parts to be attached to differentiate them. They have a nice shape with aprons on the side bases, barrel locater holes in the gun openings, and an angled crown with turret commander’s cupola between the guns.

A thin resin sheet contains 17 platforms and decks. The largest of these is the deck attached to the top or the aft funnel structure. It has wings on each side, and three ventilation structures on the deck. The sheet also has a separate catwalk that
connects this deck with the top of the forward funnel structure. The second largest parts is the bottom platform with deck house for the forward superstructure searchlight tower. There is a long catwalk that connects the aft funnel structure with the
aft superstructure. Other platforms included on the sheet are for searchlight platforms, forward and aft navigation platforms, forward superstructure navigation wings, main mast top platform, and crane bases.

The smaller resin parts are on 31 runners containing one to 26 parts. Since three of the parts are individual propellers, they are not used in the waterline format model. The largest runner has the two goose neck boat cranes with pulley detail at the tops
and upper curve. Another interesting runner also has two pieces, the tripod top position and large aft ventilator tower. The tripod top is triangular in shape with vision slits on the sides, locater holes on the bottom for the tripod legs, and locater hiles on
the crown for the topmast and small gun director. The ventilator tower is lovely with louvers at the top, a short ventilator on the front face and a tall ventilator on the aft face. Another runner has three louvered ventilator towers, two of which form the
base for the aft searchlight tower. Gun barrels occupy three runners with two of them containing the 8.2-inch guns and the other the 5.9-inch and casemate 88mm barrels. All of the barrels have hollow muzzles. Open 88mm guns are covered in a
separate runner with two guns, two gun pedestals with mechanisms, two detailed gun shields, and two upper gun braces. One runner with 13 parts has the two lower crane posts, two conical ventilators, the anchor windlasses, and four more 88mm
gun mounts. Another runner of six pieces finishes the main gun turret detail with two large cupolas and four smaller ones. All are very detailed with vision slits. The two large cupolas are attached to the aft crowns of the two forward wing turrets
while the smaller cupolas are placed on the forward crowns of the other four turrets. Be careful with these because they are not the same placements. Two are placed on the starboard sides and the other two are placed on the port sides of the turret
crowns. Eight large cable reel fittings are on a runner. These are truly nice since there is no folding of photo-etch to be done or the necessity of cutting center reels. The frames and side wheels have fine detail. Eight of the fourteen parts on another
runner are air intakes for fittings that fit into the funnel aprons, which will further accentuate the funnels. The other parts are two forward superstructure platforms and four more cross braces for open 88mm guns. Two runners have parts for nine
searchlights with separate bases and searchlights. The searchlights have lens shutter details. The runner with 26 parts concentrates on navigational equipment with binnacles, binocular pedestals, navigation controls, signal lamps, and three small
directors. Two more runners have even more detailed binocular pedestals with equipment. One runner has what appears to be a great number of closed chocks or ring bolts. I couldn’t find where they are attached in the instructions. Four anchors,
one of which had a broken center post, are well detailed. They are on a runner than also included the rudder, rudder post and three ventilator fittings. Each one of the nine ship’s boats are cast on their own runner. There are a large and a medium sized
launches with cabins. They have window detail and funnels with hollow tops. Two medium and one small open steam launches have machinery detail inside their open cockpits. The open oared boats include a large whaler, two medium sized boats
and a dinghy. They all have thwart and bottom plank details.
The kit comes with a medium sized brass photo-etched fret. The four largest pieces are the long torpedo net shelves attached to the sides of the hull. A lot of platform braces are in the fret with braces for almost every searchlight platform, as well as
for the navigation platforms. There are also a significant number of flying boat skids on the fret, as well as boat chocks for those boats stored on deck. Photo-etch for the cranes consists of outside curved structures and block and tackle. The larger
ship’s boats get rudders and propellers. Smaller deck edge boats get davits with separate bottom brackets on the fret. Especially attractive are the relief-etched ship’s crests at the bow and name plates at the stern. Four gun shields for open 88mm guns
are on the fret. Other parts on the fret are the funnel grates, windlass tops, aft conning tower platform, forward superstructure navigation shacks (the attachment locations are not shown in the instructions but the starboard side location can be seen in
the profile drawing), anchor chain, inclined ladders and vertical ladders. The inclined ladders have safety rails but their treads are depicted as rungs, not flat treads. These I will replace with after market inclined ladders with trainable treads. I couldn’t
find the attachment location for some of the parts in the instructions. These include what looks like eight small platforms and four curved walkways.

As can be determined from the commentary above, the instructions don’t cut it. The attachment locations for some of the parts are not shown and there is nothing on fabricating net booms or their attachment locations. The instructions consists of
three shhet, two back-printed and one single sided. Page one is the starboard profile with ship specifications in English and ship’s history in Russian. The profile is useful to determine parts location, such as the navigation huts, and for rigging. Page
two has the resin parts laydown. Page three has the photo-etch fret laydown, template for masts and cards, and three assembly insets, one on the main gun turrets, one on open 88mm guns with brass gun shields and one on open 88mm guns with
resin gun shields. Page four starts the assembly with boat and torpedo net shelves attachment. Eight module insets are on this page. They cover aft funnel assembly, flying boat skids assemblies, boat assembly, davit assembly, propeller/rudder
attachment, funnels assembly, searchlight assembly and crane assembly. The last page covers final assembly with assembly modules on forward superstructure and tripod assembly, and aft searchlight tower assembly. You will need to supplement
assembly with outside sources. I would suggest the
Kagero 3D Superdrawings volume on the SMS Blucher by Marsden.Samuel and Wolfgang Bohlayer.
The basis for a very attractive model of the last Imperial German armored cruiser, SMS Blucher, is here. The Combrig 1:350 scale resin and brass kit of the Blucher provides almost everything you need to builds a handsome replica of this tough
warship that succumbed to four British battlecruisers and a host of British light cruisers and destroyers at the Battle of Dogger Bank. The negatives are no torpedo net booms and inadequate instructions.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama