Only after 40 minutes, during which we maintained the same course as Augsburg and the torpedoboats, which meanwhile had vanished from sight, did Albatross receive the first hit in the aft ship near the pinnace. I myself had not noticed
the smashing of the shell, but only got to know of the hit as slightly wounded soldiers came past my wireless booth. I could observe the effect of further shells hitting from my booth. As we later ascertained, the Russians shot 24cm and 15cm
shells. Roughly towards 7 o’clock came a wireless message from Augsburg: ‘Attempt to run into Swedish Territorial waters.’ Albatross immediately altered course and ran towards Gotland with a zigzag course northwest. The fact that we went
with a zigzag course is memorable to me because the ship lay over. The Russians now likewise changed course so that now pursuing us were two ships to port and two ships to starboard. The distance between Albatross and the Russian ships was
estimated at approximately 6,000m at this time.”
Wireless Rating Wendt of SMS Albatross. “Just as I heard the starboard side did not intervene in the fire, whilst on the port side the forward gun could not fire from the beginning because of the
limited training angle, and the port aft gun fell out because of a broken cylinder pump, so that only two guns of the port side actually fired. I could observe nothing of the effect of our fire on the Russian armoured cruisers.
” ( Battle of the
Seven Seas
by Gary Staff, Pen & Sword Maritime Publishing, 2011, at pages 114 and 115)

SMS Albatross was the second ship of the Nautilus Class of minelaying cruisers. Both the Albatross and Nautilus were the first German cruisers designed specifically to lay mines. The ships were not identical. SMS Nautilus was laid down at
the A.G. Wesser Yard as mine steamer A on 19 December 1905. The
Nautilus was 9-feet shorter than Albatross and carried over a 100 less mines. However, the most obvious difference was the bow. Nautilus had a clipper bow and Albatross had
the standard German cruiser bow, which was comparatively straight.
SMS Albatross was laid down on May 24, 1907 in Bremen at the A.G. Wesser Yard, where her yard name was mine steamer B. She was launched on October 23, 1907 and
commissioned on May 19, 1908. Her trials went from May 19 to July 25, 1908.
Albatross had an overall length of 331-feet (100.9m) overall (OA), beam of 37-feet 9-inches (11.5m) and draught of 14.5-feet (4.4m). Her displacement was 2,506-tons.
For armament
Albatross was equipped with eight 8.8 cm (3.5 in) SK L/35 guns and could store 288 mines, although more mines were carried in World War One. The 8.8cm single guns were arranged in pairs side by side with two on the forecastle,
four amidships and two at the stern. Four water tube boilers fed steam to her two triple cylinder triple expansion reciprocating engines that developed 6,510 horsepower giving the
Albatross a maximum speed of 20-knots (37kph). Her range was
3,530 nautical miles (6,540 km) at 9-knots. The ship’s complement was 11 officers, 197 crewmen.
After passing her trials Albatross replaced the old minelayer Pelikan in the mine sweeping unit, while Pelikan underwent an overhaul. While in the unit she participated in fleet maneuvers in August and September. On October 26, 1908 Albatross
became the mine warfare training ship based at Cuxhaven. A similar cycle was undertaken in 1909. In 1910
Albatross went to the Imperial Dockyard at Kiel for modernization. This refit lasted into 1911 and included moving the mine launching
equipment to the upper deck. After the refit she resumed her service as the mine warfare training ship. That summer
Albatross accidentely rammed the steamer SS Wartburg, in which she damaged her hull. The damage was not serious because it
took only three weeks to make repairs. In August and September
Albatross operated in the Baltic. For 1912, 1913 and the first half of 1914 had Albatross performing service little different from first years. In July 1914 the ship was officially retyped
as a mine cruiser from her previous type as mine ship. With the outbreak of World War One her first mission in August was to lay defensive minefields to protect against an attack of the Russian Baltic Fleet. In late August both the
Albatross and
Nautilus were sent to lay minefields off the estuaries of the River Tyne and River Humber for the start of Germany’s North Sea mining campaign. Admiral Hipper requested to send battlecruiser support for the operation but his requests were denied.
The groups steamed independently, each escorted by a cruiser and half a flotilla of destroyers (torpedo-boats).
SMS Stuttgart was the escorting cruiser for Albatross with six destroyers (torpedo-boats) of the 6th half flotilla and Nautilus escorted by
SMS Mainz and destroyers (torpedo-boats) of the 3rd half flotilla. The operation was delayed a day because Mainz went aground. Albatross left Heligoland on August 24 bound for the Tyne, while the Nautilus group waited until 0500 on the 25th
because they had less distance to steam to the Humber. Both groups were ordered to sink every British trawler that they came across after removing their crews. The German command was convinced that the British fishing trawlers were sending
information of German movements back to the Admiralty. The Germans later called the fishing trawlers on the Dogger Bank a nest of spies and led to the Battle of Dogger Bank. In early morning on August 26 the fields were laid in about an hour.
Because of fog
Albatross misplaced her minefield northwest of the intended placement location. The minefield had 200 mines and was 13 miles (20km) long. Nautilus laid two smaller fields of 100 mines, each five miles in length off the Humber. In
the return voyage the force encountered British fishing trawlers and sank six of them.

One of the mines from
Albatross claimed her first victim in the early night of August 26 when at 22:00 the Danish fishing trawler, Skuli Fogett was sunk by one of them with four men killed. The British fishing trawler City of Belfast encountered
one of the
Nautilus mine fields when her nets exploded two of the mines. Early the next day she steamed into the Humber and alerted the British as to the presence of mines. The Nautilus laid Humber fields came close to causing significant British
losses as Force K had been located there. The Admiralty was worried about German heavy units overwhelming the
Cressy Class armored cruisers operating in the Broad Fourteens and rampaging through the British destroyer squadrons operating from
Harwich. As a result Force K was created consisting of the Battle Cruisers
Invincible and New Zealand, commanded by Rear Admiral Moore. At 11:00 on August 27 Force K steamed out of their Humber base and passed only two miles from the 1st
Nautilus field. Force K was on its way to what became the Battle of Heligoland Bight. When the Admiralty realized how close they had come to disaster it only strengthened the British minesweeping efforts all along the British North Sea coast. For
months these mine fields would claim victims but most of them were neutral vessels.
Rear Admiral Albert Hopman was the commander of Reconnaissance Forces in the Baltic. He had prepared an ambitious minelaying scheme for Baltic operations. In June, 1915 he requested that more minelayers be assigned to his force. As a result
of his request, two more minelayers were assigned. One was the converted minelayer,
SMS Deutschland, which had been a railroad ferry, and the other was SMS Albatross. Hopman intended to lay mine fields deep within Russian waters. He
realized that in deep operations, the minelayers would need to have cruiser and destroyer (torpedo-boat) escorts.
Albatross was the fastest minelayer that he had but also, it carried fewer mines. His greatest concern was Russian and British
submarines that had made frequent attacks on his forces. Hopman prepared seven minelaying operations with
Albatross undertaking the risky far distance missions in the Gulf of Finland. The first mission for Albatross was the fifth of the seven
planned mission. This was to mine an area in the Gulf of Finland near the island of Bogskar. The
Albatross, escorted by the armored cruisers, Prinz Adalbert, Roon and Prinz Heinrich, left their anchorage at Neufahrwasser for the mission. While at
sea they were joined by the cruisers
Augsburg and Lubeck, which left Libau to be part of the escort. Albatross completed her mission and she and the armored cruisers returned to Neufahrwasser on June 22. Three days later the Albatross loaded
350 U-mines in preparation for her next mission. Along with
Prinz Adalbert and Prinz Heinrich she left Neufahrwasser at midnight July 25, 1915 and started on her course to the Aland Islands on Hopman’s Operation VI. They were joined at sea by
the light cruiser,
SMS Thetis, and eight destroyers (torpedo-boats) from the X Flotilla, which would provide the anti-submarine screen. The Albatross’ mission was successfully completed by 23:00 of July 26 and the ships returned to

There still remained Operation VII of the first German mine campaign. On June 29 orders were issued to execute this final preplanned mission. The commander of the mission was Kommodore von Karpf. In the evening of June 30 the
armored cruiser
Roon and five destroyers (torpedo-boats) left the Vistula at Danzig. Another group consisting of the cruisers Augsburg (flagship) and Lubeck with two destroyers (torpedo-boats) left Libau early on July 1 to rendezvous northwest of
Steinort. Thick fog prevented the juncture and the two groups were ordered to attempt the connection near Faro, which was accomplished. The combined force set course for Gotska Sando. Around 18:00
Roon and Lubeck, each with a destroyer
(torpedo-boat) departed for the east.
Lubeck was to guard the area between German minefields A and C, while Roon would be further west as support. Albatross and Augsburg continued north. Albatross thought that she saw a periscope and turned
away at one point but it turned out to be flotsam.
Lubeck had a similar experience when her escorting destroyer opened fire on what later was discovered as the remnants of a sea buoy. At 19:30 the island of Bogskar came in view. The SMS
steamed off to the northwest and patrolled between Bogskar and the Svenska Bjorn light vessel. The Albatross laid two mine fields of 160 mines between 20:45 to 21:32, one field northwest and one northeast of Bogskar. After finishing,
Albatross and Augsburg went southwest to rejoin the Roon and Lubeck 35 miles south of Bogskar. With their juncture a signal was sent, “Operation VII completed without being sighted by the enemy. Position at 1am: Quadrant 020 epsilon,
course 190, speed 17 knots.
” This un-necessary message would have disastrous consequences for SMS Albatross.
While the German Navy was planning Operation VII, the Russian Baltic Fleet was also making plans for bombarding Memel. Various forces were to put to sea on June 30 or July 1 to bombard Memel on July 2. At 01:00 July 1, 1915 Rear Admiral
Bakhirev with cruisers
Admiral Makarov, Bayan, Bogatyr and Oleg, called the Cruiser Brigade, along with destroyers Boevoi, Vnimatelnyi, Vynoslivyi and Burnyi left port.  At 02:00 they were off Revel and were joined by them powerful armored
Rurick and the destroyers were released back to port. Admiral Bakhirev decided to advance the bombardment to late on July 1. Around noon the German Albatross force and the Russian armored cruisers were probably only separated by 12
miles of heavy fog and no contact was made. Because of the fog Admiral Bakhirev decided to go back to the planned July 2 to bombard Memel. After midnight Bakhirev received the startling news that the
Albatoss group was nearby. The Germans
were unaware of the proficiency of the Russians in decoding messages or that the Russians had captured a copy of the German code book. The message from Kommodore von Karpf had been intercepted and decoded. At 00:45 Admiral Bakhirev
received two messages from Russian naval intelligence. One stated, “
At 18:06hrs Augsburg at appointed rendezvous with armoured cruiser in square 377.” The second message stated, “Appointed rendezvous for cruisers at 08:45hrs at square 339.
” With this information Admiral Bakhirev decided to intercept the German force rather than bombard Memel. At 04:00 another intercepted message was sent to the Russian commander, “...At 01:00hrs Augsburg was in the fourth quarter of
square 357, course 190, speed 17 knots.
” With this new and timely information an interception point was recalculated. At 05:15 the Russian cruisers emerged from the fog, formed a battle line and increased speed to 19-knots as combat alarms sounded.

Albatross group was about to be caught with their pants down. Kommodore von Karpf had no inkling that Russian cruisers were in the vicinity. At 06:00 von Karpf detached the Roon,  Lubeck and four destroyers (torpedo-boats) to return back to
Augsburg, Albatross and the other three destroyers, G135, S142, and S141)  (torpedo-boats) steered for the southern tip of Gotland. The now separated German forces soon lost sight of each other. At 06:30 von Karpf realized that the fox was
in the henhouse and must have blurted out some oath or another. A heavy column of smoke was sighted to the southeast and then a four funneled armored cruiser emerged, soon followed by another. Von Karpf quickly called for full speed to the west
and frantically signaled
Roon and Lubeck for help. Aboard the Albatross, wireless rating Wendt later wrote, “From 4 o’clock in the morning FT Obergast Pleiser and I had FT Watch together. Around 06:45 we received a wireless message from
Augsburg: ‘four enemy cruisers in sight to port aft.’ At the same time ‘clear ship for battle’, was ordered by flag signal. I could see the armored cruisers from my wireless booth. They appeared from a fog bank. The Russians went in line ahead
with south-western course at a range, which I estimated at 13-14,000m.
” (Before Jutland by James Goldrick, Naval Institute Press, 2015, at page 111)
With battle flags aloft, Admiral Makarov opened fire at Augsburg at 8,000m range. Three minutes latter Bayan opened up on Augsburg. At 06:45 and 06:50 the Bogatyr and Oleg opened fire on Albatross, which the Russians mistook as the cruiser
SMS Undine. In a scene similar to a miniature Jutland the Russian gunners had excellent vision eastwards, while the German gunners saw only gun flashes coming from the murkiness to the east. Albatross poured oil into the boilers to create smoke
screen. Of this period FT Wendt wrote, “
Albatross went at 19 to 20 knots, and Augsburg and the boats ran at considerably more. The original course was maintained. The fire of the Russians was lively, however, very irregular. As far as could be
observed, it was salvo fire. The individual salvos lay short or wide, and at first hits were not obtained, so that the enemy fire made a wretched impression.
” (Before Jutland by James Goldrick, Naval Institute Press, 2015, at page 111) The three
destroyers closed to a tighter formation with the red Z signal flag flying (“
Ran” Attack the Enemy) Von Karpf decided to save the Augsburg and the destroyers by breaking to the south. At 06:53 he executed the change in course and ordered the
Albatross to get into Swedish territorial waters.

By 07:00 all four Russian armored cruisers started firing on
Albatross and by 07:10 started to receive a series of hits, Still steaming southwards, also by 07:00 the Russians were in range of the 88mm guns of Albatross and she opened fire. Augsburg
opened fire at the Russian cruisers from 7:20 to 07:33 to little effect, although
S141 reported seeing a hit on the Admiral Makarov. By 07:35 view of the Russian cruisers vanished as the distance increased. Albatross tried to gain every fraction of a
knot in her desperate race for Sweden. She made little zigs and zags in her course hoping that the Russians would change course. She also sent out an un-coded message, “
Please allow U-boat to attack.” but the Russians didn’t fall for that ruse.
The commander of SMS Albatross, Fregattenkapitan West, wrote in his after action report, “About 7:40 the ship was hit. The first struck on the deck, the second destroyed the steam pinnace, the third struck the room for the evaporator, the fourth
struck the men’s room (accommodation), the fifth destroyed the stern in a heavy manner, so that it seems incomprehensible that the rudder and propellers were not damaged. The order of the later hits cannot be ascertained exactly enough, they
fell primarily in the foreship. The Russians now shot, and only the circumstance that a continuous zigzag course to the position of the salvos was taken to avoid the shots, is it to thank that only a few hit from the numerous shells impacting about
the ship. The fire of 4 ships concentrated on Albatross. The two aft positioned Russian armoured cruisers altered course about 7:35 to give their guns a better shot, and took us under effective longitudinal fire which covered us. According to
estimates the Russian ships fired at least 3,000 shots on Albatross.
”  (Before Jutland by James Goldrick, Naval Institute Press, 2015, at page 115)

The ship was usually straddled by the shots. At 70hm range the fire was answered by our guns on the forward armoured cruiser, and a few hits were irreproachably observed, one with flames and smoke effect. Munitions use approximately 500
cartridges. At 7:35 the coast of the island of Gotland came in sight. In the further course of the battle the foremast was shot down and the forecastle literally shot through like a sieve. The Russians also utilized shrapnel. The forward conning tower
fell out, the entire personnel were killed, and likewise the charthouse was shot up, the helmsman, there occupied, was torn into pieces. The conning tower, rudder and engine telegraphs were destroyed, on the bridge, Oberleutnant zur See
Lowenberg, fell near me, the Oberleutnant zur See Hahner received near me a heavy femoral shot, I myself was thrown to the deck with a theigh wound and a slight knee wound, but could further continue command after I was picked up. At 7:47
the ship received a hit in compartments 7 and 6, the number 2 mine room filled with water, the dry store made water. Fire broke out above the water in compartment 6, which was soon extinguished. In general the incendiary effect was not
considerable from the small explosive part of the shell. Compartment 1 in the aft laying deck and the infirmary were likewise in flames, but they were soon extinguished. Compartment IV, about frame 57-64, received a direct hit, the aft
longitudinal bunker, double bottom, cell 57/65, 65/71 all filled with water.
” (Before Jutland by James Goldrick, Naval Institute Press, 2015, at page 115-116)
At 07:45 the Albatross entered the neutral Swedish waters off Ostergarns Holme, at which time she stopped her fire on the Russian armored cruisers. The Russian cruisers did not cease their fire. “Around 8:15, the foremast was hit and fell down, so
that the FT (wireless) also fell out. The enemy wireless traffic was monitored continuously until then, however, not a single signal was given. In the meantime Augsburg maintained further traffic. Albatross had asked: ‘May U-boat intervene?’
Augsburg answered: ‘U-boat should attack immediately.’ While bringing out the reserve antenna I was wounded and soon thereon went to the battle dressing station, on the Oberdeck, starboard forward. There lay some badly wounded.
Albatross Wireless Rating Wendt. (
Before Jutland by James Goldrick, Naval Institute Press, 2015, at page 116) The Russians increased their fire and did not cease fire until after Albatross had steamed through Ostergarn Sound. By this time Albatross
was pretty well shot up. She had a list and was down by the stern. Her rudder didn’t answer so the crew had to manually steer the ship. When this failed the engines were used to steer the ship. The list to port increased and fearing that the ship would
capsize, Fregattenkapitan West slowly beached the
Albatross. The Albatross was hit by six 8-inch shells and twenty 6-inch shells. Another four duds were found later.
In addition to Oberleutnant zur See Lowenberg, 26 ratings were killed. An additional four officers and 51 ratings were wounded. The Russian Cruiser Brigade withdrew because the
Albatross was beached in neutral waters and also due to the arrival of
SMS Roon and Lubeck. Fighting continued into the evening of July 2 but Albatross was out of it. Von Karpf considered going back to recover the Albatross but he decided against it due to the heavy Russian cruiser forces, which had increased
beyond the original four armoured cruisers of Bakhirev’s Cruiser Brigade and also of the British submarine
E-9, which went about merrily firing torpedoes at German targets. The Swedes pumped the water out of Albatross and made her watertight
before refloating her. On July 23 the Swedish salvage company of Neptun refloated the
SMS Albatross. She was towed to Farosund before being towed to Oskarshamn where she was interned. After the war the Swedes released the Albatross in January
1919. The ship returned to Germany where she was decommissioned on January 23. 1919. On March 21, 1919
SMS Albatross was stricken and then sold for scrap. She was broken up in Hamburg.
The Combrig SMS Albatross 1908 in 1:700 Scale - This is a kit with a twist. The Albatross certainly has the size and lines of a cruiser, except for the stern. The stern is narrow at the waterline but shortly above the waterline the stern spreads out to a
square transom stern slanted outwards. The answer for this design is obvious by just looking at the face of the transom. There you will see the outlines of four doors, obviously there to be opened when the
Albatross is laying mines. The transom stern is
not the only feature of this hull that is different from other cruiser hulls. At the aft end of midship you’ll notice two rectangular compartments with four doors facing inwards. These are probably the crew’s heads, although I am surprised that the
crewmen had the privacy of individual stalls. They also have portholes of different patterns on the hull sides. The hull sides have nice detail. Starting at the bow the cutwater has the typical German cruiser cutwater. The foot looks like a ram but it isn’t
but the upward curve is nice. With a raised forecastle, the deck break is about a quarter of the length of the ship to the rear, with open bulkheads a little way further to the rear. The slanted oval anchor hawse fittings are crisp. In this forecastle area there
are two rows of portholes but only one row after the deck break, other than the portholes for the crew’s heads. The inboard deck houses also have portholes. Because of the transom stern, the hull lines aft are unique. A knuckle is formed where the
lower hull tapers inward and the upper hull continues its width to the transom. At deck edge each side has four nicely done twin bollard fittings.

There is also plenty of deck detail. The deck planking is typical of
Combrig, fine plank lines but no butt end detail. At first I thought that Combrig had missed coal scuttle detail but I was wrong, they are there. The forecastle has deep deck anchor
hawse fittings with anchor chain guides right behind them. Then there are short runs of chain plates connecting the guides to the windlass plate. On centerline is another twin bollard fitting. A curved solid bulkhead separates the forward forecastle from
the forward pair of 88mm guns and the superstructure. A photo-etch V ladder connects the forecastle with the deck behind the solid bulkhead.. On the upper deck are four centerline deck houses and a couple of covered deck access fittings. The first
two deck houses are the bases for the funnels. The rectangles in front and behind each funnel locater hole are for separate louvered ventilators. The crowns of each funnel base slant downward fore and aft. The other two deck houses and the covered
deck access coamings have detailed doors with hinge detail. The circular plates on the crowns of the deck houses are placement locations for ventilators.
The smaller resin parts come on a thin resin wafer and seven runners. The wafer has four parts, all of which are for the forward superstructure. The largest part fits behind the solid lateral blkhead and has placement circles for the forward pair of
88mm guns and a smooth locater plate for the 01 level of superstructure. This 01 level with portholes and detailed doors is also on the sheet. The next largest part on the sheet is the bridge deck with observation plates on the forward corners, notches
for inclined ladders to the rear, a shallow depression for the bridge/conning tower and a locater hole for the foremast. The forward conning tower has fine vision slits. The two funnels share a runner and are excellent. I thought that they were straight
but they actually have a slight slant to the rear. I didn’t realize this when I was dry-fitting them to the funnel bases but I sure did when I looked at the photographs. I fitted them on backwards with them slanting forward. The funnels have excellent
incised top caps but the thing that really grabs your attention are the six double slots going up each side. Those slots are locaters for ladders going up the stack, found on the photo-etch fret. I can foresee that they will be fiddly to attach but spectacular
when completed. Two of the runners have identical parts with each one having two 88mm guns, a binnacle and two louvered ventilators. The guns are one piece with excellent detail and separate brass gun shields and frames plus gunner’s seat.
Another two runners are identical to each other. These runners have two ship’s boats, the boiler for a steam launch, two types of ventilators, search light and two cable reels. Another runner has running lights, two ship’s boats and various deck
fittings, including a rather strange cover deck access fitting with a ventilator shaft on one side and what appears to be a large square galley funnel on the other side, which attaches on the quarterdeck. The last runner has the anchors, deck winches,
lockers, and other fittings.

A nice size brass photo-etch fret is included with the
Albatross kit. It certainly is a mixture of old and new. Representing the old are two different sets of mast ratlines. Various brass parts form the flying boat deck/skids, which fits over the crew’s
heads compartments. The 88mm guns not only get the gun shields on the fret but also the gun frames, shield support struts, training gear, gunner’s sight and gunner’s seat. Both funnels get a very detailed treatment with horizontal hand rungs and links
in vertical ladders. Mast tops and support gussets are on the fret. The bridge gets an aft platform and supports, running light boxes, inclined ladders, vertical ladders and railing designed to fit in particular locations. Other brass parts include: ship’s
wheel; ventilator cap; hand pumps; streaming anchors; propeller guards; accommodation ladders; flag and jack staff braces; ladder connecting the forecastle to the forward gun positions; boat rudders and propeller shafts; and boat davits and fall lines.
All of the ship’s railings have individual stanchion ends, rather than a bottom gutter.

The instructions consist of nine pages with four double sided sheets and one single sided sheet. They are done in the new
Combrig style with the use of color coding. Page one is the standard scale plan and profile. The profile is especially useful for
the rigging scheme. There is also the ship’s history in Russian. The second page has the resin and brass parts laydown and a template for cutting masts, yards and booms. Page three has three color coded modules for assembling the funnels, large
cable reel, deck winch and aft deck access structure. The color coding shows resin parts in green, brass parts in orange, and plastic rod fabricated parts in blue. Page four has four modules. Each mast has a module and the other two are for the ship’s
aft wheel and hand pumps. Page five has assembly modules for the 88mm guns and forward superstructure. Page six has attachment of railings, guns, accommodation ladders, and other small parts. Page seven has assembly of the boat skid, boat
details and aft ship’s wheel position. Page eight has mast attachment. The last page shows the completed model. The instructions use the same number of the part that appear on the resin runner or brass fret, so it is easy to determine which part goes
to the attachment location.
It does not matter that your cruisers and destroyers have abandoned you, or that you are being chased by four Russian armored cruisers, with the Combrig 1:700 scale SMS Albatross, you can relax in your own Swedish Spa. This fine multimedia kit
will give you an excellent miniature of this purpose-built Imperial German minelayer cruiser.

Steve Backer
Huntsville, Alabama