November 1, 1914 - “In most cases hits by high explosive shells were immediately followed by outbreaks of fire....Twice I observed what I believed to be an
explosion of ammunition. The flames shot up immediately after hits by high explosive shells and were distinguishable from the other fires by their dimensions
and outline. Some hits, probably on the decks, sent up showers of sparks over a wide area. When armour was hit thick black clouds with sharp outlines were
observed. Hits were so frequent that it was impossible to note them in chronological order. The Good Hope received...serious the fore part of the ship...on
the upper bridge...on the mast about thirty feet above the deck...[and] on the after side of the foretop....[She] was also hit repeatedly amidships, most of these
causing fires....The after battery was hit several times and fires broke out. The flames in the interior of the ship could be seen through the port holes. Two shells
struck the ship near the after turret....The Monmouth was hit on her fore 6-inch turret. The high explosive shell blew off the roof....A terrific explosion of
charges must then have blown the whole turret off the forecastle for it disappeared completely.
” Lieutenant Knoop, Spotting Officer SMS Scharnhorst, Coronel
and the Falklands
, by Geoffrey Bennett, The Macmillan Company, New York 1962, at page 32.

December 8, 1914 - “
the effect of the [British] fire on the Scharnhorst became more and more apparent in consequence of smoke from fires and also escaping
steam; at times a shell would cause a large hole to appear in her side through which could be seen a dull red glow of flame. Notwithstanding the punishment she
was receiving, her fire was wonderfully steady, and accurate, and the persistency of her salvoes was remarkable.
” Rear Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee,  Coronel and
the Falklands
, by Geoffrey Bennett, The Macmillan Company, New York 1962, at page 144.
As a kingdom, Prussia had a very limited need for a navy. Faced in the east with Imperial Russia and to the south by the Austrian Empire, the kingdom was almost
exclusively a land power. Prussia led the consolidation of German states that resulted in the German Empire at the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian War. The
Unified Germany was slow in jumping into the race for colonies that especially characterized the last half of the 19th century. When she did acquire African and
Pacific Ocean colonies, it was decided that Germany needed a navy to defend them from other European powers, not to mention a fast rising Imperial Japan that was
just as happy to colonize as any European power. After the unification , the new Germany started building iron clad steam corvettes, which used sail and steam.
Without a network of coaling stations, such as France and especially Great Britain possessed, German designs had to incorporate sail, even as it was being phased
out in the ship designs of other naval powers.  It was the
Irene class (4947-tons displacement) of protected cruisers laid down in 1886 that finally dropped sail as a
means of propulsion. Two even larger classes of protected cruiser followed.
Kaiserin Augusta (6,218-tons displacement) of 1890 and the five cruisers of the
Victoria Louise class (6,289-tons displacement) of 1896, continued the increase in size and with the Victoria Louise introduced much heavier armament with two
210mm (8.1-inch), eight 150mm (5.9-inch) and ten 88mm (3.7-inch) guns. However, there was one other cruiser laid down in 1896, the first of the German
armored cruisers, the
Fürst Bismarck.                

Fürst Bismarck was ground-breaking in almost every conceivable manner. It was in the same displacement range as the latest German battleship construction
and her main armament was identical to that of the contemporary
Kaiser Class battleships. Before jumping to the conclusion that this ship was an earlier version of
the battlecruiser, it must be noted that German battleships were decidedly undergunned compared to other battleship designs. The common main armament of
battleships in the Royal Navy was four 12-inch guns positioned in one forward and one aft twin gun turret. The German
Kaiser and subsequent Wittelsbach
battleship class of 1899, the German battleships designs carried 9.4-inch (240mm) guns instead of 12-inch guns.
Fürst Bismarck was laid down in 1896 at the Kiel
dockyard, launched September 25, 1897 and completed on April 1, 1900. Her primary characteristics were her heavy armament and heavy armor for a cruiser. The
best way to differentiate the strengths of the
Fürst Bismarck in comparison with the contemporary British cruiser construction, the Diadem class protected cruiser.
Fürst Bismarck was laid down in 1896, two years before the Royal Navy restarted building armored cruisers with the Cressy class of 1898, so the Fürst Bismarck is
more impressive as a design over the
Diadem class in every category except for speed.
Germany took a large step backward for the next armored cruiser design. This design was constructed specifically for service in the far east where Germany had
possessions in the Caroline and Marshall Islands and a Squadron home base at Tsingtao, China. The
Prinz Heinrich was only two feet shorter than Fürst Bismarck
but 1,500-tons lighter in displacement. Everything was cut back from the previous ship with only a single 8.4-inch (240mm) gun per turret instead of twin guns, ten
5.9-inch (150mm) guns instead of twelve and an armor belt of only 4-inches. However,
Prinz Heinrich was two knots faster. She was laid down in 1898 and
completed March 11, 1902. During the same time period the Royal Navy was building six ships of the much superior
Cressy Class armored cruisers. After Prinz
, the Imperial German Navy established a pattern of having two ships in each class of armored cruiser with one ship laid down per year, hardly competition
for the Royal Navy.

Two years passed before the
Prinz Adalbet, was laid down at Kiel Dockyard in 1900 with sister, Friedrich Carl at Blohm & Voss in 1901. They had only a slightly
greater displacement than
Prinz Heinrich but were of the same length. Horsepower increased to 18,500ihp compared to the 15,700ihp of Prinz Heinrich. With the
additional power, the
Prinz Adalbert had three funnels instead of two. More importantly gunpower increased. With four 8.2-inch (210mm) and the same ten 5.9-inch
(150mm) guns. In 1902 a new class appeared with
Roon laid down at Kiel Dockyard in 1902 and Yorck at Blohm & Voss in 1903. The length increased to 419-feet
7-inches and the displacement finally broke the 10,000-ton line at 10,104-tons, still 1,100-tons less than the
Fürst Bismarck of 1896. The main and secondary guns
remained the same. The
Roon Class had four funnels. In the four years that Germany built four thoroughly mediocre armored cruisers, Great Britain constructed
twenty-six armored cruisers, the best of which were the four
Warrior Class of 1904 over 3,000-tons heavier than the Roon Class, 86-feet longer, three-knots faster
and with 9.2-inch and 7.5-inch guns.
At the end 1904 an armored cruiser of a new design was laid down at Weser in Bremen on December 28, 1904 but the name ship of the class was laid down at
Blohm & Voss in Hamburg on January 3, 1905. These were the
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, which could be compared against the contemporary British armored
cruisers built in 1905, the
Minotaur Class. The Scharnhorst Class had a 2,000-ton leap in displacement to 12, 781-tons. Length was 474-feet 9-inches (144.5m)
overall and 472-feet 2-inches (143.8m) waterline, with a beam of 71-feet (21.6m) and draught of 27-feet 6-inches (8.37m). The three triple expansion engines
produced 30,000ihp for a maximum speed of 23.5-knots. Eight 8.2-inch (210mm), six 5.9-inch (150mm), and eighteen 88mm guns, along with four 450mm
torpedo tubes formed the armament. The armored belt was increased by 50% over that of the
Roon Class, 6-inches vs 4-inches. The broadside was six 8.2-inch
and three 5.9-inch guns, compared to the
Minotaur Class broadside of four 9.2-inch and four 7.5-inch guns. However, the Minotaur Class had all of their main and
secondary guns in turrets, which were clearly superior to the casemate guns of some of the main guns and all of the secondary guns of the
Scharnhorst Class. The
Scharnhorst was launched on March 22, 1906 and completed on October 4, 1907. After completion Scharnhorst became flagship of the Scouting Force. On April
Scharnhorst left Germany and sailed to Tsingtao to replace Fürst Bismarck as flagship of the East Asiatic Squadron. On September 8,1910 Gneisenau left
Germany to join
Scharnhorst in China.
It was in China that the
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau under the Squadron Command of Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee became crack gunnery ships of the
Imperial German Navy.
Scharnhorst won the Kaiser’s prize in two consecutive years for superior gunnery. Although based in China, across the Yellow Sea from
Korea, primary duties of the East Asiatic Squadron were showing the flag and patrolling the German colonies in the Caroline and Marshall Islands. The East Asiatic
Squadron had left Tsingtao at the end of June and was patrolling the islands when World War One began. It made no sense to return to Tsingtao, since it was likely
that Japan would join the allies and Tsingtao would become one of their first targets. Von Spee decided that the squadron’s best course of action would be an
attempt to return to Germany by going around Cape Horn. Another option was to try to go through the Panama Canal but there would be heavier opposition and he
could be bottled up in the Caribbean Sea, which was filled with British colonies. In any event, his squadron would need to be supplied with coal on the odyssey in
front of them and a voyage to the Americas presented the best option to obtain the coal needed. In addition the German Admiralty had reported to von Spee that
Chile was favorable to Germany. Prior to the start of the war, he had concentrated his light cruisers with his armored cruisers but he detached the
Emden to raid
the shipping in the Indian Ocean. On August 19 the East Asiatic Squadron reached Eniwetok Atoll in the German controlled Marshall Islands and coaled. The next
stop for coaling was the Majuro Atoll in the southern end of the Marshall Island chain. Von Spee had sent the
Nurnburg to Honolulu to cable the German Admiralty
his plans and to send coal to the port of Juan Fernandez, Chile, which he hoped to reach on October 15. The news that Japan had indeed declared war against
Germany cut any thread of traveling west. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy had no idea of the location of the powerful German Squadron and Pacific shipping was cut
back. When the
Emden suddenly popped up in the Indian Ocean, a scare went through the Admiralty that the whole German Squadron might also be there. They
had also picked up reports that colliers were steaming to ports in Chile, so that was certainly another possible destination of the German Squadron. Another report
said they were in the Java Sea using Dutch colonial ports. A painstaking search of the East Indies was undertaken, which of course fruitless.
The first definite news of the location of von Spee was on September 16, 1914 when the East Asiatic Squadron appeared at Apia, Samoa, which had been occupied by
troops from New Zealand. Two days before the German Squadron appeared at Samoa, the British Admiralty wired Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock on the American
Station to concentrate his force at the Falklands in case von Spee was making for Chile. He was to be reinforced with the old predreadnought battleship,
Canopus, and
the new armored cruiser,
Defence, which would come from the Mediterranean Sea. Cradock flew his flag on the large armored cruiser, HMS Good Hope, of the Drake
and also had HMS Monmouth, one of the smaller County Class armored cruisers. After the German Squadron left Samoa towards the northwest, the Admiralty
ordered Cradock to attack German shipping on the west coast of South America and that he no longer needed to concentrate his forces. The Admiralty thought
Cradock’s two armored cruisers and the armed merchant cruiser,
Otranto, would do, since von Spee appeared to be steaming away from South America. The Defence
was ordered to remain at Malta but the Admiralty neglected telling Cradock that he would not be getting this powerful cruiser. Von Spee had left Samoa to the northwest
but that was a feint designed to conceal his true course, eastward. It wasn’t until September 22 when the East Asiatic Squadron appeared off French Tahiti, that the
Admiralty realized that they had been duped by von Spee. First Lord Winston Churchill still thought that the Germans might double back to the west and although they
informed Cradock of von Spee’s appearance at Tahiti, they didn’t change his orders to sink German shipping off the west coast of Chile. Cradock left that same day to
complete his mission with the information that the only likely warship he might encounter was the light cruiser,
SMS Dresden. SMS Dresden was off of Chile but von
Spee ordered her and the light cruiser
SMS Leipzig off Mexico to meet his squadron at Easter Island. While the Germans were concentrating at Easter Island in early
October, Cradock had returned to the Falklands on a wild goose chase of reports of sighting of the
Dresden. On October 7 Cradock received a report about a captured
intercept that von Spee was traveling to Easter Island and therefore was headed his way and to concentrate forces. The
Defence was finally sent to the South Atlantic
but with orders to join the armored cruiser,
HMS Carnarvon, to form a second squadron for duty in the South Atlantic. The Admiralty thought that two squadrons
would be needed, one for the eastern coast and one for the western coast. When
Canopus arrived at Port Stanley in the Falklands on October 18, Cradock was told that
she would need five days for repairs and only had a top speed of 12-knots.

On October 22, 1914
HMS Good Hope weighed anchor. “He knew what he was up against and asked for a fast cruiser with big guns to be added to his squadron for
he had nothing very powerful and nothing very fast, but the Admiralty said he’d have to go without, so old Cradock said ‘All right, we’ll do without’, and he
slipped off quietly early one morning and left the Canopus to look after the colliers and transports and picked up the Glasgow and Monmouth and set out to look
for these crack Germans.
” Falklands Governor’s ADC, Coronel and the Falklands, by Geoffrey Bennett, The Macmillan Company, New York 1962, at page 92. The
Canopus with the colliers left the next day. On October 27 von Spee coaled at the island at Mas a Fuera before leaving for Valparaiso, Chile. He knew of Cradock’s
squadron but saw his force as superior. He used only the light cruiser
SMS Leipzig for radio transmissions to hide the presence of his squadron. Also on October 27
Cradock cabled the Admiralty that the
Canopus was too slow to be of help and that he had ordered HMS Defence to join him. The Admiralty countermanded Cradock’s
order to
Defence and informed Cradock that she would remain on the eastern coast of South America. This message was not received by Cradock until the afternoon
on November 1, 1914 and by then Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock and his armored cruisers had only of a few hours of life left.
When Cradock received this message he had his cruisers spread out in a search line looking for the SMS Leipzig, the only German warship that he knew was operating
off Chile. The ships were spaced 15-miles apart from each ship to the other from west to east,
Good Hope, Monmouth, Otranto and light cruiser, Glasgow cruising
northwest by north at 15-knots. A
Leipzig radio transmission had been heard at 13:50 so Cradock was expecting to encounter only one light cruiser, not von Spee’s
entire squadron. With the wind and seas building,
Glasgow sighted smoke to the northeast at 16:20. Von Spee had heard that the Glasgow had visited the port of Coronel
the day before and was hurrying southward to catch the light cruiser. At 16:30
Leipzig spotted smoke of the Glasgow and changed course to investigate. So the two
ships to first make contact were the very ships that each Admiral expected to encounter. At 16:40
Glasgow reported the presence of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau with
Leipzig. At 17:00 Cradock ordered his squadron to close with Glasgow. Given that there were no friendly ports short of Germany, all he had to do was damage the
German ships to cripple their operations. He intended to close as quickly as possible to get his numerous 6-inch guns into firing range.
Good Hope had only two 9.2-
inch guns with sixteen six-inch guns and
Monmouth had only 6-inch guns. As they headed east into the heavy seas, the 6-inch guns on the main decks of his cruisers
were unworkable because of the sea state. The sun was setting behind them so they were silhouetted against the sky, while the shapes of von Spee’s cruisers blended
with the gloom of dusk. Not only were the tactical conditions against Cradock but there was a serious qualitative imbalance. Von Spee’s Squadron had operated together
for years with well trained seamen and superb firing accuracy. Cradock’s cruisers were taken out of reserve and manned by reservists. The
Scharnhorst and
Gneisenau were much newer than Good Hope and Monmouth and had twice the broadside weight.

At 19:00 von Spee’s Squadron opened fire.
Otranto moved seaward to get out of range but Cradock’s cruisers continued to close. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau showed
why they were crack gunnery ships. With the first salvo the shells landed near the
Good Hope and Monmouth and Good Hope’s forward 9.2-inch gun was knocked
out on
Scharnhorst’s third salvo. Good Hope fired at Scharnhorst in return and Monmouth at Gneisenau but Gneisenau’s return fire on Monmouth blew her forward
6-inch gun turret overboard and set the ship on fire.
Glasgow opened fire at Leipzig while Leipzig and Dresden fired on Glasgow. The fire of Monmouth became more
ragged under the continued punishment from
Gneisenau. The engagement has started at 12,300-yards but by 19:35 the range was down to 5,500-yards and the British
armored cruisers were being savaged by German fire. At 19:50 a huge explosion was observed on
Good Hope between her main mast and aft funnel with a pillar of
flame over 200-feet tall. No one actually saw
Good Hope sink with Admiral Cradock and all hands but it was probably around 20:00, an hour after firing had started. At
Glasgow closed Monmouth and asked her condition. The reply was that the armored cruiser was badly taking water and it was clear that she was significantly
down by the bow, listing to port with interior fires lighting up the port holes. It was obvious that the light cruiser
Glasgow could not fend off two armored cruisers and
three light cruisers, so
Glasgow, the newest and fastest ship in either squadron, poured on the steam and made off to the west. She had lost sight of the German ships
by 20:50 and
Otranto had fled to the west a half an hour before. At 21:25 observers on Glasgow saw a searchlight beam below the horizon, 75 gun flashes and then
nothing. Von Spee had lost sight of the British cruisers and ordered his light cruisers to attack with torpedoes.
Leipzig and Dresden couldn’t find any British ships. It
was the
Nurnberg, which had been 25-miles behind Scharnhorst at 15:00 that closed the Battle of Coronel. By 20:35 Nurnberg had caught up to the battle and sighted
Glasgow traveling west at high speed. Nurnburg could not keep the Glasgow in sight but soon ran across the badly damaged Monmouth. She was listing 10
degrees to port and couldn’t bring her port casemate guns to bear on
Nurnberg. At 21:20 Nurnberg turned on her searchlight at a range of between 600 to 1,000-yards.
Monmouth was still trying to maneuver and clearly was making way. Nurnberg opened point blank fire with her 4.1-inch guns and after awhile ceased fire. When
it was observed that
Monmouth was turning toward Nurnberg, firing was resumed, as Nurnberg passed under Monmouth’s stern. At 21:28 HMS Monmouth
capsized and went down with her entire crew. Von Spee had his ships close up and set a scout line. He thought that the
Canopus was near, when in fact she was more
than 200 miles away.
Scharnhorst was hit twice but neither shell had exploded. Gneisenau was hit four times for only minor damage. The East Asiatic Squadron
suffered only three crewmen wounded but used almost half of its ammunition. Von Spee headed for Valparaiso.         
Great Britain was stunned when news of the Battle of Coronel broke. “Kit Cradock has gone at Coronel....His death and the loss of the ships and the gallant lives in
them can be laid to the door of the incompetency of the Admiralty. They have as much idea of strategy as the Board School boy, and have broken over and over
again the first principles.
” Vice Admiral David Beatty, Commander Battle Cruiser Force, in a letter to his wife on learning of the Battle of Coronel, Coronel and the
, by Geoffrey Bennett, The Macmillan Company, New York 1962, at page 43. “I cannot accept for the Admiralty any share of the responsibility...” Winston
Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty,
Coronel and the Falklands, by Geoffrey Bennett, The Macmillan Company, New York 1962, at page 43. The news of the
disaster at Coronel broke when Jackie Fisher came back as First Sea Lord. He immediately directed the concentration of four armored cruisers in the South Atlantic
but he had more in his hat. When questioned about sending a battlecruiser to the South Atlantic, Fisher, the father of the battlecruiser, said no, he would send two.
HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible were immediately ordered to make ready for foreign service with all dispatch. His greyhounds would avenge poor Kit Cradock.
On November 11 the ships left the UK for the South Atlantic with Rear Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee in command of the force. As Sturdee hurried south, the
Glasgow and Otranto had reached the Falklands but von Spee was taking a leisurely time moving south to Cape Horn. He planned that his next goal was Port Stanley
with its large coal stocks but was not in a hurry to get there. Sturdee reached Port Stanley on the morning of December 7, 1914 and a discussion was had on how to
search for and bring von Spee to action with Sturdee’s vastly superior force.

Admiral Sturdee would not have to search the South Atlantic looking for von Spee, as the German squadron arrived at exactly the same spot on the globe that the
British battle cruisers reached 24 hours earlier. Von Spee at 5:30 a.m. on December 8 had detached
Gneisenau and Nurnberg to reconnoiter the Port Stanley and Port
William anchorages. The weather, which was normally misty, rainy or occluded with sleet or snow in the area of the Falklands was abnormally clear and bright that
morning. The Germans were sighted at more than ten miles from Sapper Hill. At 8:45 the smoke of the rest of the German squadron was reported as coming up behind
the first two ships. As the German ships continued to close, Sturdee ordered the old battleship
Canopus, which had grounded herself as an immobile fort, to fire on the
Germans when they were within range of the predreadnoughts 12-inch/35 guns. At 9:20 just as
Gneisenau and Nurnberg trained their guns on the wireless station,
Canopus fired her first shots at a range of 11,500 yards. Another twist of fate came into play at this point. The Canopus had planned a practice firing for the morning
of the 8th to show Admiral Sturdee how she could fire her guns blind over a spit of land under the directions of a spotter on Sapper Hill. The gun crews of both turrets
were fiercely competitive with each other. On the night of the 7th crewmen from the after turret sneaked out and loaded practice ammunition into their guns, replacing
the standard rounds. Even at maximum elevation the guns of the old
Canopus still couldn’t reach the German ships. The two shells of the forward turret burst on
impact, a mile short of the Germans. However, the practice rounds loaded in the aft two guns hit the sea and skipped onward, right into the Germans. One of these
two practice rounds hit at the base of the
Gneisenau’s aft funnel. The Gneisenau had spotted the Kent leaving harbor and was steering towards her when she was hit
by this round from an unseen assailant, because the
Kent hadn’t fired and the Germans were well outside the range of the six inch guns on the County Class cruiser.
With the hit the Germans turned to rejoin the rest of their squadron. Without this hit the Germans had the opportunity to close the British force and perhaps damage the
immobile ships sufficiently to allow the German squadron to escape.        
Aboard the Gneisenau, the Germans spotted huge clouds of coal smoke, which they assumed was coming from coal stocks set on fire by the British to deny them to
the von Spee’s squadron. At 09:00 warship funnels and masts were made out in the inner harbor. This did not bother Captain Maerker of the
Gneisenau, his ship and
Scharnhorst had easily handled British armored cruisers a month earlier. "He was not, however, willing to believe the next report which came from his gunnery
officer: across the low-lying neck of land which linked Cape Pembroke with Stanley, Busche saw tripod masts, four of them. But the possibility that there were a
couple of dreadnoughts in the South Atlantic was something undreamed of even in the cautious Maerker’s philosophy: Busche was curtly told that the nearest
battle-cruisers were as far away as the Mediterranean.
" (Coronel and the Falklands, 1962, by Geoffrey Bennett, at page 133) Gneisenau signaled von Spee that the
British apparently had three
County Class armored cruisers, one light cruiser and two larger ships, which may be predreadnought battleships. With this report and the
solitary hit from
Canopus, von Spee ordered Maerker to avoid action. There were no repair facilities available for the East Asiatic Squadron to repair battle damage
and the squadron certainly could easily outrun predreadnoughts. With the Germans breaking contact, all Sturdee could do was wait until his squadron had sufficient
steam to get underway. Finally at 10:00, forty minutes after
Gneisenau and Nurnberg had turned away, Invincible got underway. By 10:30 the two battle cruisers,
three armored cruisers and the light cruiser
Glasgow had reached the open sea, while Bristol was still at anchor trying to raise steam. By this time the Germans were
19 miles away with their presence indicated in the sunny day by huge inverted pyramids of coal smoke.

By 11:15 the British force was considerably strung out. The two battle cruisers had considerably cut in to the German lead, as the German ships’ funnels and
superstructures were above the horizon. However, the British armored cruisers had really started to lag and were five miles behind the
Invincible and Inflexible. With
perfect visibility and plenty of daylight left Sturdee slowed the battle cruisers to 19 knots to allow the armored cruisers to catch up with the greyhounds. At 11:32 he
directed that the crews of his squadron should serve the noon meal. Finally at 12:20 Sturdee decided not to wait further. The armored cruisers were not catching up
and he decided that it was time to bring von Spee to action. With the two battle cruisers steaming parallel to each other, they went to action stations at 12:30. The
light cruiser
Leipzig had fallen 3,000 yards behind the rest of von Spee’s force. Fidgety Phil Phillimore, captain of the Inflexible, fired first from the guns of A turret
with the guns at maximum elevation at 16,500 yards at 12:55. The shells fell 1,000 yards short of
Leipzig. Invincible opened up at 12:57 from her A turret but was
also short. By 13:15 the range had closed to 15,000 and
Leipzig was being bracketed by huge geysers produced by the shells of the two battle cruisers. At 13:20 von
Spee made a tactical decision. The courageous German admiral turned the
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau into the path of the Invincible and Inflexible and ordered his
three light cruisers to separate and break contact to the south. Following Sturdee’s established battle plan, the smaller British cruisers took out after the German light
cruisers while the battle cruisers charged towards the two German armored cruisers. Sturdee’s plan also directed that the battle cruisers engage the German ships
outside the range of their 8.2-inch guns, which was 13,500 yards. So when the British ships the 14,000 yards range they swung parallel to the German armored
At almost the same time the four ships opened fire. They were steaming to the northeast with a wind blowing in from the northwest. The wind carried the huge
quantities of coal and oil smoke produced by the battle cruisers downrange, significantly obscuring the vision from the British ships. In the two British ships only the
range finders in A turret of
Invincible and the personnel in the fore control top had a clean view of the German ships. Inflexible was hampered by her own smoke
as well as
Invincible’s smoke. Invincible engaged Scharnhorst and Inflexible engaged Gneisenau. The first two German salvos fell short but von Spee closed range
to 12,000 yards and the shells of the third salvo straddled
Invincible. At 13:44 the first 8.2-inch round from Scharnhorst hit the side armor of Invincible, causing
only superficial damage as the armored belt was not penetrated. Sturdee who was directing the battle from the platform below the foretop ordered his ships to open
range. He also slowed to 22 knots to lessen smoke. By 14:00 the guns on both sides had fallen silent. The Germans turned south again as clouds were observed in
that direction. If they could find the mist and rain found normally in that area of the world, they could make good their escape. Because of the battle cruiser’s
smoke, it took awhile before it was clear that the Germans were again making off to the south. Sturdee immediately turned his battle cruisers towards the Germans
and increased speed to 24-knots. The chase lasted 40 minutes before the range had closed back to 15,000 yards. Again Sturdee turned to port to present a broadside
and at 14:53 the German pair turned to present their broadsides. The range continued to close until at 15:03 it was at 11,000 yards and the German secondary 5.9-
inch guns were within range. For the next fifteen minutes the
Invincible became the punching bag for 8.2-inch and 5.9-inch shells from Scharnhorst, as the battle
cruiser was hit repeatedly by the crack German gunners. One 8.2-inch shell blew away 10 feet of the starboard leg of the forward tripod mast. The blast traveled up
the leg and blew open the access hatch in he foretop. The foretop personnel were knocked down but there were no serious injuries. Another 8.2-inch shell hit near X
turret, penetrated two decks and burst in an empty sickbay. Shells also wrecked the canteen and wardroom. One 8.2-inch shell tore off the barrel of a 4-inch gun,
went down two decks to the Admiral’s storeroom cupboard but did not explode. A 5.9-inch shell wrecked the chaplain’s quarters and the paymaster office without

However, the
Invincible had also been hitting home, crippling the Scharnhorst. By 15:12 Scharnhorst was on fire forward and her fire had slackened significantly.
Her steering was also affected as she suddenly veered away and opened range. Three minutes later Sturdee ordered a full turn to port and the battle cruisers turned
in a circle until at 15:30 they were steering to the southwest. This maneuver placed the British ships clear of their smoke and for the first time they had a good view
of the German armored cruiser. During the turn two more 8.2-inch shells from
Scharhorst hit the bow of Invincible but caused no significant damage. A 5.9-inch
shell struck right between the guns of A turret. With smoke interference reduced greatly, the British 12-inch shells really started tearing the guts out of the German
armored cruisers.
Scharnhorst was down by three feet from her waterline, her third funnel gone and almost hidden in explosions and smoke from her onboard fires.
At this time
Invincible received an 8.2-inch hit that could have been catastrophic. The round hit below P turret but plunged underneath the waterline and protective
armor belt. A four by two foot hole was blown open in the hull in a coal bunker. Seawater quickly scoured out the coal in the bunker, washing it into the sea.
However, on the inboard side of this bunker, separated by a thin armor bulkhead, was the amidships magazine that traversed the ship from P to Q turrets.
Fortunately for
Invincible, the round failed to explode. If it had and splinters had penetrated the bulkhead, Invincible would probably have blown up.  By 16:00
Scharnhorst had it. Her guns were silent, all of her funnels were down, she was afire forward and aft and water was coming over her forecastle. She was listing to
port and drifting without steerageway.
Scharnhorst with von Spee and his entire crew, heeled slowly to port and went down by the bow. Now it was just
Gneisenau against Invincible, Inflexible and the armored cruiser Carnarvon that had caught up with the battle. However, Gneisenau proved to be a tough nut to
crack. Limited to 18-knots due to under water damage caused by
Inflexible, she made for rain clouds now clearly seen to the south. For the next hour and forty
minutes, shell after shell tore into her.
Gneisenau appeared to be concentrating her fire on Invincible. Sturdee’s flagship suffered hits at 16:29, 16:38, 16:43 and 17:
15. However,
Gneisenau couldn’t make it to the cover of the rain clouds. Her speed continued to fall until by 17:30 she was dead in the water. By 17:49 could only
fire the guns from one turret. Sturdee called cease fire at 17:53 as the British squadron watched
Gneisenau settle. It was then that mist and rain made it to the
Gneisenau, too late to help. By 18:00 she was on beam ends and two minutes later, she plunged to follow her sister to the bottom of the South Atlantic.
Combrig SMS Scharnhorst in 1:700 Scale - The Combrig 1:700 scale SMS Scharnhorst is a marvelous kit and is almost a miniature of their 1:350 scale model of
the same ship. The 1:700 scale version is not exactly the same as some parts are consolidated in the 1:700 scale version that are separate parts in the 1:700 scale
version. One example are the funnels. In the 1:700 scale version each funnel has the funnel and large ventilator funnel base as a single part but in the 1:350 scale
version the funnels and their bases are separate parts. On the hull sides the armor belt is clearly delineated. The hull side anchor hawse are deep enough to have the
anchor stocks disappear inside. The fore and aft 88mm gun positions extend beyond the hull and their shutters are portrayed as closed with locater holes for the gun
barrels. The 8.2-inch and 5.9-inch casemate positions are very well done with sighting ports and an oval gun opening. Discharge scuttles are present along the lower
hull. At the top of the hull on the forecastle, the hull is rounded into the forecastle, which certainly gives a unique look. Fore and aft of the casemate gun positions are
small decks at main deck level. Each of these decks have hinged access doors with a port hole on the hull sides. The hull lacks port hole eyebrows (rigolles) and
access doors to the small decks next to the casemate guns that are found in the
Combrig 1:350 version. You can add brass eyebrows. Although it would take some
time the parts are available. It is certainly no problem adding the hull doors. The forecastle, quarterdeck and small side decks have wooden plank detail, although
there are no butt ends. The large deck amidship has steel plate panel lines. Fine coal scuttles are found on the side decks and steel amidship deck. On the forecastle
there are anchor chain run plates leading to rather shallow deck hawse with raised coamings and oval shape, as well as raised fittings for the deck entrance into the
chain locker. The single deck hatch coaming is closed and there is hatch detail. There is a unique triple fitting at the topof the cutwater. Four twin bollard fittings
with flared tops are inboard and open chocks fittings outboard at the junction of the curved steel hull and wooden decks. Locater holes are present for the
windlasses. Also there is the forward turret barbette and well for the conning tower. The large metal plate deck amidship is about half the length of the ship. In
addition to the rectangular panel lines and scuttles, there is plenty of additional detail. Included are deck access coamings with hatch detail, skylight, low angled
ventilator fittings, main mast base fittings, small director bases, funnel wells, well for the aft conning tower, placement outline for the aft louvered ventilator, locater
holes for the cranes and tall ventilators. The small wooden side decks (four per side) have smaller twin bollards, deck edge open chocks, coal scuttles, base fittings
and hull side lockers. The quarterdeck has one anchor chain run plate for the stern anchor with windlass locater and chain locker entrance fitting. There are three
centerline skylights and another deck access coaming with hatch detail. Other fittings are more twin bollards, open chocks and the three piece fitting found at the tip
of the stern.

There are eight parts cast individually on casting plugs, the four funnels with integral base louvers, the two turrets, the main conning tower and the aft mast base and
ventilation louvers. Only the parts fit into wells on the hull casting and only the plug on the main conning tower will need to be removed and base sanded smooth. I
especially like the funnels. The tops are hollow to a very good length and they have fine aprons separating the narrower top portion to the wider lower casing of the
funnels. They real treat are the louvered ventilator housing clustered along their bases with finely done louvers and piping. The turrets are equally fine with nice
aprons for the barbette tops, deep gun openings with locater holes for the barrels inside and crown fittings with three cupolas. The aft mast base also has louvered
ventilator towers clustered at its base. The main conning tower piece has incised vision slits. One resin sheet has 13 of the thinner parts. The largest is the bridge
deck, which has steel plate panel line detail, inclined ladder cutouts, a couple of coal scuttles, bridge with door and porthole detail, lockers and locater holes for open
QF guns, conning tower and fore mast base. Other parts on the sheet are two control tops, two top overheads, stenrwalk, two topmast platforms, two mast
searchlight platforms and two amidship searchlight platforms. Twenty resin runners have the smaller parts. The largest of these parts are on two runners. One has
the two goose neck cranes with pulley detail and the other has four parts, which are the aft conning tower, foremast below the control top and tall thin ventilators.
Four of the runners concern armament. One has the main gun barrels, secondary gun barrels and thin tall ventilators. Two have tertiary gun barrels for the hull
positions and open mounts and the fourth has the base mounts for the open guns. Nicely detailed searchlights are all on one runner. A long runner has a mix of parts
including compass, binnacles, windlasses, mushroom vents and others. Another runner has 14 binocular stands. Eight nicely done cable reels occupy a runner. Four
anchors with detailed flukes are on a runner. Two runners provide the top masts, yardarms and booms. Seven runners have ship’s boats equipment with one runner
having boat skids for attaching to the deck. Three open steam launches with separate funnels are on a fret. These are open launches with interior detail, such as the
small boilers, as well as rudder detail. One large whaler is on a runner by itself. The last four runners have three medium size open boats and three small size open
boats. All of the open boats have nice bottom planting and thwart detail.
The Combrig Scharnhorst comes with a ship specific brass photo-etch fret. Only the bow eagle is relief-etched and railings are not included and will have to be
added from an after-market source. However, the is a good quantity of ship specific parts on the fret. The largest of these parts are the two frames for the amidship
searchlight platforms, gun shields for the open tertiary guns, aft binnacle tower frame, and four funnel top grates. The bridge gets side bulkheads with open
windows. There are numerous support gussets for the support of the control tops and support frames for the platforms with the top masts. Gussets are also
provided for the stern walk and overhang of the lower bridge deck in front of the conning tower. Other parts include windlass crowns, ship’s wheel,
accommodation ladders with platforms, platform support pillars, boat davits, flag and jack staffs, and a frame at the top of the cutwater. Inclined ladders have rungs
rather than trainable treads. Generic runs of anchor chain and vertical ladder are also included.

The instructions are rudimentary at best with a single back-printed page. The front page centers around a 1:700 scale drawing of the starboard profile and a plan
view. Not only does the drawing provide a rigging diagram, it is essential to refer to it during the assembly of the kit for pin-pointing the location of where various
parts are attached. Also on the front page are the ship’s history and specifications in Russian. The actual assembly is presented on the back with an isomorphic view
of the hull with lines pointing to the attachment locations for the different resin and brass parts. A parts laydown is on the left sides and six inset show assembly of
smaller sub-assemblies and equipment. These include the aft binnacle tower, amidship searchlight frames, amidship searchlight platforms, shielded open guns,
unshielded open guns and folding brass frames, which I have yet to find the point of attachment.
The Combrig SMS Scharnhorst in 1:700 scale has very good to excellent resin parts and a good brass photo-etch fret. The inadequate instructions will not bar
building a beautiful model of Admiral von Spee’s flagship at the Battles of Cornel and the Falklands.
Steve Backer