The splendor and power of the battle cruiser were not to be denied, however, and the Germans were forced to reply if they were not to deprive their new
Dreadnought battle fleet of its scouting wing. When they did so, the results showed superiorities over their British opposite numbers as great as their battleships
possessed over the First Generation Royal Navy Dreadnoughts. The von der Tann was the first, a fine-looking twin-funneled vessel having main armament
disposed like the Invincible, the disadvantage of the smaller caliber (11-inch against 12-inch) being offset by her practical broadside of all eight guns through
quite a wide arc. Her displacement was 2,000 tons greater, and this was mainly absorbed in a much more comprehensive and tougher protection, her main belt
being deeper, thicker by 3 3/4 inches, and extending for almost the full length of her hull - though Brassey reassured his readers that it was no more formidable
than the Invincible’s. In addition she was equipped with a double torpedo bulkhead and intricately elaborate inner compartmentation. Her theoretical speed was
less than Invincible’s, but in practice there was a margin of scarcely a knot. She was completed in less than two years, the shortest time of any German capital
ship, which reflects the sense of urgency and anxiety felt by the German Admiralty at this time.
Dreadnought by Richard Hough 1964, at pages 86-

Admiral John 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
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 of the 1906 Program. 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.

Although often described as a hybrid and neither fish nor fowl, the
Blucher still serves as the link between armored cruisers and battle cruisers, a link jumped by
Jackie Fisher for the Royal Navy.
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. 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.
went through a lengthy trials period, starting on October 1, 1909 and latter participated in gunnery experiments. However, the
Blucher did have one characteristic,
which was superior to the British battlecruiser designs in her armor scheme. The significantly larger and more powerful
Invincible and following Indefatigable
classes both had six-inch armor belts, which was the same as the last armored cruiser design. With
Blucher the German designers incorporated a main armored belt
and turret armor of seven-inches (180mm). The wisdom of the heavier armor was amply demonstrated in 1915.  
Kaiser Wilhelm II, always envious of Uncle Eddie’s Navy (King Edward VI was his uncle), had asked his Admiralty for a fast battleship design early on. Back in
April 1905 on a trip to Italy, he was told of the newest Italian battleship, the
Regina Elena, which was said to have a top speed of 22-knots, the speed of an armored
cruiser. Since that point he had wanted fast battleships for his navy. Secretary Tirpitz was opposed to the concept, as it would greatly impact conventional battleship
construction. However, on May 17, 1906 the Kaiser invited the German shipyards on a design for a fast battleship design that would be at least 3-knots faster than
contemporary foreign battleships and mount at least four 11-inch (280mm) guns with the new battleship design for
Nassau as a basis for a start. Tirpitz still thought
that this was a mistake. On May 22 the final design of
Blucher was approved and on May 26 the Reichstag approved the naval budget that authorized a large cruiser
of 15,500-tons, which would cover the cost of the
Blucher. It was on May 31, 1906 that the German Admiralty was told by the German naval attaché in London
that the new
Invincible class would mount 12-inch, not 9.2-inch guns. With the budget maxed-out and with he materials for the Blucher design already ordered, it
was too late to do anything to improve
Blucher, so a reply would have to wait for the next design. In a memorandum from the German Navy Department to Tirpitz
on June 29, the Navy staff said that the German large cruisers must be built as fast battleships.

With the first true battlecruiser design, typed as
Grosen Kreuzer, German designers turned the table on the British. One could see the size of a ship and count her
guns but could not see or measure armor protection. British writers did not know that the
Blucher had a stronger armor scheme than the British battlecruisers and
assumed a six-inch belt as in previous armored cruiser designs. “
Of the successors of the Blucher, being German Indomitables or Dreadnought-cruisers, little is
known. The von der Tann, launched in March, 1909, is to be completed in the spring of 1910.
” (The Naval Annual 1910, page 32) This first mention of von der
attributed her with twelve 11-inch gun, presumably arranged as the 11-inch guns of Nassau or the 8.2-inch guns of Blucher. Nothing was mentioned about
armour, except in a table at the back of the volume, which mentioned an eight-inch belt for
von der Tann, but put in the caveat “particulars doubtful”. With the von
der Tann
German designers set the pattern for the entire line of battlecruiser construction for the High Seas Fleet. The ship had minimalist superstructure, presenting
a low target, inferior main armament to British contemporary construction (11-inch vs 12-inch) but most importantly, far superior protection. Although always
classified as battlecruisers, the German designs were in reality fast battleships. Gone was the mistake of the wing turrets of
Blucher, instead the von der Tann
improved upon the British practice of spacing amidship turrets far enough apart to allow cross deck fire. The
von der Tann was a direct reply to the Invincible class
but was far superior in every category but main armament.

On March 25, 1908
von der Tann was laid down at the Blohm and Voss yard, five days after the completion of HMS Invincible. She was launched a year later on
March 20, 1909 and completed in September 1910. Not only did she greatly improve on the characteristics of
Invincible but also incorporated unique design features
for German capital ship construction. She was the first German capital ship to use turbines instead of triple reciprocating machinery and four propeller shafts.
During construction, in an effort to counter rolling characteristics encountered in the
Nassau class battleships, Frahm anti-rolling tanks were worked into the design.
However, certain design sacrifices were made to achieve the end result. Since German ships were designed to operate in the North Sea instead of the world wide
arena, they could be given a lower freeboard and decreased crew habitability than the corresponding British equivalent.
Von der Tann did have a raised forecastle
deck but she was still wet, compared to British battlecruisers with their higher freeboard. Another sacrifice was in the hull frames. In order to save weight, lighter
hull framing was worked into the ship, compared to British designs. The consequence was that upon firing her main guns, the ship shook considerably.
When von der Tann was commissioned, she and Blucher were placed with the 1st Cruiser Squadron, which comprised the main units of the Scouting Force,
which provided the advance guard and reconnaissance for the battleships of the High Seas Fleet. As further German battlecruisers were completed, they too were
added to the Scouting Force. To test the new design, it was decided to send the
von der Tann to South America on a good will tour. She left Kiel at 11:00 AM on
February 20, 1911under the command of Kapitan zur See Robert Mischke. After one coaling stop, the battlecruiser headed for Rio de Janeiro, which was reached
on March 14. After a stop at the port of Itajaha, Brazil,
von der Tann continued to the south to reach her southern most point of the journey, Bahia Blanca,
Argentina, which is south of Buenos Aires. On the trip back to Germany the
von der Tann traveled 1,935 nm at the average speed of 24.04-knots, which was very
good for that distance.  At 06:00 AM May 6, 1911
von der Tann arrived back at the main anchorage of the High Seas Fleet. From June 20 to the 29th von der
took the Kronprinz and Kronprizessin to represent Germany at Spithead, United Kingdom for the coronation review for King George V. In July and August
she took part in the High Seas Fleet summer cruise to Norway. During the trip to South America and the Spithead review had yet to receive her torpedo net, net
shelves or booms. On September 29, 1911
von der Tann became flagship of the Fleet Reconnaissance Forces under the command of Vice Admiral Gustav
Bachmann. The next year the
von der Tann went through a minor overhaul, in which she presumably received her torpedo net, shelves and booms, and Rear
Admiral Hipper replaced Bachmann as Reconnaissance Force commander in September 1912. In 1913 the
von der Tann participated in various scheduled exercises
and maneuvers.

1914 started as every previous year, with exercises but when
von der Tann made her last peace time cruise on the summer cruise to Norway in July 1914 tensions
were rising because of the association of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914. On July 26 the cruise was cut short and the ships returned to Germany
because of the ultimatum from Austro-Hungary to Serbia. On July 31
von der Tann supported a reconnaissance line of light cruisers before returning to port. War
between Germany and Great Britain came on August 4, 1914 but very little was done by
von der Tann early in the month, other than going to a floating dock on
August 20 for bottom cleaning and repainting.  The Battle of Heligoland Bight on August 28, 1914 started as a melee of light cruisers and destroyers. As the German
light forces started to gain the advantage, Admiral David Beatty charged onto the scene at 12:30 PM  with five battlecruisers and crushed all before him. Beatty
ordered all British forces to withdraw at 1:10 PM but the German command did not know of the withdrawal. Hipper with his flag on
Seydlitz and received
permission to go to the fight once their was sufficient water over the Jade sand bar. It wasn’t until 2:10 PM that
Moltke and von der Tann could cross the bar and
they were told to wait until
Seydlitz could join them, which took another hour. By then the British ships were long gone.

Prior to November 3, 1914 the German battle cruisers had not seen any significant action. 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 battle cruisers, 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 aged cruiser
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 Yarmouth.

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

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 battle cruisers. 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 Tann 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.

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 battle cruisers 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 battle cruisers 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 battle cruisers 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, “
…fairly 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. 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 Beatty.

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 judgment 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 Dogger Bank and Jutland.

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.
von der Tann was not to be part of this mission and accordingly missed the Battle of Dogger Bank.
In August 1915 von der Tann, Seydlitz and Moltke were sent to the eastern Baltic as heavy support for operations in the Gulf of Riga against the Russians. On
August 10 the trio silenced Russian shore batteries on the island of Utoe at the entrance of the Bay and also took pot shots against a Russian cruiser
Bayan, which
quickly left the area. In addition to the constant threat of mines, British submarines posed the greatest threat to the German heavy ships. On August 16
caught the British
E9 on the surface and opened fire. E9 managed to safely dive before she received a hit. It was the British turn on August 19. The E1 found the
German battlecruisers at close range. The
Seydlitz was very close but the torpedo from E1 passed ahead of Seydlitz but luckily hit Moltke, which took on 1,500
tons of water but maintained her operations. After the Riga operation was called off, the trio returned to the North Sea base.  On April 24, 1916 the fleet sortied but
on the way across the North Sea
Seydlitz hit a mine and had to return to port with 1,400 tons of water. The remaining battlecruisers completed their mission,
bombarding Lowestoft and Yarmouth without interruption.

Although the Royal Navy knew something was afoot, the British didn’t know exactly what the Germans were up to but the Grand Fleet steamed out of Scapa Flow
and Beatty’s battlecruisers left their separate base at Rosyth, on the night of the 30th, before the High Seas Fleet left the next morning. The German Fleet steamed
north paralleling the Danish coast, while the Grand Fleet steamed eastward. As Hipper steamed north 50 miles ahead of the German battleships, he flew his flag in
Lutzow. This time he had all five of his available ships. At 3:00PM Beatty and Hipper were 50 miles apart and may have missed each other, except for the presence
of the Danish tramp steamer
N. J. Fjord. The steamer was midway between the British and German battlecruisers and both sides could see the steamer. Both sent
out light ships to investigate and accordingly sighted each other. At 3:28 PM British opened fire on German torpedo boats and the greatest naval battle of World War
One, the Battle of Jutland, had begun. The first portion of the battle has been called the
run to the south, as Hipper tried to lure Beatty south to be destroyed by
Scheer’s battleships. Hipper had five battlecruisers in column,
Lutzow (flag), Derfflinger, Seydlitz, Moltke and von der Tann against Beatty’s six ships (Lion
Princess Royal, Queen Mary, Tiger, New Zealand and Indefatigable. However, Beatty was also supported by the 5th Battle Squadron of Barham, Warspite,
Valiant and Malaya of Queen Elizabeth Class, armed with eight 15-inch guns. There was separation between the British battlecruisers and battleships caused when
the battlecruisers turned south and the battleships continued east, having missed the signal flags on Lion due to the heavy smoke emitted by the battlecruisers.
Sixty miles separated Hipper from Scheer’s main fleet and at 4:00PM Hipper signaled for each ship to engage its opposite number. Visibility aided Hipper as the sun
was to the west, highlighting Beatty’s ships, while the low-profile, light gray German battlecruisers merged with their darker background to the east. Although
Beatty had an advantage in maximum range of main guns, he didn’t use it, as the range between the battlecruisers rapidly closed. It was Hipper’s ships that opened
fire at 4:48PM.  One of the significant factors in the
Run to the South was fire distribution. Both Admirals wished to engage all of the enemy battlecruisers but
Hipper had one less ship so one of the British ships had to be uncovered. This was
New Zealand as von der Tann engaged Indefatigable last in line, rather than
New Zealand, 5th in line.  However, for Beatty, he had the advantage of numbers and wanted to have two ships fire on Lutzow, while the remaining four German
battlecruisers would receive fire from one ship.
Queen Mary, which had not received the distribution of fire signal, engaged the Seydlitz, 3rd in line, leaving
Derfflinger uncovered. For ten minutes Derfflinger was left unmolested by British fire. Without shell splashes obscuring her fire, Derfflinger could fire very
accurate salvos at her target, the
Princess Royal. From the start, the German ships struck early and often. Both Princess Royal and Tiger had turrets put out of
Queen Mary, always a crack gunnery ship, knocked out X turret of Seydlitz when one of her 13.5-inch shells penetrated the barbette armor at 4:57 PM and
ignited four charges (compared to the 62 ignited in a similar hit on the barbette of Y turret at the Battle of Dogger Bank). The anti-flash precautions put in place
after Dogger Bank contained the damage just to X turret. At 5:00 PM a 12-inch shell from
Lutzow hit Q amidship turret on Lion. The armor roof was peeled off
and except for the bravery of mortally wounded Major F.J.W. Harvey, RM, who ordered the magazine doors closed and magazine flooded, burning charges most
likely would have reached the magazine, destroying the ship. The British had not learned the lesson that the Germans did at Dogger Bank and still had lax anti-flash

Three minutes later these lax anti-flash procedures were more dramatically demonstrated.
Von der Tann and Indefatigable had been engaged in a ship to ship duel
for fifteen minutes.
Indefatigable was hit aft by two or three 11-inch shells and then by two more forward with her next salvo. Initially no smoke or flames were
observed but after over 30 seconds the
Indefatigable exploded. The lengthy delay from the hits to the explosion strongly indicates the loss was caused by a lack of
proper anti-flash procedures, rather than a direct penetration of a magazine.
Von der Tann had little time to enjoy her victory because at 5:06 PM Barham of the
5th Battle Squadron opened fire on
von der Tann. As the other Queen Elizabeth class battleships entered firing range, they concentrated fire on the last two
German battlecruisers with two on
von der Tann and two on Moltke.  He range was initially over 19,000 yards and with the tremendous amount of smoke lying
between the German battlecruisers and the
Queen Elizabeths, the British battleships could only fire intermittently. Nonetheless the von der Tann and Moltke were
surrounded by the towering splashes of the 15-inch shells. At 5:09 PM
von der Tann was hit in the stern. This hit flooded the steering compartment but the
excellent damage control parties on
von der Tann kept the ship’s steering operational and limited the water intake to 600-tons. At 5:16 PM came Moltke’s turn, as a
15-inch shell knocked out one of the 5’9-inch secondary guns.

Also by 5:16 PM
Derfflinger shifted fire from Princess Royal to Queen Mary and the crack gunnery ship of the British battlecruisers was engaged by Seydlitz and
Derfflinger. Queen Mary was hit by three shells out of a four shell salvo and nothing seemed to happen until the next salvo arrived at 5:25 PM when there were
two more hits. Again there was nothing initially apparent, other than some black smoke. Suddenly, the
Queen Mary was enveloped in a massive explosion
amidships and forward, as the
Queen Mary broke in half. As with the Indefatigable, the substantial delay between the shell hits and magazine explosion,
demonstrates the loss of the ship was caused by lax anti-flash procedures, rather than penetration of a magazine.
Beatty was still confident, the 5th Battle Squadron had rapidly closed the German battlecruisers and he still foresaw the destruction of Hipper’s force. A very
ominous portent arrived at 5:38PM when the light cruiser
Southampton reported sighting the entire High Seas Fleet deployed in battle column, approaching from
the south. This report was followed by the same report from the light cruiser
Champion. Beatty ordered at turn to the northwest, towards the Grand Fleet, at 5:
43PM. The “
Run to the South” had lasted 58 minutes, during which the German battlecruisers had scored 42 major hits on the British battlecruisers, destroying
two of them, and two more hits on battleships of the 5th Battle Squadron. In turn Hipper’s ships had been hit 17 times, eleven from the battlecruisers and six from
the 5th Battle Squadron.
Von der Tann and Seydlitz each had one turret permanently put out of action and Lutzow had a large hole on the forecastle, which would
eventually play a part in the loss of the ship. Now began the “
Run to the North” during which Hipper and Scheer, confidently expected bagging a significant
portion of the British Fleet. Just as Hipper had led Beatty to the High Seas Fleet, Beatty was now returning the favor by leading the entire German Fleet to the
Grand Fleet. At 5:46PM Scheer ordered the leading German battleships to open fire but the range of 21,000 to 22,000 yards was still too great. The 5th Battle
Squadron had missed Beatty’s signal to turn to the northwest, The squadron commander, Rear Admiral Evan Thomas, saw no reason why Beatty had reversed
course and kept steaming south after Hipper. It was only when his four battleships were abreast of Beatty’s four battlecruisers that he almost simultaneously saw
Beatty’s signal and the German High Seas Fleet. He accordingly ordered his squadron to reverse course and fall in behind the battlecruisers at 5:58PM.

Hipper had reversed his battlecruisers at 5:50PM to be in the van of the German battleships. All of his ships were still able to maintain speed. Even after
took a torpedo hit from a British destroyer at 5:57PM, her speed was unimpaired. Initially Hipper’s ships were still firing on Beatty’s battlecruisers but as they
became out of range, Hipper shifted fire to the 5th Battle Squadron. During this fight Hipper’s ships were slowly but steadily being ponded with 15-inch hits and
Hipper slowed his force to 15-knots in order to allow the German battleships to close the gap. At 6:50 PM Beatty’s battlecruisers were sighted by the lead
battleship of the starboard column of the Grand Fleet. Hipper and Scheer were still unaware of the presence of the Grand Fleet. In the van of the Grand Fleet was
the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron, consisting of the three ships of the
Invincible Class. Earlier the squadron commander Rear Admiral Horace Hood ordered his
squadron to increase speed so that they could rejoin Beatty’s battlecruiser force. At 6:55PM, Hood’s ships were already 25 miles ahead of the battleships, when
they engaged German light cruisers of the fleet screen. It was another half an hour before Hipper found his ships engaged from two directions with battleships to
the north and the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron to the Northeast. Aboard
Derfflinger the gunnery officer clearly sighted Hood’s flagship, HMS Invincible, and
opened fire on the very first battlecruiser. At 7:31PM one of
Derfflinger’s shells struck Invincible amidship and in a short span the amidship magazine. Lutzow
also claimed credit but the fatal strike is generally attributed to
Derfflinger. However, before her sudden loss, Invincible had struck a fatal blow at Lutzow. One of
her 12-inch shells pierced the forward armored bulkhead of Hipper’s flagship, allowing progressive flooding from the bow to amidships. At 7:33 PM Scheer
ordered his fleet to simultaneously turn south in order to get his ships out of the concentrated gunfire of the Grand Fleet as quickly as possible. Hipper didn’t get
the order but conformed with the turn at 7:38PM. His
Lutzow was losing speed from the progressive flooding and could no longer keep up with his other ships.
Lutzow was in such a poor state that Hipper and his staff left the ship and transferred to the torpedo boat G39 a little before 8 PM. By 7:50 PM the British
capitol ships had lost sight of the German ships and Jellicoe assumed they had all turned south to reach the safety of German ports. He accordingly turned the
Grand Fleet to the southeast.
Scheer had made another turn to the east with his battlecruisers, led by Derfflinger, to assume the point position ahead of the battleships. This turn put him in a
direct collision course with the Grand Fleet. By 8:12 PM the fleets had again made contact. Only the muzzle flashes of the British ships could be made out and
battlecruisers and lead battleships were taking punishment. At 8:13 PM Scheer ordered his battlecruisers to attack the enemy fleet and at 8:18 ordered the
battleships to again reverse course simultaneously.  With the four battlecruisers charging the entire British fleet,
Lutzow was separated and out of action, the
battlecruisers were each being engaged by multiple ships.
Derfflinger especially suffered with Bruno (B) and Dora (Y) turrets quickly knocked out, with each
turret loosing almost every man of their crews. Again, the improved German anti-flash precautions proved their worth, as the flash of exploding charges in the
turrets and handling chambers didn’t reach the magazines. The German battlecruisers closed to within 7,700 yards of the nearest British battleships but their
Death Ride” had served its purpose. The High Seas Fleet had disengaged successfully. At 8:20 PM it was time to extradite the battlecruisers from the massed
firepower of the Grand Fleet. In coordination with a massed destroyer torpedo attack, the battlecruisers turned to the west to disengage. For a while they
remained unengaged but at 9:18 PM they were seen by Beatty’s battlecruisers at a range of 8,500 yards with
Derfflinger and Seydlitz receiving heavy punishment.
The German ships turned further to the west to get out of British fire. With the heavy smoke and steadily failing light conditions of twilight, the firing ceased but
Scheer was in a predicament with the Grand Fleet blocking the direct line to the German ports. The
Derfflinger and von der Tann, whose top speed had been
reduced to 18-knots, fell in behind the German battleships.
Moltke and Seydlitz moved towards the head of the German line. As the night progressed Seydlitz and
Moltke separated and each ship ran into British battleships at very close ranges. On each occasion they were sighted but the British chose to withhold fire because
they didn’t want to disclose their location with gun flashes. This is somewhat puzzling because their location could be reported by the German battlecruisers.
Scheer turned his fleet to the East and passed behind the Grand Fleet in the darkness. At midnight the lonely
Lutzow was steaming south at 7 knots and was still
hoped to reach safety but the severe punishment taken forward created a cascading damage situation. By 1:30 AM the forward boiler room started to flood and
the ship tried to proceed stern first but was unable to do so as the 8,000 tons of water forward caused her propellers to rise out of the water. At 2:20 AM the ship
was abandoned and at 2:45 two German torpedoes finished her off.

All four of the surviving battlecruisers required more time to repair than any of the damaged German battleships.  Repairs to
Moltke were completed July 30 with
von der Tann completing three days later on August 2. The heavily damaged Seydlitz and Derfflinger took far longer to repair. Seylitz repairs were completed
September 16 and
Derfflinger completed on 15 October. This was the last significant engagement of the German battlecruisers. At the armistice, all of the
battlecruisers were interned at Scapa Flow, where they swung at anchor as peace negotiations were conducted.  All were scuttled June 21, 1919 by their crews.
The Combrig SMS von der Tann 1910 Fit in 1:350 Scale - The Combrig von der Tann hull is crisp clean and excellently cast piece of resin. The box shows that
the fit represented is as commissioned in 1910. The model does not have torpedo net shelves or booms but that is entirely accurate for this fit. The
von der Tann did
not have the net fittings at commissioning or on the trips to South America and Coronation Review at Spithead in 1911. They were probably added at the overhaul in
1912. If you wish to portray the ship at Dogger Bank or Jutland, you’ll have to add them. The best source on any of the Kaiser’s battlecruisers is
Battlecruisers of World War One
, by Gary Staff, Seaforth Publishing 2014. Not only does it have a full color frontispiece of von der Tann but it also has a two-page
plan and profile with cross sections of the ship. I compared the Combrig hull with the plan and profile as well as photographs in this reference. I examined the port
hole numbers and placement on the Combrig hull and they were spot on in location and numbers to the reference profile. Although the port holes lack rigoles
(eyebrows), the accuracy of their placement is about as good as it gets. The top of the armored belt of the model also matches the lines of the profile. Incidentally,
for modelers who wish to add a torpedo net and booms, the net shelves appear to be slightly below the top of the belt, so if you can accept a minor variance, you
can have the net rest on the top of the belt. The hull hawse have the correct oval appearance. The bow as well as the tertiary gun positions are shown with their
armored shutters closed with locater holes for the gun barrels. The shutters themselves have hinge detail. The secondary gun casemates have the correct oval
openings with vision ports to their side and a crisp overhang above. Doors have hinge detail. The small side decks at the stern, where the casemates end, have
bulkhead lockers with hinge detail. There is also an anchor hawse on the starboard side of the hull for the stern anchor but it is a little shallow. There are no bow
crests on either side.

I found the same fidelity to accuracy in comparing the
Combrig deck details to the plan in the reference. With most model kits if the chain run plates are present,
they are presented as smooth raised plates. The CAD drawing in the frontispiece of the reference and the plates on the model have linear grooves with three
longitudinal grooves on each plate. I certainly don’t know for sure but the spot on matches between the hull features and fittings on the model and those in the
reference. Indicates that
German Battlecruisers of World War One was a prime reference in the construction of this model. Almost all of the deck fittings are cast
integral to the hull. At the top of the cutwater is the jack staff base and two staff tripod fittings. The three deck hawse have nice tear drop fittings with open chocks
outboard. Immediately behind them, on centerline is a large twin bollard fitting. This along with the other bollard fittings have clean base plates and flared tops. From
here to Anton barbette are a series of deck access coamings with hinge detail.        For the anchor equipment there are locater holes for the windlasses and cast on
chain locker fittings. Surrounding A barbette are a series of lockers, also with hinge detail. Around each of the major gun turrets are circular metal plates, which
certainly add interest in that they separate the deck planking. Two deck edge open chocks and two inboard twin bollard fittings are also present in this area.
provides locater outlines for the forward and aft superstructures and for both funnel bases. I would recommend using white glue for attachment to give time to
locate these structures accurately on the outlines. The main deck is dominated by numerous coal scuttle fittings, which are very well done. There locations match the
reference plan. There are numerous deck fittings from pyramid fittings with hinge detail, deck edge open chocks, twin bollard fittings on base palates and outstanding
deck access fittings. These are superior with a raised coaming running around the perimeter and very detailed hatch doors. At the base of the Bruno and Carl
barbettes are fittings for small directors. The quarterdeck continues with this type of detail, especially heavy in twin bollard fittings. There is a stern anchor deck
hawse on the starboard side with the same tear drop fitting found for the forward anchors. Lastly there is the flag staff base fitting and the same two tripod staff
fittings found at the bow.
The major parts are cast separately, most without a resin plug, but the funnels with plugs that will have to be removed. The aft superstructure part is larger and has
great detail. You get four base aprons, as well as base lockers with hinge detail. On the forward corners are slanting structures, which look like trunks for ventilation
because they end at a large ventilator tower with louvers on the rear face. As with other German ships, there is heavy use of ventilation louvers on the
von der
, which give them a unique appearance. Combrig does an excellent job in capturing this detail throughout the parts set. Bulkhead detail consists of port holes,
hinged doors, a large slab-sided J ventilator on the starboard bulkhead and ventilation louvers on the aft three sides. The 01 level deck detail consists of V-shaped
splinter bulkheads placed between the open 88mm anti-aircraft guns on each side and aft control tower with deep vision slits. Each of the two funnel bases are
beautiful pieces/ The forward funnel base is rectangular in plan with hinged lockers at the base and a wide apron aft. There is a very large, prominent J-shape
ventilator forward on centerline but the other detail is asymmetrical. The port side has two large louvered ventilator position with three such positions on the
starboard. Also on the starboard aft face is a small louvered ventilator and trunked J-shape ventilator. The rear funnel base is entirely asymmetrical. Four louvered
ventilators run along the top of the structure and aprons and hinged lockers at the bottom. On the bulkheads are the base pillars for the boat king-posts and a small J-
shape ventilator trunk. The tops deck of the piece has a wide ventilator fitting ad covered deck access with a hinged door. As mentioned, the two funnels have
casting plugs that will need to be removed. They are oval shaped with a single apron and front face housing for the forward funnel and double apron for the aft
funnel. Each has a series of prominent raised bands along the funnels, which represent foot railing. The funnels are hollow at the top but the aft funnel is deeper.
The four main gun turrets are cast separately, which are identical.
Combrig has really packed in the detail for the turrets. There are three fittings on the top of each
crown with two centerline vision positions with vision ports and a separate fitting to the left (looking at the front face of the turret) of the rear centerline position.
These were part of the crown directors. Missing from the kit is the rod that ran between these two fittings but they are easily added by thin plastic or brass rods.
The front of the turrets match photographs with U-shaped gun openings and vision ports on the outboard sides of the openings. You’ll need to add vertical ladder
between the gun openings. There is a bottom apron covering the barbette on each side and two U-shaped ejection ports on the rear face, The crown of the turrets
on the actual ship had raised rivets along the circumference of the crown and three twin rows of rivets running fore to aft.
Combrig shows these rows of rivets but
they are indented into the crowns rather than being raised. To me it is just too much work to fabricate and add a raised rivet head at each location and would impact
the fittings to fill in the indentations and sand; The est course would be to leave them just as they are because the tiny indentations do have the appearance of rows
of rivets.

Two resin sheets are included are primarily for the thinner resin parts for decks and platforms. The deck sheet is dominated by the navigation deck with locater
outlines for the conning tower and chart house. There are also locater indentation for brass navigation bulkheads and platforms on the navigation deck wings. All of
the other thin platforms are also on this sheet and include: upper forward navigation platform; forward searchlight platform; forward binnacle and compass
platform; aft superstructure platform; aft superstructure top deck; aft superstructure searchlight platform; aft superstructure binnacle platform and circular mast
platforms. The second sheet has three thicker parts. The 01 level of the forward superstructure is the largest and very cleanly cast, although it will use some very
minor light sanding around its base once removed from the casting sheet. There are two tertiary gun positions on each side with oval gun openings and vision port
detail. There are port holes on each side of this triangular structure and four doors with hinge detail. The aft doors also have port holes. The detail is rounded out by
an apron at the base of the forward faces. The forward conning tower has deeply incised vision slits. The third piece is the chart house with hinge and dog detail
port holes and hinged lockers.
There are 24 runners of resin parts but this is misleading as the eleven ship’s boats are each cast on its own runner. The main guns and crane king-posts are on
one runner. The gun muzzles are hollow. Another runner has the secondary gun barrels and tertiary gun barrels with hollow muzzles. The four open 88mm gun
barrels also have hollow muzzles and breach block detail. This kit is the water-line model without the lower hull so two of the runners don’t apply, the one with
the propellers and the one with the rudders and shaft struts. Four detailed anchors are on a runner, along with binocular fittings, windlass and windlass heads.
Another runner has three smaller ventilators, two louvered and one J-shape. Another two runners has nine very detailed binocular fittings. Two runners are for
searchlights, one for the searchlights themselves and another for their cradles. Eight cable reels are on another runner. The four main gun directors and four top
brackets for the 88mm AA guns are on a separate runner. Four boat davits have a runner, which in this scale look better with fine resin casting, rather than photo-
etch. All of the small and fine navigation equipment is on a runner with binnacles, compasses and bridge binocular fittings. There are five powered boats and six
open oared ship’s boats, each on their own runner. The two largest steam launches have cabins with windows and funnels with hollow tops. The medium sized
launch has raised bulkheads and detailed boiler. All of the boats have bottom planking detail.  

One long, thin brass photo-etch fret is included. This fret does not have deck railing, so you’ll need to get some generic railing. The fret is nicely done with the
highlights being the relief-etched ship’s crests for the bow and name plates for the stern. The bulkheads for three open window structures are present for the
forward navigation position and wing navigation shelters. The four gun shields for the 88mm AA guns are brass with crown and vision ports. Each funnel has a
unique circle within an oval funnel grate. Breakwater wings are brass along with the U-shaped cut-water top fitting.  Other significant ship’s fittings in brass are
perforated platforms, tower frames, windlass wheels, king-post fittings, and block and tackle. Steam launch rudders and propellers are on the fret. Three runs of
anchor chain and five runs of inclined ladders are present. Boat skids and fitted inclined ladders with trainable treads round out the fret.

Combrig has taken a step backward with the instructions. There are only two back-printed sheets of instructions. Page one has a plan & profile, history in
English and specifications in English. The backside has a laydown of resin parts and the brass photo-etch fret. Page three has the main assembly instructions with
an isomorphic view of the hull and parts attachment locations. Three detailed insets for assembly of the 88mm AA guns, searchlights and navigation shelter
bulkheads. The last page has four modules; lower hull assembly, which was unneeded for the waterline version, boat/chock assembly, boat locations, and
masts/yards/booms template with dimensions, as all of these parts have to be fabricated from after-market plastic or brass rods. When I mentioned that this was a
step backwards for instructions, that is misleading. The
von der Tann had minimal superstructure and I could find the location for parts attachment in the
The Combrig SMS von der Tann in 1:350 scale includes finely cast resin parts and relief-etched brass parts. It is clearly one of the best kits from Combrig in
this scale and is highly recommended. In the United States the
Combrig SMS von der Tann, as well as the rest of the Combrig line, is available exclusively
Free Time Hobbies.
Steve Backer