german-navy

Die Gorch Fock is a tall ship of the German Navy (Deutsche Marine). She is the second ship of that name as a sister ship of the Gorch Fock built in 1933. Both are named in honor of the German writer Johann Kinau who wrote under the pseudonym “Gorch Fock” and died in the battle of Jutland/Skagerrak in 1916. The modern-day Gorch Fock was built in 1958 and had undertaken 146 cruises by 2006, including a tour around the world in 1988. She is under the command of the Naval Academy in Flensburg-Mürwik.

The W.20 was one of the rare planes of the first world war as only three of these planes were produced, this single seater flying boat was designed during 1917 with the plan of it to be stored in a U-boat and then launched when needed. The W.20 could be dismantled and packed away in an impressive time of 105 seconds, you could see the potential of this plane as it could be stowed away quickly but unfortunately it was never put into production.

The Friedrichshafen FF.29 was a two seater float plane that could be launched off of a submarine deck to patrol the area. Entering service with the Imperial German Navy in 1914 the FF.29 was a plane of two firsts for the Germans in WW1, it’s first notable achievement was that it was the first plane to drop a bomb on Britain during WW1 causing little more damage than a small crater in someone’s garden but still a notable first for the Germans. On January the 15th 1915 the FF-29 launched off of the submarine SM U-12 becoming the first plane to be launched off of a submarine.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel watches as a member of the German Navy’s Special Forces boards from a speedboat on January 19, 2016 in Kiel, Germany. Merkel was visiting the ‘Braunschweig,’ a small frigate of the German Navy’s First Flotilla, at its home base in Kiel. The German Navy is participating in the international military coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

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The Battle of the Doppelgangers,

When World War I broke out, it was not uncommon for navies on both sides to commission civilian ships for military use, either as transports or warships.  One sneaky move was to arm civilian ships, especially passenger liners, to trick the enemy.  Such ships could use the element of surprise to attack an enemy who believes the ship is nothing more than an unarmed civilian vessel. 

In 1914 the German Navy armed the passenger liner Cap Trafalgar with two four inch guns and six 37mm autocannon.  In addition the Cap Trafalgar was disguised to look like a similar British Cunard line passenger liner called the RMS Carmania.  The idea was that the Cap Trafalgar could approach British merchant and supply convoys with little suspicion of being a German warship.  When the convoy least expected it, the Cap Trafalgar would open fire and destroy the convoy.

On September 14th, 1914 the Cap Trafalgar was discovered off the coast of Brazil by the British passenger liner RMS Carmania.   The Carmania was likewise armed to raid German merchant convoys, and was disguised as the Cap Trafalgar just as the Cap Trafalgar had been disguised as the Carmania.  For 90 minutes the two doppelgangers battled each other in a gunnery duel, often at ranges no more than 200 yards.  During the battle the real Carmania took the most hits and suffered heavy damage.  After being struck with 72 shells her bridge was completely destroyed and she sustained hull ruptures under her waterline.  However the real Cap Trafalgar suffered mortal damage and sank into the ocean, taking 51 German sailors with her.  The rest of the German crew, 279 men altogether, were captured by the British.