SMS Falke (1865)

SMS Falke[lower-alpha 1] was an aviso of the North German Federal Navy and later the German Imperial Navy that was built in the mid-1860s. Originally built on speculation as a blockade runner for the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, she was not sold before the war ended and a shipowner in the Netherlands instead purchased the vessel. The ship’s owner renamed the ship Heinrich Heister, though he made no use of her. In 1870, following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, the North German Navy was in search of vessels to augment its fleet and acquired Heinrich Heister, transferred her to Emden, briefly renaming her Emden to obscure the ship’s movements, before being converted into an armed aviso with her intended name, Falke. Her wartime service was cut short by an accidental ramming by the ironclad warshipSMS Arminius, sending Falke into dock for repairs.

Aviso of the Prussian and German Imperial Navy

For the later unprotected cruiser, see SMS Falke.

Class overview
Preceded by SMS Loreley
Succeeded by SMS Pommerania
Completed 1
Retired 1
Name Falke
Builder Henderson, Coulborn and Company
Launched 1865
Acquired 25 August 1870
Commissioned 4 October 1870
Decommissioned 1888
Stricken 18 November 1890
Fate Broken up for scrap, 1892
General characteristics
Class and type Unique aviso
Length 78.4 m (257 ft 3 in) loa
Beam 8.56 m (28 ft 1 in)
Draft 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in)
Installed power
Speed 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Range 1,400 nmi (2,600 km; 1,600 mi) at 12 kn (22 km/h; 14 mph)
  • 6 officers
  • 84 enlisted men
Armament 2 × 12 cm (4.7 in) breechloading guns

She was next commissioned in 1875; she spent the next six years in active service either with the main fleet, as a tender, or as a fishery protection ship, being decommissioned toward the end of each year for the winter. She had repeated problems with her propulsion system during this period, and in 1879, she was involved in experiments with electrical lighting, making her the first German warship to be equipped with a searchlight. Laid up from 1882 through 1885, she was recommissioned in early 1886 for fishery protection duties, a role she filled for the next three years. She left service for the last time in late 1888, was struck from the naval register in 1890, and sold for scrap in 1892.

. . . SMS Falke (1865) . . .

Falke was requisitioned during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 as what was by then the North German Federal Navy sought to acquire ships with which it could defend the North German Confederation‘s coast in the North and Baltic Seas. Falke was among four merchant ships purchased by the navy, along with the paddle steamerSMS Pommerania and the HAPAGpassenger linersCuxhaven and Helgoland.[1]

Falke was 77.5 m (254 ft 3 in)long at the waterline and 78.4 m (257 ft 3 in)long overall. She had a beam of 8.56 m (28 ft 1 in) over the hull and 11.7 m (38 ft 5 in) over the wheel boxes for the paddle wheels. Her draft was 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) forward and 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) aft. She displaced1,002 metric tons (986 long tons) as designed and up to 1,230 t (1,210 long tons) at full load. The hull was constructed with transverse iron frames and was divided into six watertight compartments. Steering was controlled with a single rudder.[2]

The ship’s crew consisted of six officers and eighty-four enlisted men. She carried four small boats of unrecorded type. Falke was a good sea boat, but was difficult to turn. She lost little speed in a head sea, though a beam sea caused considerable loss of speed. To supplement her steam engine, she carried a schooner rig, but it contributed little to her performance. These problems were typical of paddle steamers.[3]

Falkes propulsion system consisted of one vertical, oscillating 2-cylinder marine steam engine that drove a pair of paddle wheels located amidships. The wheels were 6.55 m (21 ft 6 in) in diameter, with ten paddles each. Steam for the engine was provided by two coal-fired trunk boilers fitted with superheaters. The engine and boilers were placed in a combined engine/boiler room, and the boilers were each ducted into their own funnel. The system was rated at 300 nominal horsepower for a top speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). In service, she was capable of 1,100 metric horsepower (1,100 ihp) and a top speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). She could carry up to 200 t (200 long tons) of coal, which allowed a cruising radius of 1,400 nautical miles (2,600 km; 1,600 mi) at a speed of 12 knots.[2]

The ship was armed with a pair of 12 cm (4.7 in) 23-caliberbreechloadinghoop guns that were supplied with 670 shells. The guns had a range of 5,000 m (16,000 ft). Later in her career, she received five 3.7 cm (1.5 in)Hotchkiss revolver cannons.[3]

. . . SMS Falke (1865) . . .

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. . . SMS Falke (1865) . . .

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