Saturday, 24 June 2017

German Flakschiff: Nymphe and Thetis

Nymphe and Thetis began life as the Tordenskjold-class coastal defence battleships HNoMS Tordenskjold and HNoMS Harald Haarfagre respectively. They both entered service in the early years of the twentieth century, and were withdrawn from service in the mid 1930s.

When built, their characteristics were:
  • Displacement: 3,858 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 304’ 0” (92.66m)
    • Beam: 48’ 6” (14.78m)
    • Draught: 17’ 8” (5.38m)
  • Speed: 16.9 knots
  • Propulsion: 2 shafts powered by reciprocating steam engines
  • Armour: Belt: 7” (178mm); Turrets: 8” (203mm)
  • Armament: 2 × 8.2” (21cm) (2 x 1) guns; 6 × 4.7” (120mm) (6 x 1) guns; 6 x 3” (76mm) (6 x 1) guns; 6 x 1 pdr QF guns (6 x 1); 2 × 18” (45cm) Torpedo Tubes
  • Complement: 245
A silhouette of a Tordenskjold-class. coastal defence ship.
HNoMS Tordenskjold.
They was captured by the German in 1940, renamed Nymphe and Thetis respectively, and used as a training and storage hulks until their conversion.

When converted into a flakschiff, Nymphe and Thetis carried:
  • 7 x 4.1” (10.5cm) SK C/32 gun (6 x 1)
  • 2 x 40mm Bofors guns (2 x 1)
  • 9 x 20mm guns (2 x 4; 1 x 1)
A silhouette of KMS Nymphe and KMS Thetis.
After the war the Nymphe was renamed Tordenskjold and was used for a short time as a floating barracks before she was sold and scrapped in 1948.

KMS Nymphe.
After the war the Thetis was renamed Harald Haarfagre and was used for a time as a floating barracks and for transporting German POWs. She was sold and scrapped in 1948.


  1. Do you know if either ship had any combat experience in their role as flakschiff? Were they mainly used for harbor defense or did they also serve to protect coastal shipping?
    BTW, these articles about lesser known ships have been outstanding.

    1. CelticCurmudgeon,

      I am really pleased that you are enjoying this series of blog entries. These sort of vessels performed very useful service that is ignored by most naval histories.

      All the flakschiffs had active careers in that role, but only as static gun platforms. Most had engines that were either in very poor condition or were totally inoperable, so they tended to be employed purely as part of a harbour defence system.

      I think that one or both of Nymphe and Thetis were used to defend Tirpitz when she was moored in Trondheim Fjord and may have been damaged during the RAF bombing attacks.

      All the best,



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