Bremen class light cruisers

Bremen class light cruisers

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Bremen class light cruisers

The Breman class light cruisers set a pattern for German cruiser design before the First World War in that they were slightly larger versions of the previous class, in this case the Gazelle Class. The resulting ships were 600 tons heavier, 19 feet longer and at least one knot faster than the Gazelle class ships, but carried the same armament of ten 4.1in guns.

SMS Lübeck was the first German cruiser to be powered by a turbine engine, in this case without an increase in speed, but the trials were otherwise successful, and the experiment would be repeated in later classes.

SMS Leipzig was part of Admiral von Spee’s squadron at the battle of Coronel. She was sunk by British cruisers during the battle of the Falklands (8 December 1914). The Bremen was lost on 17 December 1915, after striking a mine in the Baltic.

By the middle of the war the five remaining Breman class ships were becoming obsolescent. München and Berlin were disarmed in 1916, while Lübeck was refitted to serve as a mine layer.

After the war Lübeck, Munchen and Danzig were surrendered to Britain, where they were soon scrapped. Berlin and Hamberg were part of the small post-war German fleet, acting as training ships, before being hulked during the 1930. After the Second World War Berlin was used to dispose of some of the vast arsenal of unused poison gas shells found in Germany in 1945. Loaded with shells, she was sunk in the Skagerrak in 1947, where she now poses an potentially serious environmental threat.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck

3.5in amidships




Ten 105mm/ 4.1in guns
Ten machine guns
Three 450mm/ 17.7in torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Bremen
SMS Hamburg
SMS Berlin
SMS Lübeck
SMS München
SMS Leipzig
SMS Danzig

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

History [ edit | edit source ]

The first small steam powered cruisers were built for the British Royal Navy with HMS Mercury launched in 1878. Ώ] Such second and third class protected cruisers evolved, gradually becoming faster, better armed and better protected. Germany took a lead in small cruiser design in the 1890s, building a class of fast cruisers copied by other nations. Such vessels were powered by coal-fired boilers and reciprocating steam engines and relied in part on the arrangement of coal bunkers for their protection. The adoption of oil-fired water-tube boilers and steam turbine engines meant that older small cruisers rapidly became obsolete. Furthermore, new construction could not rely on the protection of coal bunkers and would therefore have to adopt some form of side armoring. The British Bristol group of Town-class cruisers (1909) were a departure from previous designs with turbine propulsion, mixed coal and oil firing and a 2 inch protective armoured belt as well as deck. Thus, by definition, they were armoured cruisers, despite displacing only 4,800 tons the light armored cruiser had arrived. The first true modern light cruisers were the Arethusa class (1911) which had all oil-firing and used lightweight destroyer-type machinery to make 29 knots (54 km/h).

Top 5 Cruisers

Only the most powerful modern navies operate cruisers. These are the heaviest surface combatants in use today, except aircraft carriers. These warships are not numerous.

So which is the most powerful cruiser in the world? Which is the greatest modern cruiser and why? Our Top 5 analysis is based on the combined score of offensive and defensive capabilities, size, displacement, sensors, stealthiness and some other features.

This list only includes cruisers that are currently in service.

Currently top 5 cruisers in the world are these:

The Zumwalt class cruisers are new multi-role ships of the US Navy. These stealthy guided missile cruisers have superior offensive capabilities. The lead ship was launched in 2013 and commissioned with the US Navy in 2016. Originally 32 ships of the class were planned. However only 3 ships will be built due to high unit price.

Although the Zumwalt class warships are officially called "destroyers", in terms of size, displacement and armament these warships are clearly cruisers. These stealthy warships are actually larger than US Ticonderoga class cruisers China's Type 055 class cruisers and Russian Slava class cruisers. Only Russian Kirov class cruisers are larger. Most likely that the Zumwalt class warships are called destroyers for political reasons.

These new warships are optimized for land attack operations, but also possess great anti-aircraft and anti-submarine capability.

The Zumwalt class cruisers are stuffed with cutting-edge technology, including new electric propulsion system, and are stealthy to radars. Despite their size the Zumwalt class cruisers have radar signatures of fishing boats. Also these warships have low acoustic and infrared signature. Noise levels are comparable to Los Angeles class submarines.

These warships are fitted with 80 advanced modular vertical launch cells for various missiles. These stealthy cruisers can carry a mix of various missiles, including Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles (1 per cell), ASROC anti-submarine missiles (1 per cell), Standard surface-to-air missiles, and RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) surface-to-air missiles (4 per cell). Also there are two 155 mm naval guns and two 57 mm guns in stealthy gun mounts.

The Zumwalt class warships are fitted with AN/SPY-3 active electronically scanned array radar. It is an improved version of the AN/SPY-1 radar, used on Ticonderoga class cruisers and Arleigh Burke class destroyers. Basically it is the most sophisticated air defense system in the world.

These warships have a flight deck and a hangar for up to two medium-lift helicopters such as SH-60 or MH-60R Seahawks.

These stealthy cruisers have the highest level of automation of any US Navy surface warships and are operated by less sailors than comparable ships. The USS Zumwalt is run by a crew of only around 140 sailors. It is half the crew of comparable Arleigh Burke class destroyer.

In 1977 Soviets launched the largest warship other than aircraft carriers built by any nation since World War II. In appearance and firepower Kirov is more like a battlecruiser than a normal missile cruiser. It has the world's largest missile battery, at 352 missiles, though weapons and systems vary from ship to ship.

The lead ship was commissioned in 1980. Four of these cruisers were completed. However due to funding problems Russian Navy operates only a single Kirov class cruiser. Furthermore there are signs that Russia struggles to maintain it.

Planned initially to find and engage enemy missile submarines, it became a much more capable warship when it was equipped with the long-range P-700 Granit (Western reporting name SS-N-19 or Shipwreck) anti-ship missiles. These missiles have a range of 625 km and carry a 750 kg high explosive warhead or nuclear warhead with a yield of 0.5 Megaton.

Area air defense is provided by vertical launch S-300F Fort (SA-N-6) long-range surface-to-air missiles, housed in a total of 96 launchers.

There are ten 533 mm torpedo tubes for 20 heavy torpedoes or Vodopad (SS-N-16 Stallion) torpedo-carrying missiles.

Up to five Ka-27 helicopters can be accommodated in the hangar, though a normal complement is three. The helicopters are a mix of anti-submarine warfare and missile-guidance/electronic intelligence variants

Its powerplant is unique in being a combined nuclear and steam system. Two reactors are coupled to oil-fired boilers.

Until the late 1980s China's navy was largely a riverine and littoral force. For a long period of time China had no money, resources or technology do develop and produce large warships. During the 1990s and early 2000s China still lacked gas turbine propulsion technology, anti-submarine warfare helicopters, electronic counter measures systems, naval air defense missiles and anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, sonars, radars, communication systems, electronics, and other vital technologies that were required to create large and modern surface combatants. H owever over time China developed, obtained, or received access to the required technology. In around 2009 an indigenous programme was launched. It called for a new cruiser.

The lead ship of the new Type 055 class (Western reporting name Renhai class) was commissioned with the China's navy in 2019. Four more Type 055 class cruisers are being built at 2 shipyards and are nearing completion. Two more cruisers are planned. These new cruisers will form a core of Chinas naval battlegroups.

Even though these warships are officially called "destroyers", the Type 055 class is actually larger in terms of size and displacement than US Ticonderoga class cruisers and similar to the Russian Slava class cruisers. Most likely that these warships are called destroyers for political reasons. The Type 055 class warships are larger and have nearly twice the displacement of the latest China's Type 052D class destroyers. Furthermore firepower of the Type 055 class increased exponentially comparing with the Type 052 class. These new cruisers have superior offensive capabilities.

The Type 055 class uses a new universal vertical launch system that supports 4 different types of missiles. It resembles that of the US Navy's Mk.41 VLS. There is a total of 112 launch cells with 64 cells forward and 48 cells aft. It can use a mix of different missiles, including HHQ-9 long-range air defense missiles, JY-18 anti-ship missiles, CJ-10 land attack missiles, CT-5 missiles with anti-submarine torpedoes. Also there are enclosed launchers for unspecified torpedoes and anti-submarine rocket launchers.

There is a single landing spot and hangar for two helicopters. Some sources report that the Type 055 class carries Z-18F anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

These cruisers are equipped with advanced radars. It uses a Type 346B radar, which is similar in function to a US SPY-1 Aegis radar. It can detect air targets at significant ranges and track numerous targets simultaneously. It looks like this radar can also detect and track ballistic missiles.

Designed as an advanced area-defence platform, the Ticonderoga class has evolved over the years into what was possibly the most advanced warships ever built. The USS Ticonderoga was originally designated as a destroyer, but was redesignated as a cruiser in 1980. The lead ship was commissioned in 1983. A total of 22 Ticonderoga class anti-air warfare cruisers were built. The last warship of the class entered service in 1994. These cruisers were built to support and protect US carrier battle groups, amphibious assault groups, perform interdiction and escort missions. Since its introduction the class has seen action in most US Navy operations.

The Ticonderogas were the first surface combatant ships equipped with the AEGIS weapon system. It was the most sophisticated air defence system in the world. The heart of AEGIS is the SPY-1A radar. Two paired phased array radars automatically detect and track air contacts to beyond 322 km. When it was fielded in the early 1980s this radar was the first of its kind and ahead of anything at the time. At some point a capability to detect and track ballistic missiles was added. The AEGIS was designed to defeat attacking missiles by providing quick-reacting firepower and jamming resistance against any aerial threat expected to be faced by a US Navy battle group.

The 127-cells vertical launch systems can be loaded with Standard surface-to-air missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, ASROC anti-submarine missiles and Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, giving later vessels the ability to engage targets above, on and below the surface.

This warship can accommodate two SH-60B Seahawk helicopters.

The Slava class cruisers were designed as less expensive complement to the massive Kirov class battlecruisers. These ocean-going warships were designed to operate in battlegroups and travel over significant ranges. The lead ship was laid down in 1976 and was commissioned in 1982. Initially at least eight and as many as 20 cruisers were planned. However with the collapse of the Soviet Union the Russian Navy virtually went bankrupt and only 3 of these cruisers were ever commissioned. These 3 cruisers are in service with the Russian Navy. At some point all of them were overhauled in order to extend their service life. There is one more incomplete Slava class cruiser that belongs to Ukraine. This warship was never completed due to limited funding. Ukraine has no requirement for such a powerful ocean-going warship. For a number of years this 4th cruiser of the class is awaiting for its disposal.

The Slavas are primarily surface action vessels. Their primary weapons are 16 P-500 Bazalt (SS-N-12 or Sandbox) anti-ship missiles. These missiles have a range of 550 km and carry a 1 000 kg high explosive or warhead or nuclear warhead with a yield of 350 kT. These warships also possess great anti-aircraft and anti-submarine capability.

There is an S-300F Fort long-range air defense system (naval version of the S-300). It has 64 launchers with missiles.

The Slava class cruisers are fitted with ten 533 mm torpedo tubes for heavy torpedoes that can be launched against hostile ships and submarines.

Bremen class light cruisers - History

Nearly half (37 of 75) of the preliminary design drawings belonging the 1939-1944 "Spring Styles" Book are related to cruisers. These plans involve a wide variety of design studies, ranging from large cruisers with twelve-inch guns to anti-aircraft cruisers with main batteries of five-inch guns, plus hybrid "flight deck cruisers" and schemes for converting cruisers to aircraft carriers. The quantity of cruiser concepts, and the large number of drawings involved with them, indicates a very strong interest in that type of ship during the late 1930s and early 1940s, an emphasis extended by World War II era projects to develop guns capable of countering higher-performance aircraft.

Chronologically, the cruiser drawings begin in October-December 1939 with studies of what became the Cleveland (CL-55) class light cruisers, the Baltimore (CA-68) class heavy cruisers, a small (7500-ton) light cruiser with dual-purpose five-inch guns, and a final attempt to design a flight deck cruiser ("CF"). Some of these studies extended into 1940. That year and 1941 also saw an extensive effort to develop what became the Alaska (CB-1) class large cruiser, plus studies of larger ships with six and eight inch main batteries.

Between mid-1941 and late 1944 a large number of preliminary design plans were prepared for ships to carry guns then under development. Most of these concerned a light cruiser with six-inch dual-purpose guns, which eventually begat the two ships of the Worcester (CL-144) class. There were ongoing, but ultimately fruitless, efforts to produce a smaller cruiser with higher-velocity five-inch guns as a successor to the Atlanta (CL-51) class. Finally, two drawings (#s 64 and 65) are included for what became the Des Moines (CA-134) class heavy cruisers, with automatic eight-inch guns.

This page features those 1939-1944 Bureau of Ships "Spring Styles" plans that concern cruisers.

On the picture data sheets referenced from this page, click on the thumbnail image (small photograph) to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Politics [ edit ]

National spirits [ edit ]

Germany starts with two national spirits in the base game:

With the Waking the Tiger expansion enabled, Germany starts with an additional national spirit:

    Consumer Goods Factories: -5%
  • Daily Political Power Cost: +0.20 Military factory construction speed: +25.00%Air base construction speed: +25.00%Naval base construction speed: +25.00% Naval dockyard construction speed: +25.00%Land fort construction speed: +25.00%Coastal fort construction speed: +25.00%Anti Air construction speed: +25.00%Synthetic refinery construction speed: +15.00%Fuel silo construction speed: +25.00%Radar station construction speed: +25.00%

Diplomacy [ edit ]

This is a community maintained wiki. If you spot a mistake then you are welcome to fix it.

As a Fascist country, the  German Reich begins with slightly negative relationships with most of the world. In Europe, only  Italy has positive relations with the German Reich. The Treaty of Versailles demilitarized Germany's border with  Belgium,  Luxembourg, and part of the  Netherlands and  France. The German Reich is the leader of the Axis at the start of the game but has no allies yet at the beginning of the grand campaign. Following the 1.5 patch, Germany is able to form the German Empire through national focus, and the Greater German Reich or Holy Roman Empire through decisions.

Political parties [ edit ]

This is a community maintained wiki. If you spot a mistake then you are welcome to fix it.
Political party Ideology Popularity Party leader Country name Is ruling?
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei Fascist 60% Adolf Hitler / Heinrich Himmler (if the SS takes control of Germany or after taking Berlin in the Civil War) / Hermann Göring (if Hitler dies after the Sudeten Crisis) German Reich Yes
Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands Communist 20% Wilhelm Pieck Socialist Republic of Germany No
Zentrum Democratic 20% Konrad Adenauer German Republic No
Non-Aligned / Deutschnationale Volkspartei (if Revive the Kaiserreich/Re-establish Free Elections is chosen) / Militarregierung (at the start of the German Civil War) Non-Aligned 0% Generic (If "Oppose Hitler" Focus has not been chosen) / August von Mackensen (If "Oppose Hitler" HAS been chosen) / Wilhelm II (If "Return of the Kaiser" has been chosen) / Wilhelm III (If "Return of the Kaiser" has been chosen but Germany backs down or Wilhelm II dies after he becomes leader of Germany) German Military Junta (Mackensen) / German Empire(Random Leader/Wilhelm II/Wilhelm III) No

Political leaders [ edit ]

This is a community maintained wiki. If you spot a mistake then you are welcome to fix it.
Leader Ideology Party In power (1936) Popularity Unique portrait? Leader trait
Adolf Hitler Fascism/Nazism Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) Yes 60% Yes Dictator
Heinrich Himmler Fascism/Nazism Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) No, can come to power via Event (Oster Conspiracy event chain/Hitler Found Dead event) --- Yes ---
Hermann Göring Fascism/Nazism Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP) No, can come to power via Event (Oster Conspiracy event chain) --- Yes ---
Konrad Adenauer Democracy/Conservatism Zentrum No, can come to power via focus The Monarchy Compromise 20% Yes ---
Wilhelm Pieck Communism/Stalinism Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD) No 20% Yes ---
August von Mackensen Non-Aligned/Despotism Militärregierung No, can come to power via focus Oppose Hitler 0% Yes Great War Hero
Wilhelm II Non-Aligned/Despotism Deutschenationale Volkspartei (DNVP) No, can come to power via focus Return of the Kaiser --- Yes Anti-Democrat, Imperial Connections
Wilhelm III Non-Aligned/Despotism Deutschenationale Volkspartei (DNVP) No, can come to power via focus Return of the Kaiser --- Yes Popular Figurehead
Victoria Non-Aligned/Despotism Deutschenationale Volkspartei (DNVP) No, can come to power via Event (Hindenburg Aflame in London) --- Yes Victoria III, Kaiserin of the People
Günther von Kluge Non-Aligned/Despotism Militärregierung No, can come to power via Event (The Himmler-Putsch) --- Yes

Ideology [ edit ]

This is a community maintained wiki. If you spot a mistake then you are welcome to fix it.

Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (Fascist)

    Can force government of another country to adopt the same ideology. Can send volunteer forces
  • Justify war goal time when at war with a major: -80%

Political advisors [ edit ]

These are the ministers available for the German Reich.

  • Land Fort construction speed: +20%
  • Coastal Fort construction speed: +20%
  • Anti Air construction speed: +20% has completed focus Westwall
  • Civilian to Military Factory conversion cost: −20%
  • Civilian Factory construction Speed +10%
  • Infrastructure construction Speed +10%
  • Refinery construction Speed +10% has completed focus Four Year Plan has completed focus Demand Sudetenland
  • Military Factory construction speed: +10%
  • Dockyard construction speed: +10%
  • Daily Communism Support: +0.10 is NOT Supervised State
  • Daily Democracy Support: +0.10 Is not Supervised State has completed focus Re-establish Free Elections
  • Daily Fascism Support: +0.10
  • War Support: +10% Current ruling party is Fascist Is not Supervised State
  • Political Power Gain: +15%Not:Rudolf Hess has undertaken his famous flight one of the following must be true:

Current ruling party is Fascist Reinstated Nazi Leadership

  • Non-Core manpower: +2.00%
  • Foreign subversive activities efficiency: −30%
  • Damage to Garrisons: −25%

Having Himmler in your cabinet will allow the recruitment of foreign SS divisions

Current ruling party is Fascist Reinstated Nazi Leadership

Current ruling party is Fascist Reinstated Nazi Leadership

  • Political Power Gain: +5%
  • Ideology drift defense: +15% one of the following must be true:

Current ruling party is Fascist Reinstated Nazi Leadership

  • Trade deal option factor: +10%
  • Stability +10%
  • Daily Fascism Support: -0.02 has completed focus Oppose Hitler
  • Daily Support for Unaligned: +0.10 has completed Focus Revive the Kaiserreich
  • Production Efficiency Cap: +5% has completed focus Revive the Kaiserreich
  • Political Power Gain: +5%
  • Stability +5% has completed focus Re-establish Free Elections
  • Political Power Gain: +5%
  • Daily Democracy Support: +0.02 has completed focus Re-establish Free Elections
  • Agency upgrade time: −15%
  • Operatives slots: +1 has created an Intelligence Agency

Mann class cruisers

This class appears in the Space Flight Chronology book and is mentioned in FASA. No registries are given but as the dates (as corrected from the SFC/FASA timeline by James Dixon) are compatible I've assigned the U.S.S. Valiant to this class and given the class ship the registry NCC-1200 .

The class was in service from 2206 to 2244. Other ships of this class include the U.S.S. Leonides, U.S.S. Endurance , and U.S.S. Poseidon .
[Dorsal View Schematic] [Starboard View Schematic]

NCC-1223U.S.S. Valiant
History:Destroyed at Eminiar VII in 2217.
Notes:TOS "A Taste of Armageddon" his.
See Problems and Oddities.


Imperial scout cruisers have generally always had enough firepower to fight off a determined attack by escort-sized ships, and can hold enough supplies to remain autonomous for months at a time, the Dauntless being no exception. It forgoes the traditional armoured prow of the Imperial Navy, balancing this lack by being substantially faster and more manoeuvrable than a full size Imperial cruiser. Due to the need for power savings and to conserve supplies, the Dauntless has about half the shielding and turret cover of a full size cruiser, but given its expected opposition this is a sufficient protection. [1]

The Dauntless Class has respectable weapons batteries on either side, and an option of a full cruiser class compliment of torpedo tubes in the prow. A furious set of Lances are set to fire past the ship's prow on any enemy coming too close. This devastating array of weaponry, combined with its speed and manoeuvrability, has ensured that an enemy Captain who carelessly overlooks the Dauntless based on its size never makes the same mistake again. The effectiveness of the Dauntless is even more apparent when paired, or operating alongside an escort squadron. [1]

Cutter Sinks within Minutes

The two men on board the „Neptun“ have not a moment to spare during the night from 20th to 21st of April 2013: with their 13-metre long cutter, they have already reached the approach to Großenbrode at Fehmarn, when around 1 o’clock, water suddenly rushes in. One man just manages to send a Mayday distress call via radio before fleeing to the pilot house. The second man clings to the mast. The cutter is already sinking.

On the VORMANN JANTZEN, lying at this time in Großenbrode, the international emergency VHF channel 16 is on round the clock in the cabins of the crew below deck. It is the same on all sea rescue vessels of the DGzRS. “We only really wake up when we are called. You can tell from the voice,” says coxswain Uwe Radloff.

But in this night, the alarm does not come “over 16”. Valuable time is lost because the shipwrecked sailors – perhaps in the rush and stress of the situation – call for help over a different channel. And so their emergency call reaches the sea rescue service via an indirect route. It is the MARITIME RESCUE COORDINATION CENTRE in Bremen that alerts the crew of the VORMANN JANTZEN.

Instantly, the four sea rescuers are wide awake. They respond to the emergency call, however, the radio is silent. The four men look at each other briefly. They realize, now it is a matter of life and death out there. Especially since the Baltic Sea is 6 degrees cold.

Without delay, the VORMANN JANTZEN pulls out to sea. Each of the rescuers is occupied in their own thoughts with the seamen in distress, who, in the dark and possibly without a rescue resource, are completely on their own. “You never know what’ll happen,“ as they say among sea rescuers.

“All levers down on the table“: the SAR cruiser sails full speed ahead. Suddenly, the lookout points to portside. The castaways are making weak light signals with a battery torch. “Searchlights over there!“

Now everything goes fast: daughter boat BUTSCHER out and over to the wreck. Only the masts of the cutter are still sticking out of the water. “We could not have managed to hold out ten minutes longer,“ says one of the survivors later.

The SAR men take the survivors on board the rescue cruiser and give them dry clothing and warming tea. A volunteer crew member, a paramedic by profession and currently on board as reinforcement, gives the men first aid. Relatives pick them up at the harbour. “That was a close call,“ says coxswain Radloff.

It is a short night for the men of the VORMANN JANTZEN. In the morning, the next distress call comes in: a sailing yacht has run aground – but that’s another story.

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Body parts fell from the sky.

/>The light cruiser Juneau sits in New York Harbor on Feb. 11, 1941. Less than two years later at the pivotal battle of Guadalcanal, a torpedo from Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze ripped into the port side of the warship, taking out its steering and guns and killing 19 men in the forward engine room. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

The men below deck almost certainly drowned at once. The explosion’s aftereffect might have sucked most of those on deck to the bottom, while the blast blew others to bits.

Many of those pitched clear soon died of their injuries, or of poisoning from the black fuel oil, scalding water, or flying metal. They were burned from the fire of the blowup, covered with thick oil, belching salt water.

The dead, the quickly dying, and assorted human carnage floated in a huge oil slick.

Almost two months later, in early January 1943, the Navy gave fuller details of the eventual American victories at Guadalcanal, but also announced the great cost of the engagements.

Among the losses on Juneau were the five brothers from Iowa, the Sullivans: George, 27 Francis, or “Frank,” 26 Joseph, known as “Red,” 24 Madison, or “Matt,” 23 and Albert, or “Al,” 20.

It was — and remains — the single greatest wartime sacrifice of any American family.

The Navy immediately picked up a thread begun before the brothers’ deaths to weave a story about the Sullivan family — one continued by newspapers, filmmakers, and Midwestern and national leaders. It was American myth-making at its finest, serving to distract a grieving family from its loss, misdirect attention from a series of Navy bungles, and help accustom a nation to the idea of sacrifice for the greater good.

Varied authorities with mass media pull would convince Americans of the boys’ luster as the brothers and their family became cogs in a propaganda machine that would transform them all into heroes — individuals unrecognizable to their Waterloo, Iowa, hometown.

/>"The five Sullivan brothers 'missing in action' off the Solomons. THEY did their part." It shows the Sullivan brothers on board the light cruiser Juneau in early 1942. All were lost with Juneau on 13 November of that year. (Office of War Information poster 42, number 1943-0-510254)

The five Sullivan brothers and their sister Genevieve, or “Gen,” grew up with little parental guidance, according to interviews conducted soon after the disaster and in the years that followed.

Locals repeatedly told investigators that their father, Tom, was a physically abusive alcoholic who went on benders whenever he had a couple days off his job as a freight conductor on the Illinois Central railroad. Their mother, Alleta, was often “blue” and, when she had her “spells,” would take to bed for days at a stretch.

All five boys had left school at age 16 or so, barely completing junior high, and were often out of work — in part a result of the Great Depression. Without jobs, Tom’s underage sons snitched their dad’s moonshine and shadowed him to the downtown backstreets to pick up drink.

In 1937, George and Frank enlisted in the peacetime Navy, serving together for four years when they returned home in May 1941 they found work with their brothers at the local meatpacking plant.

Through the 1930s, the family lived a stone’s throw north of the black neighborhood. Like most whites, the ethnic working class of Waterloo was not at all friendly to “the colored” and kept its distance.

Not the Sullivans, according to town residents. Neighbors spoke of the boys lurking in the African American slum there they “stirred the shit,” one of its residents recalled, initiating fights so they could beat up blacks.

This was too much even for white Waterloo, which saw the Sullivan youth as “mischief-makers,” acting out a malicious streak a few blocks south of their home.

By the late 1930s, the brothers were mainstays in an early motorcycle club. The “Harley Club” organized rallies and meetings at a biker bar and sped around Waterloo wearing military-style outfits of Italian Fascist design.

The more genteel folks in Waterloo averted their eyes from the scene, intimidated by a large group of men in soldiers’ outfits. One often-repeated story claimed that the boys filched gasoline to fuel their vehicles, and stole and “refurbished” bikes.

The motorcycle club to which they belonged only underscored a way of life not particularly admirable in the eyes of their fellow Iowans. By 1940 and 1941, the brothers had grown up to be habitués of saloons and dance halls, drinking and brawling.

/>Alleta Sullivan, left, mother of the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives in the sinking of the light cruiser Juneau, works alongside actress Marlene Dietrich as they serve servicemen in the USO Hollywood Canteen, Calif., Feb. 9, 1944. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

Then came the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The dramatic American entry into World War II galvanized the five Sullivans, giving their lives an object and shape they had not previously had. The brothers immediately decided to join the Navy — even the youngest, Al, who had married at 17 and had a 21-month-old son, Jimmy.

“We had 5 buddies killed in Hawaii. Help us,” George wrote to the Department of the Navy in late December, asking that the Sullivans and two friends from their motorcycle club be allowed to serve together, as they “would make a team together that can’t be beat.”

“That’s where we want to go now, Pearl Harbor,” explained Frank to the Des Moines Register.

When the boys passed their physicals at the Des Moines recruiting headquarters in early January, the Register wrote that “five husky Waterloo brothers” who had lost friends at Pearl Harbor were accepted as recruits. A photo of them reenacting their physical exams ran along with the story.

In January 1942, the seven team members — the Sullivans and their Harley Club sidekicks — began their month-long training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago.

With their prior Navy experience, George became a gunner’s mate second class and Frank a coxswain the three younger boys and two friends who enlisted with them were all seaman second class.

The Navy acceded to the Sullivans’ wish that they serve on the same ship the service may not have encouraged family members to serve together, but it did not discourage the practice and even emphasized how it might keep families—two, three, four siblings—whole.

On the day the brothers’ assigned ship, the Juneau, was commissioned— Feb. 14, 1942 — a photographer took a shot of the five smiling Sullivans on board the vessel.

The publicity photo would later become a familiar emblem of American sacrifice.

The family now regularly made the front pages in Waterloo, and the city knew Tom and Alleta’s children as “the Navy’s five Sullivans.”

In March 1942, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox asked Mrs. Sullivan to “sponsor” a ship she agreed to christen a fleet tug, Tawasa. Ceremonial duties and honors continued to roll in.

/>The launching ceremonies at Federal Shipbuilding Company, Kearny New Jersey, on 25 October 1941 of the light cruiser Juneau. From left to right: Rear Adm. Adolphus Andrews, commandant of the 3rd Naval District, Rear Adm. Harold G. Bowen, Naval Officer in Charge of Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Juneau Mayor Harry I. Lucus, and Mrs. (Ina Priest) Harry I. Lucas, sponsor of the warship. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

The brand-new Juneau spent its first months in service at the periphery of combat against Germany, in the Caribbean and North and South Atlantic before steaming for the southwestern Pacific on Aug. 22, 1942.

With its specialized array of antiaircraft guns, the speedy Atlanta-class light cruiser could protect naval forces from enemy planes. But, with its lightly armored hull and deck, it could be a deathtrap if called upon to attack surface vessels, or if put in their way.

The insubstantial armor also made the light cruiser dangerously vulnerable to torpedoes. After the war, many authorities would testify that these antiaircraft cruisers were high-speed ammunition dumps, easily wiped out by ship-to-ship combat — exactly the sort of battle in which the Juneau was engaged in November 1942.

After the Juneau sank, the crippled group of ships it had trailed hastened on: Japanese subs were still in the area.

“It is certain that all on board perished,” an officer on one of the vessels noted. “Nothing could be seen in the water when the smoke lifted.”

Within a half hour of the sinking, however, an American B-17 bomber flying overhead spotted men in the sea. There were 100 to 200 sailors — many of them badly injured — clinging to debris from the cruiser: mattresses, life jackets, tarpaulins, and three oval rafts, 10 by 5 feet, with decks of wooden slats and attached ropes to accommodate hangers-on.

The B-17 radioed the commander of the flotilla, Capt. Gilbert Hoover of the light cruiser Helena, who continued onward — perhaps misunderstanding perhaps not wanting to risk more men.

The aircraft circled again to drop supplies, yet for several days the Navy did nothing to assist the sailors. As time went by, their numbers thinned as the remnants of Juneau’s crew succumbed to their injuries, dehydration, or shark attack — a common cause of death.

When South Pacific Area commander Adm. William F. Halsey learned what had happened, he immediately stripped Capt. Hoover of his command.

By the time the survivors were collected — a week after the sinking, on Nov. 19-20 — only 10 men remained.

At least one, maybe two, of the Sullivans survived the initial sinking. Two survivors remembered the death of the eldest Sullivan, George, in particular. He had been on board one of the small life rafts and, after three or four days, was weak and hallucinating.

One night, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Allen Heyn recalled, George declared that he was going to take a bath. He removed his uniform and jumped into the water.

A little way from his raft, “a shark came and grabbed him and that was the end of him,” Heyn told a naval interrogator.

/>The light cruiser Juneau firing on attacking Japanese aircraft (marked by arrows), during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October 1942. (U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

In early 1943, gossip circulating through Waterloo compelled Alleta to send a poignant letter to the Department of the Navy: “I am writing you in regard to a rumor going around that my five sons have been killed in action in November. A friend from here came and told me she got a letter from her son and he heard my five sons were killed.”

She added, “I am to christen the U.S.S. TAWASA Feb. 12th at Portland, Oregon. If anything has happened to my five sons, I will still christen the ship as it was their wish that I do so. I hated to bother you, but it has worried me so that I wanted to know if it was true. So please tell me.”

On Monday morning, Jan. 11, she got her answer.

“I’m afraid I’m bringing you very bad news,” Lt. Cmdr.Truman Jones told Tom and Alleta and Al’s wife, Keena, as they gathered in the family’s living room.

Jones read from a prepared script: “The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your sons Albert, Francis, George, Joseph, and Madison Sullivan are missing in action in the South Pacific.”

The formal announcement made no mention of the foul-ups that punctuated the final act of this drama. As attention across the United States focused on the family at home, the service reframed the colossal loss as an explicable national misfortune and came forward to sympathize and show solidarity.

At the behest of the Navy, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote Alleta a personal letter of condolence.

“As Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy, I want you to know the entire nation shares your sorrow. I offer you the condolence and gratitude of our country. We, who remain to carry on the fight, must maintain the spirit in the knowledge that such sacrifice is not in vain,” he wrote.

Naval authorities encouraged the parents to come to Washington, where First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Vice President Henry A. Wallace met with the parents.

Some of this may have stirred resentment among Waterloo families who had also suffered losses. In a letter, Alleta later told a friend that the Navy had urged her to disregard the unkind treatment or talk she had complained of receiving back home, telling her — perversely — “it was just jealousy.”

Vice Adm. Clark H. Woodward, at the helm of the Navy’s Industrial Incentive Division, arranged a further project for the grieving parents.

For four months, beginning in February 1943, the Sullivan couple traveled around the United States with a message for the millions in defense industries on the importance of productivity on the home front.

/>Fleet ocean tug Tawasa (ATF-92) departs Subic Bay, Philippines, in 1973 for the Haiphong, North Vietnam area, to take part in Operation End Sweep, which was designed to clear mines from North Vietnamese waters. (National Archives)

The Navy had other goals as well. If citizens, at the urging of Mom and Pop Sullivan, rededicated themselves to winning the war, the nation might justify the five deaths.

What had happened to the Juneau had also shocked Navy officers, who wanted to mourn with the parents. The service would give Alleta and Tom something to do so that they would not focus on what could not be altered or alleviated.

Finally, the Navy wanted to keep the nation’s attention away from details of the deaths.

The Sullivan parents made scores of stops at defense production plants and war bond rallies.

“We have no regrets that our boys joined the Navy,” Alleta told one audience, in remarks typical of the tour. “I’d want them to do it again it made men of them. I have a little grandson, Jimmy, who is almost two, and when he gets old enough, I want him to join…. My boys did not die in vain.”

The circuit had to have been grueling — Alleta was reported to have broken down, sobbing, at a stop in San Francisco — but she did see one positive in it: “The trip has kept me from thinking…,” she told a reporter. “It’s bad to think too much.”

Manufacturing and military leaders were appreciative as well. Businessmen praised the Sullivan parents in letters to the Navy, saying that these “plain common Americans” “stirred…workers deeply.”

In an internal memo, Undersecretary of the Navy James V. Forrestal wrote to Navy Secretary Knox that the parents were a “remarkable success” and hoped that the Navy could “use them to the maximum degree.”

On Feb. 22, 1943, Alleta christened Tawasa, as she had agreed to do when the brothers came to the Navy’s attention a year earlier.

Less than two months later, the service gave her a greater honor, when she christened a destroyer, The Sullivans.

Then, in the crowning event, in the spring and summer of that year, the Navy led an effort to make a feature Hollywood film about the brothers.

The Navy’s Woodward and members of his staff persuaded Tom and Alleta to sign a contract that eventually had 20th Century Fox produce “The Sullivans” — quickly re-released as “The Fighting Sullivans.”

The film, which opened in February 1944, told — in the words of its producer — the “wonderful story” of the Sullivans and paid tribute to “an American family and their devotion and loyalty.”

Hollywood showed Tom and Alleta, honest and hard-working, raising their children in a typical American community. Kept in line by strict but caring parents and their church, the children grew up, proper and white-picket-fence, their lives defined by little adventures, minor scrapes, and a growing fraternal bond.

Nonetheless, every happy moment in the movie foreshadowed what all Americans knew was in store.

Critics called it “a distillation of Americanism, of American family life, of American boyhood,” and “deeply touching because of the personal sacrifice it represents.”

The Sullivans were “poor in worldly goods but rich in the stuff that really makes for character.”

The film industry told exhibitors “you can stand in your lobby with your head up while you are playing this one.”

One audience, however, wasn’t buying it: that in Waterloo, Iowa.

The film studio set March 9, 1944, as the date for the local premiere at Waterloo’s 1,800-seat Paramount Theatre.

The city’s newspaper, the Courier, reported the continuing honors showered on Tom and Alleta. The movie house widely advertised the opening two regional radio stations featured four to eight spots of advertising for the movie per day. Handouts went to grocery stores, and downtown department stores put placards in their windows.

Commemorative festivities supplemented the Waterloo opening. Dignitaries would be present. A 25-member chorus of WAVEs would sing, and an orchestra would perform.

The Courier headlined: “Eager Audiences Wait in Waterloo.” The paper talked about “Iowa’s Own Heroic Family” and “The Name that’s on the Lips of the Nation,” urging: “See the Picture that all Waterloo will be proud to be a part of.”

Promoters spoke about a “capacity” crowd that might generate something like $3,000 for the evening — far above the $1,000 a day similar-sized theaters elsewhere were pulling in.

They warned that patrons might get turned away if they did not put their money down ahead of time.

/>The light cruiser Juneau off New York, 1 June 1942, with an ammunition barge alongside its starboard quarter. The ship’s superstructure retains its original camouflage scheme, but her hull has been repainted to a different pattern. (National Archives)

The day after the premier, Friday, March 10, the news was about who hadn’t shown up. The box office gross for the opening was just $493 — one-sixth of what was expected. In a shattering story, the Courier wrote about how the citizens of Waterloo had resoundingly rejected the Sullivan family.

“From their cold watery graves of the South Pacific,” the story read, the five brothers had come back to their native city. And Waterloo’s thousands disrespected their arrival by sending “fewer than 500 people to welcome them home.”

While the rest of the nation could embrace the family as the symbols that they had become, inside Waterloo the Sullivans remained all-too-real people. An enormous gap existed between what the military, civic leaders, and elected officials wanted and what Waterloo’s residents were willing to give.

The Sullivan Brothers’ story, unlike the brothers themselves, has had a long life span.

In 1952, a stand of trees near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., was planted in their honor.

President Ronald Reagan reflected on “the special burden of grief borne by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa,” in a 1987 address.

In 1995, Jimmy Sullivan’s daughter, Kelly Sullivan Loughren, christened a new guided-missile destroyer The Sullivans.

And a song, “Sullivan,” by the group Caroline’s Spine, climbed high on the music charts in 1997.

The following year, the film Saving Private Ryan mentioned the deaths in an inspiring scene. Tributes continued into the 21st century.

None of this relieved the unthinkable hardship of the remaining members of the Sullivan family.

“Inconsolable darkness burdened the parents’ last years and reached across generations,” wrote author John R. Satterfield, who interviewed many Sullivan acquaintances, no longer living today, in his 1995 book, We Band of Brothers: The Sullivans in World War II.

As an old man, Jimmy Sullivan said of his grandparents, “I don’t know how they stood it, I really don’t.”

WWII’s Sullivan brothers remembered at Mayport

All five brothers died when a Japanese torpedo struck their ship, the light cruiser Juneau, on Nov. 13, 1942.

Dr. Bruce Kuklick is Nichols Professor of American History Emeritus. His historical interests are broadly in the political, diplomatic, and intellectual history of the United States and in the philosophy of history. He has written many books among them one on baseball, To Every Thing A Season. His most recent books are Death in the Congo: Murdering Patrice Lumumba (with Emmanuel Gerard) (2015) and The Fighting Sullivans: How Hollywood and the Military Create Heroes (2016). This story was originally published in the May/June 2017 issue of World War II magazine. Subscribe here!

Sunken ship of legendary Sullivan brothers discovered nearly 3 miles beneath the surface

A total of 687 men from the Atlanta-class light cruiser died in the attack, including all five Sullivan brothers.

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