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MKL-200405 Morskaya Kollektsia N5 2004: Destroyers of Leberekht Maas Class (Series 34, 34A, 36) magazine

Morskaya Kollektsia MKL-200405 Morskaya Kollektsia N5 2004: Destroyers of Leberekht Maas Class (Series 34, 34A, 36) magazine
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- Morskaya Kollektsia N1 2002: The destroyers of Trible type magazine
- Morskaya Kollektsia N5 2001: The destroyers of Akitsyki type magazine

MKL-200405 Morskaya Kollektsia N5 2004: Destroyers of Leberekht Maas Class (Series 34, 34A, 36) magazine

The 1919 Treaty of Versailles restricted Germany to 12 commissioned destroyers plus an unspecified number of reserve ships, and stipulated that Germany's future destroyers must displace fewer than 800 long tons (813 tonnes). Through the 1920s, all major naval powers were building destroyers significantly larger than this, and in 1930 they agreed to define the destroyer tonnage limit as up to 1,850 long tons (1,880 tonnes), with a majority of ships not to exceed 1,500 long tons (1,524 tonnes). Germany, however, was still expected to comply with the Versailles limitations.
In November 1932, before Hitler came to power, the German navy began planning a response to the large destroyers being built by Poland and France. These plans called for a reserve force of large destroyers roughly double the size allowed by the Treaty of Versailles, and approval to begin design work on these ships was given in March 1933, more than two years before Hitler would officially renounce the Versailles treaty. Germany recognised that in any future war she would be have fewer ships than her enemies, but intended to offset this by building destroyers that were individually superior to those of other nations and to this end, the size of these ships was soon pushed up to 1,880 tonnes (1,850 long tons). The first four ships of the class were called the Type 34 and the rest, with a slightly strengthened bow, were designated the Type 34A.
The ships were fitted with five 127-mm (5.0-in) guns in single mounts, one gun more than the British and French destroyers then in service. Interestingly, the Germans only allocated 120 rounds per gun (providing only seven minutes continuous firing under ideal conditions), whereas contemporary British designs supplied 200 rounds per gun, and later increased that to 250 rounds per gun.
The ships' eight 533-mm (21.0-inch) torpedo tubes nominally came with a total of eight torpedo reloads, although only four were provided in practice. This matched contemporary British designs and exceeded the French provision of six tubes, neither of which was fitted with torpedo reloads.
Two sets of twin 37-mm (1.46-in) guns supplied air defence. These were gyro-stabilised, although this failed on occasion during sharp turns at high speed. These guns theoretically fired up to 160 rounds per minute, but in action achieved only half that. The defences were rounded off with six 20-mm (0.79-in) guns.
Surprisingly, given the German experience with submarines, only limited anti-submarine facilities were provided. The ships were initially fitted with hydrophones (passive listening devices), fixed to the sides of the ship. Once an active device was developed, it was only introduced slowly. Two of the Type 34/34A had been upgraded with it by the end of 1939, and it wasn't until the end of 1940 that all ships of the class had been so equipped. Four launchers and two rails could release depth charges, but each ship carried only 18 of them (one per launcher and six on each rail).
High speed was an important requirement that allowed these ships to escape from a numerically superior enemy and to undertake operations, particularly minelaying, at night and return to protected waters before daybreak. Unfortunately, the new boiler design proved less than reliable and hampered the ships' readiness for operations.
These ships were sound in principle but suffered from a number of problems that could be traced back primarily to Germany's lack of operational and design experience in the years following World War I. These faults manifested themselves in a number of areas: hull cracks (due to lack of structural strength); a design that caused the stern to sag, a structurally weak bow; sea-keeping and stability problems (due to high topweight and narrow beam); a large turning circle (due to the stern design); low reliability (due to the new boiler design); spray forward (due to the bow design); and being significantly overweight on completion. In addition, the low ammunition supply hindered the ships on at least one occasion - several ships ran out of ammunition during the Second Battle of Narvik - and torpedo reloads were difficult to undertake at sea. Teething problems are to be expected in any new warship design but Germany did not have the time to iron out problems before World War II began. Nevertheless, the Type 34/34A was the most numerous type of destroyer produced by Germany, and provided much-needed experience for subsequent designs.