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SMS Elbing: Armor Inside

SMS Elbing is the second of two German WWI-era cruisers of the Pillau-class, previously ordered by the Imperial Russian Navy which were seized at the outbreak of The Great War. Soon, SMS Elbing will reinforce the early German cruiser lineup as it makes its way to War Thunder as part of the Drone Age major update!

Briefly: A German WWI-era light cruiser, initially built for the Russian Navy and outfitted with powerful 150 mm guns!

SMS Elbing, light cruiser, Germany, Rank III


  • Powerful cannons
  • Torpedoes
  • Low protection
  • Lacks AA guns

In 1912, the Russian Imperial Navy sought the procurement of two new light cruisers for its fleet. Since the ships were to be ordered from foreign shipyards, the German Schichau-Werke in Danzig eventually received the contract with construction work starting shortly afterwards in 1913. The first ship, named Muraviev-Amurskiy, was launched in April 1914 while the other ship, Admiral Nevelskoy, would be launched several months later.

However, following the declaration of hostilities between the German and Russian Empires in the Summer of 1914, both ships were seized by the German Navy and ordered into service with its own fleet. Subsequently, the two ships were renamed to SMS Pillau and Elbing, respectively. As SMS Elbing had yet to be fitted out after the seizure, its original equipment had to be revised in order to be aligned with the standards of the German navy. As a result, the ship received a much more substantial primary battery in comparison to its original design.

SMS Elbing was completed and commissioned into service in September 1915. After entering service, SMS Elbing didn’t have to wait long for its first major combat operation during the war. Namely, the ship took part in the bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft in April 1916. Only a month later, SMS Elbing would also take part in the largest naval engagement of WWI: The Battle of Jutland. As the nighttime caused confusing fighting conditions, the battleship SMS Posen ended up accidentally ramming SMS Elbing.

The collision tore open the ship’s hull and the subsequent flooding of the engine compartment and electric generators left the ship without power. The crew was evacuated by the German destroyer, few crew men left with an order to blow the cruiser if British ships approached, so they did in the end.


In War Thunder, SMS Elbing will be a new light cruiser docking at rank III of the German bluewater fleet following the release of the next major update. Becoming one of the earliest light cruisers new captains will be able to unlock in the German naval tree, SMS Elbing will help smooth out the transition for captains moving up from destroyers to larger and more powerful vessels.

Upon obtaining SMS Elbing, captains will immediately take note of the much heavier firepower present on this ship when compared to most German destroyers they may have captained before. Instead of 12.7 cm guns, captains now have access to eight of the much more powerful 15 cm cannons, thus enabling them to not only deal greater damage to smaller vessels but also to effectively take on other cruisers with armor piercing ammunition. However, it’s worth noting that only four guns can be brought to bear on a broadside, with the fifth gun enabled at proper course angles. In addition, SMS Elbing’s arsenal is also complemented by four 52 mm utility cannons as well as a pair of 500mm torpedo launchers, mounted on each side of the ship respectively.

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In contrast to SMS Elbing’s excellent firepower, the warship’s protection remains a bit lackluster. This is the first armored deck cruiser to the game - she lacks the armored belt, keeping the armor inside the hull as a 20mm horizontal deck with 40mm side plates. This layout protects the ship’s vital modules from salvos of HE rounds up to 150mm (6”), and AP rounds of up to 105mm (4,1”). The steering room has much better protection of 80 mm of armor.

Fun Fact: SMS Elbing was the first German cruiser to be armed with 15 cm guns.

However, thanks to its rather modest displacement and a powerful propulsion system, capable of generating 30,000 horsepower, SMS Elbing can reach a sound top speed of 27.5 kts (51 km/h). As a result, aspiring captains of this warship won’t need to worry about lagging behind their allies but captains also shouldn’t expect to lead the charge either. Yet, after considering the ship’s protection, this may not be such a bad thing after all. If anything, sticking closer to its allies will boost SMS Elbing’s odds of repelling an air attack given it lacks its own AA battery.

SMS Elbing is already headed for War Thunder naval battles and is expected to dock at player ports with the release of the next major update - Drone Age. In the meantime, be sure to keep scanning the horizon for more news and information regarding the upcoming update. Until then, calm seas and good hunting captains!

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