On the unusual Floatplane Retrieval Equipment of the Light Cruiser "Nürnberg" (i.e. "Nuremberg")

Launched in 1934, the German light cruiser “Nürnberg” initially carried a catapult to launch and equipment to retrieve from the water a reconnaissance floatplane. (All this gear was removed to make room for mostly additional anti-aircraft artillery at some time during WWII.) The retrieval equipment did not entail a conventional crane and, in that way, appears to have been unique amongst reconnaissance plane-carrying warships of any navy during that time period.  These facts perked the curiosity of the author who had – as a young man during the year 1945 – sailed on the “Nürnberg.”


Along the lines of this web site’s trademark mix of utilizing all sources available to the author and filling in the gaps with reverse engineering, the paper describes the unconventional floatplane retrieval equipment and how it was operated: Essentially, a boom was temporarily mounted at the front end of the catapult as can be seen in figures (“Abb.”) 7 and 8 of the paper.  For each ‘cycle’ of retrieving the plane from the water and launching it again, this boom had to be mounted and dismounted, using no less than five blocks and tackles as well as a winch to move it either from its storage position to its catapult-mounted position or vice versa; see figure (“Abb.”) 6 where those blocks and tackles are shown in red and denoted T1 through T5. and the storage position of the boom is cross-hatched in blue.


After having described the design and its operation, the paper discusses its advantages and disadvantages: Not installing a dedicated crane saved weight and avoided the blocking of parts of the field of fire of some of the anti aircraft artillery aboard the ship.  However, the time it took to mount or dismount the boom as well as, in heavy seas, the danger associated with this activity made this design solution, in the eyes of the author, an intriguing but, in the end, not truly promising one.