Speaking about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, historians experience a certain difficulty — classify or not to classify it among the great powers. On the one hand, the dual monarchy was noticeably inferior to the rest of the political monsters of Europe and the United States and economic and military power and influence. On the other — the successor of once one of the most significant European countries tried hard to maintain its own line in everything, including in shipbuilding. Unfortunately, the “patchwork monarchy”, as ironically called her neighbors, detractors over the motley Nations and autonomies, is not shining more resources to create the naval forces. In particular, this concerned the cruisers, even those of a purely defensive “fleet of coastal defense”, is not going to stick out beyond the Adriatic.
On the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century in Austria-Hungary acted in a kind of 8-year-old post in which the establishment of new units was insignificant. Oddly, but to a certain extent played into the hands of the Austrians: they managed to slip “troubled period” associated with the very rapid development of marine engineering and immediately begin creating a new fleet. In 1906, count Rudolf, Montecuccoli, the father of modern naval forces of the country, has managed to include in the program in addition to dreadnoughts and destroyers and even one ship of a fundamentally new for the country type. It was about fast light cruiser, equipped with a turbine mechanisms for actions scheduled at the same time modern destroyers.
Much to swing it to the creators not given: displacement was limited to only 3,500 tons. After considering as a possible prototype of the famous in the future German “Emden” and much less a good American “Chester” designers (their composition was as motley as the population of the Empire) decided to create his own project. The result was something like a huge destroyer as the ratio of length and width, and architecture. But the “Austrians” was radically different from the “Menomonee brethren”: he had armor protection, consisting of a belt, covering the mechanisms and 20-mm deck that covered it from the top. Cellar only protects the deck, but they were located deep enough below the waterline, and, in order to hit them from the side, the projectile would have to penetrate a fair amount of the water column. Well-chosen and artillery, consisting of seven 100-mm artillery plant “Skoda”. A small gun had, in addition to quite a decent ballistics, pinch shutter and unitary cartridges, allows you to develop excellent for the time rate — more than 15 shots per minute in theory. In practice, during continuous shooting, of course, to achieve this failed, but 10 rounds per minute from each barrel provided barbed steel hail of enemy light ships.
Pumped up at the “Admiral Spaun” (as named a new boat after a lot of made for the Imperial Navy and recently retired former Navy Minister), except that the turbine installation. Inexperienced in this matter the Austrian engineers, despite help from the Germans, clearly too clever by half by installing it on a cruiser six turbines, set in motion by the four-shaft. However, it helped “Spawno” to develop tests of 27 knots. Such achievements in 1911 could boast few rivals among much more established Maritime powers.
It is not surprising that when in 1910 the question arose about the need to strengthen the fleet, as a prototype for new light cruisers chose “Spawn”. Now, the programme envisaged the construction of three units. However, on the way of its implementation arose problems to predict that no advance had except the inhabitants of the “patchwork monarchy.” Initially, all cruisers had to be built at the shipyard “Cantieri Nawal Triestino”, located on the outskirts of Trieste, Monfalcone, but against this stood the Hungarians. “The second head” of the Empire wanted to have its share of Golden rain, which, as it seemed, had spilled on to the company receiving the order. Austria had to meet, as Hungarian MPs have blocked the adoption of the program. As a result, two units of three snatched for himself the Builder “Ganz-Danubius”, located in Fiume, the only port of the then “big Hungary” (now the Croatian city of Rijeka).
However, inexperienced in the construction of modern ships newcomer coped with the task quite well (though not quickly), but a private firm from Trieste almost “filled up” your order. It built a “side”, although he commissioned a few days before the “Helgoland” and three months before the last in the series “Novara”, has been unsuccessful and extremely unreliable mechanisms, because of what she had to ostavatsya in the databases is much longer than “sisters”. And for speed “side” has conceded to the same “Helgoland”, only a little has not held the test up to 29 knots. Great result: the new cruisers have really become fast and would equal to act together with the destroyers.
For all its virtues, the Austrian “scouts” remained typical of the Mediterranean, even more precisely, “Adriatic” ships. Crowded interior areas led to the fact that the team would prefer, if possible, eat, relax and even sleep on the upper deck. Imagine, how would such a “private decision” looked like somewhere in the North sea, for example, in winter or autumn.
However, if we talk about timeliness, “Heligoland” came to the court as it is impossible by the way. The head unit was put into operation in the fateful August of 1914, just in time for the beginning of world war II. However, in the first months of the Adriatic remained quite serene. The British and French came to her rarely (although every time a large force). But during these “visits” Austrian ships wisely chose not to go to sea. The situation changed dramatically with the entry into the war on the Entente side of Italy, the former ally of the Tripartite agreement, which was literally next door and had a very good fleet. The indignant Austrians responded with immediate action, which took the most active part of the speed of the cruiser.
The Italians had to build three high-speed “scout”: “quarto, Nino Bixio and Marsala” (of which we described earlier) plus a few large destroyers (that is, at least, equal force), however, were quite helpless in the face of lightning spurting instantly and equally elusive opponent. Had to call for help from the British, who were sent to the Adriatic sea their “city”. In the end, all the visible skirmishes at sea occurred with their participation. The most famous of these was the attack on Transki barrage, ineffective, but very costly “tattered curtain” for submarines, consisting of networks that were hung by the British drifters, imported from the North sea. Such a tempting target, naturally attracted to the Austrians, not just planned raids on helpless fishermen. In may 1917 the dashing Troika “of Helgoland” under the command of captain 1st rank of Miklos Horthy, accompanied by destroyers on the approach to the barrage intercepted an allied convoy, but then herself in an “interesting position”: the way home they were blocked by the British cruiser “Dartmouth” and “city of Bristol”, not counting the Italian destroyers. A fierce battle broke out, the distance was sometimes reduced to just 25 cables.