Unprotected cruisers represented a class of warship that was used in the war fleets from around 1850. Unprotected cruisers were only protected against the effects of enemy fire by the coal reserves stored on the ship's sides.
The unprotected cruisers of the German Imperial Navy were the first ships of the cruiser class and replaced the cruiser frigates and cruiser corvettes . They were mainly used in foreign and colonial service, where the lack of armor protection was not a disadvantage, but on the contrary enabled use in shallow coastal waters. To enlarge the fleet, unprotected cruisers were the main form of cruisers until around 1875 and, in addition to steam engine propulsion, mostly had auxiliary sails. The maximum displacement was initially around 6,000 tons, but was reduced to less than 2,000 tons by 1894. Unprotected cruisers were also referred to as unprotected small cruisers or 4th class cruisers in the German Reich from 1893 . Larger unprotected cruisers still in service were designated 3rd class cruisers . Due to the improvement in artillery and torpedo weapons, unprotected cruisers were no longer even suitable for foreign service after 1900. Existing ships were decommissioned or used up as training ships . From 1899 only protected cruisers or small cruisers were built.
- Keyword: unprotected cruiser. Maritime dictionary. Compiled by Jürgen Gebauer and Egon Krenz. Military publishing house of the German Democratic Republic, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-327-00679-2 , p. 276.