SMS Panther (1885)
|Beam:||34 ft 11 in (10.64 m)|
|Draft:||14 ft 5 in (4.39 m)|
SMS Panther was a torpedo cruiser (Torpedoschiff) of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She and her sister ship, Leopard, were part of a program to build up Austria-Hungary's fleet of torpedo craft in the 1880s.
The Navy Commander (Marinekommandant) of the Austro-Hungarian fleet, Vice Admiral Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck, outlined in a memorandum of 8 September 1884 the requirements for a cruiser equipped with a reinforced ram bow for ramming as well as torpedoes for attacks on larger warships. Such vessels would also be small and fast enough to undertake patrol and reconnaissance duties. They were originally classified as "torpedo ships" (Torpedoschiff) - equivalent of a torpedo cruiser in other navies. In 1903 they were reclassified as 3rd Class Cruisers, then in 1909 as small cruisers (Kleine Kreuzer).
When funds for two ships were approved by the Austro-Hungarian Reichsrat, bids were solicited from British builders. The order went to the firm of W.G. Armstrong at Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne and its chief designer, William Henry White (afterwards the British Director of Naval Construction from 1885 to 1902).
As designed by White, Panther was a steel-hulled vessel of 1,557 tons displacement. She measured 240 feet nine inches in length with a beam of 34 feet 11 inches and a draft (as completed) of 14 feet five inches. Propulsion was supplied by two compound steam engines with four cylindrical boilers, giving a speed of 19.4 knots. The crew comprised 186 officers and men.
Original armament of Panther consisted of two 12cm Krupp guns, four 4.7cm quick-firing guns and six 4.7cm revolver cannon with four 14-inch torpedo tubes. The torpedo tubes were located singly, in the bow and stern and at either beam. Panther was built with as pronounced a ram bow as the larger Austro-Hungarian warships of the time.
Panther was launched on 13 June 1885. The Austro-Hungarian Navy's supervising naval architect, Siegfried Popper, found that the ship's draft aft was four feet 11 inches more than intended. After lengthy disagreement, White and the shipyard admitted the error, which was partly offset through a shift in the cruiser's weight distribution, so that the excessive draft aft was reduced to two feet five inches.
Upon completion, Panther was leader of a torpedo boat flotilla. Panther and Leopard represented Austria-Hungary at the Barcelona World's Exposition in 1888. In 1891 Panther's four 4.7cm guns were replaced with ten newer-model guns of the same caliber. She was reclassified as a 3rd Class cruiser in 1903 and as a small cruiser (Kleiner Kreuzer) in 1909. Also in 1909, the aft torpedo tube was removed and four 6.6cm guns added to her armament.
When the First World War began in 1914, Panther was moved from Trieste to Cattaro. She took part in the bombardment of enemy batteries on Mount Lovcen (which dominated Cattaro Bay) on 9 September 1914 and 8/9 January 1916. In May 1917 she was moved to Pola as a seagoing training ship for the submarine commander's school.
Panther was withdrawn from service in October 1918 only weeks before the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Allocated to Britain as a war reparation in 1920, she was immediately sold and scrapped in Italy.
- Sieche, Erwin. Torpedoschiffe und Zerstörer der K. u. K. Marine. Wölfersheim-Berstadt: Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, 1996, Marine-Arsenal: Band 34. ISBN 3-7909-0546-1. P.7
- Greger, R. p.27
- Greger, René (1976). Austro-Hungarian Warships of World War I. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0623-7.