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Mackensen class battlecruisers


Mackensen class battlecruisers

The four ships of the Mackensen class were almost the last battlecruisers to be laid down in Germany during the First World War and contained the last such ships to come close to being completed. Only two of them were launched during the war, and neither of them was completed. Work on their design began in 1913, and all four were laid down in 1915. Under peace time conditions it would have taken three years for them to come into action, so both the Mackensen and the Ersatz Freya would have joined the fleet early in 1918, but under wartime conditions their construction was delayed.

The Mackensen class ships were designed to carry eight 13.8in guns, making them the most powerfully armed battlecruisers yet designed for the German Navy. They were given the most power machinery of any German capital ships that began construction – a mix of thirty two coal and oil firing boilers, providing 90,000shp.

One ship of this class was ordered under the 1914-15 programme, one under the War estimates and five in April 1915. Three of the last five were later modified to form the Ersatz Yorck Class, armed with 15in guns, but only one of these ships was ever laid down, and work stopped after only 1,000 of its 33,000 tons had been assembled.

Despite never actually entering service, the Mackensen did have an impact on British planning. In January 1918 Admiral Beatty recommended that the Grand Fleet abandon its previous strategy of attempting to bring the enemy to battle at any cost, and replace it with one of containing the German fleet in its bases. One of the reasons for this change of plan was that the British believed that the Mackensen was already in service, giving the Germans a six to three advantage in high quality battlecruisers.

Displacement (loaded)

c.35,500t

Top Speed

28kts

Range

8,000 nautical miles at 14kts

Armour – deck

4.3in-1in

- belt

12in-4in

- bulkheads

10in-4in

- battery

6in

- barbettes

11.5-3.5in

- turrets

12.8in-4.3in

- conning tower

14in-4in

Length

731ft 8in

Armaments

Eight 350mm (13.8in) SK L/45 guns
Twelve 150mm (5.9in) SK L/45 guns
Eight 8.8mm (3.45in) SK L/45 guns
Five 600mm (23.6in) submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

1186

Launched

1917

Not completed

Ships in class

SMS Mackensen
SMS Ersatz Freya
SMS Graf Spee
SMS Ersatz A

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War


Mackensen-class

The Mackensen class was a series of 6 battlecruiser planned by the WW1 German Navy. While work on all 6 commenced, the wars end in 1917 led to the preliminary work halting on the 6. After provisions were made to allow Germany to commence work on laying down a class of battleship (the Nassau-class), 3 of the battlecruisers were allotted, with the stipulation that the remaining 3 of the ships would be availble to other nations.

However, each of the ships would be completed to wildly different specifications, making each and every ship wildly different from the other.

The 3 ships of the class completed for the Germany Navy was the Prinz Ferdinand, Yorck, and the Graf Spree.

The Mackensen & Prinz Ferdinand would be the only ship built to the original specifications of the class, armed with 13.5in guns. The Yorck would be an uprated version, based on the 'next gen' Ersatz Yorck-class, with 15in guns and slightly more armor. In all the Yorck would be 5000 tonnes heavier. However, while the Mackensen had a top speed of 28 knots, the Yorck had a slightly reduced speed of 27kn.

Either way, as the only ship in the Kriegsmarine with 13.5in guns, the ability to rearm her in a war situtiation was deemed inefficent compared to her actual strategic value. The Mackensen was sold to Denmark, and renamed the Utrecht.

During the late 1920s, the Prinz Ferdinand was selected to undergo conversion into an armored carrier. Like the Mackensen, her 13.5in guns were outdated and ineffective, and it was decided that resupplying her ammunition in a war situation would put a heavier toll on the support lines then her stratgic importance. Plans were originally set aside to just rearm her with newer 15in guns, but it was decided to convert her into an armored carrier. The Prinz would go a lengthly conversion lasting from 1929, till 1935.

The Graf Spree was a wildly seperate design from the other two. The Graf Spree was an even larger version of the Yorck, with a displacement of 45000 tonnes, she was marginally smaller then the British Hood. Most of this additional weight was concentrated in the even inclusion of the bigger 16.5in guns of the Nassau-class, and lengthening the hull 123 feet over the Prinz Ferdinand. Most this extra space was in the boiler room, which took the 22 Schulz-Thornycroft boilers of the Nassau class and upped the count to 32, giving the Graf Spree 145000SHP, and a top speed of 34 knots, making it one knot faster then the Hood.


Germany Has Some Crazy Battleship Dreams If It Had Won World War I

A massive naval competition with American and Britain would have been a forgone conclusion.

In 1917, even as Germany began to prepare to launch what it expected to be war-winning offensives in the Atlantic and in France, its naval architects began to think about the postwar naval balance.

Even if Germany could knock out France and Italy as great powers, it could only defeat Britain by applying economic pain, and that pain would end when the guns fell silent. Thus, Germany could look forward to renewed naval competition with the British, and almost certainly the Americans.

Accordingly, the Germans developed designs for the advanced battlecruisers and battleships that would have become the new High Seas Fleet- if Germany had won the war.

Strategic Stage

Until mid-1918, Germany expected to win the war, and expected that its future security threats would come primarily from maritime powers, namely the United States and the United Kingdom. Germany would win territorial and political concessions in the east and the west, and might be able to recover some of its colonial territories (or perhaps take some from France and Italy. Consequently, Germany would need a competitive surface fleet in addition to its U-boats. The war had slowed capital ship construction in Britain and Germany (although notably not in Japan or the United States), and existing German ships were quickly approaching obsolescence.

The only super-dreadnoughts immediately available to the Germans would have been the four ships of the Bayern class (in reality, only two of the ships were completed) and the seven battlecruisers of the Mackensen-class and Yorck-class (of which none were completed). The Bayerns could make twenty-one knots, and carried eight 15” guns on a 32,000-ton displacement. Both the Mackensen and Yorck classes were a major step up from the pre-war battlecruisers. The Mackensen’s carried eight 13.8” guns on a 36,000-ton displacement, with a speed of twenty-eight knots, while the Yorcks would have carried eight 15” guns, displaced 38,000 tons, and made twenty-seven knots.

Against this, the Kaiserliche Marine faced twenty-one British super-dreadnoughts and four modern battlecruisers, along with another thirteen American super-dreadnoughts. Both the British and the Americans threw themselves into post-war construction, with the latter planning seven more battleships and six battlecruisers, and the former four battleships and four battlecruisers. Having won the war, Germany would have immediately faced a very threatening maritime environment.

The L20e α class was the beginning of the solution. Displacing 48,000 tons, the L20e α would have carried eight 16.5” guns in four twin turrets and made twenty-six knots. The L20e α would have been roughly the same size as the proposed British N3 class, which traded three knots of speed for a much heavier main armament (9 18” guns in three triple turrets). The American South Dakotas would also have tipped the scales at 48,000 tons, with a speed of 23 knots, but would have carried twelve 16” guns in four triple turrets.

The concentration on speed suggests that the German were prepping for a fast battleship squadron, similar in many ways to that of the Japanese. Japan’s Nagato and (planned) Tosa-class battleships could make twenty-six knots the successor Kii-class would have made nearly thirty. In contrast to the British and American approaches, there was to be little gap between the fast battlecruisers and the slow battleships. Germany’s decision on this point may have stemmed from lessons learned in the Battle of Jutland, where its battlecruisers endured enormous punishment while taking limited losses. It is likely a decision that would have paid off down the line the slow battleships of the USN and RN were notably limited in the Second World War.

In the real world, Germany was beaten, the High Seas Fleet was scuttled at Scapa, and the three great naval powers settled their differences with the Washington Naval Treaty. That treaty sharply limited naval construction, prohibiting the construction of an entire generation of new battleships. It offered a “naval holiday” that gave the people of the world a much-needed rest after several years of bitter conflict.

The Washington Naval Treaty was a means of managing competition between recent allies who could foresee conflict on the horizon. Had Germany won the war, relations with both the United States and the United Kingdom would have remained tense. Under these circumstances it is difficult to imagine how Germany would have participated in a multilateral arms control agreement like the Washington Naval Treaty. Having just escaped the Great War (and the influenza that followed it) the world would almost immediately have been thrown into another great naval race. This would have produced an altogether more dangerous world, with four different great powers struggling for maritime dominance.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book . He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky.


Dreams Into Dust: How World War I Destroyed Germany’s Naval Ambitions

Berlin lost the war and would go on to lose the next one too.

Key point: Germany had hoped to dominate continental Europe and to build a fleet to rival Britiain's and America's. Instead it fought and lost two terrible world wars.

In 1917, even as Germany began to prepare to launch what it expected to be war-winning offensives in the Atlantic and in France, its naval architects began to think about the postwar naval balance.

Even if Germany could knock out France and Italy as great powers, it could only defeat Britain by applying economic pain, and that pain would end when the guns fell silent. Thus, Germany could look forward to renewed naval competition with the British, and almost certainly the Americans.

This first appeared earlier and is being republished due to reader interest.

Accordingly, the Germans developed designs for the advanced battlecruisers and battleships that would have become the new High Seas Fleet- if Germany had won the war.

Strategic Stage

Until mid-1918, Germany expected to win the war, and expected that its future security threats would come primarily from maritime powers, namely the United States and the United Kingdom. Germany would win territorial and political concessions in the east and the west, and might be able to recover some of its colonial territories (or perhaps take some from France and Italy. Consequently, Germany would need a competitive surface fleet in addition to its U-boats. The war had slowed capital ship construction in Britain and Germany (although notably not in Japan or the United States), and existing German ships were quickly approaching obsolescence.

The only super-dreadnoughts immediately available to the Germans would have been the four ships of the Bayern class (in reality, only two of the ships were completed) and the seven battlecruisers of the Mackensen-class and Yorck-class (of which none were completed). The Bayerns could make twenty-one knots, and carried eight 15” guns on a 32,000-ton displacement. Both the Mackensen and Yorck classes were a major step up from the pre-war battlecruisers. The Mackensen’s carried eight 13.8” guns on a 36,000-ton displacement, with a speed of twenty-eight knots, while the Yorcks would have carried eight 15” guns, displaced 38,000 tons, and made twenty-seven knots.

Against this, the Kaiserliche Marine faced twenty-one British super-dreadnoughts and four modern battlecruisers, along with another thirteen American super-dreadnoughts. Both the British and the Americans threw themselves into post-war construction, with the latter planning seven more battleships and six battlecruisers, and the former four battleships and four battlecruisers. Having won the war, Germany would have immediately faced a very threatening maritime environment.

The L20e α class was the beginning of the solution. Displacing 48,000 tons, the L20e α would have carried eight 16.5” guns in four twin turrets and made twenty-six knots. The L20e α would have been roughly the same size as the proposed British N3 class, which traded three knots of speed for a much heavier main armament (9 18” guns in three triple turrets). The American South Dakotas would also have tipped the scales at 48,000 tons, with a speed of 23 knots, but would have carried twelve 16” guns in four triple turrets.

The concentration on speed suggests that the German were prepping for a fast battleship squadron, similar in many ways to that of the Japanese. Japan’s Nagato and (planned) Tosa-class battleships could make twenty-six knots the successor Kii-class would have made nearly thirty. In contrast to the British and American approaches, there was to be little gap between the fast battlecruisers and the slow battleships. Germany’s decision on this point may have stemmed from lessons learned in the Battle of Jutland, where its battlecruisers endured enormous punishment while taking limited losses. It is likely a decision that would have paid off down the line the slow battleships of the USN and RN were notably limited in the Second World War.

In the real world, Germany was beaten, the High Seas Fleet was scuttled at Scapa, and the three great naval powers settled their differences with the Washington Naval Treaty. That treaty sharply limited naval construction, prohibiting the construction of an entire generation of new battleships. It offered a “naval holiday” that gave the people of the world a much-needed rest after several years of bitter conflict.

The Washington Naval Treaty was a means of managing competition between recent allies who could foresee conflict on the horizon. Had Germany won the war, relations with both the United States and the United Kingdom would have remained tense. Under these circumstances it is difficult to imagine how Germany would have participated in a multilateral arms control agreement like the Washington Naval Treaty. Having just escaped the Great War (and the influenza that followed it) the world would almost immediately have been thrown into another great naval race. This would have produced an altogether more dangerous world, with four different great powers struggling for maritime dominance.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book . He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. This first appeared earlier and is being republished due to reader interest.


Longitudinal framing (also called the Isherwood system after British naval architect Sir Joseph Isherwood, who patented it in 1906) is a method of ship construction in which large, widely spaced transverse frames are used in conjunction with light, closely spaced longitudinal members.

Maximilian Johannes Maria Hubert Reichsgraf von Spee (22 June 1861 &ndash 8 December 1914) was a naval officer of the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy), who famously commanded the German East Asia Squadron during World War I. Spee entered the navy in 1878 and served in a variety of roles and locations, including on a colonial gunboat in German West Africa in the 1880s, the East Africa Squadron in the late 1890s, and as commander of several warships in the main German fleet in the early 1900s.


Imperial Japanese Navy

Japan, being the only nation in Asia with a significant naval presence, occupied most German possessions in the Pacific upon the start of the Weltkreig. Without a nearby battlefront, Japanese resources were diverted to naval construction. This period continuing uninterruptedly would propel the Imperial Japanese Navy to become the dominant maritime power in Asia, only opposed by the British Empire’s Asia fleet and the United States of America’s Pacific fleet.

As the Weltkrieg broke out, Japanese naval construction kicked into overdrive, seizing a lull in Western naval construction to secure naval dominance. Their efforts started with the Nagato-class battleships, armed with eight 16-inch guns, heralding a large naval technological advance.

This would be followed by the Amagi-class battlecruisers and Tosa-class battleships, which formed the backbone of the Eight-Eight fleet. The Tosa-class would be converted into aircraft carriers as nations experimented in the usage of fleet carriers, notably with the conversion of the Courageous-class. This was because of their slower speed compared to the Amagi-class which left them less flexible when protecting Japan’s projected vast Southeast Asian empire. The Kamikaze- and Mutsuki-class destroyers were built to complement the existing destroyers in service.

The Japanese naval construction programme would see no end in sight, as the twelve German Preussen- and Siegfried-class battleships were laid and the British finished the Admirals and placed the order for the Nelson-class battlecruisers. This forced Japan to further continue its naval construction program, which was getting ever more ambitiou, as the young nation attempted to outbuild the well-established naval superpowers.

The 1921 Tsingtao Accord did not assuage Japan’s concerns, leading Japan to lay the first of the Kii-class and Hizen-class in a show of force. However, that effort would be in vain as one year later, the Deutschland-class would be laid down and render most battleships useless against the new flagship of the Kaiserliche Marine.

Japan, despite having fulfilled the doctrine of maintaining an Eight-Eight fleet, still considered their ships to be underpowered when compared to the modern dreadnoughts. Thus, they cancelled the Hizen-class and ordered in replacement four Aki-class dreadnoughts to counter the Deutschland-class.

To reinforce the ageing battlecruisers of the Kongo-class, two pairs of “small battlecruisers” in the form of the Furutaka- and Aoba-class were ordered. The two classes are commonly merged into one class due to their similar exterior and designated as revived armoured cruisers in Western documents. Armed with six 365mm guns in twin turrets, they were designed to operate alongside older battlecruisers and form part of the scouting force.

However, the Japanese economy faced heavy strain after devoting up to 70% of the government budget into naval construction without an end in sight for the naval race. Civilians, swayed by Imperial Japanese Army propaganda, quickly began to oppose the construction of new warships.

Politicians warned of the impending economic collapse if military spending was not significantly reduced. With pressure from all classes of society, the Imperial Diet slashed the navy’s budget by 80%, halting and cancelling the keel-laying of the last two Aki-class battleships in 1925 along with a few dozen other miscellaneous screening vessels. Laid vessels would be finished, albeit at a significantly slower pace compared to their original projected finish date.

This suspension of shipbuilding would continue until 1930, when a small naval construction program, Maru-1, would construct the Tokachi-class heavy cruisers and two dozen of the Fubuki-class destroyers. The Fubukis set a new standard for destroyer design worldwide, being armed with a heavy armament of six 127mm guns and nine 610mm torpedo launchers. A follow-up program, Maru-2, was ratified in 1934, paving the way for the construction of the Soryu-class aircraft carriers, Monobe-class heavy cruisers along with the very similar Hatsuharu-class and Shiratsuyu-class destroyers.


Contents

The fourth and final Naval Law, passed in 1912, governed the building program of the German navy during World War I. The Imperial Naval Office (Reichsmarineamt) decided the Navy should construct one battleship and one battlecruiser every year between 1913 and 1917, with an additional unit of both types in 1913 and 1916. Ώ] Design work on the new class began in 1912, with construction intended to begin in the 1914 budget year. The question about the main battery for the new battlecruisers was the most pressing the previous DerfflingerȌlass was armed with 30.5-centimeter (12 in) guns, though some consideration had been given to redesigning the last two ships—SMS Lützow and Hindenburg—with 35 cm (14 in) guns. ΐ]

The 35 cm guns were heavier than the 30.5 cm guns, Α] and there were problems with enlarging the new ships to accommodate the heavier armament. The Imperial dry docks were deep enough only for ships with a draft of 9 m (30 ft), and simply accepting an increased displacement on the same hull as the Derfflinger class would entail a reduction in speed. This meant that an increase in displacement would necessitate a longer and wider hull to keep any increases in draft minimal and avoid reducing the speed. The constraints on enlarging the hull were compounded by restrictions on width imposed by the locks of the canal in Wilhelmshaven. Β] As a result, Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) Alfred von Tirpitz, the head of the RMA, prohibited a design displacement greater than 30,000 metric tons (29,526 long tons). Γ]

The initial design was approved on 30 September 1912, though the heads of the General Navy Department—Vizeadmiral (Vice Admiral) Günther von Krosigk and Konteradmiral (Rear Admiral) Reinhard Scheer—and the Weapons Department head, Vizeadmiral Gerhard Gerdes, had to submit any revisions they deemed were necessary. The design staff suggested using triple or even quadruple gun turrets to keep the displacement under the 30,000-ton limit. Another suggested alternative was to use six 38 cm (15 in) guns in twin turrets, one forward and two aft Wilhelm II accepted that design on 2 May 1913, though Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl, the commander in chief of the High Seas Fleet, preferred the 30.5 cm gun of the Derfflinger-class ships. Δ] As a compromise, the new battlecruisers were to be armed with eight 35 cm (13.8 inch) guns. Ώ]

The question of whether the new ships should be powered entirely by oil-fired boilers was less controversial. The design staff was generally in agreement with the standard practice of using coal-fired boilers for two-thirds of the power plant, with the remainder being oil-fired boilers. Coal-fired boilers were preferred because the coal, stored in the sides of the ship, provided additional protection, particularly for the battlecruisers, which carried less armor than their battleship counterparts. Ε] [a] The finalized design was approved on 23 May 1914. Δ]

General characteristics

The Mackensen-class ships were 223 m (731 ft 8 in) long and had a beam of 30.4 m (99 ft 9 in) and a draft of 9.3 m (30 ft 6 in) forward and 8.4 m (27 ft 7 in) aft. The ships were designed to displace 31,000 t (30,510 long tons) on a standard load, and up to 35,300 t (34,742 long tons) fully laden. Η] The Mackensens ' hulls were composed of longitudinal steel frames, over which the outer hull plates were riveted. This was the same type of construction as in the preceding Derfflinger-class battlecruisers, and was intended to save weight compared to the traditional method of construction, which incorporated both longitudinal and transverse frames. The ships' hulls contained 18 watertight compartments and a double bottom that ran for 92 percent of the length of the hull. ⎖] This was significantly greater than the older Derfflinger-class ships, which had a double bottom for only 65 percent of the length of the hull. ⎗]

Experience with previous battlecruiser designs led to the adoption of a continuous upper deck, which raised the level of the deck aft. This was necessary because the aft decks of earlier designs were usually awash when steaming at high speed, even in calm seas. The ships were also equipped with a bulbous bow to reduce drag on the hull, the first time the feature was used in the German Navy. Δ] The ships as designed required a crew of 46 officers and 1,140 enlisted sailors. Service as a squadron flagship would increase that number by an additional 14 officers and 62 sailors. The vessels carried a number of small boats, including two picket boats, one barge, two launches, two cutters, and three yawls. Η]

Machinery

The ships of the Mackensen class were equipped with four sets of marine-type turbine engines, each of which drove a three-bladed screw propeller that was 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in) in diameter. The turbines mounted in Fürst Bismarck were equipped with Föttinger fluid transmission, while those on the other three ships were two sets of direct-coupled turbines with geared transmissions. The ships had 24 coal-fired marine-type single ended boilers and eight oil-fired marine-type boilers. The power plants were designed to provide 88,769 shaft horsepower (66,195 kW) and 295 revolutions per minute. Maximum speed was rated at 28 knots (52 km/h 32 mph). Η] The ships were equipped with a pair of rudders mounted side by side, as opposed to the tandem rudders used on the Derfflinger-class ships. ⎘]

The ships' turbines were equipped with Föttinger gears, which significantly improved performance at cruising speeds and provided a corresponding increase in range of about 20 percent. Δ] The vessels were designed to store 800 t (790 long tons) of coal and 250 t (250 long tons) of oil in purpose-built storage spaces the hull areas between the torpedo bulkhead and the outer wall of the ship were used to store additional fuel. Maximum fuel capacity was 4,000 t (3,900 long tons) of coal and 2,000 t (2,000 long tons) of oil. This was estimated to give a range of up to about 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km 9,200 mi) at a cruising speed of 14 kn (26 km/h 16 mph). Electrical power on the vessels was provided by eight diesel generators that put out 2,320 kilowatts at 220 volts. Η]

Armament

The Mackensens were equipped with a main battery of eight new 35 cm SK L/45 guns [b] in four twin gun turrets. The turrets were mounted in superfiring pairs fore and aft of the main superstructure. The guns were placed in Drh LC/1914 mountings, ⎘] which could elevate to 20 degrees and depress to −5 degrees. The guns were supplied with a total of 720 armor-piercing shells, or 90 per gun. The weapons were designed to fire 600 kg (1,323 lb) shells at a rate of fire of around 2.5 shots per minute. The shells were fired with a muzzle velocity of 820 meters per second (2,700 ft/s). As with other heavy German guns, these weapons used a fore propellant charge in a silk bag with a main charge in a brass case. These guns could hit targets out to a maximum distance of 23,300 m (25,500 yd). ⎚] ⎛]

The ships' secondary battery consisted of fourteen 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 quick-firing guns mounted in armored casemates along the central superstructure. Each gun was supplied with 160 rounds, and had a maximum range of 13,500 m (44,300 ft), though this was later extended to 16,800 m (55,100 ft). The guns had a sustained rate of fire of 7 rounds per minute. The shells were 45.3 kg (99.8 lb), and were loaded with a 13.7 kg (31.2 lb) RPC/12 propellant charge in a brass cartridge. The guns fired at a muzzle velocity of 835 meters per second (2,740 ft/s). The guns were expected to fire around 1,400 shells before they needed to be replaced. ⎜] ⎝]

The ships were also armed with eight 8.8 cm (3.45 in) L/45 Flak guns in single pedestal mounts. Four were arranged around the rear superfiring main battery turret and the other four around the forward conning tower. The Flak guns were emplaced in MPL C/13 mountings, which allowed depression to −10 degrees and elevation to 70 degrees. These guns fired 9 kg (19.8 lb) shells, and had an effective ceiling of 9,150 m (30,020 ft) at 70 degrees. ⎞] ⎝]

As was standard for warships of the period, the Mackensens were equipped with submerged torpedo tubes. There were five 60 cm (24 in) tubes: one in the bow, and two on each flank of the ship. The torpedoes were the H8 type, which were 9 m (30 ft) long and carried a 210 kg (463 lb) Hexanite warhead. The torpedoes had a range of 8,000 m (8,700 yd) when set at a speed of 35 knots (65 km/h 40 mph) at a reduced speed of 28 knots (52 km/h 32 mph), the range increased significantly to 15,000 m (16,000 yd). ⎟] ⎘]

Armor

The Mackensen-class ships were protected with Krupp cemented steel armor, as was the standard for German warships of the period. Specific figures for the arrangement of the armor layout have not survived, but according to naval historian Erich Gröner "The outfit of Krupp armour was similar to that of the [preceding] Derfflinger class". ⎖] The figures listed here are those for the Derfflinger class. They had an armor belt of 300 mm (11.8 in) thickness in the central citadel of the ship, where the most important parts of the vessel were located. This included the ammunition magazines and the machinery spaces. The belt was reduced in less critical areas, to 120 mm (4.7 in) forward and 100 mm (3.9 in) aft. The belt tapered down to 30 mm (1.2 in) at the bow, though the stern was not protected by armor at all. A 45 mm (1.8 in) torpedo bulkhead ran the length of the hull, several meters behind the main belt. The main armored deck ranged in thickness from 30 mm in less important areas to 80 mm (3.1 in) in the sections that covered the more critical areas of the ship. ⎗]

The forward conning tower was protected with heavy armor: the sides were 300 mm thick and the roof was 130 mm (5.1 in). The rear conning tower was less well armored its sides were only 200 mm (7.9 in), and the roof was covered with 50 mm (2 in) of armor plate. The main battery gun turrets were also heavily armored: the turret sides were 270 mm (11 in) and the roofs were 110 mm (4.3 in). The 15 cm guns had 150 mm worth of armor plating in the casemates the guns themselves had 70 mm (2.8 in) shields to protect their crews from shell splinters. ⎗]


Planned for the never-completed Mackensen Class battlecruisers. Jackets from unfinished guns were used in building the long-range Paris Gun.

In 1922 there existed thirteen 35 cm SK L/45 guns, 15 naval gun carriages and 13 recoil mechanisms. Not all the series numbers of these guns were kept in the archives, but serial numbers 1 to 9 (the eight guns plus one spare intended for Mackensen) were destroyed at the Wilhelmshaven Arsenals as required by the terms of the Versailles Treaty.

The naval mountings for these guns were to use electric pumps to drive hydraulic elevation gear while the training was all electric. These guns also would have had hydraulically worked shell hoists, rammers and breeches.

Source note: Some sources claim that one of these guns was used at Flanders, but this seems to be a case of mistaken identity. Krupp built a special long-range 35.5 cm SK L/52.5 gun called "König August" which was completed in 1913. This gun was to be used at Calais if the Germans penetrated that far, but was instead used in semi-permanent fortress XII at Quéant in October 1916. It was later at Sancourt and fired at Doulles in 1918.


Was fast battleships inevitable?

The follows from discussion regarding the whether the QE class was most discussed class on this forum. When the RN contemplated follow on battleships during WWI, several alternatives were offered to Jellicoe, including updated and enlarged versions of the QEs that promised 25-26 knots, and battlecruisers versions of these, capable of 30+ knots, initially having armor on the scale of the Tiger, that ultimately evolved into the Hood. Jellicoe indicated he saw little value in having more QEs, and wanted more battlecruisers.

During the immediate aftermath of the war, only the Japanese were apparently serious about raising the speed of the main units of the battle line. The US and UK both intended to perpetuate the current speed of the battleships with more slow battleships.

We know even as late as 1936, the USN thought 23 knots perfectly adequate for new 16" battleships, and the RN also considered further slow battleships.

The question is, in the absence of the WNT, Would there have been a strong tendency towards fast battleships, or would fast capital ships remain specialty vessels and the main battleline remained at roughly their WWI speeds?

5:35 PM - Feb 15 #2 2021-02-15T17:35

6:12 PM - Feb 15 #3 2021-02-15T18:12

6:24 PM - Feb 15 #4 2021-02-15T18:24

6:28 PM - Feb 15 #5 2021-02-15T18:28

6:52 PM - Feb 15 #6 2021-02-15T18:52

The fact that they were built to be able to fight in the line does not make them fast battleships. If that did than many of the previous generations of armored cruisers and a few of the later generation of heavy cruisers of lesser naval powers would also count as fast battleships.

Ersatz York is nothing more than a slightly enlarged version of the Mackenses, and thus have a great deal in common with battlecruisers.

The German thinking in later part of the war seems to be a direct outgrowth of the inability of the HSF battle line to reduce RN's superiority even when apparently afforded a nearly ideal chance towards that highest operation goal at Jutland, So one might say the L20 is a peculiar design narrowly and unimaginatively focused on how to re-fight the run to the north at Jutland with more success.

From 1918, before it became clear that Germany would lose the war and not have a chance to try, it is not all together clear how committing herself to a post war fleet with even fewer more expensive fast battleships at the expense of the more numerous main battleline can form an effective naval strategy for a German navy that remains strategically trapped in the North Sea .

7:03 PM - Feb 15 #7 2021-02-15T19:03

all german GKs had BB armour of the timeline sometimes even more then most BBs of WWI, and Mackensen has only 35cm guns because of the german naval law and that is the only thing that Mackensen has in common with a Battlecruiser, that she was planed with a less caliber gun then the Bayern, which was eliminated with Ersatz York.

7:10 PM - Feb 15 #8 2021-02-15T19:10

7:18 PM - Feb 15 #9 2021-02-15T19:18

26 knoter. Only Jellicoe required battlecruisers stoped such production and made Hood.
Japaneese increased speed from Fuso and Ise 23-24 to Nagato's 27 or so, the same for Kaga, next 30 knots.
Germans (apart from viarious battlecruisers) first designed battleships with 25 -26 knots speed (L1 to L3).
Later L20 to 24 were around 25 to 27 knots
Than GK changed designeation from "Big Cruisers" to "Big Warships" and were at last 30 knots speed (varied) and final L class from 1918 were 27 and 28 knots designs.
Russians and French were out of race that time. Rest of the world, not even worth to talk about.
Only Americans refused to increase speed of battleships, but than even them increased speed of South Dakota to 23 knots. And later designs were 25 knotters (before WNT)
Originally post war Royal Navy battleships were to be 25 to 26 knoters, but need of really thick armour and heavy guns forced reduction to 23 knots. And even G3 battlecruisers were better armoured than any battleship in the wold except N3.

7:20 PM - Feb 15 #10 2021-02-15T19:20

My reading of Staff and Samuel suggest the only significant actor in favor of merging of battleships and battlecruisers into true fast battleships in Germany before 1916 had been the Kaiser himself. The navy was convinced the most effective fleet that can be bought for a give amount of money and resource consisted of a few large cruisers and many slow battleships. 3 Mackensens were planned along with 4 Bayens. The only reason why there was a further 4 battlecruiser ordered with no direct battleship counterpart was 4 armored cruisers had been lost and statute allowed them to be replaced one for one with battlecruisers, while lack of operational doctrine mean battleships were not risked, and thus none were lost and needed replacement.

The L20 design was championed by Scheer. His post jutland thinking seems dominated primarily by the idea that riskflotte strategy will not work and Germany's only avenue for any major surface naval success is to be able to overhaul a detached British squadron with faster and individually stronger ships in a repeat of the run to the north. The design was in many ways delusional because it was clearly not primarily driven by anticipated postwar requirements, but instead predicated on the supposition the war will last well nigh forever, and a battleship begun in 1919 could be finished quickly enough to still take part in the war.


Mackensen-class battlecruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich (left) awaiting disposal somewhere around 1920. The smaller unfinished warship is Bayern-class battleship Württemberg.

This was the only photo of the Mighty Prinz. She could have been a beautiful ship if she were built.

She does look gorgeous in game imo. One of my favorite ships. She's grown on me too. Especially after I sniped a Myoko at max range and got 136k damage that game. Was my record for abit.

I could never get more than 100k damage in a game without having myself easily punished. :(

I recalled there's more photos, including her other sister ships too.

The full photo actually includes one more notable ship:

The one at the right is the never-finished Greek battleship Salamis.

With a 23 knot top speed and 8x 14" guns, Salamis would have been a pretty powerful unit for the time.

Battlecruisers and being longer then Battleships, name a more iconic duo.

Battlecruisers and magazine detonations?

Every time I see/read about an unfinished ship being scrapped like this, I can't help but wonder about the feelings of the ship builders, having their hard work just go to waste.

I also think about it in a game sense. The people who spent hours designing the models of ships like the Duca Dɺosta, only for the ships in game to be complete shit and everyone think they are garbage.

Basically, yes. I feel the same way.

As an engineer I would rather have it never be completed than have people die on it.

Why didn’t the British take them and finish them?

Because they had no use for any additional ships built to an - by then - outdated design when they had to scrap 1/3 of their fleet immediately due to not being able to finance their upkeep.

Britain had more then enough work coming from it's own shipyards and taking over another nations ships is typically a logistical nightmare as you would have to source or replace every bit of equipment that differs from your own. You would ultimately have to deconstruct the ship back to a base hull and then rebuild it with your own needs and eqiupment in mind, at which point it would have been easier to just build another Renown or Revenge anyway.

Britiain did however take a fair bit of equipment for testing and evaluation such as various guns and shells.

For many logistics reasons as outlined below, but also because the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 limited the Royal Navy long term to 525,000t of capital ships.

That cut the force to 22 ships, the Hood, Renown, Repulse and Tiger as a battlecruiser wing, and the Iron Duke, KGV, QE and R classes of battleships. If the RN had re-fought Jutland in 1918 it would have been with about 41 capital ships, so about half the capital ship fleet was already being scrapped.

The immediate post war period was also (per Correlli Barnett) one of very rapid reduction in naval expenditures. The RN budget was £344m in 1918-1919, then £154m in 1919-1920, and £74m by 1920-1921. In that environment, with Hood being completed slowly, and the new-build Nelson class likely to be markedly superior to any WWI origin design spending money to complete a Mackensen or Bayern, to replace one or two of the older existing ships seems impossible to justify.


Watch the video: World of Warships - First Look Tier VI German Battleship Mackensen (January 2022).