SMS Seydlitz

SMS Seydlitz was the fourth German battlecruiser, and was essentially an enlarged version of the previous Moltke class ships. She was 46 feet longer but 3 feet narrower, carried the same main armament of ten 11.1in guns, and had a designed speed one knot faster (although her actual top speed of 28.1kts was lower than that achieved by the Moltke).  

The Seydlitz was Admiral Hipper’s flagship from June 1914 until October 1917. She took part in the Gorleston Raid of 2-4 November 1914, the first attack on the British coast during the First World War, and the attack on Hartlepool on 16 December, where she was hit by three 6in shells from the coastal guns,

SMS Seydlitz steaming to be interned, 21 November 1918
SMS Seydlitz steaming
to be interned,
21 November 1918
The Seydlitz was hit three times at the battle of Dogger Bank (24 January 1915). The second of those hits, a 13.5in shell from the Lion, hit the upper deck aft and penetrated the barbette of “D” turret. The flash ignited some of the cordite in the reloading chamber, causing a fire that spread up to the gun house and threatened to detonate the magazine. Only the actions of Pumpenmeister Wilhelm Heidkamp, who flooded “C” and “D” magazines saved the ship. The damage spread to “C” turret when some of the crew of the “D” turret attempted to escape through a connecting hatch. The same thing would happen on four British battlecruisers at Jutland, destroying three.

In the aftermath of the battle of Dogger Bank the Germans modified the way their cordite was handled. Automatic doors were installed in the ammo hoists, much more care was taken to reduce the amount of cordite charges in the turret, and the fore charges were to be kept in their tins until they were about to be used. These changes almost certainly saved several German ships from destruction at Jutland.

The Seydlitz was Hipper’s flagship at the start of the Lowestoft raid of 25 March 1916. Early in the sortie she hit a mine, which blow a 90 meter hole in her side and let in 1,400 tons of water. Admiral Hipper had to transfer his flag to the Lützow, significantly delaying the raid. The Seydlitz needed two months of repairs, only coming back into service on 29 May.

SMS Seydlitz before First World War
SMS Seydlitz before First World War

The High Seas Fleet sortie that led to Jutland was delayed until the Seydlitz was ready to take part. Once again she was very badly damaged in the battle, although not until after she had played a part in the destruction of HMS Queen Mary. The Seydlitz opened fire on the Queen Mary at 15.50. The British had the best of the early duel. A hit at 15.55 knocked out the starboard forward switch room. The significance of the changes made after Dogger Bank was demonstrated at 15.57 when the working chamber of “C” turret was hit. The turret was knocked out, but without the disastrous results that followed at Dogger Bank.  

At 16.36 the Queen Mary suffered from the lack of anti-flash precautions on the British battlecruisers and exploded under fire from the Seydlitz and Derfflinger.

The Seydlitz continued to take damage throughout the battle. In all she was hit by 25 shells and one torpedo. C, B, D and E turrets were all hit, and she began to take on water. At 2.40am on 1 June she scrapped across Horns Reef, taking on more water, and by 2.30 that afternoon only her buoyant broadside torpedo room kept her afloat. She was rescued by two pump ships, and reached the entrance to Jade Bay by 2 June, where she was briefly beached.

She was repaired by 1 October 1916, taking part in most of the remaining High Seas sorties of the war. At the end of the war she was interned at Scapa Flow, and was scuttled on 21 June 1919.

Displacement (loaded)

28,100t

Top Speed

26.5kts

Range

4,700 nautical miles at 14kts

Armour – deck

3.2in-1.2in

 - belt

12in-4in

 - bulkheads

8.7in-4in

 - battery

8in-6in

 - barbettes

9in-1.2in

 - turrets

10in-2.75in

 - conning tower

14in-3.2in

Length

657ft 11in

Armaments

Ten 280mm (11.1in) SKL/50 guns
Twelve 150mm (5.9in) SKL/45 guns
Twelve 88mm (3.45in) SKL/45 guns
Four 500mm (19.7in) submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

1068 normal
1425 at Jutland

Launched

30 March 1911

Completed

17 August 1913

Scuttled

21 June 1919

Captains

1913-1917

Kapitän zur See Moritz von Egidy

1917

Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Tägert

1917

Kapitän zur See Moritz von Egidy

1917-1918

Kapitän zur See Wilhelm Tägert

Internment

Kapitänleutnant Brauer

British and German Battlecruisers - Their Development and Operations, Michele Cosentino & Ruggero Stanglini. A useful volume that covers the development, design and construction of British and German battlecruisers, their wartime deployments and both side's plans for the next generation of battlecruisers, of which only HMS Hood was ever completed. Having all of this material in a single volume gives a much better overview of the two Navy's battlecruisers, their advantages and flaws, and their performance in and out of battle. Concludes with a look at other nation's battlecruisers and battlecruiser designs [read full review]
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German Battlecruisers 1914-1918, Gary Staff. This book gives a very good history of each of the seven Battlecruisers that served with the Germany navy during the First World War, looking at the reasons they were built the way they were, the details of their construction, and their service careers before and during the war [see more]
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (18 November 2007), SMS Seydlitz , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_SMS_Seydlitz.html

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