Braunschweig class battleships

The Braunschweig class battleships were a significant improvement over previous German pre-dreadnaughts. They were bigger, faster and better armed, abandoning the 9.4in guns used on the previous two classes for 11.1in guns, and upgrading the secondary guns from 5.9in to 6.in.

Despite this they were effectively obsolete by the outbreak of the First World War, having been superseded by the newer dreadnoughts. In 1914 they formed the Fourth Squadron, based in the Baltic from 1915, where the threat came from the Russian fleet.

Hessen was the oldest battleship present at the battle of Jutland, as part of the Second Battle Squadron, otherwise made up of the very similar Deutschland class ships. One member of that squadron, the Pommern, was the only battleship to be sunk during the battle. When the two battle fleets clashed on the evening of 31 May 1916, the Second Battle Squadron was at the rear of the German line, with Hessen second in the squadron.

After the war the five Braunschweig class ships became part of the small navy allowed to Germany. Lothringen and Preussen were used as depot ships for the small F-type minesweepers – the North Sea was by then littered with minefields all of which needed to be removed. In 1931 all but Hessen were stricken or scrapped. Hessen was converted into a radio controlled target, and survived the Second World War. In 1946 she was given to the Soviet Union as part of the war reparations, where it performed the same task, probably until 1960.

Plans of Braunschweig Pre-Dreadnought Battleships
Plans of Braunschweig Pre-Dreadnought Battleships

Displacement

14,167t

Top Speed

18.25kts

Length

491ft

Armaments

Four 280mm/ 11.1in guns
Fourteen 170mm/ 6.7in guns
Eighteen 88mm/ 3.4in
Four machine guns
Six 450mm/ 17.7in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

743

Launched

1902-1904

Completed

1904-1906

Ships in class

HMS Braunschweig
HMS Elsass
HMS Hessen
HMS Preussen
HMS Lothringen

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 September 2007), Braunschweig class battleships, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_braunschweig_class_battleships.html

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