SMS Hindenburg

SMS Hindenburg was the last capital ship to enter German service during the First World War, having been laid down in 1913. She was closely related to the previous Derfflinger class of battlecruisers. Like those ships she carried eight 12in guns in two pairs of superfiring twin turrets, fore and aft. Her 5.9in guns were carried in single mountings, seven on each side.

SMS Hindenburg
surrendering, 1918

The Hindenburg was commissioned for trials in May 1917. No suitable deep water mile was available for the trials, and so her trial speed of 26.6kts was recorded in the Belt (in the Baltic).

Hindenburg took part in last sortie of the German High Seas Fleet, an attempt to attack a British convoy close to Norway. The sortie itself was carried out successfully, but no convoy was encountered, and the High Seas Fleet returned to harbour without incident.

The Hindenburg did have a significant impact on British naval policy. On 2 April 1918 at a naval conference in Whitehall, it was decided not to seek a battle between the Grand Fleet and the High Seas Fleet. Three main reasons were given for this change of policy – a shortage of destroyers caused by the anti-Submarine campaign, concerns over the quality of British shells, and the strength of the German battlecruiser fleet.

It was believed that the Germans had six high quality battlecruisers, amongst them the newly completed Hindenburg and the never to be completed Mackensen (she had been launched in April 1917). Only three of the nine existing British battlecruisers, Lion, Princess of Wales and Tiger were felt to be capable of taking on these German ships. In those circumstances, Admiral Sir David Beatty, then Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, recommended that for as long as trade protection was the main duty of the fleet, a major battle was to be avoided.

Hindenburg was amongst the German ships interned at Scapa Flow in 1918. She was scuttled on 21 June 1919, and raised for scrap in July 1930.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – belt


 - bulkheads


 - battery


 - barbettes


 - turret


 - conning tower



698ft 2in


Eight 12in guns
Fourteen 5.9in guns
Four 3.45in Flak guns
Four 23.6in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement



1 August 1915


25 November 1917


21 June 1919

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]
cover cover cover
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]
cover cover cover

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 October 2007), SMS Hindenburg ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies