Bayern class battleships

The two Bayern class battleships were the only dreadnoughts to be launched and completed in Germany during the First World War. Even then, they were laid down before the war, as part of the 1913-1914 building programme. They were also the only German dreadnoughts of the First World War to be armed with 15in guns.

The increase in size of the main gun meant that the central turret carried on the König class ships was removed, reducing the total number of guns to eight, carried in two pairs of superfiring turrets, fore and aft. They were turbine powered ships, capable of 21kts, by then the accepted standard speed for a battleship

Neither ship arrived in time for the battle of Jutland, although Bayern came close, starting her trials on 18 March 1916 and entering service on 30 June 1916, one month too late. Badenwas not ready until the start of 1917. Although the High Seas Fleet was not entirely inactive in the last two years of the war, neither ship would get the chance to take part in a major battle, although Bayern was mined during operations in the Gulf of Riga in 1917.

At the end of the war both ships were interned at Scapa Flow. Their crews attempted to scuttle both ships on 21 June 1919. Bayern sank, but Badenwas saved by British tugs and survived to be examined by the Royal Navy. She was then used as a target ship, and sunk on 16 August 1921.

The two ships of the “Sachsen” class were only very slightly different from the Bayern class ships. They were a few feet longer, and were designed to be half a knot to a knot faster, but were otherwise similar. Sachsen was laid down in 1914, and launched on 21 November 1916, Württemberg was laid down in 1915 and launched on 20 June 1917, but neither ships was completed and both were broken up in 1921.  

Displacement loaded


Top Speed


Armour – belt


 - bulkheads


 - battery


 - barbettes


 - turrets


 - conning tower



589ft 10in


Eight 15in guns
Sixteen 5.9in guns
Eight 3.45in Flak guns (designed but not carried)
Five 23.6in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Bayern
SMS Baden

“Sachsen class”

SMS Sachsen
SMS Württemberg

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 September 2007), Bayern class battleships ,

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