Deutschland class battleships

The Deutschland class battleships were the last pre-Dreadnought type battleships to be built in Germany. They were very similar to the previous Braunschweig (Brunswick) class, with the addition of two extra 88mm guns, and slightly thicker belt armour.

Although the first members of the class were launched in 1904, two years before the Dreadnought, they were criticized even then for their mixed gun armament. By the time the last of the class was completed, in 1908, they were effectively obsolete. Of course the same was true of the British Lord Nelson class, but only two of them were built, compared to the five Deutschlands. Tirpitz’s decision to build these ships was probably inspired by an unwillingness to fund the widening of the Kiel canal – the first German dreadnoughts would be 15 feet wider than the Deutschland class. After the construction of the Deutschland class there was a gap of three years before the appearance of the next class of battleships.

The five Deutschland class ships served together in the 2nd Battle Squadron of the High Seas Fleet (with the Braunschweig class ship Hessen). They were the only pre-dreadnought battleships to be present at the battle of Jutland, where Pommern was the only battleship to be sunk on either side.

At the end of 1916 they were withdrawn from the front line, and on 15 August 1917 were retired from active service. Schlesien and Schleswig-Holstein both survived into the Second World War. Schleswig-Holstein fired the first shots of the war, before being bombed in 1944. Schlesien was a cadet training ship for most of the war but was forced into service in the last desperate days of 1945.

Plans of Deutschland Pre-Dreadnought Battleships
Plans of Deutschland Pre-Dreadnought Battleships



Top Speed


Armour – belt



418ft 8in


Four 280mm (11in)
Fourteen 170mm (6.7in)
Twenty 88mm (3.4in)
Four machine guns
Six 450mm (17.7in) torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Deutschland
SMS Hannover
SMS Pommern
SMS Schlesien
SMS Schleswig-Holstein

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 September 2007), Deutschland class battleships ,

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