Kaiser class battleships

The Kaiser class of battleships set the pattern for all succeeding German pre-dreadnoughts. Where the previous Brandenburg class had carried a third pair of main guns in a central turret, the main armament on the Kaiser class was reduced to four guns in two twin gun turrets. Secondary armament was provided by a large number of 5.9in guns carried on a distinctive multi-layers superstructure. On the Kaiser class six of those secondary guns were carried in turrets at a higher level than the main guns, a feature that was not carried over into later designs.

Plans of Kaiser Pre-Dreadnought Battleships
Plans of
Kaiser Pre-Dreadnought

The 11in main guns of the Brandenburg class were replaced by 9.4in rapid firing guns on the Kaiser class, which fired three times quicker than the larger guns. Four of the secondary turrets were removed during a 1907-1910 refit, which also saw the high superstructure reduced in size.

The five Kaiser class ships served with the 1st Squadron of the Home Fleet for ten years, with the Kaiser Willhelm II as the fleet flagship until 1906. They were then moved to the 3rd Squadron of the High Seas Fleet, and then into the reserve. At the outbreak of the First World War they were re-activated and formed the 5th Squadron. In February 1915 they were withdrawn from the front line as new ships entered service. The Kaiser Wilhelm II became the headquarters of the Commander in Chief of the fleet. The Kaiser Wilhelm de Grosse became a torpedo training ship while the remaining three ships became prison ships. All five were broken up between 1919 and 1921.  



Top Speed


Armour – belt


 - deck


 - ammo hoists





Four 240mm/ 9.4in guns
Eighteen 150mm/5.9in guns
Twelve 88mm/ 3.5in guns
Twelve machine guns
Six 450mm/ 17.7in torpedo tubes

Crew complement






Ships in class

SMS Kaiser Freidrich III
SMS Kaiser Wilhelm II
SMS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse
SMS Kaiser Carl der Grosse
SMS Kaiser Barbarossa

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

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

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