Kaiser Class Dreadnough Battleships

The Kaiser class of dreadnought battleships represented a major advance in German battleship design. Although they carried two less main guns than the earlier Nassau and Helgoland classes, the layout of the guns allowed them to fire a more powerful broadside. They were the first German battleships to be powered by Parsons Turbines, increasing their speed to 21-22kts.

The earlier German dreadnoughts had carried six two-gun turrets, one fore, one aft, and two on each side, so could only fire eight of their twelve guns in a single broadside.

In contrast, the Kaiser class ships carried six of their ten guns in turrets on the centre line, two at the rear, with the second turret raised above the rearmost turret, and one at the front. The remaining two turrets were carried in clear space in the centre of the ship, diagonally across the gap (one front right, one rear left). Each turret could turn to fire across the opposite side of the ship, although with some limits on their arc of fire, not least the one imposed by the other turret!

Four of these five Kaiser class ships were powered by 3-shaft Parsons turbines, giving then a design speed of 21 knots, and a test speed of 22.1-23.4kts. The Prinzregent Luitpold had been designed to use two Parsons turbines and one diesel engine, a combination that was expected to produce a normal speed of 22 knots. In the event the diesel was never fitted, and so the Prinzregent Luitpold had 5,000shp less power than the three-turbine ships, giving it a top speed of 21.7kts.

At the start of the First World War the five Kaiser class ships made up the Third Squadron of the High Seas Fleet. The other half of the squadron was to be made up of the new König class ships, which began to enter service over the remaining months of 1914. The squadron was complete in January 1915, at which point it sailed into the Baltic to undergoing training, the normal training grounds in the Heligoland Bight being unusable during the war.

Four of the five Kaiser class ships were present at the battle of Jutland (König Albert was under repair at the time), three with the Third Squadron and the Freidrich der Grosse as Scheer’s flagship. None were heavily damaged during the battle, and only the Kaiser, with 1 wounded and Prinzregent Luitpold, with 11 wounded, suffered any casualties.

All five ships survived the war, and were amongst the ships of the High Seas Fleet interned at Scapa Flow. On 21 June 1919 all five ships were scuttled by their crews.  

Displacement loaded


Top Speed


Armour – belt


 - bulkheads


 - battery


 - barbettes


 - turrets


 - conning tower



565ft 7in


Ten 12in guns
Fourteen 5.9in guns
Eight 3.45in guns
Four 3.45in Flak guns
Five 19.7in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

1084 normally
1249-1278 at Jutland





Ships in class

HMS Kaiser
HMS Friedrich der Grosse
HMS Kaiserin
HMS König Albert
HMS Prinzregent Luitpold

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 September 2007), Kaiser Class Dreadnough Battleships , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_kaiser_class_battleshipsII.html

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