Wittelsbach class battleships

The Wittelsbach class of pre-dreadnought battleships were significant as the first such ships to be built under the First Naval Act of 1898. They were generally similar to the previous Kaiser class, carrying the exact same armament, and having very similar capabilities. Like the Kaiser class they carried comparatively light main guns and a large number of comparatively heavy secondary guns.

The biggest change was in the layout of the secondary 5.9in guns. On the Kaiser class these had been spread out fairly evenly along each side of the ship, but on the Wittelsbach class seven of the nine guns on each side were concentrated in a central position, similar to the central citadels seen on contemporary German cruisers. The remaining two guns on each side were by the side of the forward turret.

The five Wittelsbach class battleships were mobilised in August 1914 to form the 4th Squadron of the High Seas Fleet. By 1916 they were clearly obsolete, and were withdrawn and disarmed. They were then used as training ships. Later Mecklenburg became a prison ship, while Schwaben and Wittelsbach had short careers as depot ships for F-type minesweepers.

Zähringen survived the longest. In 1926-7 she was converted into a radio controlled target ship. In 1944 she was sunk by the RAF at Gdynia (then named Gotenhafen).

Plans of Wittelsbach Pre-Dreadnought Battleships
Plans of



Top Speed





Four 240 mm/ 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 Wittelsbach
SMS Wettin
SMS Zähringen
SMS Schwaben
SMS Mecklenburg

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

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

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