The last German pre-dreadnoughts
The five battleships of the Deutschland class (not to confound with Pocket Battleship class of 1929!) were the last of their kind built in Germany. They were ordered in 1903-1905, even as the HMS Dreadnought was under construction. They were completed and accepted into service in 1906-1908, at the time or the first Dreadnoughts appeared. In fact, they were virtually obsolete in 1914. But Tirpitz eluded these criticisms by arguing that future German battleships would require to refit the Kiel Canal, a long and especially costly endeavour, worth the price of other battleships. These were the Deutschland, Pommern, Hannover, Schlesien, and Schleswig-Holstein.
They relied heavily on the design of previous Braunschweig, but were a little smaller, had rearranged chimneys and a higher power-to-weight ratio but an unchanged speed, and a secondary battery fully occupied by barbettes. Similarly, their tertiary artillery, going from 18 to 20 guns 88 mm was new. Their bridge armour was slightly decreased, but the turrets and barbettes was armour increased.
Fought at Jutland
As they were still fresh, even in 1914, they were affected to the front line 2nd squadron. In May 1916, during the Battle of Jutland, they had the opportunity to make talk their powder and show their metal. The Pommern barely had time to fire some volleys before being literally ripped open by the explosion of a torpedo in an ammunition bunker, launched by British destroyers of the 12th squadron. Until 1917 these ships remained inactive, withdrawn from Hochseeflotte. Outside of Deutschland, scrapped in 1920, they formed the core of the naval force of the Weimar’s Reichsmarine. They were converted into training ships and rebuilt. In September, 1st, 1939, battleship Schleswig-Holstein fire the first shots of ww2, on polish Westerplatte arsenal.
illustration of the class in 1914.
Deutschland class specifications
|Dimensions||127,6 x 22,2 x 8,2 m|
|Propulsion||3 screws, 3 TE engines, 16 Wagner boilers, 19 000 hp|
|Speed||18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph)|
|Range||4,800 nmi (8,900 km; 5,500 mi); 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Armament||2×2 280 mm, 14×170 mm, 22x88mm, 8x450mm TT.|
|Armor||Belt 240, Turrets 280, Barbettes 305mm, Deck 40 mm|
Deutschland class armour schematics