SMS Von der Tann

Germany (1909)
Battle cruiser

The first true German Battlecruiser

Probably rightly regarded as the first true battlecruiser of the German navy, the Von der Tann stood out from the Blücher (often referenced as a armoured cruiser) with a consistent heavy artillery of 280 mm pieces in 8 twin turrets, which was the fashion at the time, in échelon in the central position.

The generous space available allowed these central turrets such a clearance to bear a full volley of 8 guns in concert at all time. This unique ship was also seen as superior to the HMS Invincible and HMS Indefatigable of the British navy that adopted the same configuration.

The battlecruiser Von der Tann as released

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Well ballasted, with secondary keels, she was also a very stable ship. The secondary battery was concentrated to the center, allowing to concentrate as well protection, as well as the ammunition wells in the central turrets.

The sixteen 88 mm SKL/45 QF guns were divided into 8 sponsons bow and stern, the other being arranged in deckhouse sponsons front and rear. They were all removed in 1917 and replaced by only two AA 88mm installed at the rear. After tests, the Von der Tann managed to reach 27.6 knots with its boilers giving 79,000 hp.

Painting of the Von der Tann
Painting SMS Von der Tann

Operational Carrer

Apart from a few cruises, including the bombing of British coastal cities in 1914, the Von der Tann came to shine at the battle of Jutland in May 1916: The first 15 minutes of exchanges she sent to the bottom her alter ego, battleship HMS Indefatigable.

Later, however, she was hit four times with large caliber shells, disabling its two aft turrets, while the two forward experienced electrical failures that made the ship still facing mayhem for fifteen minutes with only its secondary battery. After the battle she was stranded at home until the armistice, being led to Scapa Flow and scuttled June 21, 1919, salvaged in December 1931 and demolished.

Kaiserliches Marine


The Von der Tann on wikipedia
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1921-1947.

Von der Tann specifications

Dimensions171.6 x 26,6 x 9 m
Displacement19 064 t, 21 700t FL
Crew1174 (41+882)
Propulsion4 screws, 4 Parsons turbines, 18 Schultze-Thornycroft boilers, 43 600 hp
Speed24.7 knots ( km/h; mph)
Range4,400 nmi (8,100 km; 5,100 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
Armament8 x 280 (4×2), 10 x 150, 16 x 88, 4 TT 450 mm (SM, front, rear, 2 sides)
ArmorBattery 150, citadel 180, turrets 230, belt 250, blockhaus 250, barbettes 230 mm

British Pathé footage (beginning)


Illustration of the SMS Von der Tann
Illustration of the SMS Von der Tann

Von der Tann in 1917
illustration of the Von der Tann in 1917

Moltke class Battlecruisers
Deutschland class battleships