König class battleship

König class battleship

The four German "König" class battleships were built on the eve of World War I and were the most powerful warships of the German High Seas Fleet going into the war and in the Battle of Jutland, in which they all participated. They survived the war and were scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1919.


The "König" class bore a strong resemblance to the earlier "Kaiser" class, including carrying the same main armament. The most visible change was the movement of one of the main turrets forward of the bridge, doubling the forward firepower, while also placing all main turrets along the ship's centerline. The most significant internal change was the design's objective of employing a diesel engine in place of one of the three turbines, allowing for better performance. This was not done, because suitable engines (producing around 12,000 shp) were not available, so the ships mounted three steam turbine powerplants like the preceding class.

Construction of the class was part of Germany's ambitious naval build up in which the country was engaged in to challenge the general hegemony of the Royal Navy, and specifically to challenge that navy's control of the North Sea. All of the vessels were laid down in 1911 and launched in 1913. With tensions rapidly rising, they were pushed through final trials and commissioned in the first months of World War I, comprising half of the 3rd Battleship Squadron. The vessels would take a major role in the Battle of Jutland, suffering damage but all surviving. The four remaining together as a group when they were surrendered to the Allies at Scapa Flow where a few months later they participated in the scuttling of the High Seas Fleet there, all sinking.


* SMS "König" - Nameship of the class, "König" was commissioned 9 August 1914, participated in the Battle of Jutland, was involved in many operations in 1916, and heavily damaged the Russian pre-Dreadnought "Slava" (it was scuttled later) in 1917.
* SMS "Großer Kurfürst" - The second ship was commissioned before "König" herself, on 30 July 1914, and participated in many of the same operations as her classmates. The ship was prone both to accidents and damage by enemy forces, although she remained active through the end of the war.
* SMS "Markgraf" - Commissioned 1 October 1914, had one of the less auspicious careers of the class. She participated in a number of actions with little damage, surviving the war .
* SMS "Kronprinz Wilhelm" - Originally named "Kronprinz", commissioned 8 November 1914 and the only one of the class to escape Jutland unscathed, but later in 1916 was torpedoed by a British submarine. She survived that attack, as well as a later mine hit, only to be surrendered and sunk by her own crew at Scapa Flow.


"Königsklasse" (König class) is also a German term used to describe the highest league of a sport divided in classes, for example Formula 1 in motor racing. König is literally "king" in German.

ee also

* List of German Imperial Navy ships
* List of naval ships of Germany
* List of ship launches in 1913
* List of ship commissionings in 1914
* List of shipwrecks in 1919

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