Thursday, August 27, 2020

Brandenburg-class battleships ~ record cards

And so on to the Brandenburg class, Germany's first sea-going battleships. Comprising SMS Brandenburg, Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm, Weissenburg, and Wörth, the class came into service in 1893, and had an unusual arrangement of three main gun turrets that foreshadowed the armament layout of the Dreadnoughts. The centre pair of guns were of shorter calibre than the others in order to avoid fouling the deck houses. With a respectable broadside of six 11 inch guns, 15 inch average thickness of armour belt and 16.5 knots speed, they could about hold their own against a Royal Navy battleship of the same period. 

Against the wishes of Admiral Tirpitz in 1900 the class was sent in its entirety to reinforce the German East Asia Squadron during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. Commanded by Konteradmiral Richard von Geißler, they arrived too late to do more than contribute to mopping up operations. They served with the fleet until the increasing numbers of Dreadnought class battleships made them obsolete. 

Ottoman Odyessey

When Kaiser Wilhelm II began to make diplomatic overtures to the Ottoman Empire, Weissenburg and Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm were sold to the Turks in September-October 1910. Renamed Torgud Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin, respectively, after famous Ottoman admirals, they saw service against the Italians (then nominal German allies) and again in the series of Balkan Wars, providing artillery support to Ottoman ground forces in Thrace and engaging Greek ships during the ineffective naval skirmishes at Battle of Elli and Lemnos. A lack of suitably trained crew led to a steady degrading of the ships' sailing and fighting capacity, and they suffered badly in two encounters with the Greek navy armored cruiser Georgios Averof, leaving them in poor shape just two years after delivery.

Even so, both Torgud Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin managed to give a good account of themselves in the Dardanelles Campaign, shelling ANZAC troops along Gallipoli. Barbaros Hayreddin/Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm was dispatched by a single torpedo from Royal Navy HMS E11, which had penetrated the Sea of Marmara, in August 1915, sinking with half her crew.

After the war the two ships were in poor shape. Torgud Reis was repaired and remained on active duty until at least 1933 and endured as an accommodations hulk for another two decades, only being broken in the late 1950s. With that, I believe she was one of the final 19th Century pre-Dreadnoughts left. Two turrets were removed from her in 1925 and repurposed into coastal artillery to cover the Dardanelles, where they remain to this day


1 comment:

Carlo said...

Excellent work once again AJ. Imagine staring down the barrel of that beast!


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