Armored cruiser SMS Fürst Bismarck

The SMS Fürst Bismarck was the first in the German Empire produced armored cruiser and created with the following SMS Prince Henry the way for the new big cruiser.


Launching and design:

As shipbuilding progressed, newer and better ships were built around the turn of the century. In particular, the armor and armament areas have been continuously increased, so that the ships contain fewer and fewer elements of wood, but more steel. With the laying of the keel of Fürst Bismarck, the first armored cruiser was built in the German Empire, the evaluation and later experiences of which were decisive for the new big cruisers.

The launching took place on 25 September 1897, the commissioning on 1 April 1900.

The ship was baptized in his name in honor of the Chancellor and Prince Otto von Bismarck.


Otto von Bismarck


Launching SMS Fürst Bismarck


SMS Fürst Bismarck




History of SMS Fürst Bismarck:

After the test drives the Fürst Bismarck ran on 30 June 1900 from direction Asia, where she united with the transporters Frankfurt and Wittekind and on 13 August in the German commercial city Tsingtau came in.
Then the ship was sent to the Yellow Sea to the units of the East Asian Cruiser Squadron where it was from 17 August 1900, the flagship of the commanded by Vice Admiral Felix Bendemann Association. At that time, the Boxer Rebellion prevailed, causing the German Empire to merge their ships there.

Until August 1905, Fürst Bismarck made several trips to Japan and Russia until the floating dock was completed in Tsingtau and the ship was there until October for a basic repair there.

In early 1906, after the takeover of Vice Admiral Alfred Breusing on the squadron, the German ships ran, inter alia, Dutch East Indies and Hong Kong.

On April 29, 1909, Fürst Bismarck was replaced by the big cruiser SMS Scharnhorst and began the journey home.


SMS Fürst Bismarck


SMS Fürst Bismarck


SMS Fürst Bismarck


SMS Fürst Bismarck Painting by Fritz Stoltenberg around 1900





Back in the German Empire, the ship was decommissioned in June 1909, followed in 1910, the conversion to a torpedo training ship.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Fürst Bismarck was still briefly used for coastal protection, but then served until the end of the war, mainly as a training ship, since in September 1916, the armament of the ship was expanded.

On December 31, 1918, the ship was removed from the list of warships and converted into an office ship. In July 1919 it was finally sold and scrapped in 1920 in Rendsburg.




Ship data:


SMS Fürst Bismarck


German Empire

Ship Type:  

Armored cruiser


Single ship


Imperial shipyard, Kiel


18.945.000 Mark


September 25th, 1897


April 1st, 1900


Scrapped in 1920 in Rendsburg


127 meters


20,4 meters


Max. 8,46 meters


Max. 11.461 Tons


621 Men


4 water pipe and 8 cylinder boilers
3 4-cylinder compound machines


13.622 PS (10.019 kW)

Maximum speed:  

18,7 kn (35 km/h)


4 × Rapid Fire Gun 24 cm L / 40 (312 rounds)

12 × rapid fire protection 15 cm L / 40 (1.440 rounds)

10 × Rapid Fire Gun 8.8 cm L / 30 (2.500 rounds)

4 × 3,7 cm machine gun

6 torpedo tubes ∅ 45 cm (1 stern over water, 4 sides, 1 bow under water, 16 shots)



Belt: 100-200 mm on 200 mm teak
Deck: 30-50 mm
Towers heavy artillery: 40-200 mm
Towers Medium Artillery: 100 mm
Shields: 70 mm
Casemates: 100 mm
Front command tower: 30-200 mm
Aft command tower: 30-100 mm








You can find the right literature here:


German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard)

German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard) Paperback – February 23, 2010

Supported by official documents, personal accounts, official drawings and specially commissioned artwork, this volume is an enlightening history of the Deutschland to Osfriesland classes. Detailing the last of the pre-dreadnaught battleship classes, this book goes on to explain the revolutionary developments that took place within the German Imperial Navy as they readied themselves for war. This included creating vessels with vast increases in size and armament. This account of design and technology is supplemented by individual ship histories detailing combat experience complete with first-hand accounts. The specially commissioned artwork also brings this history to life with recreations of the battleship Pommern fighting at Jutland and ships of the Osfriesland class destroying HMS Black Prince in a dramatic night-time engagement.

Click here!



The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces

The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces Hardcover – December 28, 2016

The Imperial German Navy of WWI is a series of books (Warships, Campaigns, & Uniforms) that provide a broad view of the Kaiser's naval forces through the extensive use of photographs. Every effort has been made to cover all significant areas during the war period. In addition to the primary use of photographs, technical information is provided for each warship along with its corresponding service history; with a special emphasis being placed on those warships that participated in the Battle of Skagerrak (Jutland). Countless sources have been used to establish individual case studies for each warship; multiple photos of each warship are provided. The entire series itself is unprecedented in its coverage of the Kaiser's navy.

Click here!



German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations Hardcover – November 4, 2014

This is the most comprehensive, English-language study of the German Imperial Navy's battlecruisers that served in the First World War. Known as Panzerkreuzer, literally "armored cruiser," the eight ships of the class were to be involved in several early North Sea skirmishes before the great pitched battle of Jutland where they inflicted devastating damage on the Royal Navy's battlecruiser fleet. This book details their design and construction, and traces the full service history of each ship, recounting their actions, drawing largely from first-hand German sources and official documents, many previously unpublished in English.

Click here!



The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918

The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918 Hardcover – March 15, 2016

The battleships of the Third Reich have been written about exhaustively, but there is little in English devoted to their Second Reich predecessors. This new book fills an important gap in the literature of the period by covering these German capital ships in detail and studying the full span of battleship development during this period. The book is arranged as a chronological narrative, with technical details, construction schedules, and ultimate fates tabulated throughout, thus avoiding the sometimes disjointed structure that can result from a class-by-class approach. Heavily illustrated with line drawings and photographs, many from German sources, the book offers readers a fresh visual look at these ships. A key objective of the book is to make available a full synthesis of the published fruits of archival research by German writers found in the pre-World War II books of Koop & Schmolke, Großmer's on the construction program of the dreadnaught era, Forstmeier & Breyer on World War I projects, and Schenk & Nottelmann's papers in Warship International. As well as providing data not available in English-language books, these sources correct significant errors in standard English sources.

Click here!






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