Battleship SMS Markgraf

The battleship SMS Markgraf belonged to the König class, which belonged to the most modern ships of the imperial navy and were put into service only shortly before the First World War. Like most other modern ships, the Markgraf shared the fate of Scapa Flow's sinking.


Launching and design:

The ships of the König class came from the experience of the Kaiser class. The biggest change was in the arrangement of the heavy guns, which were initially placed in the ship's centerline. Already in April 1910, the General Marine Department presented such a concept to lay down the construction of the usual wing towers. Although the Secretary of State in the Imperial Navy Admiral Tirpitz initially rejected this draft, later approved it anyway. A change to a larger caliber of heavy guns from 30.5-cm to 38-cm, however, omitted, as this would have led to significantly higher costs.

The redistribution of heavy guns further reduced the area needed to be armored. This weight saving is used by the developers to increase the thickness of the armor.

The launching of the SMS Markgraf took place on June 4th, 1913, the commissioning on October 1st, 1914.


Launch of the SMS Markgraf


SMS Markgraf during equipping

SMS Markgraf during equipping


SMS Markgraf during equipping

SMS Markgraf during equipping


SMS Markgraf shortly before completion

SMS Markgraf shortly before completion




Use in the war:

During the First World War, the SMS Markgraf came for the first time during the Battle of the Skagerrak from May 31st, to June 1st, 1916 used. During the battle, the ship formed the tip of the German fleet and had to take many hits accordingly. 11 crew members died during the battle. Until July 20th, 1916, the repair work in the AG Vulcan shipyard in Hamburg.

During the operation to occupy the Baltic Islands from October 11 to 19, 1917, the Markgraf was involved with the sister ships of the König class. On the way back to the North Sea, the ship received a mine hit on October 29, 1917 and had to be repaired until November 23, 1917 in the Imperial Shipyard Wilhelmshaven.

Until October 1918, the Markgraf, together with most of the other capital ships of the Imperial Navy, lay at anchor in Wilhelmshaven.

With the naval order of October 24, 1918, the imperial navy was ordered to run out to a final battle against the British Royal Navy in order to possibly establish a more favorable starting position for the upcoming peace negotiations. However, this classified as a secret command quickly made the rounds among the crew and so it happened that in the night of October 29 to 30, 1918, the ship's crews of the SMS König, SMS Markgraf and SMS Großer Kurfürst refuses to lift the anchor , Only when submarines and torpedo boats directed their weapons at the ships involved, SMS Thüringen and SMS Helgoland, could the revolt be ended. Following was the III. Squadron of the SMS Markgraf ordered to Kiel, where the crew participated in the Kieler sailor uprising.


Battleship SMS Markgraf

Battleship SMS Markgraf


Battleship SMS Markgraf

Battleship SMS Markgraf


Battleship SMS Markgraf

Battleship SMS Markgraf


The SMS margrave during the internment in Scapa Flow

The SMS margrave during the internment in Scapa Flow





With the terms of the ceasefire, the SMS Markgraf belonged to the ships of the Imperial Navy, which had to be interned in Scapa Flow.
When it became known at the end of the peace talks that the ships would no longer be returned to Germany, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter issued orders to sink the ships on June 21, 1919.

The Markgraf began to sink only at 17:00 clock as the last German capital ship. The British Marines, long since alerted in the meantime, tried by all means to prevent the German crews from sinking the ships. On the Markgraf fired the British soldiers unarmed German crew members, with Lieutenant Commander Walter Schumann and Oberbootsmannsmaat Hermann Dittmann died. The sinking of the ship could not prevent the British yet.

From 1962 parts of the 47 meters deep ship were lifted and scrapped.




Ship data:


SMS Markgraf


German Empire

Ship Type:  





AG Weser, Bremen


45.000.000 Mark


June 4th, 1913


October 1st, 1914


Sunk on June 21st, 1919 in Scapa Flow itself


175,4 meters


29,5 meters


Max. 9,19 meters


Max. 28.600 Tons


1.136 Men


15 Marine Boiler
3 set steam turbines


41.400 PS (30.450 kW)

Maximum speed:  

21,0 kn (39 km/h)


10 × Rapid Fire Gun 30,5 cm L / 50 (900 shots)

14 × Rapid Fire Gun 15 cm L / 45 (2.240 rounds)

6 × Rapid Fire Gun 8,8 cm L / 45

4 × Anti-aircraft guns 8,8 cm L / 45 (total 2.500 rounds)

5 × torpedo tube ⌀ 50 cm (4 sides, 1 bow, under water, 16 shots)



Belt: 120-350 mm
Citadel: 120-180 mm
Armor deck: 60-100 mm
Upper deck: 30 mm
Panzer transverse bulkheads: 170-200 mm
Torpedo bulkheads: 40 mm
Barbettes: 300 mm
Tower: 110-300 mm
Casemates: 170 mm
Front command tower: 150-300 mm
Aft command tower: 200 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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