Liner SMS Zähringen

The liner SMS Zähringen belonged to the Wittelsbach class, which were built shortly after the turn of the century for the imperial navy to equip the German high seas fleet with powerful warships can.


Launching and design:

The ships of the Wittelsbach class are based on the predecessor ships of the Kaiser Friedrich III class, whereby there are no significant differences among the classes.

The launching of SMS Zähringen took place on June 12, 1901, the commissioning on October 25, 1902.


Liner SMS Zähringen

Liner SMS Zähringen


Liner SMS Zähringen

Liner SMS Zähringen




History of SMS Zähringen:

After commissioning the usual test drives were made. Subsequently, the Zähringen was assigned to the High Seas Fleet with which it participated in the annual maneuvers.

On September 20, 1910, the ship was decommissioned and assigned to the reserve fleet.

In the period May to August 14, 1912, the ship was overhauled and some modernization carried out to be put back into service. In the subsequent fleet maneuvers rammed the Zähringen on September 14, 1912, the torpedo boat SMS G171, which sank due to serious damage.

On September 28th, 1912, the renewed out of service followed.




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the SMS Zähringen was reactivated and assigned to the IV Squadron.

Until November 1915, the ship carried out security tasks in the North Sea and in the Baltic Sea without, however, taking part in a battle.

Due to the age and insufficient protection against torpedoes and mines, the ship was relocated to Kiel in November 1915 and started to build heavy weapons. Subsequently, it served as a target ship for torpedo attacks.

From July 1918 began to rebuild the SMS Zähringen as a training ship. However, the conversion could not be completed by the capitulation of the German Empire. On December 13, 1918, the ship was decommissioned.




Use in the Navy of the Weimar Republic:

Since the SMS Zähringen after the war was considered completely outdated, the ship had to be interned neither in Scapa Flow nor delivered to the victors.

The newly founded navy of the Weimar Republic initially used the ship as a residential and storage ship until it was converted into a target ship from 1927 to 1928. All weapons, most superstructures and most of the propulsion system were removed. Until the Second World War the ship was finally used as a target ship.





During an air raid on 18 December 1944 on the Gotenhafen the Zähringen was so heavily damaged that the ship sank in the harbor. Although the ship was made floatable again, on March 26, 1945, it sank in the harbor basin as a blockade.

After the war, the wreck was scrapped from 1949 to 1950.




Ship data:


SMS Zähringen


German Empire

Ship Type:  





Germaniawerft, Kiel


Ca. 22.000.000 Mark


June 12th, 1901


October 25th, 1902


On March 26th, 1945 sunk in front of the Gotenhafen as a blockade, scrapped from 1949 to 1950


126,8 meters


22,8 meters


Max. 8,04 meters


Max. 12.798 Tons


683 Men


3 standing 3-cylinder
Triple expansion reciprocating engines
6 coal-fired steam boilers
and 6 transverse cylinder boilers


14.875 PSi

Maximum speed:  

17,8 kn




4 x Rapid-fire gun 24 cm L / 40 in 2 twin towers

18 x Rapid-fire gun 15 cm L / 40 in casemates

12 x Rapid-fire gun 8,8 cm L / 30

12 x Revolver cannon 3,7 cm

6 Torpedo tubes 45 cm
(1 bow, 4 sides, 1 stern, all under water)


Belt: 100 - 225 mm
Citadel: 140 mm
Deck: 50 mm
Towers: 50 - 250 mm
Slopes: 75 - 120 mm
Casemates: 140 mm
Command tower front: 30 - 250 mm
Command tower aft: 30 - 140 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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