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Siegfried-Class Ships

Article about: As I clear out old research files I keep finding projects that I started years ago, and here is another one--the Siegfried-class Armored ships. i'm going to post these photos in groups, so t

  1. #1

    Default Siegfried-Class Ships

    As I clear out old research files I keep finding projects that I started years ago, and here is another one--the Siegfried-class Armored ships. i'm going to post these photos in groups, so there might might be a short gap between one group and the next. But in the end, it will be one continuous presentation. Besides, I'm old and I'm slow.

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    The Siegfried-class consisted of eight 3700-ton armored ships that entered service from 1890 to 1896. SMS Siegfried, shown above, was the first. The Siegfried-class ships were the last pre-Dreadnought-era warships the Germans built, and the main-stay of the fleet until about 1900. Initially classified Panzerzeuge (armored vessels), they became Panzerschiffe IV. Klasse (armored ships 4th class) in 1893. After 1898 they were classified as Küstenpanzerschiffe (coastal armored ships). Their intended role was coastal defense. Below are the other seven ships in the order they were commissioned.
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    Beowulf 1892

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    Frithjof 1893

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    Hildebrand 1893

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    Heimdall 1894

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    Hagen 1894

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    Ägir 1896

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    Odin 1896
    These ships went into service just as the naval tecnological revolution, that would make these ships oboslete in less than a decade, was starting. Vastly improved metalurgy introduced more shell-resistent armor and made it possible to build much larger ships, carrying guns that were larger and had greater range. The adaption of the steam turbine to marine use, and improved boilers, meant faster ships with greater fuel economy and greater range. The technological revolution introduced the all-big-gun battleship as evidenced by HMS Dreadnought in 1906, and the world cruise of the American Great White Fleet Fleet in 1907.

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    The first of the Siegfried-class was laid down in 1888 just as the Germans had reached the peak of steam-torpedo development. The combination of the steam-torpedo with fast, cheap, and quick to build torpedo boats, supported by a squadron of heavily gunned armored ships, gave the Germans the ideal weapons mix for the Navy'scoast defense mission. Between 1872 and 1897, the German fleet was designed to defeat a close blockade by an enemy, defend coastal cities against off-shore bombardment, and prevent enemy troop landings.

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    [LEFT][SIZE=3][FONT=Arial][SIZE=3]This postcard, published in 1900, shows SMS Hagen operating with torpedo boats somewhere in the German Bight. By the time this postcard came out, the German coast defense strategy was fully obsolete because the Royal Navy had already decided that if war came with Germany, the Grand Fleet would conduct a Distant Blockade rather than the expected Close Blockade. The Siegfried-class ships were competely ubsuited to deal with a Distant Blockade

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

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    This photo shows SMS Odin under construction in Danzig in 1893. All the Siegfried-class ships were built with steel frames , planked over with teak. Then the teak was covered with armor plate, which made the ships iron clads rather than steel ships. When completed, the ships were 79 m (259 feet) OAL, had a14.9m (48.9 feet) beam, and drew 5.51m (18 feet), and had a top speed of about 15 knots. The crew was 20 officers and 256 men.

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    In addition to having a single stack, all the ships had a design feature that went back nearly 300 years, and is more often found in sailing ships. The feature is called tumble-home, which is the amount by which the sides of the ship above the waterline, roll in toward the keel line. The plans above show the tumble-home on SMS Hagen, which was the same on all the ships. The original reason for tumble-home in sailing warships was to provide room on the gundeck to operate the muzzel-loaded cannons of the 18th to early 19th Centuries.


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    All the ships carried the same armament, three 24 cm (9.4 inch) and six 88mm (3.5 inch) guns, shown above on SMS Beowulf. The placement of the six 88mm guns is the only noticable design difference among the eight ships.

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    In addition to guns, the ships were armed with four torpedo tubes. One mounted in the stern, shown above in SMS Ägir, and one in the bow, shown in the drawing below.
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    There were also two tubes mounted somewhere between the waterline and the main deck, one on each side of the ship, but I have never been able to locate them.

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    Another throw-back to an earlier age was the Rammsporn (Bow Ram) shown in the drawing above. It's the protrusion at the base of the stem, and as its name implies it was there for ramming an enemy ship.

    The ships had an easy motion in moderate seas but lost considerable spped in rough seas and developed severe weather-helm. Weather-helm is the tendency of a ship to round into the wind, which the helmsman feels in the wheel because it takes more and more effort to hold the ship on coarse. As the weather-helm increases, the helmsman has to apply more and more lee helm. The standard practice in heavy weather was to heave-to and ride it out--just like a sailing ship.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

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    Following modernization and up to 1914, the Siegfrieds spent most of their time deactivated and assigned to the North Sea and Baltic reserve fleets. Only Heimdall and Hildebrand took part in the annual autumn maneuvers with the fleet. In 1895 SMS Hagen was sent to Morroco to show the flag and put pressure on the Morrocan government.

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    In August 1914 the Siegfrieds were formed into the 6th Squadron and assigned to the fleet. But they saw no action during WWI as depicted in this wartime postcard. In mid-September 1914 they were detached from the fleet and became training ships for new crews. On the night of 4 November, SMS Hagen rescued the 381 survivors from the SMS Yorck that had steamed into a German minefield, depicted in the postcard below.
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    In January 1916 all but Odin were deactivated, stripped of their armament, and converted to accommodation ships. Odin remained active in the Baltic as an icebreaker until November 1918. All eight ships were struck from the List on 17 June 1919. Odin, Frithjof, and Ägir were sold to the Hamburg shipping firm, Arnold Berstein and converted to freighters. The others were scrapped.

    Dwight

  4. #4

    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

    Hey Dwight. Another excellent thread! Where could I get more information on these ships? Are there any books covering the Siegfried-Class Ships? Maybe a new book project for you?
    Thanks.

    Luke

  5. #5
    KSH
    KSH is offline
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    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

    This has been, for me, a highly educational and interesting presentation of a very specific subject pertaining to the Kaiserliche Marine! Simply excellent!


    Regards,

    Kenneth S-H.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

    Great postcards, Dwight. Besides postcards have you ever come across any militaria for these ships?

    Luke

  7. #7

    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

    Wow, that's a lot of research, very interesting. Thanks for showing us Dwight.

    Jay

  8. #8

    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

    To all of you, I appreciate your interest and your comments. I found this photo filed in the wrong place. In fact, I had forgotten that I even had it. This is a photo of one of the Siegfrieds in Kiel in November 1918 during the uprising there among the sailors. The German minister of defense, Gustave Noske, is speaking to the disident sailors from the deck of the ship. As you can see, the 88mm guns have been removed and the speaker is on the empty gun platform. At this time the ship was being used as an accommodation vessel. The photo shows the ship's extreme tumble-home. Dwight
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships


  10. #10

    Default Re: Siegfried-Class Ships

    Korifa: Thanks for posting that fantastic photo. Can you tell us something about it, such as where was the ship when this photo was made, and is this a photo of the ship being converted to an accommodation vessel (Wohnschiff) or is she being scrapped? And, can the ship be identified? Thanks again for that post. Dwight

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