SMS Nassau Class (BB-1909)


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Following the American South Carolina innovation of superfiring turrets, the Germans hold an advantage in only requiring the four turrets to produce an eight gun broadside while the British ships need five turrets to have their eight gun broadside on Dreadnought to St Vincent class dreadnoughts. The advantage is lessened by the 11" main guns versus the 12" main guns being put aboard the dreadnoughts of the rest of the world.

The removal of the awkward wing turret design planned for these ships allows for more armour and greater speed over those ships fitted with 'wing' armaments. The only remaining disadvantage was the retention of the triple expansion engines for the first two ships of the class, the new turbine machinery not being ready. The later two ships were fitted with the new turbine installations. The first two ships could have been retroactively fitted with turbines but cost, time and production bottlenecks made this impractical.

Displacement: 21,500 tons normal, 24,750 full load displacement.
Dimensions: 534 x 90 x 29 feet
Machinery: 3 shaft, triple expansion, 26,000ihp or 3 shaft, steam turbine, 30,000shp
Speed: 22 knots (triple) 23.5 knots (turbine)
Endurance: 8,500 nmi at 12 knots
Armour: 330mm belt, 60mm deck, 280mm/210mm/105mm turrets
8 x 11" (4x2)
12 x 5.9" (12x1)
8 x 3.4" (8x1)
Torpedoes: 6 x 18" (6x1 underwater)
Crew: 1000 (1090 as flagship)

The four ships of the class had very active wartime careers and took part in all of the First World Wars major battles. At the end of the war, two of the four ships were to be sold as part of the reparations levied against the Germanic States. The other two were to be sold/scrapped on completion of the battleship Wurtemburg, however the two ships were reprieved and retained by the new Weimar Navy when the actions against the Bolsheviks/Communists in Russia failed to overturn the Red Revolution.

The two ships that were sold to Spain were the better turbine powered ships, which left the triple expansion engined ships for the Weimar Republic Navy. 1924-5 was the time when the torpedo tubes were removed the single 3.4" replaced with 88mm AA guns. By 1934 the ships were no longer of much military value and no further major work would be carried out on them. For the next 5 years the ships were solely used as training ships in the Baltic. With the outbreak of war not much changed. A few extra AA guns were fitted, but the ships main role as training ships remained their major role. The two ships were used as fire support vessels for the German Armies operations along the Baltic coast both ways in 1939-40 when the Germans were winning, and again in 1943-45 when they were losing. Both ships were sunk by mines when they ran into a newly laid field in the Gulf of Finland in 1944.


Original drawings of the Nassau class 

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