SMS Kaiser Class (BB-1912-13)


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The original Kaiser class lent itself nicely to be transformed into raider type vessels. Remove the two wing turrets allows a large central space for a renewed propulsion system. Having five Kaiser class, I normally retain three for the Germanic States and sell two to the Iberian Navy. All of which get converted to 'raider' type vessels. Having the five turret version shown below I can still do the same conversions but I now have the option to have two turrets forward and one aft or vice versa. I normally have only the one turret forward to assist in weight saving at the bow to assist the overall speed of the hull. To have the converted ships ready for use by 1934-35 they would have to start being converted 1931 to1933. That would mean the hulls are 20 years old at the time the conversions are being contemplated. How much work would the Germans be willing to do to these ships to get them suited to their new task? Though on the flip side these conversions would only be needed for 10 years, until more modern ships could be built to replace them. These conversions would be expected to be 'expendable' in that they would tie down many ships not only to hunt for them but to escort the merchant ships in the areas the raiders were operating in. The three ships would be expected to operate in the North and South Atlantic Ocean (one ship to each zone), and the Indian/Pacific Oceans (one ship). Could they be used as an eight gun version (two forward, two aft)? Not if the required mixed diesel, turbine, powerplant is to be fitted for both long range and high speed.

Displacement: 25,400 tons normal displacement, 27,100 tons full load
Dimensions: 580 x 97 x 30 feet
Machinery: 4 shaft turbines, 42,000shp
Speed: 22 knots
Endurance: 7,500 nmi at 12 knots
Armour: 350mm (13.75") belt, 30mm (1.2") deck, 300mm/170mm/105mm turrets
10 x 12" (5x2)
14 x 5.9" (14x1)
10 x 88mm AA (10x1)
Torpedoes: 6 x 500mm (6x1 underwater)
Crew: 1100 (1175 as Flagship)

Keeping and rebuilding three of the Kaiser class battleships is always part of my 'never were' plan. These three ships provide the long range raiders that Germany had at the start of the war. They replace the pocket-battleship types with ships that are true capital ships that would require a large number of ships to hunt down and bring to battle by superior forces.

To provide the long range and cruising speed necessary for the long range raiders required the removal of the B and X turrets, handling rooms and magazines. The three remaining turrets are refurbished to enhance the range out to 30,000 yards. While the old deck armour is up to replace the powerplant, the chance is taken to improve the deck armour to 105mm thickness. New bridge structures, aircraft handling facilities, new secondary, tertiary and AA armaments are fitted into the space provided by the removal of the turrets. The old engines and boilers also are removed and replaced with modern steam and diesel propulsion to raise the speed of the ships to a rate where the older French, British and American battleships would not be fast enough to catch them. This premise is processed through the late 1920's and early 1930's and so did not take into account the aircraft carrier and fast battleship. Though there were not enough aircraft carriers available for search duties at the start of the war for the size of the search area.

Displacement: 26,500 tons normal displacement, 32,200 tons full load
Dimensions: 587 x 97 x 30 feet
Machinery: 4 shaft, (2 shafts) diesels 45,000ihp, (2 shafts) geared turbines 55,000shp (total 100,000shp)
Speed: 28 knots maximum (23 knots diesels only, turbines brought on line for full speed)
Endurance: 15,000 nmi at 15 knots
Armour: 350mm (13.75") belt, 105mm (4.1") deck, 300mm/170mm/105mm turrets
6 x 12" (3x2)
9 x 5.9" (1x3, 6x1)
8 x 88mm AA (4x2)
8 x 37mm (4x2)
6 x 20mm (6x1)
Torpedoes: 6 x 21" (2x3)
Aircraft: 2
Crew: 1150 (1220 as Flagship)

KM Kaiser (1912) Lost 08/39 at Battle of Tristan da Cunha
KM Friedrich Der Grosse (1912) Sunk Battle of Diego Garcia 1940
KM Kaiserin (1913) Lost 08/39 at Battle of Tristan da Cunha
SMS Prinz Regent Luitpold (1913) Sold to Iberia IRN Lisboa
SMS Koenig Albert (1913) Sold to Iberia

It is easy to forget (with modern technology) that a ship by itself, with no radar or own aircraft, is limited to the vision range from the highest spotting point on the ship. Depending on visibility this would be a range of 15-20 miles. On a 1 meter map of the world, that would not even be a pin prick. Radar might go out to 40 miles, still no pin prick. Own aircraft or from a carrier raises the search area considerably maybe as much as 150 miles from base and greatly increases the chances of interception (maybe a 1-2mm circle on map). Land based airpower with its greater range keep the raider from enemy coast lines. Any raider commander just has to draw the appropriate circles on the map as to where land airpower can reach and the rest of the map is his to play hide and seek in. At wars start and until the convoy system is implemented the raider vessel does have an advantage. It can intercept the known trade routes where the merchantmen will be found, strike then run back into the empty areas to strike again somewhere else. The British know this and use cruiser size vessels to patrol the trade routes and while a single ship would not be big enough to engage the raiders they should be fast enough to trail the raider till larger ships could be brought to the raiders position. This works if the trailing ship has radar to keep the raider in 'sight' during the night, otherwise the raider can escape again under the cover of darkness.

Photos and drawings of the original converted Kaiser class vessels.



Displacement 27,250 std, 33,500 full load
Length 605.2 ft
Breadth 95.1 ft
Draught 30 ft
Machinery diesels 2 shaft 35,000bhp

turbines, 1 shaft, 55,000shp

Speed 27 knots
Armour 13.8 side, 4.1" deck, 12" turrets
Armament 6 x 12" (3x2)

8 x 5.9" (8x1)

12 x 4.1" (6x2)

10 x 37mm (5x2)

36 x 20mm (8x4 4x1)

Aircraft 2
Torpedoes nil
Notes KM Kaiser (1912) Lost 08/39 at Battle of Tristan da Cunha


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