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The Wittelsbach class battleships' were a class of pre-World War I, pre-dreadnought battleships of the Germanmarker Kaiserliche Marine. They were the first battleships produced under the Navy Law of 1898, with the patronage of Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz.

There were five ships of the Wittelsbach class; the lead ship, Wettin, Zähringen, Schwaben, and Mecklenburg. The class was laid down between 1899 and 1900, and finished by 1904.

The ships of the Wittelsbach class were similar in appearance to their predecessors of the Kaiser Friedrich III class, however, they had a flush main deck, as opposed to the lower quarter deck of the Kaiser Friedrich class, and had a more extensive armor belt.


Dimensions and machinery

The ships of the Wittlesbach class were 410 ft 9 in (125 m) at the waterline and 416 ft (127 m) overall. The ships had a beam of 74 ft 9 in (22.8 m) and a draught of 26 ft (8 m), and displaced 12,798 tons fully loaded. The ships were powered by 3 shaft triple expansion engines that produced 15,000 ihp and a top speed of .


The ships' armament differed slightly from the preceding Kaiser Friedrich III class, in the elimination of the twelve 1 pounder guns in favor of three more 5.9 inch (150mm) guns, as well as the removal of one torpedo tube.

The main battery consisted of four guns in twin turrets, one fore and one aft of the superstructure. The secondary battery consisted of 18 5.9 inch (150mm) guns and 12 3.4 inch (88mm) guns, all singly mounted in turrets or casemates along the length of the ship. The ships also carried five 17.7 inch (450mm) torpedo tubes.

Service history

Cross section of a Wittelsbach class battleship, circa 1914.
An unidentified member of the Wittlesbach class, taken prior to World War I.
During World War I, the ships served in the IV Battle Squadron, assigned to the Baltic Seamarker. By 1917, all of the ships were relegated to auxiliary duties. The Wittelsbach was decommissioned after having run aground in 1915, Wettin became a barracks ship in Kiel, Zahringen was used for torpedo training, Schwaben became a depot ship for minesweepers, and Mecklenburg became a prison ship.

Wittelsbach became lead ship of the German mine sweeping groups after the armistice of 1918.

All ships of the Wittelsbach class, with the exception of Zahringen, were sold for scrap between 1920 and 1921. Zahringen continued in German Navy service as a target ship until 1944, when she was sunk in Gotenhafenmarker by an air raid. She was refloated and scuttled in the harbor entrance as a block ship, ultimately being raised and scrapped in 1950.

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