The Four Kings - SMS König, Grosser Kurfürst, Markgraf, and Kronprinz

Battleship König - 1918

The first German capital ships designed with all their main guns on the centerline, the König-class were able to bring all 10 guns to bear to either side, giving them the potential for a powerful punch. Unfortunately they still mounted the venerable 305mm (12")/50 caliber gun leaving them outgunned by contemporary British ships.

All ships had active war careers, all but Kronzprinz being damaged at Jutland. She made up for it by being torpedoed in November 1916 (along with Grosser Kurfürst - both by one spread from British submarine J.1) and then being involved in a collision with Grosser Kurfürst in March 1917, but all were sent into the Baltic in October for Operation ALBION against the Russians. Grosser Kurfürst promptly hit a mine at the beginning of the operation, but König and Kronprinz engaged the Russian pre-dreadnoughts Slava and Grazhdanin, damaging Slava so badly she had to be scuttled. On June 15, 1918 the Kronprinz was renamed the Kronprinz Wilhelm in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Imperial government.

All four ships were surrendered to the Allies and interned at Scapa Flow, where they were scuttled on June 21, 1919. Because of the depth of the water they were sunk in, only Grosser Kurfürst was raised, the others were sold to Great Britain in 1962 and are popular deep dive attractions at Scapa Flow.

In the follow-up 1910-1912 design, the weakness of the König's armament was rectified and the original König design was modified to accept four twin 380mm (15") guns, becoming the last German dreadnought class - SMS Bayern.


SMS König

Line Drawing - Side View (Greger)
Line Drawing - Top and Side Views (Greger)
Line Drawing - Side View (Gröner)
Line Drawing - Top and Side Views (Gröner)
Starboard Bow View
Port View
Port Bow View

SMS Grosser Kurfürst

Port Stern View on Launch Day - May 5, 1913
Starboard Bow View
Starboard Bow View while firing forward turrets
Unique view showing aft funnel painted dark red

SMS Markgraf

Starboard Bow
View of Port Bow

SMS Kronprinz (aka Kronprinz Wilhelm)

View of Starboard Bow


Project Name: Ship of the Line "S" (König) | Ersatz Kurfürst Friedrich Wilhelm (Grosser Kurfürst) | Ersatz Weissenburg (Markgraf) | Ersatz Brandenburg (Kronprinz)
Builder: Imperial Dockyard, Wilhelmshaven | AG Vulcan, Hamburg | AG 'Weser', Bremen | Germania Dockyard, Kiel
Laid Down: October 3, 1911 | October 3, 1911 | November, 1917 | July, 1912
Launched: March 1, 1913 | May 5, 1913 | June 4, 1913 | February 21, 1914
Commissioned: August 9, 1914 | July 30, 1914 | October 1, 1914 | November 8, 1914
Sunk: All were scuttled at Scapa Flow, June 21, 1919
Scrapped: Grosser Kurfürst raised April 29, 1938 and scrapped at Rosyth, all others remain at Scapa Flow (some partially scrapped)
Displacement: 25,796 tonnes (designed) / 28,600 tonnes (maximum)
Dimensions (meters): 175.4 (overall) x 29.5 x 9.19
Dimensions (feet): 578.82 (overall) x 97.35 x 30.33
# of Shafts: 3
# of Blades: 3, 3.8m diameter
# of Rudders: 2 (side by side)
Max Speed/Range: 21.0 kts / 8,000 nm at 12 kts
Main Battery: Ten 305mm (12")/50 caliber - 5 dual turrets
Secondary Battery: Fourteen 150mm (5.9")/45 caliber - single casement mounts
Anti-Torpedo Boat / Anti-Aircraft Battery: Ten 88mm (3.5")/45 caliber - single mounts
Torpedo Tubes: Five 50cm (all underwater - one bow, two mounted on each side- one just forward of "Anton" turret, one aft of "Eugene")
Complement: 41 officers and 1,095 enlisted (as designed)


Warships of the World
Warships of the World German Naval Guns
Warships of the World Pre-World War II German Torpedoes
German Kriegsmarine Encyclopedia - Click on "Hochseeflotte"
The Imperial German Navy from 1888 to 1918

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This page © Copyright 2001, Thomas L. Tanner, Jr. unless otherwise noted.