PRUSSIAN/GERMAN IRONCLADS 1865-1890 PACK24 SHIPS IN 12 DIFFERENT CLASSES, from Prinz Adalbert of1865 to the Siegfried class of 1890
Code - 3MGER3
Description - PRUSSIAN/GERMAN IRONCLADS 1865-1890 PACK
The Prussian Navy ceased to exist in 1867, when it became the fleet of the North German Federation. However, before the change it had already taken into service two small ironclads. The first, Prinz Adalbert, was notable as having been originally built for the Confederate Navy, and was a sister to the C.S.S. Stonewall. These two ships had been built for the Confederacy in France under the names Cheops (Prinz Adalbert) and Sphinx (Stonewall). With the fall of the Confederacy the “Cheops” was sold to Prussia, whereas the Stonewall ended up in Japanese hands as the Adzuma. She was not a particularly successful vessel, and although the Prussians increased her armament from the planned 3 x 32 pdr guns, the combination of a “fixed” turret or citadel behind the funnel with two guns and the bow position with one gun and five gun ports was not repeated. After several changes of rig she was placed in reserve in 1871 and broken up in 1878. The Arminius, in contrast was a much simpler design, being a monitor with two twin turrets. Although she lost her schooner rig in 1871, she continued to serve in the navy as an engineer’s instruction vessel, a guard ship, and as an icebreaker (at Kiel) until finally taken out of service in 1871.
During its short life, the Navy of the North German Federation ordered two ironclads, Kronprinz to be built in Britain and Friedrich Karl built in France. Both were central battery ironclads and both survived into the 20th Century, with Kronprinz serving as a machinery hulk at Kiel until 1921. A third ship, originally intended for Turkey, was purchased on the stocks and named “Wilhelm”. Subsequently renamed König Wilhelm she was both fast and powerful, and for many years was flagship of the German Navy. She was rebuilt in 1895/96 as a “Heavy Cruiser”, but was by then obsolete. However she continued to serve as a school ship until sold in 1921.
The most notable vessel ordered by the Federation was the armoured corvette/central battery ironclad “Hansa”. Whilst not a very powerful vessel, and not a great success, she was both designed and built in Germany. She was followed by the three ships of the Preussen class again both designed and built in Germany. As these ships were the first ships of this type to be built in Germany it is not surprising that all had long building times, ranging from 6 years in the case of Preussen (originally named Borussia) to 10 years in the case of Grosser Kurfurst, which was not completed until 1878. Sadly, she was lost the same year when in collision with Konig Wilhelm.
The last two fully rigged ironclads were the ships of the Kaiser class, both designed by Sir Edward Reed and built in Britain. They were the last two German capital ships built abroad. Both were liked and considered good sea boats. In the 1890’s both were rebuilt as heavy cruisers and continued to serve until 1904, when they became harbour ships, with Kaiser not being broken up until 1929.
With the founding of the German Reich in 1871, the former Navy Ministry became the “Imperial Admiralty” in 1872. Led by General Von Stosch, who was instructed by the Reichstag to build up a National shipbuilding industry, rather than relying on vessels built abroad, the Imperial Navy started to build up a force capable of defending its coasts. The first group of vessels were the unusual Sachsen class of Central Citadel Ironclads, with four of the six main guns mounted in a square citadel, and four funnels also in a square, Five vessels were originally planned for the class, but the last, Oldenburg, was built to an inferior design due to lack of funds. Never liked, she did not receive the major refit that the rest of the class received in the 1890’s, when the most obvious change was the replacing of the four funnels, by one large stack.
The final eight ships, all referred to as coast defence battleships, were the Siegfried class of 1888. As built all had only one funnel, except Ägir, which had two. (By 1904, all had been rebuilt with two funnels). All of the class survived the First World War, and both Odin and Ägir were converted after the war into cargo ships.
With the Siegried class, the Coastal Defence nature of the German Navy was to end, and future ships would be suitable for duties on the high seas.
N3123, PRINZ ADALBERT
N3121, FRIEDRICH CARL
N3119, KÖNIG WILHELM
N3117, GROSSER KÜRFURST
N3117, FRIEDRICH DER GROSSE