fighting ships of the world



MACKENSEN battlecruisers


Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Mackensen   240 Blohm & Voss, Hamburg 30/1/1915 21/4/1917 --- sold incomplete 11/1919
Graf Spee   958 Schichau, Danzig 30/11/1915 15/9/1917 --- sold incomplete 11/1919
Ersatz Freya (planned Prinz Eitel Friedrich)   241 Blohm & Voss, Hamburg 1/5/1915 13/3/1920 --- BU 1921
Ersatz A (planned Fürst Bismarck)   35 Wilhelmshaven KW 3/11/1915 --- --- sold incomplete 11/1919


Displacement normal, t


Displacement full, t


Length, m


Breadth, m


Draught, m

8.40 mean 9.30 deep load

No of shafts



Mackensen, Graf Spee, Ersatz Freya: 4 Marine steam turbines, 32 Marine boilers

Ersatz A: 4 sets Marine geared steam turbines, 32 Marine boilers

Power, h. p.


Max speed, kts


Fuel, t

coal 4000 + oil 2000

Endurance, nm(kts)


Armour, mm

belt: 300 - 100, bulkheads: 250 - 100, deck: 80, turrets: 320 - 110, barbettes: 290 - 90, casemates: 150, CT: 350 - 100


4 x 2 - 350/42 SK L/45 C/14, 14 x 1 - 149/42 SK L/45 C/09, 8 x 1 - 88/45 FlaK L/45 C/13, 5 - 600 TT (1 bow, 4 beam)



Ship project history: These ships would have differed from previous bait lee misers in having a full length forecastle deck and a return was made to twin instead of tandem rudders. They would have been handsome ships with tripod foremast and 2 funnels. Mackensen was laid down under the 1914-15 programme, Ersatz Freya under the War estimates and the others were ordered in April 1915. It was originally hoped to complete them from the summer of 1917 to the autumn of 1918, and their 35cm guns would have made them formidable antagonists. Ersatz Freya was to have been named Prinz Eitel Friedrich; Ersatz A, later known as Ersatz Friedrich Carl, was to have been named Fürst Bismarck.

    The main armament was arranged as in Hindenburg and the Drh LC/14 mountings allowed 20 elevation, while the 15cm were in a long upper deck battery extending from the forward turret to the after super-firing one. The 5 TT would have been arranged with one in the bows and two on either broadside forward and aft of the torpedo bulkhead.

The boilers comprised 24 single-ended coal-fired and 8 double-ended oil-fired, and were smaller than in the previous ships. Leak pumps were increased to 8 from 5 in Hindenburg.

Ship protection: The 300mm main belt ran from 3m forward of the fore turret to 3m abaft the after one and tapered to 150mm at the lower edge and 240mm at the upper deck. Forward and aft the armour stopped short of the ends and was respectively 120mm and 100mm. The barbettes were reduced to 120mm (Ersatz A 150mm) behind the battery armour and lo 90mm behind the main belt, while the turrets had 320mm faces, 200mm sides, 220mm rears, 180-110mm roofs except that in Graf Spee the figures were 300mm, 200mm, 210mm, 150-100mm. The armour deck did not extend outboard of the torpedo bulkhead amidships where it was 60-30mm with 50mm forward and 110-80mm aft. The upper deck was 25mm over the main belt and the forecastle deck 50-25mm over the battery. The torpedo bulkhead was 50mm increased to 60mm by the turrets, and continued as a 30mm splinter bulkhead to the upper deck.

Ivan Gogin, 2014