Austro-Hun Navy 1 prototype (1916)

The Austro-Hungarian secret weapon

The Versuchsgleitboot (“Above, gliding boat”) was a prototype of a fast, small wing-in-ground torpedo boat build in 1916 by Dagobert Müller von Thomamuehl. It was out of this world at that time, by using a particular hover effect to lift it just above the surface, reaching a top speed of 32,6 knots. The craft was also impervious to mines and can fly above harbour defense nets also. Unfortunately, guidance proved problematic and the engine failed to show sufficient reliability. As a result, the hybrid craft, in between a plane and a boat, was never ordered in serie.

colorized Versuchgleitsboote

A revolutionary wing-in-ground effect military craft

The Wing-in-Ground effect has been already detailed in a post on a much more modern craft, the Soviet Ekranoplane, the A90 Orlyonok. The effect was known by early pilots, which planes were very light and when landing, even at low speed, tended have so much lift they “refused to land” when almost making a touchdown. That effect was later theorised and better known through mathematics and experimentations all along the interwar. Also, the first mention of the concepts of surface-effect crafts termed “hovering” was coined by Swedish scientist Emanuel Swedenborg in 1716. In the next century, shipbuilder Sir John Isaac Thornycroft patented an early design. This was for an air cushion ship or “hovercraft” in the 1870s. It was however undoable since compact and powerful engines had to wait for the early XXth century. In 1877 Thornycroft patented a hollow-bottomed air cushion boat filled with compressed air. He was followed by Swedish engineer Hans Dineson design, which invented flexible rubber cushion seals.

Unlike hovercrafts, the Versuchsgleitboot looked like a wing with rigid ‘skirts’ on the sides to trap air, but not on the entry or exit of the wing/hull profile so to trap the air. There was an engine to create an air cushion, located towards the front. It was capable of lifting the rear section up to 10 inches over the surface. Passed 20 knots, the craft was completely off the water. The Gleitboote was an “air cushion” boat (Luftkissengleitboot).


About Dagobert Müller Von Thomamuel

Dagobert Von T. Lieutenant Commander Müller von Thomamühl was an inventive and dashing naval officer who displayed personal courage and enterprise and his life was very much connected to the sea and Croatia, Bohemia and old Austria. Like many other Austro-Hungarian seafarers, he also improved on existing technology. However his personal story was also connected to the tragedy of of the old Monarchy and successor states.

Born in Trieste in 1880, Müller in 1900 circumnavigated on the sailing training ship “Danube” and participated in the Expeditionary Corps against the Boxer Rebellion in China, was later on a mission trip to safeguard trade interests in Africa and South America, learned about torpedoes, became a Lieutenant on a liner, commanded various torpedo boats, was awarded for bravery, became first commander of the diving school in Pola, developed a diving device with which he reached 64 m, a world record at the time. He collaborated with Prof. dr. Stiegler in the study of the effects of weightlessness and pressure conditions underwater on humans. He discovered first hand the toxic effects of nitric oxide and made the first tables on diving times to avoid diving disease. He also was a driving force into making a pressure chamber to alleviate their consequences.

In 1915 -1916 he had this idea of a light torpedo boat that could use a new mode of sustentation, to be faster, and started working on a wooden air-cushion gliding boat in Pola. This “hovercraft” was inspired by the conviction that the torpedo, the most advanced and advanced weapon of its time, needed to be served by a boat with greater necessary agility and speed, in order to give an edge to the small Austrian navy.
His idea was to combine the new principle of the English motor launch with the air cushion principle.
After the first speed tests were reported to Vienna, he moved to Dubrovnik but to his return, found his boat disassembled to the last rivet, even the engines, by Viennese engineers. He saw this an act of services rivalry, adverse academics and the bureaucracy. (See later for the development of the Gleitboote).

Afterwards in 1917, Müller Von T. initiated the first Austro-Hungarian aircraft torpedo with Rtr Gottfried v. Banfield, and participated in an attack on the Otranto barrage. As a torpedo expert, he created the torpedo command and took its head in 1918 with the grade of Korvettenkapitän and owner of the Navy Merit Cross. After the fall of the Monarchy he became a Czech citizen. He is credited woth the invention of the photoelectric barrier with Prof. Hans Thirring, with one example installed in Kherson. Rights were bought by Carl Zeiss and later by Siemens-Halske. He would later work as a commercial in Yugoslavia for marine hardware, between Germany and UK. He became (forced) German in 1938 with the annexation and later fled impoverished with his family to Klagenfurt, not far away from the sea, navy and Croatia. He passed away in 1956, buried in Pola.

Development of the Gleitboote


Ideas for this craft came for small scale experimentation, and theoretical essays about the effect, as a solution to avoid drag. There were already experimentations in a close field since 1898, by Italian inventor Enrico Forlanini which started experimenting with hydrofoils using a “ladder” foil system. In 1901, also, British boat designer John Thornycroft worked on stepped hull models with a single bow foil translated in 1909 with the 22-foot (6.7 m) Miranda III. The next Miranda IV was credited for reaching a very honorable 35 kn (65 km/h; 40 mph) with a fraction of the power of any torpedo boat of the time.

From 1906 in the USA many patents and vulgarization made the concept popular and Alexander Graham Bell started work on an advanced hydrofoil boat with his chief engineer Casey Baldwin. They also went to work with Forlanini in Italy, and at his Beinn Bhreagh estate near Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Belle experimented with various designs, ending with the Bell HD-4, capable of 47 knots, just before the end of the war, with Renault engines. After obtaining more powerful 260 kW (350 hp) engines he devised in 1918 the HD-4, which will set a world marine speed record at 62 knots (71 mph), still valid in 1939. So these works were very much known to Dagobert.

Thomamühl began his experiments with a high-speed glide-boat using the ground effect by air cushion, but this “trial glider” was already designed from the outset as a torpedo carrier.

Although the vehicle was able to demonstrate its functionality during the successful test drives, the fleet command did not pursue the development, which was always very limited in terms of financial and technical resources. The project fell into oblivion not least because of the outcome of the war and the associated end of the Austrian Navy. It was not until 1955 that the Brit Christopher S. Cockerell patented his hovercraft and became the public inventor of the hovercraft.

Using non-strategic materials (wood) as a safe working basis, Dagobert drawn a kind of “floating wing”, shaped like a section of a large aerofoil. This had the natural advantage to create a low pressure area above like an aircraft. For propulsion he needed compact engines and naturally turned towards aero engines. Four were needed to drive two submerged marine propellers. This was not sufficient however as the large rectangular shape would have create a lot of drag and needed a fifth engine in order to create the lift. The wooden structure was made of braced sections and was both solid and light.

This fifth engine was linked via a transmission chain to the propeller, placed vertically in a cylindrical chamber, blewing air below, directed into a “chamber” only partially enclosed by the sides of the craft. The goal was this air blown to the front of the craft increased air pressure under it. When in motion, the air was trapped under the front, the pressure raised and this also increased lift. Therefore the Gleitboot could not be compared to a hovercraft, as it always needed water below, and could not transition to land or other surfaces.

Also, given Dagobert’s involvement with the torpedo boats in the Navy, designed this as a fast torpedo boat, with a top speed over 32 knots (59 km/h). Basically this “floating wing” had a large central opening with the operators, and a smaller opening further forward in which was located the helmsman, steering and instrumentation. The flanks bridge was large enough to walk from the long forward and aft decked “beaches”, but the crew avoided walking in these areas when at speed to avoid unbalancing the craft. The interior opening where the crew stood, was already crowded with four engines and the central cylinder containing the propeller creating the air suppression below.

The torpedoes were located in cradles either side of the hull with their steering at the level of the central compartment so they can be launched manually by the crew. They were dropped head first like most torpedo crafts of the time. For close defense two pintle-mounted Schwartzlöse liquid-cooled machine guns were placed on the corners of the central opening so to be used against sea and airborne targets. Both torpedoes were 450 mm models, the same carried by standard Austrian torpedo-boats.

Later in the interwar, 1926-27, theoretical grounds for motion over an air layer were formulated and calculated by Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovskii, father of the Russian astrophysics.

Rejection by the navy

The Versuchgleitboot was abundantly tested and when judged ready, armed with torpedoes and a Schwartlose machine gun. However she would never see actual combat. It is known the craft proceeded to at least 2-3 torpedo launches to assess its qualities as delivery platform.
Reviewing military authority board found many issues with the Versuchsgleitboot. Officially, it was unstable in high seas, not particularly a good platform for launching torpedoes or depth charges, which limited its military effectiveness. In the end the board did not recommend further development (Torpedo planes were seen as a more promising development). After being scrapped, the engines (according to another source) were returned to the aviation.
Sources are conflicting over this design not being a true hovercraft, which would be the 1959 Saunders-Roe model, but it was certainly the first “surface effect” propelled vehicle.

We can only guess what would happen if the craft was given a different shape and more powerful engines, deriving into a true “ekranoplane” like their cold war Russian derivatives. The war was approaching fast, but if carried by, for example, a fast cruiser with the stern and aft deck rebuilt to carry a serie of such crafts (eight for example), could have “released” a squadron to attack the harbor of Otranto where military vessels were stationed, and dealt quite a blow to the entente. Indeed, ports were generally impassable to torpedo boats since the days of Port Arthur and the Japanese surprise attack: Nets were placed across the entrance for example and mines.

Pola was not exception to this and probably the best protected. That’s why the Italians devised the “Grillo“, to attack Pola, by climbing over obstacle. In a similar way, the Austro-Hungarians planned to “surf” over them. This was probably the way forward and indeed the Soviet Navy and the Italians would explore this new path in the 1970s. Today, 100 years after, the wing-in-ground effect is well understood and there are promising development away. That’s make Thomamhül a true pioneer, worthy to be remembered today.

Reconstruction project

Modern reconstruction
The Modern reconstruction, which was completed by 2015, for the centennial of the invention.

The reconstruction project started with Walter Krobath in Klagenfurt in 2012. The project was soon labelled as a company called “leadership” due to the innovative nature of the boat. The replica was inaugurated in the summer 2015, with the official naming and launching ceremony.
The new craft is 13m in length, 4m in width, 1.80m in height which was as close as the original as possible, and built from larch wood, suitable for the high seas. The deck is clad with teak frames.
The powerplant of course is brand new but equivalent (if largely superior) in power to the original, two high-performance STEYER marine engines, driving two propellers for a total of 560 hp and a third engine, 160 hp placed on the bottom to provide the air cushion effect.

Official page on FB

V. specifications

Dimensions 13 x 5 x 4 m
Displacement 6.5 tonnes unloaded
Crew 5
Propulsion 2 shafts 4 120PS aero engines + 1 air compressor 65PS aero engine 450 m3/min
Speed 35 knots (40 knots theoretical)
Armament 2 450 mm torpedoes, 3-6 ASW grenades, Schwarzlose machine gun
Armor None

Author’s summary rendition

Links and sources

Conway’s all the workds fighting ship 1906-21 (mention and a few lines)

Zara class torpedo vessels (1880)

Zara class torpedo vessels (1880)

Austro-Hun Navy Zara, Spalato, Sebenico, Lussin

The forgotten Zara class cruisers

When speaking of “Zara”, the name (outside a clothing brand) in naval history resonates as an Italian heavy cruiser class, which always comes to mind to navy nerds. Not far away, fifty years earlier, another “Zara” class was active… in the Austro-Hungarian Navy.

These were a far cry to the splendid Italian ships, a small fraction of their displacement, but still “cruisers” nevertheless for some authors and listed as such by wikipedia. Officially they were however “torpedo vessels”, and in truth small station torpedo boat destroyers.

With their elegant lines they almost looks like luxury yachts in disguise, made for cruising the calm and sunny Adriatic sea. Failing miserably to reach their designed speed however (they were as fast on sail alone!) the role they played in WW1 was virtually nonexistent. In short, they are now forgotten ships, to the point the Conway’s forgotten them in their 1860-1905 edition and published them on the next. SMS Lussin derived frpm the same program and is integrated here by commodity but was almost her own class.

SMS Zara
SMS Zara as built

Development of the new torpedo vessel

The Zara class torpedo vessels proceeded of the need to use torpedo and at the same time fight against very early torpedo boats, at a time Austria-Hungary was at the forefront of torpedo innovation, through its local British office of Thornycroft, invented and breveted by an Austrian inventor, Johann Luppis.

In 1875, the idea of a torpedo boat was no longer a fantasy and naval staffs experimenting with dangerous spar torpedo launches started to see in the torpedo launcher fast boat something less reckless and perilous to use. For the Austro-Hungarian staff which Navy was just in the making, this was a perfect opportunity to re-establish a balance of forces with an equally young but much larger Italian Navy, a potential rival at the time, although there were more concerns about a still powerful Ottoman Navy.

Whatever the case, ships were thought of to fight against boats carrying torpedoes, having them deterred away for larger and more valuable assets, using guns and torpedoes. The idea was born as a second choice by Marinekommandant (Navy Commander) of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, Friedrich von Pöck, forced to renounce to obtain financing for his ironclads. He turned to more “asymetric” forms of warfare in which the recent torpedo was centerpiece, alongside naval mines. The feeble navy at the time could only be considered in modern terms as a “green water” one, made for coastal and defensive actions, with a added deterrence of several fortifications along the coast.

The torpedo carrier ship went in genesis for some time, but Von Pöck agreed with the Torpedoversuchs-Kommission that this was the way forward. After hearing a report from Fregattenkapitän Hermann von Spaun, naval attache to Britain, which observed the torpedo gunboat HMS Vesuvius in construction, the design was precised. The first specifications came from the Artillerie-Kommission and Schiffbau-Kommission in reunion on 15 January 1875. At the same time, Von Pöck ordered a first Torpedoboot from Britain, soon followed by five more. This was the start of the development of the Austro-Hungarian torpedo boats.

SMS Spalato
SMS Spalato

The Schiffbau-Kommission was hard at work to determine wether the new ship should carry the new Whitehead torpedoes or towed ones, what propulsion system it should use and sails, and the required speed. Eventually, the commission came out with four proposals:
-The largest was a 8,846 long tons vessel, 84 m long, armed with four 100-ton guns (caliber unknown, about 350 to 400 mm) and four torpedo tubes
-The second large model was a 3,200 long tons (3,300 t) vessel armed with two 24 cm guns, two machine guns and four torpedo tubes
-The third was a more modest 60 m, 1,230 long tons vessel armed still with two large 24 cm guns and four torpedo tubes.
-The fourth design was the most economical, but also the weakest, 52 m long for 736.6 long tons (748.4 t) and armed with just two 12 cm guns and four torpedo tubes.

A consensus was reached on the top speed, 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), but also rigging, and two screws. The Artillerie-Kommission also made a high-speed proposal without any gus, just torpedo tubes, a paradox for such commission. The Torpedoversuchs-Kommission recommended submerged torpedo tubes and a ram bow, a substantial belt armor and two heavy gun turrets, as a sort of torpedo-ram such as found in the British and French navies. There were discussions indeed as if the new vessel should be a replacement for Ironclads.
In the end, a compromised was found and it was decided that the new ships should be built at purely torpedo-armed vessel, without armour or heavy guns.
In 1877, Pöck went to Germany to see trials of the torpedo-aviso SMS Zieten. It proved a great source of inspiration to draft the final blueprints.

Design of the Austro-Hungarian zara class

Pöck rejected Shipbuilding Engineer Andressen proposals from Schiffbau-Kommission in January 1877 to concentrate on a small design with characteristics agreed in March 1875, taken over by Josef von Romako, the Chief Constructor of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. In 1878 the design process was quickly finalized and blueprints were prepared, while construction started on 1 August. Romako was inspired by the German Zieten, but the local design was slower, heavier and bulkier. There was the added limitation of engines and boilers which could not tolerate as high a pressure as those in Zieten, and consumed more coal.

An unprotected schooner hull
The construction of SMS Zara was marked par an innovation, the first domestic use of Bessemer steel.
The first two ships, Zara and Spalato were 62.71 meters (205 ft 9 in) long overall, 55 m between perpendiculars for a 8.22 m (27 ft 0 in) beam and 4.1 m (13 ft 5 in) draught. The third, SMS Sebenico, was a bit later and her design was revised as slightly longer in order to meet the designed speed. She has been elongated to 64.91 m overall while her beam was slightly larger at 8.24 m for stability as the draft at 4.2 m. She displaced 882.6 long tons versus 833 tons standard for the first two. All three had the same crew of 13 officers and 135 enlisted men.

Propulsion: Struggles to reach the spec speed
The propulsion system counted on a pair of two-cylinder vertical compound steam engines. They were fed by by five coal-fired cylindrical fire-tube boilers. They were all ducted into a truncated single funnel amidships. Two bronze screws 2.74 m (9 ft 0 in) in diameter passed this power, but on trials, Zara can only reached 14.29 knots with 1,800 metric horsepower. This was almost the designed speed (15 knots) and she was also the fastest of the class.

SMS Spalato indeed failed miserably, only reaching at best 12.63 knots, under 1,370 PS and SMS Sebenico, supposed to be faster, was just a bit better at 12.81 knots on 1,598 PS (1,576 ihp). Each vessel had a barquentine rig with two masts for auxiliary propulsion as agreed. Sail area was 275.6 m2 (2,967 sq ft). Early service month quickly showed significant defects, such as excessive roll, insufficiently ventilation, her bow-mounted torpedo tube was not effective, and in general she was too slow to work as a scout, and too weak to be a torpedo boat flotilla leader.

The gun armament comprised four single 90 mm/24 (3.5 in) rifled, breech-loading guns. This was completed by a single quick-firing 70 mm/15 (2.8 in) Krupp gun plus two 25 mm (0.98 in) rapid-fire Nordenfelt guns. SMS Zara and Spalato had the four torpedo tubes as designed, in single positions, two in the bow and one on either beam, both in deck-mounted launchers. SMS Sebenico differed with a single submerged bow-mounted torpedo tube.

It was limited to the bare minimum: All three ships were given a thin 19 mm (0.75 in) armored deck.

Further modifications:
After they entered service it was estimated they should reach their design speed anyway and their machinery was taken in hands for an ovehaul. They all had their propeller shafts lengthened, and bronze screws replaced by larger steel propellers. First trials were disappointing however. SMS Sebenico was used as a prototype for more radical changes. Her stern was lengthened to improve her hydrodynamic shape. But the result was a mediocre improvement. At last between 1898 and 1901, they re-boilered, as the later built Lussin.

Armament Modifications
Additional 47 mm (1.9 in) guns were installed in the mid-1880s, a bow Hotchkiss revolver cannon and four more on the broadside. In 1897 SMS Spalato was converted as an artillery training school with one 12 cm/40 (4.7 in), two 15 cm/26 (5.9 in), one 47 mm/44, two 37 mm guns while two of her original 9 cm were removed. In 1901, all were removed, while she had two 12 cm, one 6.6 cm, two 47 mm, one 37 mm guns. SMS Sebenico received the same armament in 1903 but eight 47 mm (four 33 cal. and four 44 cal.) plus two 37 mm/23 and two 37 mm autocannon plus two 8 mm MGs and before 1914 an additional 10 cm (3.9 in) gun. The last to be modified, was SMS Zara, which in 1917 had two 6.6 cm, eight 47 mm/33/44 guns and only two bow torpedo tubes left.

Disappointing in service

All in all, these four ships proved almost useless in service. They had poor performance and cannot be used as fleet scouts or flotilla leaders. They were too weak also to protect rfriendly torpedo boats in that role or to be used as gunboats. The 1880s and 1890s saw them mostly inactive, reactivated for periodic training exercises. They usually alternated sea duty with training squadron and Harbor service.

Sebenico was used also as a training ship for engine-room personnel while Spalato found some use as an artillery school and Zara with the torpedo school. Zara however participated in a naval demonstration during Greco-Turkish War and Sebenico sank a Greek vessel trying to break the blockade. When WWI broke out they were all in training duties and became guard ships, seeing no action during the war, compounded by the usual caution of the Austro-Hungarian admiralty.

The Zara class in action

SMS Zara

In her sea trials, Zara reached 14.12 knots (26.15 km/h; 16.25 mph), less than the designed speed (15 knots) and replacing the propellers by larger steel ones did not improved much the top speed. On 17 July 1882, she was commissioned and in September, she participated in Pola in a demonstration of the fleet’s torpedo vessels in front of officials included Kaiser Franz Joseph I. He came onboard to see an action of torpedo boats sinking an old schooner. In 1885, the bow torpedo tube was replaced, and the next year, Zara was affected to the torpedo training school while an Hotchkiss 47 mm (1.9 in) gun was installed on her bow. and four more later in 1887.

Zara was in reserved, only activated for short training sessions. In 1889 she took part in the summer training cruise but was inactive from 1890 to March 1894. She assisted SS Palmyra after recommission, running aground off Medolino. She was back with the torpedo school in 1897, was re-boilered in 1898-99, to no avail since she can only reach 10.94 knots on trials, therefore she retuned in reserve in 1900. In 1903-1906, she was converted as a full time training ship, cruising along the Dalmatian coast until 1913. She was reduced to a tender for the same school, until May 1914, served with the naval cadets and converted into a guard ship on 28 June at Cattaro Bay until 1917. She was sent in Pola, but while she was cruising off the island of Lacroma, she suffered an accidental explosion, but made it to Ragusa for temporary repairs, and reached Pola for further repairs. She resumed her service with the training school until November 1918 and after peace was signed, allocated to Italy as war reparation, but soon scrapped in 1921.

SMS Spalato

SMS Spalato was modified soon after commission, her bow torpedo tube was modified, propulsion system rebuilt. By November 1884, started sea trials, but her machinery was damaged in an accident. Spalato proved slower than Zara at 12.63 knots and in 1886,she received a 47 mm Hotchkiss gun at the bow. She replaced Zara in the torpedo training school but until 1895 she was decommissioned and placed in reserve. She was reactivated periodically for summer exercizes in 1896 and 1897 and later joined the artillery school, rearmed with several 12 cm (4.7 in) and 15 cm (5.9 in) guns on the stern.
In 1900, she joined the reserve again, was re-boilered, rearmed, returned to the artillery school in 1902 until 1914. Decommissioned in March she was in poor state but served as a guard ship off Pola until May 1915. She was de-armed afterwards and allocated to Italy, scrapped in 1921.

SMS Sebenico

Despite her finer lines, SMS Sebenico sea trials were disappointing at 12.91 knots at maximum power, and from January 1884, she was assigned to the main Austro-Hungarian squadron. She toured in Greece and later spent the next nine years in reserve, rearmed with four 47 mm (1.9 in) guns. In August 1893 she went with the training squadron for engine-room personnel. She cruised to the island of Tenedos in 1895 and served as the station ship in Constantinople, until May 1896, and visited Piraeus, Greece in 1897.

She served with the International Squadron, which intervened in the 1897-1898 Greek uprising on Crete at a time the Austro-Hungarian was the third-largest contingent after UK and Italy. On 17 March 1898, she intercepted and sank a Greek schooner forcing the blockade off the island of Dia. She operated there until December 1898 but was decommissioned and disarmed when back home.

Until 1901, she was re-boilered and resumed her service as a boiler-room training ship, then station ship in Cattaro Bay by 1902, and a tender for the artillery school in 1903 with a revised armament. In January 1904 she assisted the Norddeutscher Lloyd steamship SS Calipso, stranded off Medolino. She served for training until May 1915, then station guard ship in the port of Spalato, then back to training in 1918, allocated to Italy in 1920 and scrapped.

The case of SMS Lussin (1883)

A revised design for speed

Seeing the first sea trials of the Zara as a disappointment, Josef von Romako, the chief engineer of the navy’s consteuction board started to design a fourth cruiser, helped by an other engineer, A. Waldvogel. Romako submitted it to the design staff of the maritime commission on 10 June 1881. The ship had a longer hull, finer lines, well shaped on the aft part in order to reach higher speeds. The longer hull also camed with revised propulsion system, rated at 3,600 metric horsepower (3,600 ihp) this time. Both combined were able to allow the ship to reach a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph) this time. Eventually the Marinesektion gave to Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino in September 1881 the construction of the new ship.

However if Lussin was built and tested, she failed also too to meet the speed requirements of the Marinesektion. Therefore Vice Admiral Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck replaced Pöck in November 1883 and decided that future torpedo cruisers would always be ordered from foreign shipyards. This was to be the British-built Panther class, ordered in 1884, rather successful ships.

Disappointing speed but better armament

Lussin was longer at 79.75 m for 8.42 m in beam and a shallower draft of 4.06 m up to 4.3 m fully loaded. Displacement was also largely above the rest of the class at 1,011.17 metric tons (995.20 long tons; 1,114.62 short tons) as designed, and up to 1,122.5 t fully loaded. Propulsion reliaed on two 2-cylinder compound steam engines fed by five cylindrical boilers, for a total of 1,743.3 indicated horsepower. However as shown by trials she could only reach 12.14 knots on average and has to cruise at 11 knots in order to reach the range of 850 nautical miles (1,570 km; 980 mi). With boilers turned into blasting furnaces she could only produce 1,741.3 ihp (1,765.5 PS) for 12.95 knots. The machinery in fact poduced in the end less than half of what Waldvogel had preconised. Under sail she was in fact almost as fast at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). Main problems identified in the engine rooms were poor ventilation: After two hours, they overheating so much there was no choice left but left the machinery cooling down by pouring water on the boilers whenever possible.

Armament was more consistent for hunting torpedo boats, with two 15-cm/21 (5.9 in) installed in single mounts fore and aft, and one 66 mm/18 (2.6 in) that can be dismounted quickly and loaded into a boat, or a wheeled landing gun. SMS Lussin was also given five 47 mm (1.9 in) quick-firing guns in 1887 while she still counted on two bow-mounted submerged 35 cm (14 in) torpedo tubes. Protection was the same as other ships of the class, an armored deck 19 mm (0.75 in) thick.

A relatively inactive career

Lussin was laid down at Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino, San Rocco in September 1882. Delays prevented her initual launch in September 1883, and it was done on 22 December. Completion was also delayed later by a strike of the worker, a first in the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Towed to Pola on 12 July 1884 for fitting out she started in October her sea trials, until 21 February 1885 and commissioned the next day, cruising until 30 April in the southern Adriatic Sea. She was part of international naval demonstration in Greek waters and was back to Pola in 23 June 1885, seeing alternated training service and reserved periods. After being remived from front line service in 1890 she became a training ship for engine-room and boiler-room personnel but took part in annual fleet maneuvers. In 1893 she joined the Torpedo-boat Division, collided with the torpedo boat Tb 22 but resumed her routine training duties after repairs before running aground on reefs north of the island of Koločep in 1895.

Lussin on 25 January 1917 in Pola. Note the hull was painted white or pale grey by that time. collections

In 1896, she was reboilered, and resuemed her training duties until 1898, before becoming a mother ship for torpedo boats, although she was reactivated in February 1901 for training duties and in 1903 a station ship in Teodo, until 1909. After decommissioned the Marinetechnisches Komitee examined how SMS Lussin can be modified or be rebuilt as an admiralty yacht. In April 1910, she received a pair of MAN diesel engines (1,800 brake horsepower), allowing her to reach 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph), and she was recommissioned in 1913. In 1916 she was a barracks ship for German U-boat crews in Pola but was ceded to Italy as a war prize in 1920, shich rearmed her with four 7.6 cm/37 (3.0 in) AA guns, displacing 989/1,052 tonnes fully loaded, 14.7 knots fast from 3,255 bhp, recommissioned on 11 September 1924 as a depot ship for MAS motor torpedo boats named Sorrento. She was stricken in 1928, sold for scrap.

Read More/Src

Conway’s all the worlds fighting ships 1906-1921
Austria-Hungary, the Origins, and the First Year of World War I
Note: There is no known model kit of the Austro-Hungarian Zara class. If you know one, thanks for signalling it !

Admiral Spaun & Novara class cruisers

Admiral Spaun & Novara class cruisers

Austro-Hun Navy Austria-Hungary (1909-13)
SMS Admiral Spaun, Novara, Saida, Helgoland.

The last Austro-Hungarian cruisers

The Novara class was also called often “Admiral Spaun” by mixing the two classes, very close. Since it’s the case we will see both. There was the prototype, first local cruiser fitted with steam turbines, and the three follow-ups which diverged on many points but kept the same general appearance. Since they were the most modern and capable cruisers (and the fastest) of the Empire they were also the most often used operationally and actively.

Launch of Admiral Spaun
Launch of Admiral Spaun


In 1904 the Austro-Hungarian Navy planned under Hermann F. von Spaun, its greatest extension yet, to Face potentially Italy or UK in the Mediterranean: No less than ten battleships, three armoured cruisers, six protected cruisers, eight torpedo vessels, and 68 torpedo craft. When Rudolf Montecuccoli replaced him as Marinekommandant, the plan was confirmed, with some adjustment, budget-wise.

Backed with the newly created Austrian Naval League in September 1904 and his post as Chief of the Naval Section of the War Ministry he was armed to have this plan implemented, more suitable for a great power. That was a radical shift from a coastal defence force to a blue water navy. In 1905, Austria was engaged de facto in a naval race with Italy which position was not clear yet. The same year, Montecuccoli started working on the new light cruiser design.

Admiral Spaun at anchor
Admiral Spaun at anchor

His new naval plan indeed was revised and included four armoured cruisers and eight scout cruisers alongside with 18 destroyers and less TBs, but submarines. These scout cruisers were approved at the end of 1905, securing a naval law allocation of 121,000,000 Krone for the whole program. The first part however approved the construction of three Erzherzog Karl-class battleships, six destroyers and a single scout cruiser. Made to operate in the confined Adriatic Sea she was to be fast above all, disregarding range or protection.
Her core missions were to attack enemy shipping and communication lines while performing versatile hit-and-run missions. To reach the desired speed, Steam Turbines were the only way forward, a first for Austro-Hungarian war vessels.

Design of the Spaun

HD blueprint of the Admiral Spaun
HD blueprint of the Admiral Spaun – origin unknown

The hull was 130.6 metres (428 ft 6 in) overall, 129.7 metres (425 ft 6 in) on the waterline and 125.2 metres (410 ft 9 in) between perpendiculars. She was 12.8 metres (42 ft 0 in) so her ratio was 1/10. Her draft was 5.3 metres (17 ft 5 in), deep load. She displaced 3,500 tonnes (3,400 long tons; 3,900 short tons), up to 4,000 tonnes (3,900 long tons; 4,400 short tons) fully loaded, combat ready.


She had no less than six Parsons steam turbines pated on four shafts. The Empire having no expertise in building turbines, they were imported. They were designed to provide 25,130–25,254 shp (18,739–18,832 kW). Steam was produced by 16 Yarrow water-tube boilers (presumably coal-fired). SMS Admiral Spaun top speed was 27 knots and she showed able to reach 27.07 knots (50.13 km/h; 31.15 mph) during her sea trials. To compared, the German Magdeburg class (1911) was only capable of 25 knots, like the British Bristol class. However she was to be compared to scout cruisers, and soon, the Italians would launch their very successful scout cruiser Quarto in August 1911, capable of 29 knots.

Postcard of the Admiral Spaun – Source: The Notice the “rapid cruiser” terminology.


Certaionly the weakest part of the design, as speed was the paramount factor. Spaun was protected at the waterline by a 60 mm (2.4 in) thick amidship armored belt. Main guns were protected by 40 mm (1.6 in) thick shields. The main deck was given just 20 mm (0.79 in). The conning tower was the strongest, relatively to the rest, with 60 mm (2.4 in) thick walls. Compared to the Quarto, this was inferior: The latter had a 100 mm thick Conning tower and 38 mm thick decks. In addition Quarto’s shallow draft (4 m) allowed her to avoid torpedoes and get very close to the coast.

SMS Novara, circa 1915


The Admiral Spaun was given a relatively lighweight armament compared to most light cruisers of the time: She was given seven 50-caliber 10 cm (3.9 in) guns, all singles under masks. The first two were placed in tandem on the forecastle. Four were placed amidship, two on either side. The last was placed on the quarterdeck. They were good, standard Škoda models largely used in the Austro-Hungarian ships and exported. It was so good the Italians in 1924 copied it by OTO Melara as the 100/47. It was Quick-firing (8-10 rpm) with an horizontal sliding breech block, firing a 13.75 kilograms (30.3 lb) at about 880 meters per second (2,900 ft/s). Maximal range was 11 km (6.8 mi) at +14°. Still, that was twice lighter per volley compared to classic 6-in guns. The Italian Quarto had one less gun, but of 120 mm.

Launch of SMS Novara in 1913
Launch of SMS Novara in 1913

Secondary armament comprised a single 47 mm (1.9 in) SFK L/44 gun and a single Škoda 7 cm (2.8 in)/50 K10 anti-aircraft gun.
She was armed also for close quarters at first by two 2 × 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, replaced in 1916 by two twin banks of 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes.
The light armament meant the cruiser, despite having an advnce of two knots, could be out-ranges anyway by enemy cruisers. This led to plans to replaced at least the forecastle guns by a single 6-in (5.9 in) and another on the quarterdeckek. The war ended before it could be implemented.

SMS Admiral Spaun
SMS Admiral Spaun

The Novara class (1913)

Novara class blueprint
HD Blueprint of the Novara class, SMS Helgoland (Unknown origin)

The class was at first delayed for budgetary reasons, and the Army having the lion share of it. After being rebuffed once, Rudolf Montecuccoli, Marinekommandant from 1904 drafted a second memorandum to Emperor Franz Joseph I on 30 May 1910, more virulent, insisting on the recent acquisitions of the Regia Marina. This time his “urgent and quickest possible completion” program was granted. The plan included notably the Tegetthoff-class battleships, six destroyers, TBs and submarines but also three Novara-class cruisers.

The funds were obtained in December 1910. Dubbed “cruiser J, G and H” they were given credits lines of 30 million Kronen (10 million) each. Contracts were awarded to Cantiere Navale Triestino in Monfalcone and Ganz-Danubius in Fiume for the remainder two. It was understood from the beginning they were to be designed on the Admiral Spaun model, making a final superclass of four ships.

Admiral Spaun, overview of the deck

Specs were almost identical: The Novara were 130.64 meters (428 ft 7 in) long, 12.79 meters (42 ft 0 in) wide and had a 4.6 meters (15 ft 1 in) draft. Lenght was unchanged but the beam was reduced of a few centimeters. The powerplant was the same, with Parsons turbines and Yarrow boilers delivering 30,178 shp (22,504 kW). Range was 1,600 nautical miles (3,000 km; 1,800 mi) at 24 kn (44 km/h; 28 mph), good enough for the Adriatic. Displacement was 4,417 tonnes or 4,347 long tons or 4,869 short tons fully loaded. Armament, which was criticized by its weakness, was augmented on the Novara class, of nine 10 cm (3.9 in) guns, rather than seven. One was placed on the forecastle, two paired amidship behind the bridge, four were placed (two each side) amidships, and an extra pair on the quarterdeck. The other important change was the provision of two triple banks of 21-in (533 mm) torpedo tubes. Protection was unchanged.

The ships were authorized and laid down in September, October 1911 at Montfalcone and Trieste and named when launched: Saida was the city shelles during the Oriental Crisis of 1840, Helogoland was related to the Battle of Helgoland during the Second Schleswig War. The third, Novara, had to wait until the slopway was freed and laid down in December 1912. She was named after the Austrian victory at the Battle of Novara during the First Italian War of Independence. Launched in October and November 1912, and February 1913 for the Novara, they were completed on 1 August 1914 (Saida), 5 September 1914 (Helgoland) and 10 January 1915 for Novara. Why the last built gave its name to the whole serie remains an author’s oddity. Generally the class is encompassed as the Admiral Spaun.


Dimensions 96.88 x 11.73 x 4.24 m (317 x 34 x 13 ft)

Displacement 3,500t (3,400 long tons) (4,000 t) FL
Crew 327
Propulsion 4 shafts steam turbines, 16 boilers: 25,130–25,254 shp
Speed 27 kn (50 km/h; 31 mph)
Armament 7 × 100mm, 1 × 70 mm Skoda QF, 1x 47 mm AA, 2 × 450 mm TTs
Armor Decks 20 mm, gunshields 30 mm, belt 60 mm, Conning tower 50 mm

Author’s Illustration profile of the Admiral Spaun – 1/730

Sources, read more
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ship 1860-1905 and 1906-1921


SMS Admiral Spaun underway
SMS Admiral Spaun underway

SMS Admiral Spaun

Just when the cruiser was commissioned the Italo-Turkish War erupted. In principle there was no state of war but neither any alliance between the two countries and tensions between remained high between the two nations. However later with the First Balkan War (and easy victory against the Ottoman Army by the coalition), Austro-Hungary found an agreement ground with Italy both opposed to the treaty about to give Serbian a port i the adriatic in November 1912. The flipside was also to prevent later the Empire to annex Serbia.

There was a first war scare about the alleged mistreatment of Austro-Hungarian consul in Prisrena, and troops were mobilized. Admiral Spaun and Aspern, which were anchored in Constantinople to protect Austrichian interests, were recalled and joined the Aegean squadron. The Treaty of London in May 1913 eventually diffused the crisis, the fleet was demobilized, but Serbia was granted an access to the adriatic.

In June 1914, the Archduke and his wife were carried to Bosnia-Herzegovina on the SMS Viribus Unitis, shot dead during his good will tour in Sarajevo. After reading the news, the Marinekommandant Anton Haus sailed from Pola with Admiral Spaun, Tegetthoff, and TBs to join Viribus Unitis and carry them back wtih the Archduke body. Afterwards started the July Crisis, which only resolved on July 28, when the Empire declare war to Serbia. In August with the war breaking off and Italy staying out of it, Austria-Hungary was dashed in its hopes of using the Regia Marina’s coal stored in Italian ports to access the Mediterranean. The entire fleet was confined to Pola, almost for the remainder of the war.

Admiral Spaun underway, during the war
Admiral Spaun underway, during the war

However the other allied Central Empire, Germany, asked the fleet to support the their Mediterranean Division, made of the Goeben and Breslau and based at Dar-es-Salaam, trapped in the Mediterranean, to get back home. They attempted to break out of Messina but the allies gather their ships to trap them here. Rapidly the fleet was mobilized and sent in support, with the three Radetzkys and three Tegetthoffs, the armoured cruiser Sankt Georg, six destroyers, and 13 torpedo boats, led by the Admiral Spaun. They sailed to Brindisi, but the German ships has been luring attention there, Admiral Souchon instead rounded the southern tip of Greece headed for the Dardanelles, and later Constantinople where they will integrate the Turkish fleet. The Austro-Hungarian went home before even reaching its destination.

Next, French Admiral Augustin Boué de Lapeyrère started a campaign against Austro-Hungarian shipping and while heading for Montenegro, the Battle of Antivari happened. The result of it was the Austro-Hungarian cruiser SMS Zenta was sunk. The following inactivity of the fleet was forced by the presence of mines and the always present French Navy threat. In addition the fleet was kept in case italy decided to join the war on the entent side (which eventually happened in 1915). Apparently Admiral Spaun’s troublesome propulsion system was apparently worse than the Novara-class and she stayed mostl inactive instead of using her speed to raid the Adriatic.

SMS Admiral Spaun in Venice in 1919
SMS Admiral Spaun in Venice in 1919

However she did participate in the Bombardment of Ancona. When Italy was about to join the entente in April, communication came from Germany that Italy renounced their alliance, communicated to Vienna. This left time to the Asutro-Hungrian Navy to launch a raid against Italian shipping. On May, 23, four hours after the declaration of war, the fleet started to raid the Italian coast. This was made by the battleships, under cover by a wing constituted of Admiral Spaun, Saida, Helgoland, and Szigetvár, in faction to spot and prevent any Italian reinforcement. Later she was shelling the port of Termoli and next Campomarino, disrupting a large railway hub, freight yard and station. The bombardment of Ancona was a success, with four steamers sank or damaged and one destroyer sunk (Turbine). Meanwhile, seaplaned raided Venice and Ancona.

Admiral Spaun class

Despite her machinery problems, Admiral Spaun made other missions, mainly in the northern Adriatic. She usually protected minelayng missions. She also was sent in reinforcement to her near-sister-ship Helogoland raiding Durazzo in the southern Adriatic on 28-29 December 1915. Spaun underwent a refit in 1916 with new AA guns and new torpedo tubes. In december 1917, Admiral Spaun and Árpád (Habsburg class) were sent to renforce Trieste in order to shell Italian artillery positions at the mouth of the Piave River, but it was recalled because of bad weather.

After Miklós Horthy took command of the fleet, the Otranto raid became his new priority, after quelling the reasons of the mutiny at Cattaro. In addition to the four Tegetthoff class BSs, and four Tátra-class the effective “battlecruisers” of the navy, the four Novara, were first line. This started in two batches, on 8 June 1918 and in the evening of 9 June. However that day, while still en route, at reduced speed becasuse of engines overheating by night to Otranto (the project was to arrive at dawn, falling on the entente fleet), SMS Szent István and Tegetthoff were attacked by Italian MAS and Szent István was torpedoes and sank. Horthy called back the attack and the fleet returned to Pola.

SMS Admiral Spaun 2

After capitulation, the fleet was mostly ceded to the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, but Italy refused the clause and soon took over Trieste, Pola, and Fiume. Viribus Unitis (Dalmacija) was sank by an italian frogman, and Admiral Spaun sailed in Venice by March 1919, as part of an Italian victory parade. The Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye re-attributed the ship to Great Britain, which eventually sold it to an Italian shipbreaker in 1920.

SMS Novara, Said and Helgoland in action


Saida was commissioned first into the Austro-Hungarian Navy, on 1 August 1914, four days the war was declared on Serbia. She was designated flotilla leader for the First Torpedo Flotilla (Captain Heinrich Seitz), including the six Tátra-class destroyers, six Huszár-class destroyers, ten to eighteen torpedo boats supported by the depot ships Gäa and Steamer IV. This spearpoint of the K.u.K. navy, the First Torpedo Flotilla, was based at Sebenico in August 1914.

1914-15 operations

SMS Helgoland was commissioned on 5 September 1914 and joined Saida. Following the entente declaration of war on Austria-Hungary, 11-12 August French Admiral Augustin Boué de Lapeyrère close off Austro-Hungarian shipping and the Adriatic Sea , transformed virtually into a large ships POW sea. Lapeyrère attacked Austro-Hungarian ships blockading Montenegro first, the Battle of Antivari, and the Strait of Otranto was made into an effective blocking line, preve,ting any sortie in the Mediterranean.

Saida and Helgoland came too late to participate in the support fleet activated to cover the battlecruiser Goeben and light cruiser Breslau. They stayed in Sebenico, inactive under orders of Admiral Anton Haus. However this attentism earned sharp criticism from the Austro-Hungarian Army, Foreign Ministry and the Navy itself. The crews in particular were itching for a fight. This left plenty of time for the entente navies to reorganize a solid blockade system at the Strait of Otranto. But this presence was also constraining the entente fleets here, instead of being used on other front, like in the Galipoli campaign later. Because of their speed however, the Novara class, soon reinforced by the class namesake ship, SMS Novara in 1915, and renforced by the Admiral Spaun, made a fast striking force, potentially the most active in the fleet.

1915 operations

The inactivity of the fleet (only partial, as the Novara class were the only ship to make raids in the adriatic during this time) was also criticized by Germany, pressuring Austria-Hungary to assist the Ottomans, hard fighting the entente in Gallipoli. SMS Novara most daring feat was on 2 May 1915, towing the German U-boat UB-8 from Pola out of the Adriatic Sea and back while evading French patrols, although she had to cut the two when spotted off Cephalonia.

The entry of Italy into the war on the side of the Entente provked an early hours massive operation from the K.u.K. Navy, and the three Novara class and Spaun acted as cover for the battleship shelling Ancona and other objectives on the coast, on 23 May 1915. However before departing, SMS Novara made a raid with a destroyer and two torpedo boats, on Porto Corsini near Ravenna. Counter-battery fire by coastal defense made six victims on the Novara. Meanwhile Helgoland and two destroyers sank the Italian destroyer Turbine. The sortie, collectively called nowadays the “bombardment of Ancona” was one of the rare success of the Navy.

They also raided the coast of Montenegro, without opposition. During the summer of 1915, Helgoland and four destroyers raided the island of Pelagosa. Later in the year, the Novara squadron was hard at work on a weekly basis to sink and damage merchant ships supplying Allied forces in Serbia and Montenegro. During the night of 22 November 1915, Saida and Helgoland plus the 1st Torpedo Division raided the Albanian coast, sinking two Italian transports. Helgoland, Noara and the squadron was later relocated in Cattaro on 29 November.

All along December, they rampage the coast, sinking many transports, capturing the French submarine Fresnel, sinking the French submarine Monge and attacking Durazzo. While during the raid two Austro-Hungarian destroyers were lost to mines, the Novara, Admiral Spaun, and coastal defense ship Budapest were sent in reinforcement.

1916 operations

This year was still active for the cruisers: The French submarine Foucault on 13 January 1916 torpedoed but apparently failed to sink her, despite Italian reports. None of these fast cruisers was ever sank during the war, despite their very active life. On 29 January 1916 Novara and two destroyers raided Durrazo. Both destroyers collided and had to be sent back, but the Novara went on to complete the raid, encountering before arrival Italian protected cruiser Puglia and a French destroyer.

After a short duel, Novara sailed back to port. On the night of 31 May 1916 this was the turn of Helgoland, attacked drifters blockading the Strait of Otranto, sinking one. Soon after Miklós Horthy launched on July, 9, another raid, and Novara sank two drifters, damaged two, and captured nine British sailors, which was a gift for propaganda. Meanwhile Saida’s troubesome turbines had her missing most of the actions, just like Admiral Spaun. Helgoland and Novara therefore took the bulk of these actions.

1917 Operations: The battle of Oranto

sms novara battle of otranto Horthy’s raid of February 1917 on the Otranto barrage mobilized all three Novara cruisers, which were modified to resemble destroyers. In addition they were comprehensively overhauled: Boilers and turbines revised and cleaned up, tested, extra AA gun on all ships; After destroyers has been assessing defences on the coast of Albania, on 13 May, Rear Admiral Alexander Hansa launched the operation. The three cruisers were preceded by the destroyers, making a diversionary attack.

They slipped through a first line of drifters and fell on 15 May on 47 drifters of the Otranto barrage, sinking 14 and damaging 4. On they way back they were intercepted by four French destroyers led by the Carlo Mirabello, repelled by the heavier artillery of both cruisers and later the British protected cruisers, Bristol and Dartmouth and four Italian destroyers.
This was the battle of Otranto.

British drifters at Otranto
British drifters at Otranto.

Fire was exchanged at 10,600 yards (9,700 m), smoke screens laid up, while the Novara class retired. The armored cruiser Sankt Georg sortied along with two destroyers and four torpedo boats as a reinforcement. But before they arrive, the Austro-Hungarian cruisers swept out of their smoke at much closer range, engaging the British cruisers, at 4,900 yards (4,500 m).

They took several hits but inflicting damage and retired again. However Novara was badly damaged, boilers destroyed, and was left dead in the water with admiral Horthy on board, wounded. Saida took her in tow when three Italian destroyers fell upon them. Fortunately, Sankt Georg just arrived and repelled them, covering the towing operation back to Cattaro. Before they arrived, Budapest and three more torpedo boats were sent to provide an additional escort. This was a tremendous sucsess and Horthy’s prestige and all times high. To give an indication of how firce this was, SMS Helgoland fired 1,052 shells during the battle.

1918 operations and aftermath

Cattaro Mutiny
While the Cattaro mutiny took place in the large ships of the fleet, crews of Novara and Helgoland resisted the mutiny and even prepared their terpoedo tubes in case… This triggered as a response Sankt Georg’s gunners aiming their 24 cm guns at the Helgoland and later Novara when commander Johannes, Prinz von Liechtenstein refused to let a rebel boarding party in. He would later confer with Erich von Heyssler (Helgoland) about the best way to go, whereas on the Sankt Georg and Kaiser Karl VI red flags were raised. The following day, the rebels lost steam after Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf ws fired upon by loyalist coastal batteries. The two Novara class and lighter TBs and destroyers were soon joined by Erzherzog Karl-class battleships and quelled the rebellion for good.

Attempted second great raid on Otranto (8 June 1918)
The new C-in-C of the Navy, admiral Horthy launched the project of a large raid on the Otranto barrage to motivate crews, and in addition to the brand new Tegetthoff class dreadnoughts, all three ships of the Novara class and the Admiral Spaun preceded the line. But after Szent István was torpedoed by Italian MAS the whole fleet has to back down and was sent home, for good. There was no longer any attempt at sea until the end of the war.

SMS Helgoland after the war
SMS Helgoland after the war

Fate of the Novara class ships
After Austro-Hungarian capitulation the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was created and asked to receive the lion share of the Navy, mainly helping to maintain the fleet in Pola in order. This was also a preferred option to cede the navy to this new neutral state rather than to cede it to the allies, seen as an humiliation (like for Germany). However the Entente feared (in particular the Italians) the consequences and a new treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1920. SMS Novara was attributed to France (and became Thionville, later a schoolship), while Helgoland and Saida were cedede to Italy and renamed Venezia and Brindidi respectively. They received new AA, but were mostly kept as guardships, Venezia at La Spezia and Brindisi at Bizerte before joinin the scout cruiser division (Grupo esploratori), flagship of Rear Admiral Massimiliano Lovatelli, after some modifications. She had a very active life until written off in 1937, like Venezia.

Tegetthoff class battleships (1911)

Tegetthoff class battleships (1911)

Austro-Hun Navy Tegetthoff, Viribus Unitis, Prinz Eugen, Szent Istvan (1911)

First Dreadnoughts and last Austro-Hungarian battleships:
SMS Tegetthoff at anchor
SMS Tegetthoff at anchor

The Tegetthof was also by far the most impressive and the most famous battleship class of the small Austro-Hungarian Navy. In 1908, the Admiralty was aware of its backwardness on foreign navies, all of which had followed Great Britain in the race towards all-big guns fast battleships of the next generation. They succeeded to the Radetzky, arguably ones of the finest pre-dreadnoughts ever built, laid down and started without approval of the parliament. The class was named after Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, National hero after the battle of Lissa.

Four ships were built, completed just when the war started or soon after. Well armed despite limited dimensions they were formidable adversaries for the Italian Ships but stayed mostly inactive at Pola for the duration of the war, until a 1918 ill-fated sortie which saw Szent Istvan sunk by Italian MAS-boats, while another was sunk at anchor by frogmen.

SMS Radetzky

Genesis of the Tegetthof class

While the Radetzky (photo above), excellent classic battleships, were started, she decided to plan for a dreadnought as a new standard: On February 20, 1908, Admiral Monteccucoli already affirmed the necessity to develop new battleships of more than 18 000 tons.

The decisive factor to motivate the parliament in this direction was the launch by the Italians of Dante Alighieri and the construction of four other units. In October 1908, the Naval Office of the Admiralty offered an award to the architects and engineers of the empire, planning 6 months to study carefully the plans thus collected.

In March 1909, STT issued a selection of 5 designs, all with double turrets. But at that moment, the Italians made known their own plans for Dante Alighieri, and their choice of triple turrets.

Laid down at credit

Admiral Montecuccoli As a result the admiralty ordered a new study. At the same time, the German allies, by special permission of the Emperor, unveiled to the Austro-Hungarian Admiralty the plans of their Kaiser class then in anticipation. But Montecuccoli finally choose to study a clean design, largely influenced by the Italians, neighbors and rivals.

In June 1909, the construction of the first Italian dreadnought was started, while the funds allocated to the construction of Austro-Hungarian dreadnoughts were not even discussed yet (the approval was to be voted in November).

The holds of STT had just been freed with the launching of the first two Radetzky, also at the same time to avoid a technical unemployment of the workmen and to save time, admiral Montecucoli ordered the yard to start the construction of the first two units in 1910 without waiting for the vote.

Viribus Unitis and Tegetthof were laid down in July 1910 when the funds, against all odds had been refused for political reasons. Monteccucoli then actively engaged in a propaganda campaign for the benefit of these ships, which were built on credit. 32 million crowns were thus allocated without guarantee of a later government backup in the construction of the first two dreadnoughts.

Artillery on Viribus Unitis

The world’s first triple turrets battleships

It was not until March 1911 that a new meeting of the parliament committee was held to vote the funds later in the year. At the same time, the completion of Dante Alighieri, the confirmation of four other Italian battleships, and the construction of the French Courbet, based in the Mediterranean, lent credence to Monteccucoli’s approach.

Finally the funds were approved in the budget of 1911, and renewed in 1912 for two other warships, which will be the Prinz Eugen (started at STT in January 1912), and the Szent Istvan (put on hold the same day at Danubius yards of Trieste, brand new, and designed for next-generation dreadnoughts of 25,000 tonnes Technically, these ships were the first in service worldwide with triple turrets (Dante Alighieri was not yet operational when the Viribus Unitis was accepted in service, in December 1912), moreover, by managing to assemble no less than 12 heavy guns on a hull of small dimensions and with a tonnage limited to 20,000 tons as standard.

Pola 1918
Pola in 1918, showing the fleet and two battleships at anchor, probably after the reddition and a French six-funneled cruiser is at the foreground.

Design of the Tegetthof class

The final plans bore the mark of F. Popper, retired from the shipbuilding department at the Admiralty and who had been a consultant since 1907 for STT. He synthesized the various projects and came up with a ship that was once again quite compact and heavily armed. However protection was still somewhat sacrificed to speed, including the underwater protection, rather rudimentary.

(This will be paid dearly in operations). They had a continuous deck, which gave the main and secondary turrets a high position, favorable to their efficiency in heavy weather, but the metacentric point remained high and therefore stability was questionable. This was superbly demonstrated with the quick capsize of Szent istvan after her torpedoing. Secondary artillery was the same standard adopted by other marines, 6-in (150 mm) in barbettes, and a tertiary artillery standardized with 2.6 in (66 mm) pieces.

Their torpedo tubes were of the new standard of 21 in (533 mm), and this time with a fixed bow tube. For the first time, they used Turbines, licensed by British Parsons, and naturally coupled to Yarrow boilers (Szent Istvan used AEG-Curtiss turbines and Babcok & Wilcox boilers). With 20.3 to 20.5 knots on trials, they were in the speed norm for this category of battleships. They only loaded 2000 tons of coal, which was not seen as a problem in the Adriatic.


Tegetthoff Turbines
SMS Tegetthoff Turbines

Since three battleships were constructed in Trieste and one in Fiume propulsion diverged a bit. Szent István indeed possessed two shafts connected to two Parsons steam turbines. All the other had each had four. However in all cases, a separate engine-room was created, and these turbines were powered by twelve Babcock & Wilcox boilers.

They produced a total of 26,400 or 27,000 shaft horsepower (19,686 or 20,134 kW). Designed speed was 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph). Reported trials speed (Tegetthoff) was 19.75 knots (36.58 km/h; 22.73 mph). These ships also carried 1,844.5 tonnes (1,815.4 long tons) of coal,plus a 267.2 tonnes fuel oil reserve to be sprayed on the coal to facilitate overheating and thus obtain more power. This provision was sufficient for 4,200 nautical miles (7,800 km; 4,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).


SMS Prinz Eugen guns
SMS Prinz Eugen guns. Notice that 1937’s German heavy cruiser KMS Prinz Eugen was named after her, presumably sailing with Austrian crews.

The main artillery came from Škoda Works in Plzeň, Bohemia. Twelve 45-calibre 30.5-centimetre (12 in) Škoda K10 guns were provided for each ship (so 48 total plus spares to replace worn out barrels) mounted in four triple turrets.

They were mounted forward and aft in superfiring pairs. The triple turrets helped the ship to keep a more compact design, more concentrated armour and smaller displacement. This was also trigerred by the Choice of Italy with the Dante Alighieri.

Shipyards in Trieste really raced against time and the Viribus Unitis were therefore released faster than their Italian counterparts, a month before Dante Alighieri, earning the title of “world’s first” for this gunnery arrangement.

305 mm gun turrets

On the Dante, the Italians did not have the same constraints on the ship hold size and their dreadnought was longer with turrets spread on the same level on the deck rather than in superfiring pairs, just like the Russian Gangut class.

This arrangement also allowed the Austro-Hungarian ships to fire a heavier broadside, and for protection, a shorter citadel and better weight distribution also helped to protect it. Another crucial factor in the adoption of triple turrets was bacuse Škoda had already been working on a triple-turret design precisely for the Imperial Russian Navy (Gangut class).

The Tegetthoff’s secondary artillery comprised a dozen of barbette-mounted 150 mm/50 (5.9 in) Škoda K10 guns amidships. To deal with TBs, eighteen 70 mm/50 (2.8 in) Škoda K10 guns were mounted on open pivot mounts on the upper deck and three more on the upper turrets, wthis time with AA mounts. Two more 8 mm (0.31 in) Schwarzlose M.07/12 anti-aircraft machine guns were placed atop the rangefinders armoured cupolas.

Two 70 mm/18 (2.8 in) Škoda G. were used as dismounted landing guns, and an additional two 47-millimetre (1.9 in) Škoda SFK L/44 S guns provide an additional fast response against TBs and submarines. As a tradition, these battleships were also fitted with four 533-millimetre (21.0 in) submerged torpedo tubes, covering all angles, bow, stern, and broadside, with twelve torpedoes in reserve.



As we seen above, the battleship’s protection was adjusted to the limited dimensions and compact design of the ship. The armor belt was 280 mm (11 in) thick in the central citadel, and was down to 150 mm (5.9 in) on each ends, but not extended to the stern but a small patch of 110–130-mm (4–5 in) was maintained up to the bow. The upper armor belt was 180 mm thick, down to 110 mm (4.3 in) and the casemate also 180 mm. The turrets sides, barbettes, conning tower were all 280 mm thick (not the roofs).

Szent Istvan in 1915

The decks were protected by 30 to 48 mm of armor in two layers, backed with wood. The underwater protection comprised a double-bottom with only 10 mm (0.4 in) plating on the outer bulkhead. There was behind still a torpedo bulkhead 25 mm thick, whereas the the total thickness of ths sandwich was limited to 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in). Therefore, a torpedo explosion was was capable of piercing it, as shown in a grizzly way in 1918.

Interestingly enough, there were adoubt already about this ASW system and in early 1909, Montecuccoli sent an officer to Berlin to obtain some input and adviced from Alfred von Tirpitz based on the Tegetthoff class blueprints.

Gunnery and torpedo tests have them asking that “The angle between the armored deck and belt armor should be as flat as possible”, adding that it should be angled inwards while the internal layed should be outwards while distance in this cofferdam should be of 4 meters. Popper took note of these suggestions but only for the external layout of the belt armor. The ASW protection was not revised.

Career of the Tegetthof class

Video Footage of the ships in exercizes.

These battleships were completed each year, the Viribus Unitis in December 1912, the Tegetthof in July 1913, the Prinz Eugen in July 1914 (operational in August), and the Szent Istvan in December 1915 only. (The latter suffered the repercussions of the war, sending some of the workers to the front, the lack of strategic materials, the emergence of new priorities).

SMS Prinz Eugen on trials
SMS Prinz Eugen on trials

They were widely praised when built, including by the international press, as the first dreadnoughts built in the Mediterranean, the most powerful warships in the region. This gave the old Empire a short era of supermacy over Italy, at least until the more modern Guilio Cesare and Cavour were released. Until then, Italy only had one dreadnought, the Dante.

The ships however were also criticized as being too small, cramped, with a reduced range, and poor stability. There were also criticisms after the war about the bad workmanship and riveting of the Szent István in particular. Poor riveting (perhaps because of the speed the ships had to be made) was blamed as a potential cause for the leakages that doom the ship when hit.

Naturally, these four ships anchored at Pola formed the spearhead of the Austro-Hungarian navy, within the 1st division of line. Modern and formidable, they were the most active battleships of the navy: In August, the first three shelled and shattered the fortifications and coastal batteries of Cattaro (currently Kotor in Montenegro) and other objectives of the coast. They sailed to Pola and made another sortie during Italy’s declaration of war in May 1915, shelling targets on the Italian coast.

Recreation of the end of Szent Istvan in June 1918 (Fr) – A 2008 Germany, France, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland co-production

In June 1918, they were taken out of the inaction in an attempt of a night raid against the Otranto Dam, in which they formed the backbone of the deployed naval force. However Szent Istvan was torpedoed and sunk en route on the night of 9-10 June off Premuda island by the Italian MAS15 boat and the entire operation was canceled.

On November 1, 1918, when the ships were officially under Yugoslav control, Italian frogmen, after entering the harbor of Pola, laid a portable mine on the hull of the Viribus Unitis, causing a strong underwater explosion. She capsized and sank quickly.

SMS Tegetthof was awarded to Italy in war damage and it was broken up in 1922. SMS Prinz Eugen was allocated to France, which used her as an unarmed test ship and then as a target for gunnery pactice. She was sunk on June 28, 1922 off Toulon. Some of her guns were said to have been preserved and used by the Germans to be installed in the Atlantic wall in 1943-44.

SMS Viribus Unitis sinking

The June 1918 Oranto raid that never was, and the end of Szent Istvan

Historical footage about the raid and famous sinking. The press was invited on board to report a stunning success of the fleet. Instead a tragedy was immortalized.

Young Admiral Horthy, freshly in charge of the fleet was determined to use it to attack the Otranto Barrage. Basically it was to be a repeat of the May 1917 Otranto raid, but Horthy wanted a massive stroke with all ships available rather than throwing a fast cruiser. The four Tegetthoff-class ships were of course at the core of this plan, since no allied ship nearby could compete.

In addition were to sail the three Erzherzog Karl-class pre-dreadnoughts and three Novara-class cruisers, plus the Otranto veteran Admiral Spaun, escorted by four Tátra-class destroyers, and four TBs. Submarines would also screen the fleet and create a retreat barrage in case. Aviation was also to povide intelligence about allied ships in the area and track down and eliminate flanking attacks.

SMS Prinz Eugen underway

On 8 June 1918, Horthy raised his mark on the Viribus Unitis. Prinz Eugen was to lead the squadron and sailed first. They were followed on the evening of 9 June by Szent István and Tegetthoff and their escort. Novara and Helgoland were to destroy the Barrage with the Tátra-class destroyers, Admiral Spaun and Saida shell the Italian air and naval stations while submarines were to set up a trap in front of Valona and Brindisi to prevent any move and reinforcement from the allies. The big guns of the Tegetthoff, while used to destroye the barrage would also be engaged to prevent any counterattack by ships already at sea, whatever their rank and tonnage.

The two battleships had to report north of Ragusa to join Viribus Unitis and Prinz Eugen and both sailed at full speed, but this caused Szent István’s turbines to overheat. Speed was then reduced to 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) and later 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) but the unfortunate battleship started to pour out an excess of smoke. At 3:15 am on 10 June two Italian MAS boats patrolling (MAS-15 and MAS-21) spotted the smoke. Luigi Rizzo, already awarded for the loss of SMS Wien in Trieste six months before was to lead the attack.

By night, all lights shut, both MTBs penetrated the escort perimeter and split to target each dreadnought. MAS-21 torpedoed but failed SMS Tegetthoff, while MAS-15 fired two torpedoes successfully that hit Szent István. Both MAS evaded the escort, MAS-15 dropping depth charges in her wake. Tegetthoff pulled out of the formation and started to zigzag, cutting down her speed and fired on suspected submarine periscopes.

SMS Szent istvan in 1915
SMS Szent istvan in 1915

However SMS Szent István meanwhile has been crippled by the two 18 in torpedoes. They hit just abreast her boiler rooms which quickly flooded and the ship started to list 10° to starboard. Counterflooding portside reduced it to 7° but this was only retarding the inevitable. She steered for the the Bay of Brgulje in an attempt to beach her and save the crew. But in order to save power for the pump, she had to stop. Eventually two more boilers on the port side were flooded, cutting the power for the pumps. While the the turrets were turned to port to balance a bit of weight and ammunition thrown overboard, the list only increased.

An attempt was made at 4:45 am by Tegetthoff to take her in tow. Despite all the efforts and despite of the last remaining pumps still working at 6:12 am SMS eventually Szent István capsized off Premuda (the part filmed). She carried with her 89 sailors and officers. Fortunately the rest of the crew has been evacuated. Her captain, Heinrich Seitz, settled to go with her ship when he was wapparently thrown off the bridge by rishing air when the ship capsized and was saved.

Tegetthof trying to tow Szent Istvan

The dreadnoughts of this class were only the first of a vast plan spanning ten years, and were to be followed by the 4 “improved Tegetthof”, official replacement of the old Monarch. Their hulls numbered VIII to XI were to be put to STT and Danubius between July 1914 and June 1916 but were canceled.

The “Improved Tegetthoff” class

Ersatz Monarch
Original blueprint of the Ersatz Monarch.

When it came about replacing the old Monarch-class coastal defense ships, an improved Tegetthoff design was called for. They were also called by many author’s as the “Ersatz Monarch” class. But they only were officially known as “battleship VIII to XI”. We will dedicate a whole post to these ships at a latter date.

But in great lines, the new battleships were “inspired” rather than “repeats” of the Tegetthoff. They would have been improved in all and every direction while keeping the same general configuration of twelve main guns in turrets fore and aft in superfiring pairs. However they were 173 m long and displaced 24.600 tons rather than 21,500 tons.

One of the proponents of the class was Skoda itself, arguing the necessity of keeping its workforce skills sharp, requesting following business. The company submitted a new gun design with a 345 mm bore (13.6 in), close to the contemporary British 343 mm guns. An due to the added weight and stability concerns, proposed a design where the upper turrets were twins rather than triple.

While the naval section rejected Skoda’s proposal in 3, June, 1911 they ordered preparatory works for a successor design. Their 23,000 tons, 10 guns design could then fit into floating drydock N°1, and again, range would be sacrificed; In December they went with an A and B designs, and soon 26 alternative designs were presented by STT, Danubius, and CNT. However Popper’s successor, Pitzinger rejected all these designs, and in May 1912 it was agreed the new caliber should be 350 mm.

In January 1913 the design rose to 23,800 tonnes and in January 1914, Austrian architects presented a 29.600 tons, 23 knots battleship, the additional displacement and size to accomodate more boilers. The second variant was still impressive, with no less than 13 main guns. On the political side, the parliament rejected any contructions on credit in 1913 and the final vote for credits was granted with orders in end of June 1914. But when the keels were laid down at STT and Danubius, the war broke out ans all work stopped. Skoda, that already provided the new 350 mm guns and a complete turret saw the first gun used on the Italian Front on May 1916. Prospects to reuse armor plates dropped when Italy declared war in 1915.

SMS Viribus Unitis in 1912
SMS Viribus Unitis in 1912

Tegetthoff class specifications

Dimensions 152,5 x 27,3 x 8,9 m (498 ft 8 in x 91 ft 6 in x 28 ft 7 in)
Displacement 20 000 tonnes, 21 600 Tonnes FL
Crew 1087
Propulsion 2 shafts, 2 Parsons turbines, 12 Yarrow boilers, 27 000 hp
Speed 20.3 knots (37 km/h; 22 mph) – 20.7 knots trials
Range 4,200 nmi (7,800 km or 4,800 mi) @ 10 knots (19 km/h or 12 mph)
Armament 12(4×3) x 305 mm (12 in), 12 x 150 mm (6 in), 20 x 66 mm (2.6 in), 4 TT 533 mm (21 in) (sub).
Armour Belt 280, casemates 180, citadel 50, turrets 280, blockhaus 280, decks 48 mm.

Author’s illustration of the Herzherzog Karl in 1915

Src/ Read More

Tegetthoff class battleship (wiki)
A must see:
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1905

Herzherzog Karl class battleships

Herzherzog Karl class battleships

Austro-Hun Navy Erzherzog Karl, Ferdinand Max, Friedrich (1902)

Herzerzog Ferdinand Max
The previous Herzherzog Ferdinand Max in 1900, former famous Ironclad distinguished at the battle of Lissa in 1865.

KuK battleships still on budget…

As soon at they were allowed larger budgets, the Admiralty shipbuildings’s director Friedrich Popper was found ready to develop a series of three ships that were significantly larger than the Habsburgs. Unfortunately, Popper still was limited in its choices because of the narrow construction shapes of STT, the only major shipbuilder on the coast, and its own budgets did not allowed to expand facilities.

As a result, these three units, heavier by 2,000 tons to the previous Habsburg, were still very compact, and therefore well protected. But their artillery was limited again, to 40-caliber Krupp 240 mm cannons, considered sub-standard by the time (or armoured cruiser level).

The three Herzerzogs (“archduke”) were thus once more, even with the benefit of an extra gun, – which was the least given their increase in tonnage – still lower than their counterparts from other nations.  The class was therefore, again, outclassed, outranged and outgunned.

Their armor was weaker at the central section of the belt, on the turrets, the casemates, but it was still higher than the decks and command tower thickness. However, the available space below the waterline (7.51 m draft) authorized the installation of compact yet powerful machines, allowing these “archdukes” to reach 20.5 knots, better than most battleships of her time. This allow them to act a bit like armoured cruisers. Fighting cruisers of all tonnage and fleeing battleships.

Their secondary armament, on the other hand, was much more powerful than on the Habsburgs, as these ships went from 12 x 6 in (152 mm) guns to 12 x 7.5 in (190 mm), which well their main 240 mm battery. The caliber was still sufficiently different to be able to tell the difference seeing their repective waterplumes through the rangefinders and adjust the shot accordingly.

The secondary armament, also from Škoda, were mounted in eight single casemates on each side and two twin turrets, they had a 20,000 metres (22,000 yd) range and a muzzle velocity of 800 mps (2,600 ft/s) and a  three rpm rate of fire.

Once again, their tertiary armament was emblematic of pre-dreadnoughts, with 70 mm Škoda guns (3 in), 47 mm Vickers QF guns declined in 33 and 44 caliber, 37 mm Vickers AA revolver guns and 8 mm Skoda machine guns. All this arsenal was devoted to fighting torpedo boats. In 1916, three Škoda 70-millimeter anti-aircraft guns were added to all ships, replacing the previous Vickers models that dated back from 1910. The torpedo tubes were also sub-standatd at 450 mm (457  or even 533 mm were more frequent) and rarely used. They were fitted above the waterline, on either side.


The three battleships formed together the 3rd line division, making some sorties of coastal bombardment after the declaration of war, but the occurrence of a bad encounter with the allied fleet in the Adriatic forced them to stay idle at Pola harbour for most of the war. At the time of Italy’s declaration of war on May 23, 1915, the three Herzerzogs went out together with the rest of the fleet to carry out a massive shelling of the Italian coast. The ardmiralty however renounced the suicidal attempt to send them to the Dardanelles to support the Turks. Albeit inactive until the capitulation, they were kept always ready, and so were never send in drydock for some bottom-scrapping. Captured by the Yugoslavs, they became, as a result of the peace treaty, war damage compensation to UK which when seeing their poor state immediately resold them to Italian shipbeakers in 1920.

Herzherzog Ferdinand Max

At the outbreak of World War I, Erzherzog Ferdinand Max was in the 3rd division of the Austrian-Hungarian battle-line fleet as said above, mobilized at the eve of the war to support the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau fleeing through the Mediterranean. When the Austrian ships passed Brindisi they were recalled. Erzherzog Ferdinand Max shelled Ancona (24 May 1915) on Italian gun-batteries and the harbour.

A mutiny erupted on 1 February 1918 in Cattaro, which included the crews of Sankt Georg and Kaiser Karl VI. Two days later the Herzherzog squadron  arrived to suppress the mutiny.

The rebellious ships were later decommissioned, their crews jailed, and the squadron took their place. On 11 June, Admiral Miklos Horthy planned a a massive push on the Otranto Barrage with the three Herzherzog plus the four Tegetthoffs and Novara-class cruisers however the previous night, on 10 June, Szent István en route to Cattaro was torpedoed and sunk by Italian MAS and Horthy called off the whole operation.

At the end of the war, SMS Erzherzog Karl-class battleships was handed over to the newly formed State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs before her transfer to Great Britain as war reparation, resold and scrapped in 1921.

Herzherzog Karl

After assisting the flight of SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau, SMS Hrz. Karl took part in the shelling of Ancona, shelling about 24 rounds of 240 mm AP shells at signal and semaphore stations and 74 smaller rounds to gun-batteries and infrastructures.

After the mutiny of Cattaro (see above), she was posted permanently there after helping quelling the mutineers. She was inactive although mobilized for a main sortie planned against Otranto barrage, cancelled after one dreadnought was sunk during the preceding night by MTBs.

She spent the rest of the war at Pola (Pula), protected by heavy nettings. After being taken over by the Yugoslavs she was ceded to France as war reparation but ran aground at Bizerte en route to Toulon and was broken up in situ after she it was found impossble to tow her.

Herzherzog Friedrich

Also part of the 3rd division of the Austrian-Hungarian battlefleet she also sailed to assist SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau past brindisi and went back. She also took part in the bombardment of Ancona and was later sent to Cattaro to quel a mutiny and was based there until june 1918 when it was plan to send her unit to Otranto; but this was never to be and the ship sat idle at Pola for the remainder of the war.  Ceded as a war reparation to France in 1920, she was scrapped in 1921.

Herzerzog Ferdinand class specifications

Dimensions 126,2 x 21,8 x 7,5 m ()
Displacement 10472T standard (10,640 long tons)
Crew 700
Propulsion 2 shafts 2 VTE 4 cyl., 16 Belleville boilers, 18,000 ihp
Speed 20.5 knots (38.0 km/h; 23.6 mph) – 20.7 trials
Armament 4 x 240mm/40 (9.4 in), 12 x 190mm/42 (7.5 in), 12 x 70mm/45 SFK (2.8 in), 6 x 47mm/44/33 (1.9in), 4 x 37mm (1.5 in), 4 x8mm (0.3 in) MGs, 2 x 450 mm TTs (17.7 in)
Armour Waterline Belt 220 (8.3 in), turrets 240 (9.4 in), casemates 210 (5.9 in), decks 55 (2.2 in), Conning Tower 220 mm (8.7 in), bulkheads 200mm (7.9 in)


Author’s illustration of the Herzherzog Karl in 1915

Src/ Read More

Erzherzog_Karl-class on Wikipedia
modelshipgallery Erzherzog Ferdinand Max Model by Martin Deuretsbacher – Various photos of the KuK Marine

Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1905

Habsburg class battleships

Habsburg class battleships

Austro-Hun Navy Habsburg, Babenberg, Árpád (1898)

The first Austrian sea-going Battleships: After the three Monarchs in 1898, the director of shipbuilding Siegfried Popper studied the design of a deep-sea battleship, the first since the Tegetthof of 1878. Unfortunately, the low credits allocated for its construction generated a ship inferior to other battleships of the Time: In terms of tonnage, the new design first claimed only 8,200 tons standard, while at the same time, the German SMS Wittelsbach claimed 12,700 tons, the Borodino 13,500, the French Republic 14,600, and the British Duncan 13 700 tons. This low tonnage generated limits of hull strength and artillery size, such as the standard “normal” of that time, 12in (305 mm). It had to be abandoned in order not to compromise the strenght of the hull and after a short time, it was decided of the acquisition of Krupp guns of the 9.4 in caliber, or 240 mm, already tested with the Monarch, but arranged in a single aft turret and double fore, instead of the two expected doubles. That was one of many other specifics about these “ships on a budget”.

SMS Habsburg

Design of the Habsburg class

With artillery of this caliber, armor was rated accordingly and therefore considerably lower than on many contemporary battleships. Finally, the small size of the hull implied a limitation of available space for boilers, but its had fortunately no consequences in terms of speed. With 19.6 to 19.8 knots, these battleships were in the norm. Among other peculiarities, they sported their secondary artillery in two stages barbettes, making them very recognizable. This configuration was later abandoned. Main artillery consisted of the three Krupp 9.4 in 40 caliber C97, and 150 mm Krupp of 40 caliber C96, whereas anti-TB armament comprised 70 mm Skoda 45 caliber and 47 mm Skoda 44 and 33 caliber rapid fire guns placed in the superstructures.

Jane’s profile of the ships

The choice to place the double turret forward, in chase mode, also responded to the lack of armor at the rear. The belt was 2.44 m high, at the waterline, extending over the ram to a thickness of 100 mm. The blockhaus was reinforced by two 220 mm crosspieces, and the central bulkhead was 63 mm in thickness. The double casemates were protected by 125 mm of armor. The central casemates had a more pronounced corbelling which, added to the shape of the hull at this location, allowed a 180° angle. The engine consisted of two four-cylinder, triple-expansion engines, combined with the low displacement of the vessel allowed a good top speeds, exceeding 20 knots during sea trials. On two ships, the additional weight had been eliminated by removing a deck in 1911. Range was limited to 3,200 nautical miles, mainly because of the ships’s reduced holds for coal, of only 800 tons, but logical in a planned use in the Adriatic.

Brassey’s diagram of the class

The Habsburg class in action

The Habsbug, Harpàd and Babenberg were started at STT (Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino) from 1899, launched between 1900 and 1902 and entered service in 1902-1904.
In 1914, these three units formed the 4th Line Division within the Active Squadron. The name did not reflect their activity precisely, because apart from the Habsburg who shellied Ancona, and after the first operation on the Montenegrin coast by the three battleships, they remained anchored in Pola until 1918. In 1917 they were decommissioned as coastal defense ships already. In 1919, the peace treaty had them attributed to Great Britain who had them broken up in Italy in 1921.

SMS Habsburg in drydock

SMS Habsburg

Habsburg and Árpád took part in fleet maneuvers in mid-1903. In 1904 the three Habsburg-class battleships engaged the three Monarch-class battleships in a simulated battle which also saw for first time two squadrons of modern battleships. They joined the I Battleship Division. Habsburg served in the Mediterranean Sea, starting a training cruise in January 1903. However with the acceptance of the Karl-class battleships from 1906 the Habsburg-class ships were ended in the II Division and in in 1910 SLS Habsburg entered drydock for a comprehensive modernization. She was also lightened with one deck removed and sh becae a coastal defense vessel.

Model of the Arpad

In August 1914, Habsburg was the flagship of the III Battleship Division under command of famous Captain Miklós Horthy. She was mobilized to support the SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau “mad run” towards the Dardanelles. The squadron was recalled after advancing as far south as Brindisi in southeastern Italy, probably the longest trip these ships ever made in wartime.

Habsburg class bow
Habsburg class bow

Habsburg was transferred to the IV Division with the arrival of the new Tegetthoff-class battleships and went to shell several Italian ports along the Adriatic coast. In particular Habsburg bombarded Ancona on 23 May 1915, reducing to rubble the town’s train station, the St. Stefano military camp and dueled with Ancona coastal batteries. However after this actionshe sailed back to Pola. The shortage of coal and superiority of the italaian Navy, and soon of the Entente naval focres in the area, condemned the ships to inaction, or waiting for n eventual sortie. Habsburg was decommissioned in Pola and became as a harbor defense vessel while Her crew was transferred to the new U-boats and aircraft of the fleet. In 1918, she was re-commissioned as a training ship and joined the Austrian Naval Academy. She was awarded to UK as a war prize, resold to Italy and broken up for scrap in 1921, like her two sisters.

Model of the Arpad
Model of the Árpád, bow view

SMS Árpád

Árpád participated from 1903 in many fleet drills and simulated war games with the I Battleship Division. She went in a long training cruise in the Mediterranean with the Monarch-class battleships and was later relegated to the II Battleship Division. From 1910 Árpád went through the same drydock modifications, her superstructure decks being removed to save weight. During the war she served with the IV Division and was mobilized during the Goeaben flight, to support her in the strait of Messina against British vessels. In 1915 she raided several Italian port cities along the Adriatic coast and Ancona on 23 May 1915, but afterwards came back to Pola and stayed there in total inaction until the end of the war.

Painting by Alexander Kircher

SMS Babenberg

She was commissioned in 1904, first with the I Battleship Divisio, then II Battleship Division, and apparently from 1912, the IV Division of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. Like her sisters, SMS Babenberg sailed to support the Goeben rush in the Mediterranean, about as far as the strait of Messina to be prepared to duel with British ships here, and turned back off Brindisi. Like the others she bombarded Ancona in 1915 but returned to Pola and was confiend there, with a reduced crew, decommissioned and used as a harbor defense ship. She became a war prize in 1921 for UK which had them resold to an Italian demolition shipyard.

Habsburg being launched at the Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino in 1900

Habsburg class specifications

Dimensions 114.5 x 19.8 x 7.46 m (375 ft 10 in x 65 ft x 24 ft 6 in)
Displacement 8230T standard, 8800T FL
Crew 638
Propulsion 2 shafts 2 VTE, 16 Belleville boilers, 15,063 ihp (11,232 kW)
Speed 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph) – 19.5 trials
Armament 3 x 240, 12 x 150, 10 x 70, 8 x 47 mm, 2 side sub. 450 mm TTs
Armor Belt 220, turrets 280, casemates 210, decks 40, blockhouse 200 mm

Links and sources

The Habsburg class on wikipedia
Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1865-1905


Author’s Illustration profile of the Habsburg – 1/730

SMS Sankt Georg (1903)

SMS Sankt Georg (1903)

Austro-Hun Navy Austro-Hungarian armoured cruiser

st georg

The last Austrian armoured cruiser:
After the Kaiser Karl IV’s departure, the admiralty impressed by the new cruiser immediately ordered an improved replica at the STT yard in Trieste. SMS Sankt Georg (Saint George) was, therefore, the closely derived and retained a generally similar appearance, but the differences were many so as not to make her a class:

She was longer by 5 meters, wider by 2 meters, more powerful – and therefore faster, reaching 23.8 knots on trials. Armor was redistributed, reduced in places, increased for others (like the citadel and turrets) leaning towards the “all or nothing” scheme.

SMS Sankt Georg line drawing
SMS Sankt Georg line drawing

Sms st georg im seearsenal Pola
SMS St Georg launch in Pola

Armament design

Above all her main artillery was grouped into a double turret at the front while the secondary artillery was reinforced by five 190 mm guns, alongside four 150 mm. These were grouped in central barbettes, two front and two aft, with a 90° traverse and a fifth in a single turret aft. This habit of privileging forward firepower (hunt) was common also to Italy and to other countries.

Sankt georg

The 40-caliber Skoda 150-mm guns were divided into four barbettes at the front and rear of the battery deck, the light armament distributed between the upper deck, the superstructure decks and military masts.

SMS Sankt Georg in service

Unlike KuK Maria Theresia, SMS Sankt Georg stability had problems, like Kaiser Karl IV. She was finally launched on December 8, 1903 and pressed into service on July 21, 1905. Like Kaiser Karl IV she was very active, participating in all operations of the Austro-Hungarian Navy thanks to her speed. She was given an extra 77 mm/50 AA Skoda gun in 1916. She was offered as war reparations to Great Britain, which resold her to be broken up in Italy in 1920.


Sankt Georg class specifications

Dimensions 124,30 x 19 x 6,8 m ()
Displacement 7300 tonnes standard – 8070 tonnes FL
Crew 630
Propulsion 2 shaft VTE 4 cyl. 16 boilers, 15,000 hp.
Speed 22 knots max (39 km/h; 20 mph)
Armament 2 x 240 (1×2), 5 x 190, 4 x 150, 8 x 47, 2 x 77, 2 x 37, 2 x 8 mm MGs, 2 x 450 mm TTs sub.
Armour Turrets 210, citadel 190, belt 165, blockhaus 200, decks 50 mm

Close view wiki DE

Profile clor the blueprints

Author’s illustration of the Sankt Georg in 1914

Src/ Read More

SMS Sankt Georg (wiki)
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1905

Kaiser Franz Joseph I class protected cruisers (1889)

Kaiser Franz Joseph I class protected cruisers (1889)

Austro-Hun Navy Kaiser Franz Joseph I, Kaiserin Elisabeth (1889)

SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth sea trials

The first Austrian-built cruisers

The only modern cruisers previously built for the Austro-Hungarian navy were the two Panthers of 1885 from the English Armstrong-Elswick shipyards and typical of this kind of economic export unit. They were replicated by STT with the Tiger in 1887, but the Admiralty wanted a new type of local construction.

Designated as “torpedo cruisers” they were designed to ship the standard heavy parts of the fleet (240mm Krupp guns), receive a larger armor and be faster. Regarding the shielding, the latter was not thicker than 90 mm at the most sensitive places, and because of this, the hull was too little protected and too light to cash bursts 240 mm parts.

SMS Kaiser Franz Joseph I anchored

The Kaiser Franz Joseph I was started at STT in January 1888 and the twin Kaiserin Elisabeth at Pola in July 1888. They were launched respectively in May 1889 and September 1890 and put into service in July 1890 and January 1892.

SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth drawing

Design of the Kaiser Franz Joseph I

The excessive construction time of the Kaiserin Elisabeth led the Admiralty not to entrust any important constructions to the Pola shipyards, which was, however, rewarded with the construction of the three light Zenta class cruisers shortly thereafter.

Their stability and fragility of structure posing a problem, the two units were rebuilt in 1905-1906: The 240 mm pieces were removed (origin: 2 pieces of 240 (1×2), 6 of 150, 2 of 70, 9 of 47, 3 of 37 mm, 4 TLT 400 mm SM (fore, aft, broadside), replaced by 150 mm guns in simple turrets. Their secondary artillery was also cut down.

SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth stern

Career of the Kaiser class

Kaiser Franz Joseph I was deemed obsolete in 1914 and used as a coastguard anchored at Cattaro. In 1917 he was totally disarmed and became a depot ship. Attributed to France in war damage, she sank in October 1919 off Kumbor in the Bay of Cattaro.

The Kaiserin Elisabeth was anchored in Tsing Tao in China in 1914. Her battery was dismantled in favor of the coastal battery “Elisabeth”, defending an area of ​​the colony against the Japanese. It was scuttled two days after the surrender of the port on November 2, 1914.

SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth 1901
SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth 1901

Kaiser class specifications

Dimensions 103,70 x 14,75 x 5,70 m ()
Displacement 3970 tonnes standard – 4500 tonnes FL
Crew 367
Propulsion 2 hélices, 2 machines HE 3 cylinders, 12 boilers, 8450 cv.
Speed 19 knots (36 km/h; 20 mph)
Armament 2 x150/40 in barbettes, 6 x 150, 14 x 47, 2 x 70 mm Howitzer, 4 TT 400 mm.
Armour turrets 90 mm, citadel 30, belt 57, blockhaus 50, decks 38 mm

Author’s illustration of the Kaiser Franz Joseph in 1914

Src/ Read More

Kaiser Franz Joseph class cruisers (wiki)
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1905

Austro-Hungarian Destroyers

Austro-Hungarian Destroyers

Austro-Hun Navy (1909-1918)


Austro-Hungarian Eagle Destroyers in Austro-Hungary were a logical development of sea-going torpedo-boats, like in other navies. This lineage went to three stages, the third one being the result of war lessons and confined to the drawing board and then archives of the successors states. Speaking of Torpedo Boats, the old empire started early enough, following the development of the torpedo, first created by a Croatian officer (Ioann Lupis) and later reworked by a British engineer (John Thornycroft). Thes first destroyers, as called, were merely prototypes with an emphasis on artillery, mostly quick-firing guns. The most popular was the 47mm revolver Hotchkiss, but 6.6 cm.

Torpedo Ships

There was in fact a whole range of torpedo ships at large, the light cruisers of the Panther class and Tiger were essentially torpedo cruisers, and the Zara class were elegant barquentines, almost yachts in disguise, dating back to 1879 and less than 1000 tons. On the other hands classic TBs comprised British, German-built boats spread into first and second class. The latter comprised only 1880s B, C and D classes, and First class the Tb19-Tb40. Ships from the late 1870s has been in general scrapped or retired well before 1914. There was also a group of 6 high-seas TBs of the Viper, Natter and Python class, 124-166 tons ships dating back from 1895-99 still in service during WW1. Series of high seas torpedo boats went on through the Kaiman, Tb74T, Tb82F and Tb98M. Read more about ww1 Austro-Hungarian TBs.

SMS Meteor (1887)

SMS meteor
The first Austro-Hungarian destroyer looked more like a torpedo boat than a proper destroyer. She was built by order of November 20, 1886, with a contract concluded in December in Schichau-Werke, Elbing at Baunummer 342, 380/381 in Germany. On March 12, 1887, Francis Joseph Emperor Emperor approved the name and the ship arrived as completed on June 15. She started trials in August, achieving 23.1 knots, well above the shipyard’s claim, making doubts about measuring instruments. She was finally accepted into service in August 31, and on October 1894, rescued four members of the Italian ship Marco Polo in a heavy sea. This was 26 miles southwest of Mezzó. Her captain was awarded as well as the crew.

She later suffered a boiler accident and in 1900 whe was in drydock with her boiler repaired. From 1902, she joined the Naval Academy. In 1903, she went on in summer practice sessions and in 1905, the mast was lowered and a torpedo-scaffold mounted on the deck. Between 29 April and 22 August, she carried out geographical surveys along the Dalmatian coast and in 1910, had new boilers and a modernized engine, but went into reserve. She was used in training in 1914 and next year was transferred to Pola as a patrol boat and harbour defence ship. In 1916 she patrolled and escorted the area in front of the harbour, and later rescued the crew of a damaged airplane and went on making other escorts with 41 convoys and 2 submarines. In 1920 she was sold for scrap to an Italian yard.

SMS Meteor Specifications
Displacement: 358–360 t, maximal 422 t
Dimensions: 58,73 m pp 60,68 m oa, x7,4 m x2,35 m
crew: 61
Powerplant: 2 loco boilers, TE engne 2860 -3500 ihp, 1 screw
Top speed 17.5 knots (23 on trials)
Armament 9× 47-mm-Hotchkiss QF guns, 1× 35cm spar torpedo, later 2x 450mm TTs

Blitz class destroyers (1888)

SMS Blitz
SMS Blitz
About the same era and built (Schichau, Elbing), SMS Blitz and Komet made the only “class” of destroyers in the first serie of ships of this classification. The landing of Greek troops in Crete in February 1897 during the Turkish-Greek War saw the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine intervene with other powers, and both destroyers were part of the 20 ships showing the flag off Crete. This Austrian force was the third largest fleet dispatched after the Royal Navy and Regia Marina. SMS Blitz remained in Crete until the beginning of December 1897. SMS Komet relieved her at the beginning of April.

The Blitz remained in service after the Crete operation and conducted radio tests in 1900 and 1901. In 1902 she was in drydock until 1903 with the removal of her 47-mm rear gun and receiving in place an additional rotatable 35-inch torpedo tube, like the Russian Kasarsky class then in completion. She went into reserve afterwards. In the short term she remained as a school ship for the Naval Academy, from 1906 to 1908. In August 1909 she sailed to Sebenico to serve as Archduchess Maria Josepha’s yacht. She was then regularly used for coastal defense exercises and to monitor the Albanian coast, partially deactivated in January 1914 in Pola.

On her side, SMS Komet was temporarily placed into reserve, but served from 1904 as a schoolship for the Naval Academy also receiving an additional rotatable torpedo tube at the rear. From 1911, she was part of the torpedo boat flotilla but was once more deactivated on 22 February 1913. She will also receive new boilers and a second funnel. On March the comet returned into service, as guardship in Sebenico and for Coast Guard duties in the coastal area. When she resumed her new trials, she reached a top speed of 17.31 knots and was sent to patrol the Albanian coast and remained in this area until the end of March 1914.

SMS Blitz Specifications
Displacement: 425 t FL
Dimensions: 58.4 x 7.4 x 3.2m
crew: 60
Powerplant: 2 loco boilers, TE engine 2360 ihp, 1 screw, Top speed 21 knots
Armament 8x 47-mm-Hotchkiss QF guns, 2x 450mm TTs

SMS Magnet
SMS Magnet, rear view

Early destroyers Planet, Trabant, Satellit, Magnet (1889-1896)

We can hardy speak of a class there. This is a group only for simplification as none of them were standardized or came from the same builder. So here we go:
-SMS Planet: Built at Palmer Newcastle (UK) in 1889. 525 tonnes, 64 x 7.1 x 2.8m, 3000 hp, 19 knots, 2x 400mm TTs, 2×70 mm, 8x 47mm QF guns, crew 84.
-SMS Trabant: Built locally at STT in 1890. 540 tonnes, 67.2 x 8.2 x 2.5m, 3500 hp, 20.4 knots, 2x 450mm TTs, same as above, crew 84.
-SMS Satellit: Built at Schichau, Elbing in 1892. 616 tonnes, 68.9 x 8.1 x 2.7m, 4500 hp, 21.9 knots, 2x 450 mm TTs, 1x 70mm, 8 x47mm QF, crew 80.
-SMS Magnet: Built at Schichau, Elbing in 1896. 544 tonnes, 67 x 8.2 x 3.3m, 5652 hp, 24 knots, 2x 450mm TTs, 6x 47mm QF guns, crew 80.

SMS Satellit
SMS Satellit

The SMS Planet was adapted as a minesweeper in 1915, just like the Trabant, and both were offered to italy after the war and scrapped. SMS Satellite in 1912-1913 was refitted with new Yarrow boilers and had three funnels instead of one. She was awarded to France after the war, and scrapped. SMS Magnet had her stern destroyed by an enemy submarine torpedo, and was towed, and later refitted with a new “Yarrow” stern. She went until 1913 into reserve, but was reactivated in the summer occasionally for minor duties. In 1901, the boilers were overhauled and the machine was overhauled later in 1910. In 1905, the masts were shortened and a rear a rotatable torpedo tube was installed as well on the other ships. She survived the war and was awarded to Italy in 1920 and scrapped.

SMS Planet
SMS Planet

Huszár class destroyers (1905)

Huszár – author’s illustration

The very first SMS Huszár (1905) was ordered from a British shipyard, Yarrow in London. She was lighter, yet more powerful than previous destroyers and therefore reached 28.2 knots with ease, well above the former ships. Indeed since the SMS meteor, power tripled. She was well armed with the same 45 cm torpedo tubes, seven 47mm QF guns as built, later changed to cal 30 guns and one 70 mm cal.45 gun. She was also ill-fated, running aground near Traste in the south adriatic on 3.12.1908 and sinking ten days later.

SMS Streiter
SMS Streiter

The Huszár class were among the most widespread of the fleet in 1914 by numbers. The prototype of this 13-units strong serie lost in 1908 was therefore replaced by a second of the same name in 1910. All were launched between 1905 and 1910 and some of their crews had relatively little training at the time of the opening of the conflict. They were in fact simple high seas torpedo boats with a greater range and tonnage, and this choice reflected the difficulty of the dual Monarchy to get out of the traditional pattern of a coastal defense navy. In 1913 their 47 mm guns were replaced by five modern high velocity, long range 66 mm guns. Apart from the Streiter, lost in a collision in March 1918, and the Wildfang who hit a mine in 1917, all survived the conflict and were handed over as reparations to Italy, France and Greece. The former hastened to scrap them in 1920.

SMS Uhlan
SMS Uhlan

Displacement: 390 tonnes
Dimensions: 68.4 x 6,3 x 1,9 0m
Propulsion: 4 Yarrow watertube boilers, 2 shafts, 3000 ihp. 28.5 Noeuds max.
Crew: 70
Armament: 1 x 66 mm, 7 x 47mm, 2 x 450 mm TTs.

SMS Turul
SMS Turul

SMS Warasdiner (1912)

The single SMS warasdiner was virtually a repeat of the Huszár class built by STT for the Chinese Government, as Lung Tuan, first ordered in 1912. In fact she was intended to be the prototype of a class of 12 ships for the Chinese Navy. Due to the situation deteriorating fast, the ship, launched in August, 28, 1912, was taken over before delivery at the outbreak of war. She was renamed SMS warasdiner and taken in hands to be ported to Austrian standards, receiving her armament of two 66 mm (2.6 in) L/45 Skoda guns, four 6.6 cm L/30 guns, and the usual four 45 cm torpedo tubes. She saw service in the same way other destroyers of the related class, entering service on 10 September 1914. On 18–19 June 1915, she took part in a series of raids against towns on the Italian Adriatic coast. She shelled Monopoli (SE of Bari on 19 June), and on 5 December 1915while returning from another raid she spotted and sank the French submarine Fresnel, which had run aground off Cattaro. On 2 August 1916, Warasdiner and Wildfang shelled Molfetta but back home met the French destroyers Bisson and Commandant Bory, plus Italian destroyers Ardito and Impavido. They exchanged fire then set off in pursuit but broke off as they neared Cattaro defenses and the Austrian cruiser Aspern leaving the harbour for them. After the war she was given to Italy and scrapped in 1920.

Tátra class destroyers (1912)


In May 1910, the Admiralty ordered a new 800-ton destroyer design equipped with turbines capable of exceeding 32 knots. Blueprints were ordered to Danubius, CNT, STT and even Vulcan yards in Stettin. Finally, Danubius in Hungary was chosen to favor the Hungarian and therefore obtain support for the 1911 budget for the construction of the new dreadnoughts. Porto Ré (now Kraljevica), a construction site division, was entrusted with the six new ships. The Huszárs with their continuous low deck were little more than sea torpedo boats made for the Adriatic. The Tàtra changed the game with for the first time with a raised forecastle, significantly improving seaworthiness. These ships were likely to be able to intervene in all weathers and to have a much greater range of action. They were designed to reach and even exceed the contract speed of 32.5 knots and had mixed fuel coal/fuel boilers to save space. These powerplants turned 20,600 horsepower versus only 6000 on the Huszàr class, as a measure of progress in a span of a few years.

These ships (Tàtra, Balaton, Csepel, Luia, Triglav and Orjen) were launched in 1912-13, and had a very active life. Liua and Triglav were blown by mines off Durazzo, while the other four were assigned to Italy and continued to serve after the war as Fasana, Zenson, (scrapped in 1923), Muggia (lost in a storm in 1929) and Pola (renamed Zenson and deactivated in 1937). More details when the individual post on this class will be out.

Displacement: 850 t standard, 1000 t FL
Dimensions: 83,5 x 7,8 x 3 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 AEG-Curtiss turbines, 6 boilers ( 2 coal/fuel burning ), 20 600 ihp. 32,6 knots.
Crew: 114
Armament: 2 x 100 mm, 6 x 66 mm, 1 x Skoda 8 mm MG, 4 x TLT 450 mm (2×2).

Ersatz Tátra class destroyers (1917)

The success of the Tàtra class did much for a new order at the same yard in 1914, for 6 new units, but the war interrupted this process and the order was brought back in 1916 to four units (Triglav, Lika, Dukla and Uzsok) in particular to replace the losses. These were authorized on 28 may 1914, for the 1914-15 naval budget. However they were never started due to the outbreak of the war, but the design was relaunched, following the need to replace losses and increase the number of destroyers available. The four units eventually completed, Triglav (iii), Lika (ii), Dukla and Uszok were launched repectively in February, May, July and September 1917 and completed in the fall of 1918. Because of this they saw little action.
These improved destrouers had a forecastle lengthened by two meters, slightly more engine power, and two 66 mm guns in dual purpose mounts. They were later attributed to Italy in 1920 (Grado, Cortellazo, Montfalcone, scrapped in 1937-39) and France (Matelot Leblanc, scrapped in 1936).

Displacement: 880 t standard, 1045 t FL
Dimensions: 85,4 x 7,8 x 2.4 m
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 AEG-Curtiss turbines, 6 boilers (2 coal/fuel burning), 22 360 ihp. 32,6 knots.
Crew: 114
Armament: 2 x 100 mm, 6 x 66 mm/45, 1 Skoda 8 mm MG, 4 x TLT 450 mm (17.7in) (2×2).

Improved Tátra class destroyers (1918)

Four other 120 mm armed units were ordered on 22 December 1917, but never started due to the lack of steel. These rampant shortages were not the only ones and plagued the entire industrial effort of the Empire, due mostly to the genera allied blockade against central powers. Their specifications were the same as the previous Ersatz Tátra, to the excption of the powerplant, which were now Danubius turbines, and the armament, which now comprised not only brand new 120 mm/45 (4.7 in) guns but also two 90 mm/45 AA guns and the same pair of twin torpedo tubes banks.

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SMS Kaiser Karl IV (1898)

SMS Kaiser Karl IV (1898)

Austro-Hun Navy Pre-dreadnought Battleship

The Kaiser Karl IV, second armoured cruiser:
Assuming that the KuK Maria Theresia had been a semi-failure, the new director of shipbuilding, Friedrich Popper decided to create a new armoured cruiser inspired this time concepts used for the Habsburg. The result is a much larger, more stable and better protected ship, while being faster, the Kaiser Karl IV.

Kaiser karl IV

The Sankt Georg which followed her is often assimilated although she is much larger, and these two ships marked an obvious family with the three battleships of the Herzerzog Karl class. They kept their weapons well proportioned until their retirement, including their two 240 mm guns, even as the KuK Maria Theresia bartered in 1906 these for 190 mm guns.

The Kaiser Karl IV SMS was started at STT in June 1896, launched in October 1898 and completed in April 1900. As usual, it had two 70-mm Howitzer 15-caliber, two 47-mm/33 hotchkiss revolver guns. She also had two 8 mm Skoda heavy machine guns. In many ways, she was an excellent ship, though weakly armed to international standards.

Kaiser Karl-VI Brasseys 1915
Kaiser Karl-VI Brasseys 1915

The Kaiser Karl IV participated in the shelling of Montenegro in August 1914, then in the shelling of the Italian coast in May 1915. She made other sorties from Pola until 1918. She was ceded in repairs to Great Britain, which in turn handed her over. To Italy who had her broken up in 1920.

Kaiser class specifications

Dimensions 119 x 17,27 x 6,8 m ()
Displacement 6170 tonnes standard – 6865 tonnes FL
Crew 535
Propulsion 2 shafts VTE 4 cyl., 16 boilers 12,000 hp.
Speed 20,8 knots max (36 km/h; 20 mph)
Armament Turrets 200, casemate 80, belt 220, blockhaus 200, decks 60 mm
Armour 2 x 240, 8 x 150, 18 x 47, 2 x 77 Howitzer, 2 ML 8 mm, 2 TT 450 mm SM (boradside).

Author’s illustration of the Kaiser Karl IV in 1914

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Kaiser Karl IV class cruisers (wiki)
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1905