Sverige class (1915)

Sverige class coastal battleships (1915)

Swedish Navy 1912-70
HSwMS Sverige, Drottning Victoria, Gustav V

Sweden’s last Pansarkepp

Sweden’s very last coastal battleships is a saga out of itself. Largest ships ever built in Sweden before even the Great War broke out, completed after many delays in 1917, 21 and 22, they became the flagships of the coastal defence until faster, more modern cruisers (The Tre Kronor class) were chosen for the task of leading the three resident naval forces of the country. Largely funded by popular support, these three vessel looked superficially like regular-pre-dreadnoughts, but were every bit tailored for the need of Svenska Marinen.
By size and tonnage they dwarved everything built before, notably 1906 Oskar II. They would have a very long career, as customary in the Swedish Navy, being rebuilt and modernized to face WW2 and a large part of the Cold War, although completely obsolete by that time and relegated since a long time to secondary duties.

Design Development

sverige fundraising
Rendition of the future Sverige in 1912 during the fundraising campaign, now at the Sjöhistoriska museet

Sweden witnessed the naval arms race after dissolving the union with Norway in 1905, tensions rose again with the Russian Empire, Germany, and Norway and by 1911, their ships were cruising around in the North Sea. In these circumstances, the Swedish Government only avalized the construction of Oscar II, a typical pre-dreadnought but with 8-inch guns for 17.8 knots and she was found totally inadequate, especially after the launch of HMD Dreadnought, likely to be followed by other nations.
The admiralty pushed fir a new class with extra seaworthiness, better armament, better protection and extra speed, and with the latest technologies, notably in fire control. In 1911, with the dreadnought race ongoing, the parliament voted at a small majority funds for the “F-boat” program the last of all proposals prepared and examined, A, B, C, D, D1, D2, E, E1, E2 and F, ranging from 4,800 to 7,500 metric tons and with various armaments and speed to match.

The Sverige-class coastal battleships were the largest ships ever to serve in the Swedish Navy at that point. Their design was totally new and inspired by other nations’ own dreadnought designs. Their armament was head and shoulders above the previous Oscar II (see below) with four 283 mm (11 in)/45 cal.
Bofors guns in twin turrets (rather than two 210 mm in single turrets) and eight 152 mm (6 in) Bofors guns a single superfiring twin turret and six single broadside made her battery. Just one on three of the Pansarkepp was ready on time to serve at the end of WW1 but all three formed the backbone of the Swedish Navy during WW2, next interwar constructions revolving around cruisers, destroyers, and submersibles.

Enhanced swerige-class coastal battleship project, before the post-war ban of new constructions: She would have been armed with six 305 mm in twin turrets and six single 105 mm guns.

The Sverige-class was a new take on the coastal Defence ship, with an heavier armament, better speed, and armor. But still, the hull was tailored not for high seas but for local archipelagos and shallow waters. Their tactical doctrine and operations were also new. Indeed they formed the core of an open-sea battle group (which should have originally comprised four and not three ships), and were meant to operate with cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats, but also air reconnaissance. This small battle group was to operate as a defensive force only.


Painting at the Sjohistoriska museet
“Sverige” (“Sweden”) was initially decided in 1911 to start the type F, submitted by the Admiralty, approved by the parliament. She was properly funded and voted. However, there was a change of government the next year. The new liberal majority prime minister Karl Staaff decided against new military spendings and against this ship. Thus, the project was postponed until an exhaustive analysis took place, before motivating any further decision.
However soon, a national move (parlty helped by a critical press and fuelled by international nationalism) a campaign was quickly setup to raise more money. In total, over 15 million crowns were gathered, and this helped the ship to be voted in 1911 (under a price bill of 12 million). This law was called the “Pansarbåtinsamlingen”. Breween the press, popular optinion, the parliament and funding, the government was cornered to authorize construction. The ship was also called called “the people’s gift to the country”.

The two next were voted in 1914 by the same government, now with a war to motivate it. These were called HMS Drottning Victoria and Gustav V. Both were laid down in 1915 due to material shortages, launched in September 1917 and January 1918 respectively. The war ended before any could be operational, but fortunately the country never left its neutrality stance. Both last vessels were completed in 1921 and 1922, modified with the experience from Sverige and modified in the interwar during completion.

Design of the Sverige class

Brassey’s Naval annual armour scheme of the class, 1923

Hull and general design

The hull was 120 meters long (390 ft) for a 6,852 tons standard displacement which rose to 7,516 tons fully loaded for HSwMS Sverige, of another level also compared to Oscar II. Probably in 1914 they were the meanest coastal ship in any navy of the time, worthy of a “pocket dreadnought”. Other sources gives 6,961 tonnes tons standard, 7,758 tons deep load for Sverige initially.
With reconstruction and additions in WW2 they rose to 7,239 tonnes standard, 7,755 tonnes full load.
As for dimensions, her two sister ships were slightly different, at 121.6 m (399 ft) long, but the rest was the same at 18.6 m (61 ft) in beam and 6.2 m (20 ft) in draught but 6.3 m (21 ft) for Sverige.

Armour protection layout

Armor scheme included the following:
-200 mm (7.9 in) thick belt, central section tapered down to 100 mm (3.9 in) and 60 mm (2.4 in) both ends
-Upper belt 100 mm (3.9 in) behind fore barbette and aft barbettes.
-Main turret 200 mm (7.9 in) front, 100 mm (3.9 in) sides, 50 mm (2.0 in) roof.
-Main Barbettes 150 mm (5.9 in) above the ammo wells,
-Secondary turrets 125 mm (4.9 in), 100 mm (3.9 in) barbettes.
-Forward conning Tower 175 mm (6.9 in)
-Armor decks ranged from 45 to 30 mm (1.8 to 1.2 in).
All in all it was 50 mm more for all figures compared to Oscar II, sufficient to deal against Armoured cruisers of the time, but a bit light to face contemporary battleships.


Engine telegraph on Drotting Victoria
To propel these 7,000 tons monsters, the machinery comprised four shafts coupled to Curtis turbines rated for 20,000 SHP total and 12 Yarrow-type coal-fired boilers. This figure was for the Sverige only. The two others had Westinghouse geared turbines rated for 22,000 SHP and were upgraded in the interwar to oil-fired models. The Westinghouse geared turbines manufactured by Motala Company for Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria, and rated for 22,000 SHP.
As for the range, Sverige carried initially 776 tons of coal, and later was added 100 tonnes of oil and it was 761 tons for the two sister ships (same for oil).


The armament comprised four 283 mm (11 in) 45 cal. Bofors that were equivalent to the German main battleship caliber of the time. The rate of fire was good at 17 sec. between shots but the turrets were rather cramped because of the partition between guns inside both turrets. The eight 6-in/50 caliber QF guns in twin and single turrets were rather a modern arrangement, more than usual broadside barbettes.


The Bofors 28.3 cm/45 (11.1″) Model 1912 were designed from 1912 for the Sverige class, and in service by 1917. Further projects of Pansarkepp were never followed-up in the interwar so they were the last. These guns were of built-up construction, with a hand-operated screw breech-block of the typical ogival type. They had a rather high rate of fire for the time (3-4 rounds per minute) and were considered to be quite accurate, making the ships quite a deterrent indeed for any capital ship.
In the 1930s a new and more aerodynamic “Arrow Nose Shell” was developed for increased range and compensate for the apparition of new, larger guns, notably in Germany the Schanrhorst’s 28 cm SK C/34 naval guns which had a 40,930 m (44,760 yd) at 40° elevation.
One of these guns (from Drottning Victoria) was preserved, now at the Karlskrona Naval Base.
They weighted 43.4 tons (44.1 mt) for a barrel lenght of 501.4 in (12.735 m), bore alone 484.1 in (12.295 m) and rifling of 414.0 in (10.515 m), 80 grooves.
They fired a Bagged type projectiles, 672.4 lbs. (305 kg) AP shells with a 220.5 lbs. (100 kg) charge.

Muzzle Velocity was 2,854 fps (870 mps), enabling a range of 21,435 yards (19,600 m)/18° later ported with the 672.4 lbs. (305 kg) Arrow Nose shell to 31,700 yards (29,000 m) at 25°, after gun cradle modifications. The penetration at 6,560 yards (6,000 m) was 350 mm of hardened KC steel at 0° (13.77 in) and at 19,690 yards (18,000 m) 155 mm (6 in) down to 87 mm (3.4 in) on a horizontal armor. The 350 tonnes turret elevated initially to 18°, later to 25, at 5° per second and traversed at 4°. Gun axes were about 83 in (210 cm) apart to avoid interference.


These eight 152 mm (6 in)/50 cal. guns were placed in a single twin turret forward, superfiring above the main 11-in forward turret, and six single mounts in single turrets, not unlike the British 1906 Lord Nelson class pre-dreadnoughts.
These 15.2 cm/50 (6″) Model 1912 were unique to the Sverige class. They were rather similar to the earlier Model 1903, used a hand-operated screw breech-block (ogival type).
In short, these 7.63 tons guns had a bore lenght of circa 300 in (7.620 m) and fired like the main guns at 3-4 rounds per minute.
They used a bagged AP 101 lbs. (46 kg) shell at 2,789 fps (850 mps) up to 15,000 yards (13,716 m) at 30° elevation.
Some ended after WW2 as land artillery, notably at the top secret “Kalix line” (northern Sweden), near Vuollerim in service until the 1990s amazingly. The fort was turned into a museum.


In addition, four 75 mm (3 in) Bofors AA cannons were mounted forward of the rear turret. No infos on these, even on the excellent
There were also two anti-ship QF 57 mm (2.2 in) short-barreled Bofors and nine 6.5 mm (0.26 in) Machine-Guns
As customary for the time, the armament was rounded to two 457 mm (18 in) torpedo tubes.

⚙ specifications

Displacement 6850 tonnes, 7700 tonnes FL
Dimensions 120/122 x 18.6 x 6.25 m (390/399 x 61 x 20 feets)
Propulsion 4 shafts, Kockums-Curtis Turbines, 12 Yarrow boilers, 20,000 shp
Speed 22.5 knots as designed
Range 2,720 nm at 14 knots
Armament 4 x283, 8 (1×2, 6×1)x 152, 2x 75, 2x 57, 2x 6.5mm MG, 2x 450mm TTs
Protection Belt 200, Barbettes 150, turrets 200, sec turrets 125, decks 45-30 mm, CT 175mm
Crew 427

Reconstructions and modernizations

Sverige in 1929, before her major reconstruction
During WW2 this doctrine was still active and indeed they offered a smaller target to submarines, torpedo crafts or dive-bombers and minefields, some authors suggested they were taken in consideration in the decision by the Germans high command in WW2 not to invade Sweden in 1940. In fact, Jane’s 1938 edition classed these ships as battleships due to their use in a coherent battle group.


The 12 Yarrow boilers were later upgraded to oil-fired boilers in the 1930s on Sverige, but not on Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria for strategic reasons. It was decided to keep the ability to burn coal if Swedish oil supply was cut off. Also after reconstruction they started to diverged widely in appearance:
Gustav V had funnels trunked into a single one, upper works well modified.
Sverige had her fore funnel trunked back away from the superstructure (also modified) but kept the second funnel.

Armament Upgrades

-The underwater torpedo tubes were removed and the room was converted into an artillery central, feeding data from modern range meters, coupled with new fire control systems for the heavy, secondary and AA-gunnery
-Small guns and two 6 in guns were removed. Modern Bofors 75mm, 40mm and 20mm AA guns were installed instead.
-Gustav V had her forward superfiring twin 152 mm (6 in) turret removed but a gyro-stabilized AA artillery (4×40 mm bofors) mount placed instead.
-Sverige and Drottning Victoria had their midship single 152 mm (6 in) guns removed, replaced by the same.
-Main 11 in guns range augmented, between the 25° elevation and new shells (as seen above).
-New complement reached 450, making these ships appear even more cramped. They were not popular in WW2, but still the country’s “insurance card” against a menacing Kriegsmarine.

Modernization History

Sverige in 1931, in sea trials, post reconstruction
In 1924-1926 Sverige was given a new tripod mast, new director and fire-control centre and later on Drottning Victoria, same tripod mast and director, fire-control centre and both received paravanes. Gustav V was moderned later, between 1927 and 1930. Same midifications, but with her main mast cut and moved forward, delettion of six original 75mm/49 Bofors guns and addition of two twin 75mm/56 K/60 M28 guns.
In 1931-1937 all three saw radical armametn upgrades. Sverige received machinery and funnel modifications, mast too, new Curtis geared turbines and same armament upgrade as Gustav V.
It was the same for Drottning Victoria but she had 6 Yarrow mixed-burning boilers replaced by two oil-burning Penhöet, with fuel stowage modified to 360ts of coal and 273ts of oil. In additon to the twin 75mm/56 K/60 M28 she also received three single 25mm/55 K/58 M32 AA guns.
Gustaf V completed her prewar modernization last, with 6 Yarrow mixed-burning boilers replaced by two same oil-burning Penhöet (same figures) and same armament upgrade with in addition four single 25mm/55 K/58 M32 AA guns.

Gustav V in WW2

From 1938 and until 1942 they had limited upgrades. Sverige had four oil-burning Penhöet boilers installed, lost two 152mm/49 guns for two twin 40mm/56 K/60 M32, tw twin 25mm/55 K/58 M32 AA guns, and Drottning Victoria followed suite, but with two single 25mm/55 K/58 M32 and then twi more a year later.
In 1942 all three were upgraded again. Sverige had the two twin old 25mm/55 retired and instead a single twin 40mm/56 K/60 M32 installed as well as two twin 20mm/63 K/66 M40 (Licenced Oerlikon).
Drottning Victoria had all her seven 25mm/55 retired for the same, but instead of twio twin, seven 20mm/63 K/66 M40 (they replaced the 25 mm as a one-per-one basis).
Gustaf V had initially two twin and four single (8 total) 25mm/55 and they were all retired for four single 25mm/55, the twin 40mm Bofors and two twin plus four single 20mm/63 K/66 M40 AA guns.
In 1943 Drottning Victoria was the first equipped with a Swedish-built radar and after the war Gustaf V was equipped with a British radar. Sverige never received this upgrade.

Operational service
SMG 31738. Pansarbåten “Sverige” 3 maj 1915

The launch of Sverige, on 3 May 1915, by then the largest, heaviest ship ever in Sweden. King Gustaf V and his family but also Prince Wilhelm, Prince Eugen and Prime Minister Hjalmar Hammarskjöld were in attendance. After a short speech, the king pressed a button which released the ship from the stack bed. The launch ended with a concert at Gothenburg’s concert hall, followed by a banquet at the stock exchange. During firring out, the 28 cm guns were too heavy for the existing crane and thus, two special cranes were built for the task in Gothenburg.
Total cost armounted to 13,450,000 crows, (SEK 350 million by 2009 value).

HSwMS Sverige the only ship of her class ready to take part in WW1. After completion in 10.5.1917 in Götaverken, Gothenborg. Sweden remaining neutral in two wars and between, their career was not outstanding, but interesting and quite long nonetheless.

Swedish Navy Sverige

Sverige as completed

On May 10, 1917, the ship received her first crew and when fully equipped, departed with from Gothenburg to Karlskrona Royal Arsenal under command of captain Fredrik Riben, where she was to be docked for preparations and final acceptance sea trials. In Karlskrona it was found that her displacement was 90 tons less than calculated, which was something good for the standards of the time (it was often above). After ammunition and equipment were loaded, the new battleships left for Stockholm and dropped anchor on June 13, there and the following day, officialy commissioned with a grand ceremony.
The next months and in January 1918, she trained in home waters, including gunnery drills at the range, fleet manoeuvers and a short refit.

The Åland Expedition 1918:
As the war raged in Finland, by February 1918, it was requested fro Sverige to moved to the Åland islands, for protection against unrest. On February 13, a first expedition was sent there with the old HMS Thor. As the situation worsened, on the 17th both Sverige and Oscar II were sent to Åland. They sailed on the 18th after mustering crews and supplies, and arrived on the 20th at Arholma, waited into the ice, and were ordered afterwards to head directly towards Eckerö, Åland. Sverige monitored there the situation and helped evacuating civilians, together with the gunboat Svensksund.

The interwar:

Sverige in 1929 and 1931

The spring and summer of 1918, saw the battleship back with the fleet as flagship, performing exercises on the west coast. As the Spanish flu ravaged the country, many ships were de facto out of commission, with quarantined, ill or absent crews. Every day steamboats picked sick sailors ashore and there were normal military funerals. On October 4, 1918, Sverige was in drydock refit at Karlskrona.
She took part in the celebrations of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf’s marriage to Louise Mountbatten, with her sister HMS Drottning Victoria, escorted by the destroyers Wrangel and Wachtmeister in 1923 in England, joined by the cruiser Fylgia recalled from an overseas expedition, in Sheerness, by 2 July. Queen Victoria later visited Sweden, and assisted to rowing competitions against English ship crews.
In 1924–1925, Sverige was modernized a first time, quite extensively. By that time, her new captain was in 1926–1927 Gunnar Bjurner. The next one was performed in 1931–1933, and by 1936, she had her anti-aircraft artillery strengthened and further modernizations, plus new steam boilers. In 1938, all coal-fired boilers were removed and replaced by new oil-fired ones and this choice was dictated by the poor accuracy results when Drottning Victoria had to cancel an anti-aircraft exercise due to smoke interference, totally obscuring targets.

On March 15, 1939, Sverige returned to Karlskrona shipyard for another efit, with oil tanks installed and extra accomodations for the crew, new ammunition bins for the main and secondary artillery, new pole and boom, 110 cm gyro-stabilized headlights and 40 mm m/36 AA guns mounted.

Second World War
By September the other planned modifications were cancelled. On April 9, 1940, the ship was back in service with the coastal fleet.
She will soon have neutrality bands painted on her hull, like all other Swedish ships at the time. With the occupation of Denmark and Norway and weakening out of Finland, Sweden’s strategic position seemed jeopardized. The defense entire east coast needed to be defended, both against the Soviet Navy and the Kriegsmarine it seemed after the short-lived Germano-Russian pact.
On July 17, 1940, an explosion occurred in one of Gustav V’s boilers, ans since she was the flagship, it was transferred to Sverige, remaining so until the end of the war.
The winter of 1940/1941 was very severe and she was stuck in pack and it was decided to have the crews of all stuck Swedish ships trained to fight as infantry on ice in case of an invasion. Sverige also had her hull entirely sprayed with a lime-based white paint as a winter camouflage, possibly with black and white camouflage nets applied on her superstructure. Her appearance will change again in 1944.

On January 18, 1941, the submarine HMS Svärdfisken accidentally collided with Sverige while underwater and if the former suffered severe damage, towed by the battleships to Stockholm shipyard, the latter only sustained damage to her port inner propeller, shaft and struts. She was also drydocked for repairs. The remainder of 1942, 43 and 1944 so little action. She was moved from place to place depending on the evolving situation, notably receiving her final complex green-base camouflage, with several tones, something interneded for her to blend-in close to any archipelago island. When stationary camouflage netting was added to mask her superstructures.

Sverige in WW2, with neutrality bands, prior to be camouflaged in 1942.

Sverige prow at full speed in 1944, showing her side crown.

On May 7, 1945, the war seemed over in Europe, the fleet’s constant battle readiness was maintained until the 16th, and it was decided to end the night blackouts. The fleet resumed her prepwar exercizes and activities. A refresher was needed, and Sverige took part on June 6, to a shooting competition. This was followed by the entire coastal fleet entering Stockholm. King Gustaf V came aboard Sverige distributed competition’s prizes, and to thank the officers and crews present for their vigilant guard during the war.

End of Career
By August 11, 1947, the now obsolete battleship was scheduled for decommission. Her flag insignia was lowered from her top mast for the last time. After decommission, Sverige was mothballed for a time, until stricken on 30 January 1953. Placed on the disposal list, she was sold in 1958 to a Swedish company and scrapped at Karlskrona. Since 1986, one of cannons is now exhibited at Rävåskullen, Karlskoga, placed there for the city’s 400th anniversary.

Swedish Navy Drottning Victoria

In early service, 1920s
“Queen Victoria” was launched at Götaverken on September 15, 1917. Her postwar-interwar service life resembled that of Sverige, with two major reconstructions and modernization, fleet training and ceremonial duties with Sverige.
Fast forward and Drottning Victoria during the winter of 1939–1940 was stuck by severe icing in the Horsfjärden area. Her crew was trained and reconverted as infantry in case of an invasion. In connection with reports of the Kriegsmarine movements ahead of Operation Weserübung, the Commander of the Coastal Fleet wanted Drottning Victoria and a fighter group to moved to open water as a deterrence.
As an amusing anecdote, on board the Drottning Victoria for a period there was the ship’s pet dog Nicke, a shaggy fox terrier who was taken care of by the crew. Nicke is mentioned in several places in the ship’s logs and had a specially made sailor’s suit and its own service book made. It appeared it was mustered on board on 1 January 1940 as a 3rd class seaman (ship number 900) and that he was later appointed corporal and then furrier according from October 31, 1943. Nicke remained on the ship at least until August 1946.

Ceremonial transfer of the body of Queen Victoria of Sweden from Swinemunde to Stockholm aboard “Drottning Victoria” (Bundesarchiv).

Drottning Victoria after 1931

Drottning Victoria was deactivated in 1948-49, stricken, and sold for scrap on March 22, 1957, then Scrapped in 1959 in Karlskrona.

Drottning Victoria prior to deactivation in 1959
Drottning Victoria prior to deactivation in 1959

Swedish Navy HSwMS Gustav V

Gustav V after 1930

HSwMS Gustaf V was built at Kockums Yards, in Malmö. The yard used Sverige’s original drawings and construction work went fast, without a hitch. Shortages of materials due to other priorities during the great war meant it lagged behind especially due to bottlenecks for equipments acquired outside the country. Armor plates notably were ordered from the United States, and arrived basically months out of schedule.
On 31 January 1918, she was launched and baptised by the wife of Crown Prince Gustaf VI Adolf. Due to the large, unprecedented size of the ship there was a legitimate fear it would slip at launch and hit the opposite side of the harbor basin, a short distance manageable by previous vessels, but not this one. To prevent this, heavy chains were attached to arrest her momentum. Also on the opposite side a “buffer” of wooden logs was installed to damp a possible collision. But the launch proved successful, the chains braking her mid-way as planned.

She was fitted out and still delays arose from material shortages compounded by a strong labor shortage in 1917–1920. It was so severe the yard requested to terminate the contract in the mood of disarmament and peace some even asking the removal of their armor and rebuilt Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria as passenger ships. By the winter of 1921/1922 however work resumed eventaually and both ships were completed as intended. Gustaf V started sea trials and showed her new machinery reduction gear worked well. It total her cost has been of 14,220,000 Swedish Krona (44,022,000 USD today). Some criticized her construction concept as being already obsolete and a waste of money. But 1,293,295 crowns were obtained by the Yard to cover increased costs from procurement delays.

Aft view of Gustav V showing her Royal stern Crest, early WW2 as she has neutrality bands but is not camouflaged yet.

The early interwar new relations of Sweden with emergin states like Finland and the Baltic States, was accompanied by the Swedish Government’s goodwill and this led to several official exercises conducted in these countries. On 5 July 1924, Gustaf V and HSwMS Drottning Victoria, four minelayers went for example to Tallinn, and later the entire Swedish Coastal Fleet (36 ships) went to Helsinki. The summer of 1926 saw Gustaf V and Sverige visiting Copenhagen after exercizes in the southern Baltic.
In 1927–1930 Gustaf V her her first modernization.
After the death of Queen Victoria in the spring of 1930, Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria escorted by the destroyers HSwMS Ehrensköld and Nordenskjöld sailed to Swinemünde (9 April) to have the Queen’s remains carried onto HSwMS Drottning Victoria and they returned to Stockholm, the remains being landed and paraded on the royal barge Vasaorden.
On 4 April 1933, Gustaf V ran aground off Malmö but she was towed away on 6 April 1933 and repaired until the end of the year.

She her had second major modernization in 1936–1938 and on 9 March 1939, took part in a large air defense exercise out in Karlskrona. One aircraft attempting to land in the dark collided with Gustaf V’s combat mast. The crew was killed and the aicraft destroyed, but damage for the ship was negligible.

By 1939 Gustaf V being the most recent Swedish capital ship, she became flagship of the entire Coastal Fleet. On the night of 17 July 1940 during an exercise however, west of Gotland, she suffered a boiler explosion, which killed eight (the whole boiler room crew) and two on deck near one of the air intakes were badly burned. They were quickl evacuated by a minelayer to Visby Hospital, but one later died. While in Hårsfjärden it was decided by the commanding admiral to make HSwMS Sverige the new flagship, which she remained until the end of the war. Gustav V was repaired in Stockholm for a month and return to service. Nothing much happened during that time. Like Sverige and Drottning Victoria she had received neutrality white bands at the start of the war, and she was camouflaged by 1944.

Gustav V in 1945, showing her newly installed radar.

After the war, Gustaf V took part in a ceremony held in Stockholm, being thanked by King Gustaf V for their “vigilant guard” during the war years. Indeed the crews had been mobilierf on high alert for the duration of WW2, with few rest or leaves, abbreviated refits, and a very high availability time. She returned to Karlskrona to received a new radar facility. HSwMS Sverige was discarded in in 1947 and Gustaf V took her place again as flagship.
It seems she served mostly as training ship for the remainder of the early cold war years, with the specter of a confrontation with the Soviet Batltic Fleet.
Gustaf V was the last Pansrkepp in service in the Swedish Navy -as for any navy- and she was stricken on 1 April 1957. She was mothballed at the Berga Naval Base, south of Stockholm until 1967 however, unlike the others. There, she was used as a mooring point for destroyers. Two her her secondary 6-in guns were removed to be installed into the secret Kalix Line in Norrbotten, placed in Häggmansberget casemate.
In 1970 at last, the very last coastal battleship in the world was sold for BU in Gothenburg. This is rather sad that she was not preserved as a floating museum, but this was still rare in the late 1960s (and costly).

Gustav V towed for scrapping in Gothenburg. She still sported her wartime camouflage, something that became a feature of the Swedish Fleet in the cold war as well.

The same in scrapping

Read More

Rare original color photo, camouflaged in 1944 of Drottning Victoria (small size, cc).


Naval Weapons of World War Two” by John Campbell
Från monitorer till pansarskepp” by Per Insulander and Curt S. Ohlsson
Harris, Daniel G. (1992). “The Svierge Class Coastal Defense Ships”. In Gardiner, Robert (ed.). Warship 1992. NIP
Hore, Peter; Ireland, Bernard (2013). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Battleships & Cruisers. Anness.
Sundberg, Ulf (2018). “The heavily Armoured ShipSverige (1915)”. In Taylor, Bruce (ed.). The World of the Battleship. Seaforth Publishing.
Utredning och Forslag angaende Sjorkrigsmaterielens sammansättning m.m. avgivet jamlikt Kungl. Swedish National Archives

Links 11-in/45 1912 6-in/50 m1912 sverige class Sverige_class cc photos



Model Kits

3D printed modellbauray Sverige class 1:700
On scalemates: Fairy Kikaku 1:700, in addition to modellbauRay. That’s it.

HSwMS Clas Fleming (1912)

HSwMS Clas Fleming (1912)

Swedish Navy – Minelayer cruiser 1911-1960

Commissioned in 1914, Clas Fleming was among the first Swedish warships using Parsons steam turbines. Faitly small for cruiser standards in WWI with just 1550 tons of displacement, she was still armed with four 120 mm (4.7 in) guns, had some armor in vital spaces and could carry and lay 190 naval mines. It had one upgrade in 1926 and in 1939 when fitted with an extended section to house brand new diesel engines used as gas generators for the turbines, one idea that will ultimately led to the Gas Turbines and CODOG/COGOG systems of today. Clas Fleming was ultimately decommissioned in 1959. #swedishnavy #ww1 #ww2 #svenskamarinen #clasfleming

Design Development

Before WWI, Sweden had only a few cruisers, mostly resting on armoured monitors and coast defence ships, torpedo boats and minelayers. But at the turn of the century the Navy was rapidly modernizing, with the development of destroyers started in 1902, with the Mode class, and of submarines, with Hajen launched in 1904. In terms of cruisers, this was disparate: Five ships of the örnen type, 1896 small Torpedo Cruisers, and from 1905 the armoured cruiser Fylgia we already saw. But aside Gunboats, there was no dedicated minelayer in service. Other nations, notably Germany (with the Nautilus class) were looking at this new type, and Sweden soon wanted to enquire about the validity of acquiring one.

Clas Fleming post-WWI reconstruction with her raised aft deck, rebuilt mines chutes and doors

HMS Clas Fleming, known as a Minkryssare (“Minecruiser”) was designed after a naval staff specifically for this role in 1908. She was to be large enough to carry a sufficient number of naval mines, and well armed to defend against other destroyers and torpedo boats. But moreover to have a good seaworthiness in all weathers and be quickly out of the area after laying mines.
In addition, the new ship should be used for reconnaissance. In 1909, funds were granted, after the final specifications were drawn up, as the new cruiser was approved by the Riksdag. She was ordered on 17 May 1910 for FY1911, attributed to Bergsund’s Mekaniska Verkstad (Bergsund Finnboda, Stockholm) which already had previously built the cruiser HMS Fylgia. She was laid down presumably in early 1911 (date unknown) and launched on 14 December 1912.

Clas Fleming was ultimately commissioned on 23 February 1914. Based on precise and innovative specifications, she was Sweden’s first ship intended specifically for quick mine laying. Since it was necessary to escape if caught by an enemy squadron, for the first time it was decided to equip the ship with steam turbines. Having no previous experience in the matter, Sweden turned to the world’s leader at that time, Parsons of Great Britain. However the limited size of the cruiser, which seemed acceptable on paper, changed in reality many factors.

Appearance in 1914 as completed

Hull and general design

Clas Fleming was pretty small for a cruiser, more related to 1880s unprotected ones and gunboats. She was 80 meters long, for 10.4 meters wide (1/8 ratio) for a 4.3 meters draft (263 ft 1 in long, 34 ft 1 in wide, 14 ft 1 in draft). Standard displacement was 1,640 tonnes, maximum displacement, fully loaded was 1,850 tonnes.
The silhouette looked conventional, but more for a gunboat than a cruiser. She was relatively tall, between the forecastle with good seaworthiness, and superstructures taking much of the space. Her artillery was placed in superfiring positions fore and aft, and a lower deck, partially protected, an amidship section for two tall funnels and air scoops around, plus six light service boats in davits on the sides.
Clas Fleming had two tall pole military masts fore and aft. The forward one had a walled spotting top. She carried on the second a projector, and another was located aft of the upper bridge’s open deck. The bridge was located above the behind the Conning Tower and was used as the main navigation bridge at all times.
The crew amounted to approximately 160 men, with 8 officers, 23 non-commissioned officers housed in their own cabins, the 129 ratings laying in bunks below. Since at the time landing parties were still a thing, it was planned for the ship to house and operate a force of 47 marines.

However the small design was criticized over several points:
-Excessively cramped boiler rooms
-Low armour deck which participated in this narrow space
-Wet in rough seas

Armour protection layout

As per the specifications, the level of protection was that of a protected cruiser: She had an armored deck 16–25 mm thick. This was quite weak for any engagement with something larger than a destroyer. The other feature was the usual conning tower, complete with backup fire control and navigation and was protected by 75 mm (3 inches) walls all around. By default, it is estimated to be Krupp armor. For ASW protection, the hull was divided into 14 watertight compartments. The main guns had no shields, which were added in the interwar.

Operator of the machinery


The machinery consisted of steam boilers and steam turbines. Eight coal-fired steam boilers, divided into two groups and set up in two furnaces, supplied steam at 17 bar pressure to two steam turbines which together developed 6,500 horsepower, giving the ship a speed of 20.3 knots. The ship was the first in the Swedish fleet, along with the destroyers HMS Hugin (24) and HMS Munin (8) to be equipped with steam turbines. The turbines were directly connected to each propeller shaft, giving the ship two propellers.



It consisted in four 12 cm m/11 guns or 120mm/48 K/50 Model 11 (4.7 in), of Swedish Bofors Manufacture. There were two in the bow, two in the stern in superfiring positions.
The closest model was the previous 12 cm cannon m/94 45 caliber was common on Swedish torpedo cruisers from 1898 and the remainder went to the Coast Artillery (battery Mojner, Gotland notably). They were used on the monitors Tirfing and Thordön and the Svea, Oden, Thor and Niord. Weight 3507 kg, 21 kg shell, elevation +15°, rate of fire 7-10 rounds/min, effective range 12 km for the L/48.


There was no secondary armament, which was rare for a cruiser, but dictated in large part by the small dimensions of the intermediate deck and for stability concerns. To defend against destroyers, the main armament was the only answer, but still, Clas Fleming had four single 6.5 mm/80 caliber m/10 machine guns installed on pivots on the upper decks, for close range, and possibly used during landings as well.


As a mine cruiser, around 190 could be taken on board, 130 stored directly on deck and moved by railings, the standard fitting of the time. The remainder 60 were kept below decks, moved up to these railings using a ramp. It’s hard to find relevant infos on this pre-WWI Swedish Mines. The first large-scale use of of sea mines was the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, which draw a lot of interest of the Swedish Admiralty and a coast defence deterrent. Early types were probably ordered abroad, in Britain or Germany. Swedish complied to the eighth Hague Convention in 1907, introducing rules for mine warfare, including a ban on drift mines and notifications of seafarers where laid. Sweden remaining neutral in WWI, the minefields were all signalled.

Author's rendition of Clas Fleming
Author’s rendition of Clas Fleming

⚙ specifications

Displacement 1,550 long tons (1,575 t)
Dimensions 80.2 x 10.4 x 4.3 m (263 ft 1 in x 34 ft 1 in x 14 ft 1 in)
Propulsion 2 shaft Parsons steam turbines, 8 Yarrow boilers, 6,500 ihp (4,847 kW)
Speed 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Range Unknown
Armament 4 × 1 – 4.7 in (120 mm) guns, 4 MGs, 190 mines
Protection Deck: 16–25 mm (0.63–0.98 in), Conning tower: 75 mm (3 in)
Crew 161

Career of Clas Fleming 1914-1959

WW1 and interwar service

Clas Fleming entered service in May 1914 as the sole and only Swedish fleet minesweeper, named after Admiral Clas Larsson Fleming of the Russo-Swedish war. The same summer she started training and fleet exercizes, onl interruopted in August by the start of the First World War. Exercises were still carried out, this time to test different methods of “minute minelaying”. It went on until 1917 when regulations were issued for how these should be carried out. Clas Fleming was only to lay offensive minefields, older vessls freshly converted would lay defensive minefields. In addition the admiralty decreted that all Swedish destroyers would be in the future fitted with mine rails and join Clas Fleming in the laying of offensive minefields.
The different between the two was simply that in case onf a sea invasion of territorial waters, Clas Fleming would go out in the estimated path of the incoming fleet and quickly lay a minefield before escaping at full speed.

Before the war ended on 24 October 1917 already, Clas Fleming was ordered to Stockholm for partial disarmament. During the First World War, Sweden being neutral was deployed in order to guarantee safe passage of merchant traffic to and from Sweden and up to the Skagerrak, by enforing the respect of Swedish territorial waters. Clas Fleming ship provided valuable knowledge in mine warfare by placing several of these to defend some areas.

In service she had shown some issues. Her stern was found to be very wet on rough seas. It had been discovered also that the mine ports were too close to the water’s surface, causing a blowback and possible detonation when waves came in from the stern. So while in Stockholm, she was placed in drydock in 1918-19 to rebuilt her poop deck, extended to the stern. The gates were raised, and the minerails after were covered by a full deck, also, the aft guns had to be relocated and the two superfiring guns were moved to a old-fashioned amidships sponsons position.

In 1926, she underwent other modifications as three 25 mm (0.98 in) anti-aircraft guns were added in place of the light machine guns, atop the conning tower two more at the stern, abaft the amidships 120 mm guns. Also a modern range finder was installed on top of the bridge.
Her interwar service was quiet, and in 1938, there was a reorganization in the Swedish Navy, Clas Fleming being part of the coastal fleet’s 2nd cruiser division. According to the regulations of the time she was considered too old to be part of it at that stage. She should have been transferred to local forces as early as 1938, but this was delayed. By September 1939 a commission examined her fate. She had not received any upgrades since 1929, with a brief exception to lower her high operating costs.

New AA Bofors guns after reconstuction

Refit and WW2 service

In order to reduce these costs, it was planned to replace her machinery for which would much more efficient. Funds were granted by the Riskdag in the first half of the 1930s already but never carried out before the Second World War broke out. Instead of a full reconstruction, the emergency dictated a simple replacement of the engines, although it was concluded that she still was in great need of a more intensive modernisation.

Appearance as completed and recommissioned in 1940, with her two “true” funnels, far apart.

At last she was taken in hands for a full reconstruction in 1939-1940, and by November, she was sent in drydock at Götaverken, Gothenburg: Her hull was lengthened by 6 meters (20 feets), with a whole new section added amidship, the Parsons steam turbines were removed and replaced by a brand new experimental machnery designed also in Götaverken.
It was in essence the world’s first-ever gas turbine:
This consisted in choosing two modified Laval geared turbine sets, keeping of eight original coal-fired, only two modified to fire oil, to feed the turbines, and adding four six-cylinder two-stroke diesel engines used as gas generators, to also feed the turbines. Indeed instead of connecting the the diesels to the propeller shafts, the engines exhaust gases were used to drive the turbines, connected to the shafts. This was a clever, low engineering solution, but proved quite an innovation. The ship only had two new funnels, set further apart, but a second dummy one was installed between them in 1941, to mimick the silhouette of Swedish destroyers of the time as deterrence.

Clas Fleming in WW2
Clas Fleming in WW2

The artillery was also modernized, the mounted were modified so that the firing range jumped to 16,000 meters and the guns were protected by lightly armoed shields. Air defense was strengthened by thz adoption of three 40 mm m/36 Bofors autocannons, and tow depht charge racks at the stern for ASW defence. The aft mast was removed, the foremast was shortened and modified, the new funnels were raked and shaped differently so completely changing her silhouette.

⚙ specifications 1940

Displacement 1640t standard, 1850t FL
Dimensions 86 x 10.4 x 4.30m (282 x 34 x 14 feets)
Propulsion De Laval steam+gas turbines, same boilers+4 diesel generators
Speed 20.3 kts
Range 7,200 nm
Armament Same but 3x 40mm/56 K/60 M32, 3x 25mm/55 K/58 M32, 200 mines, 2 DCR
Crew 160

Cold War service 1945-1959

Clas Fleming postwar, with her three funnels.
On 8 August 1940, Clas Fleming was recommissioned, deployed to the Coastal Fleet, where she remained for the remainder of the war. After 1945, Clas Fleming was disarmed at Stockholm’s shipyard, now way to old for effective fleet service. But she was kept in reserve, and not stricken from the list and decommissioned before 1959. All valuable material was removed so that she could be converted as a target ship for firing exercises. In the fall of 1960, at last, after being at sea for more than half a century, Clas Fleming was sold, and scrapped in Ystad.

Read More


Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships: 1906–1921.
Harris, Daniel G. (2004). Preston, Antony (ed.). Minelayer Clas Fleming: An Early Gas Turbine Ship. Warship. Vol. 2004. Conway
Borgenstam, Curt; Insulander, Per; Åhlund, Bertil (1993), Kryssare : med svenska flottans kryssare under 75 år (1:a)
Lagvall, Bertil (1991), Flottans Neutralitetsvakt 1939–1945, Karlskrona: Marinlitteraturföreningen nr 71
von Hofsten, Gustav; Waernberg, Jan (2003), Örlogsfartyg: Svenska maskindrivna fartyg under tretungad flagg (1:a), Karlskrona: Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliotek
Borgenstam, Insulander & Åhlund 1993
Von Hofsten & Waernberg 2003, s. 136.
Holmquist 1972, s. 198-199.


Model Kits

HSwMS Gotland (1933)

HSwMS Gotland (1933)

The singular HSwMS Gotland was designed during the interwar as a jack of all trades, built on a shoestring budget, typical of the post-1929 crisis state of military budgets across europe. A bit like the Dutch Tromp class built afterwards, she was supposed to fill many roles at once. Sweden remaining neutral, HSwMS Gotland never met the chance to test her metal in WW2, probably for the best, but at least was the first to spot the Bismarck… She remained an interesting design that was never repeated (before helicopters became a thing): The Flygpanskryssare.

Development of the HSwMS Gotland (1925-30)

Aviation took a rapid pace before, during and after WWI, and in 1915 already, Sweden had its first naval aviation air division. Ten years after, in 1925, the ministry of defense ordered the creation of the Swedish Air Force (Svenska flygvapnet) in turn. When first starting designing a ship to carry aircraft, it was intended that these would be used as protection for the cruiser herself. But it was concluded that the aircraft were not suitable for it, due to average performances at the time, and Instead, they were retasked to be used as support artillery spotting and reconnaissance. Furthermore, these seaplanes were also to be used to lay out smoke curtains to hide nearby ships from the enemy in wartime.

HMS Gotland in the late 1930s, colorized by irootoko jr.

In 1925, a committee as a result of these early prospects was appointed to prepare a proposal, for a new type of cruiser designed to carry and operate aircraft. The study considered desirable to procure two cruisers. From there, several proposals were prepared. None however was completed, as soon the admiralty wanted a larger and more versatile cruiser. The committee later came up with a new proposal, in which the future ship had an in-built hangar large enough to house up to twelve aircraft in between the hangar and the deck. However, aircraft were getting sturdier and no longer needed to be protected by a hangar, so the idea was dropped for a smaller deck without hangar where all planes were to be stored and operated on the stern deck, protected under canvas when not in use. This was ended with a proposal for a ship of 5,500 tons, eight aircraft, 29 knots.

There were back-and-forth discussions about what roles that next cruiser built by Sweden should take, still during the design process. The last Swedish cruiser has been HSwMS Fylgia, a 1904 armored cruiser, scheduled for modernization. Discussions about the role of the new hypothetic cruiser also happened as the bulk of the Swedish Navy comprised coastal battleships divisions and torpedo boats, plus new upcoming destroyers. So it was found adequate to create a cruiser mainly used for scouting duties, so light, fast, with the advanced reconnaissance capabilities procured by its onboard aviation. Although some wanted a cheaper fleet of converted cargo ships used as seaplane carriers, there was one at the other end, the idea of a small aircraft carrier (which will resurface during WW2 and by then traduced into a full concept). The admiralty eventually settled the following year on a compromise: A seaplane carrier/cruiser, which can perform both missions, reconnaissance and leading destroyers.

Initial design, before the cruiser was cut down and lightened. The two forward turrets and catapults can be seen.

Once the concept was settled by late 1926 and agreed upon, proper design started out in December 1926. The new cruiser, still unnamed at that point, was to be as a seaplane carrier large enough to carry twelve aircraft. The design was presented to Sweden’s Naval Construction Board, but the latter decided that the new cruiser needed to have minelaying capabilities as well, so a third role. The resulting 5,000-ton design was entirely reworked and eventually presented a month later in January 1927. It proved impossible to build however within the available budget of 16.5 million Swedish Crowns.

Goland’s launch in 1933

Tenders were received from various shipyards, but it was found that the budget allocated was simply not be enough for the construction. It was necessary shorten the hull of 10 meters, making it 700 tons lighter, and reduced top speed down to 27.5 knots. The biggest change was the dropped superfiring forward turret, the remaining guns replaced in casemates. Last change, just one axial catapult was kept instead of the two side catapults initially planned. Modifications were made to stick to the initial specifications and the yard winning was Götaverken, in Gothenburg. Reduced in size the casemated guns cruiser was reminiscent of the earlier USN Omaha class cruisers, and really unique at that time. The Riskdag eventually voted the budget in 1929, before economical crisis was striking, and construction contract was issued on 7 June 1930. The new ship was to be named HSwMS Gotland, after the island of the same name.

Hawker Osprey S 9, ready for launch on HSwMS Gotland

Hawker Osprey S 9 recovered by the stern crane

Design of the HSwMS Gotland

Hull & protection

Gotland’s hull was assembled of riveted steel plates, although the shipyard proposed to weld the hull instead in order to save weight. The Navy considered however this method too untried at the time and declined. This is strange, because in Germany in 1926-27 the “K” class cruisers were using this construction technique. After pool model tests, engineers decided that a hull with lower water resistance needed a bow bulb, and right angle between sides and bottom. The engineers aslo went against long-helf traditions for the officers’ quarters by moving them from the stern to the foreship, where they could be faster on the brigde. In total, the crew amounted to 400 men and general accomodations were relatively spartan due to its limited size.

Protection was very limited: The belt was just 24 mm thick with an upper section of 15 mm (0.6 in), the main armored deck was 25 mm or 1 inch thick and turrets were also protected by 25 mm of armour plates for the frontal arc. The front conning tower was just 19 mm (0.7 in). Figures for the roof are not known. Also, by design, ASW protection included a double hull and the sides were all highly divided into a multitude of watertight compartments. There was however no proper blast-absorbing zone.


Gotland’s machinery was a further development of the Ehrensköld class destroyer propulsion. Four Penhoët oil-fired steam boilers ere chosen to bring steam to two de Laval steam turbines. Both ran a single propeller. Each boiler, but also and each turbine had its own separate compartment with bulkheads. Total output combined was estimated by engineers to be around 33,000 horsepower, for a projected speed of 27.5 knots. This was achieved on trials. The ship’s electrical systems were also fed by four generators. Two were powered by diesel engines (notably to be usable when machinery was cold, at anchor), and the remainder by the main De Laval steam turbines. Gotland was a long cruiser, long range vessel for which an evaporator was installed to produce fresh water, from desalted seawater. At that point she could carry 800 tones of fuel oil in peacetime conditions, of which 760 were usable, and an extra 80 tons in a reserve tank. This gave her a 4,000 nautical miles range, a bit short for a cruiser, albeit confined to the Baltic and north sea. This fare not well to contemporary cruisers, such as HMS which had the same armament on paper but with 64,000 ship reached 32 knots and had a better range. It should be noted also because the hull was shortened because of budget constraints, the ratio became less favourable for high speed: 130/15 m so about 9/1.

Yard Model at the Sjoehistoriska Museet

Equipments also included six projectors, four for detection and two for morse code and signal lamps, flares, four rowing boats, two small cabin boats aft of the superstructure and two main cabin boats on either side of the fore funnel.


15 cm main guns at max elevation.

Main artillery:

Six 15.2 cm guns M/30, 55 caliber Bofors (6-inches). Four were installed in twin turrets, a single on the foredeck (two initially), and the second on the upper deck after the funnels, due to the aft part of the ship being reserved to aviation. The initial turret was replaced by two casemate guns on either side of the superstructure bridge, and about 150° arc of fire. This made for four guns forward, five boradside and two aft, but in back fire, the turret was right in front of planes, either on the catapult or stern deck rails, limiting its use to broadside fire. The turret guns elevated 60 degrees, allowing them AA fire, far less of course for casemate guns. Their maximum range at this max elevation was 18,000 meters. They were assisted by two main fire directors, one in forward and one aft. The front one was setup mostly to direct AA fire. There was no intermediate caliber.

AA artillery:

Air defense comprised a set of four 75 mm anti-aircraft guns (3-in), one in a single twin mount 60 caliber Bofors Lvk M/28 placed on the upper deck between the funnel, aft telemeter and aft turret. There were also two single mounts M/26 located on each side of a platfom raised between funnels.

Guidance was provided by telemeters located on either side of the bridge superstructure, traversed by hand. To this medium range AA was added a complement for short range of four single 25 mm automatic cannons m/32 which were manned by a special firing control director. These were placed one on each side of the bridge and aft of the superstructure. In addition the ships carried for anti-mine warfare four paravanes, placed on the deck, two forward of the twin turret, and on either side of the casemated guns.

Bofors AA guns after being rearmed in 1945
For close defense, Gotland also carried six torpedoes, placed in two triple banks, on either side of the aft deckhouse. Eventually, engineers were even able to fit mine rails on the stern deck, so some could be carried ande dropped over the stern, but far less than initially planned, when the rails went on for most of the deck. It is not known if this equipment was ever used, since it was planned for wartime.

Aviation onboard

The main advantage of this cruiser, which armament was as consequent as an Arethusa class cruiser, was its onboard aviation, the core design concept from 1926. First off, there was a swiveling catapult installed just aft of turret N°2. Planes were planed on its via the aft deck rails posts, and it can traverse and launch a seaplane, then pivot again in the axis to load another seaplane, launching all its aviation in short time. There were two cranes to lift seaplanes on board: The main aft lattice crane, in the axis and installed at the stern, and a smaller boom crane placed on rails to be moved around the deck. They were served by 60 men, up to eight pilots and replacement and their crews, plus maintenance teams and officers.

The aft deck was a platform criss-crossed by three railings, one axial and two on either side, completed by three pivoting platforms allowing to move the planes in any direction. If eight aircraft could be carried in normal use, if wartime there was enough tracks to carry three more on board, but in such cases the catapult was locked in place. The first planes to be use were sea biplanes of which only six were carried. In the unfolded position, the catapult useful track lenght was 22 meter long. This runway could hydraulically propel seaplanes at 100 kph by means of compressed air. For the anecdote, the catapult was never formally approval by the naval administration, and still it was used for the whole early career of the ship.

The models used were Hawker Osprey seaplanes, with extra capacity for eight but attempts to purchase them ended when the factory in UK announced its production was terminated. These aircraft had no hangar to be housed into and proved to suffer badly from seawater spray and even wave damage in rough weather, to the point they could be entirely destroyed. It already happened the cruiser went back to port after such event and most its air complement knocked off. This air group did not changed until WW2. It was obvious in 1944 that it was completely obsolete, and because no modern model existed as replacement, it was decided to get rid of these entirely (see below).

⚙ Specifications 1935

Displacement 4,600t standard, 5,500t FL
Dimensions 134.80 x 15.40 x 4.50 m (442 x 50 x 15ft)
Propulsion 2 shaft geared turbines, 4 boilers, 28,000 hp.
Speed 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
Range see notes
Armament 6 x 152 mm (2×2, 2×1) 6-in

-4 x 75 mm (3 in)

-4 x 25 mm AA (1.2 in)

-2×3 533 mm TTs (21 in)

Armor belt: 24,15, deck 25, turrets 25, CT 19 mm
Aviation 6-8x Oprey S 6 floatplanes
Crew 467+60 air crew

HSwMS Gotland in service

Gotland in 1936

HSwMS Gotland’s interwar career

HSwMS Gotland was launched on 14 September 1933 at Götaverken and completed, then commissioned on 14 December 1934 with the Swedish Navy, after long trials where she reached 27.53 knots based on 32,768 shp. Her second captain, in 1936–1937 was Helge Strömbäck: He helped training the ship further and start fleet exercises. The training routine went on in 1937–1938 under Gösta Odqvist and in 1938–1938 under Erik Samuelson. The interwar saw her taking part in many training cruises around the world: South America and West Africa among others. In normal conditions she stayed in the Baltic.

  • 1936 cruise
  • Karlskrona 18 November 1936
  • Southampton November 1936
  • Funchal, Madeira December 2-10
  • Saint Vincent, Caribbean, December
  • Bridgetown, Barbados December 23-30
  • 1937 cruise
  • La Guaira, Venezuela January 2-8
  • Willemstad, Dutch Caribbean (?)
  • Barranquilla, Colombia January 11-14
  • Kingston, Jamaica January 17-23
  • Pigeon Island, Jamaica (January)
  • Veracruz, Mexico February 5-11
  • Havana, Cuba February 16-22
  • Port au Prince, Haiti (February)
  • Kingston, Jamaica (February)
  • Ciuadad Trujillo, Dominican Republic February 27-March 1
  • Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago March 5-12
  • Saint Vincent March 21
  • Falmouth, England March 31-April 2 and back to Karlskrona
  • Hakefjorden (January ?)
  • Falmouth, England December 6-9
  • Funchal, Madeira December 16
  • 1938 cruise
  • Dakar, Senegal January 7-10
  • Porto Grande, São Vincente, Santo Nicolas (Cape Verde) January
  • Dakar, Senegal February 3-7
  • Funchal, Madeira (?)
  • Agadir, Morocco February 10-17
  • Casablanca, Morocco (?)
  • Portsmouth, February 23
  • Edinburgh, Scotland and back to Karlskrona
  • Antwerp, Belgium June 10-15
  • Tromsø, Norway June 22-25
  • Esbjerg, Norway June 29-July 1 and back to Karlskrona
  • Lisbon, Portugal December 14-19
  • Porto Santo, Madeira December 22-26
  • 1939 cruise
  • Porto Grande, Cape Verde, January 1
  • Recife, Brazil (?)
  • Bahia, Brazil January 9-14
  • Santos, Brazil January 19-22
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina, January 27-February 4
  • Montevideo, Uruguay February 9-13
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil February 18-25
  • Dakar, Senegal March 8
  • Funchal, Madeira March 13-20
  • Plymouth, March 24-28
  • Karlskrona April 4
  • Bordeaux, France June 21-26
  • Belle Île, France June 27-29
  • Southampton June 30-July 4
  • Kristiansand, Norway July 13, 1939 and back to Karlskrona.

Gotland in Bordeaux, France, 1939.

HSwMS Gotland in WW2

Nothing much happened from September 1939 to early 1941 but year and a half of neutrality patrols, trying to enforce Swedish waters neutrality with a very active Royal Navy and German Navy. She was part of the coast fleet and became a part-time cadet training ship. She saw therefeore no cruises, nor large scale manoeuvers, staying on coastal patrol lines, but venturing into the Skagerrak as well.

Bismarck in the Denmark Strait

And because of this, in May 1941, HSwMS Gotland was embroiled in one of the most famous naval event of that year in this hemisphere: She sighted the German battleship Bismarck when she went from the Baltic Sea, en route to the Skagerrak. KMS Bismarck and her “task force” indeed previously departed at 2:00 AM on 19 May, from Gotenhafen, and heading for the Skaggerak (Denmark strait). She was joined at 11:25 by the heavy cruiser KMS Prinz Eugen, and three destroyers (Z10, Z16 and Z23, and minesweepers to open a way in known and unknown minefields. The Luftwaffe also provided cover until it was no longer over German waters. On 20 May early in the morning, the flotilla was spotted by a squadron of 10-12 Swedish aircraft flying reconnaissance planes. This was the first alert reported and passed to British Intelligence.

Gotland had a camouflaged livery and white neutrality bands during WW2

The passage of Kattegat proper seen out Swedish cruiser spotting in turn, and then shadowing for two hours the flotilla along the way in the Kattegat. The cruiser transmitted the following report to the Swedish naval headquarters: “Two large ships, three destroyers, five escort vessels, and 10–12 aircraft passed Marstrand, course 205°/20′.” At that point both Lütjens and Lindemann knew their secrecy probably vanished, fering leaks to British intelligence, which indeed happened. The report reached Capt. Henry Denham’s hands (British naval attaché to Sweden). It was then confirmed by the Code-breakers at Bletchley Park based on previous informations. The previous aerial spotting was reported to Swedish Navy headquarters and intercepted by the British embassy.

Years passed uneventful for the cruiser, in 1942 and 1943, and up to 1944, when the situation was tense enough war became an option. Her last wartime captain was Moje Östberg, until 1945. The admiralty knowing the completely obsolete air group and general concept of the cruiser being of no use in modern naval warfare decided to convert her as a pure AA cruiser. Not only because much better replacement cruisers were on their way (the Tre Kronor class in construction at that time), but also because Gotland’s slow speed was not ideal for the new plans of the Swedish admiralty, based on two fast cruisers task forces. It was decided that she would be converted that year, 1944, as an anti-aircraft cruiser. Another point was lack of modern seaplanes to replace those in service since 1936. The removal of seaplane facilities was completed by the addition of four 40 mm Bofors guns, and two 20mm L/70 guns placed on the now open aft deck: Two aft in the axis and four on the sides. The old Ospreys were transferred to costal naval service operating from harbour bases. The last were retired on 2 December 1947.

Specifications 1944

Speed 26 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
Armament 6 x 152 mm (2×2, 2×1) 6-in

-4 x 75 mm (3 in)

-4 x 25 mm AA (1.2 in)

-4 x 2 40mm AA

-2 x 2 20mm AA

Aviation None
Crew circa 480

Post-WW2 service

She had as captains Henning Hammargren (1946–1947), Erik Friberg until 1949 and Sven Hermelin until 1951, then in 1955–1956 after refit, Magnus Hammar. After World War II, HSwMS Gotland was relegated as a training ship. She however still cruised the world: In 1947 she visited Malmö, Göteborg, Le Havre (FR), Lyme Bay in England, Torquay, Glasgow and Oban in Scotland. In 1948-49, she stopped in Falmouth, Porto Grande (Cape Verde), Takoradi (Ghana), Banana (Begian Congo), The Cape, Durban (South Af), Lourenço Marques in Mozambique, Mombasa in Kenya, Aden, Djibouti, Port Said, Alexandria, Tunis, Rotterdam, and back to Sweden. In 1950, Lisbon, Porto Santo (Madeira) and Funchal, Port of Spain (Trinidad) and Kingston, Jamaica, Annapolis in Maryland (her first visit of the USA), Port Hamilton in Bermuda, Bordeaux on her way back to Karlskrona, her home port. She later visited Belfast and Brest during the summer.

In 1952-53 her top speed was barely 25-26 knots as her powerplant was worn out. The admiralty decided to convert her again: Starting in 1953 and completed in 1954 she was transformed as a fighter direction ship. This was in for wartime, but she was optimized to serve as a training ship in peacetime. She was eventually decommissioned in 1956, and stricken from the naval register in 1960. Sold on auction in 1962, she was scrapped in 1963, after nearly thirty years of loyal service.

ONI depiction of the ship after her 1950s refit

Specifications 1954

Speed 26 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
Armament 2×2 152 mm (6 in)

-4 x 75mm/56 (3 in)

-4×2 40mm AA

-1×2 25mm AA

-5x 20mm AA

Electronics Surveillance Radar
Crew circa 480

Sources/Read More

Layman, R.D; McLaughlin, Stephen (1991). The Hybrid Warship The Amalgamation of Big Guns and Aircraft. Conway Maritime Press. p. 40.

Preston, Antony (2002). The World’s Worst Warships. Conway Maritime Press.

Anderson, R. M. (1977). “Re: Gotland”. Warship International. XIV (2): 97.

Westerlund, Karl-Erik (1977). “Re: The HMS Gotland”. Warship International. XIV (2)

“From Northern Waters” 1936 Flight article on Gotland’s aircraft operations

World Aircraft Carriers List: Sweden

Swedish Ship Involved – Aircraft Cruiser – HMS Gotland

ONI depiction of the ship after her 1950s refit

Read More & Src

Article from stefano Sappino

List of Gotland’s destinations

On hazegray

Swedish Page wikipedia

More CC photos of the cruiser

On Navypedia

HSwMS Oscar II (1906)

Panzerkepp HSwMS Oscar II (1906)

Swedish Navy – coastal battleship 1907-1974

HSwMS Oscar II was a coastal battleship (Panzerkepp) of the Swedish Navy built before WWI. She was larger, more powerful, and better protected than any other that came before, setting a new standard for Scandinavia. She had an important role during WWI by covering the Swedish invasion of Åland from February to April 1918, while maintaining a potent neutrality deterrence, from her commissioning to the end of WW2 as well. Moernized in the interwar, she indeed provided the required strenght to the coastal fleet with updated system, and even saw service years into the cold war as TS then harbour ship. When she was discarded at last in 1974 Oscar II was 60 years old, quite a feat for any warship, and the very last of her kind in the world.

Oscar II in WW2, with green-tones “forested island camouflage” and neutrality bands.

Design development of Oscar II

Museum painting, the Swedish fleet prior to WWI.

Oscar II was essentally seen as a natural development of the preceding Äran-class coastal defence ship, four ships launched in 1901-1903 and replacing the previous HSwMS Dristigheten (1900) and the three Panzerkepp of the Oden-class of 1894-99. This was an incremental development really started back in 1901 when Sweden appointed a commission to analyse the state of naval defence and setup requirements for future ships to meet its needs. The commission looked at other countries, seeinf the Anglo-German naval arms race and quickly ruled out the hazardous path of building a comparable battleship. Indeed the latter were perceived as fit for a long range projection of power in open seas, but a defensive battleship obeyed quite different rules.

While previous coastal battleships has been short range coastal defence vessels seen as merely an extension of the shore fortifications and minefields, a larger, better armed and protected vessel still could sacrifice speed, not required, and instead capitalized on a lower draft and freeboard, better adapted to the nature of the island mazes close to the shore, exploiting the tactical advantages of the Swedish archipelago. This was the confrmation of the path chosen ten years ago, but updated with the latest gunnery and protection innovation to be able to deal with potentially modern enemy ships.

As it turned out, when this Panzerkepp was defined in the great lines, the commission proposed three alternatives to the government:

  • 1- 4,800 tonnes and four 21 cm (8.3 in) guns, 18 knots
  • 2- 3,950 tonnes and two 21 cm guns, 17 knots
  • 3- 4,218 tonnes and two 21 cm guns, 18 knots

Strangely the Admiralty preferred the second, which was the cheapest of all three, but the parliament (Riskdag) voted for the third on the recommendation of Louis Palander, Naval Secretary, which was the fastest. The larger, more potent twin turret solution was ruled out. The caliber was the largest Bofors was caable of producing at the time. These were smaller than the 10 inches guns produced for the 1890s Oden class, but they had a much longer barrel for a greater range, and fired much faster, which compensated for the smaller caliber. They were superior for example to the 8-in guns produced at the time, found on armoured cruisers, and equivalent to the German Schwere Kreuzer of the time.

The design was further worked out on the base of the Äran design with minor alterations, but the parliament wanted to increas the auxiliary artillery, armour and speed. And from the preparing new designs and coordination to refine the design, this proceeded for almost two years. It’s only in May 1903 the king approved drawings for his namesake capital ship, on 22 May 1903. Order was placed at Lindholmens Mekaniska Verkstad in Gothenburg on 23 September. The design blueprints were further refined and finally ready in 1904. The contract was obtained by Lindholmen’s shipyard, in Gothenburg. The keel was laid down probably in mid-1904 (date unknown), and she was launched on June 6, 1905. Fitting out work was done, followed by sea trials, and post-trial fixes until the ship could be offically commissioned on April 3, 1907, so quite late after her launching, and almost seven years after her design was finalized, so she was already obsolescent. Her cost was SEK 3,390,000, well above all previous ships, and less than the initially planned 6,225,800 kr but in adjusted value.

Design of Oscar II

Painting, scene made from her open admiral bridge, showing the Engine order telegraph

As a modernised and slightly larger version of the Äran-class, Oscar II displaced 4,584 tonnes (4,512 long tons) fully loaded, but normal displacement was 4,273 tonnes (4,206 long tons), with a waterline length of 95.6 m (313.6 ft), 15.4 m (50 ft 6 in) beam and 5.49 m (18 ft) draught. These values are conformed by Conways. Her normal complement was 326 officers and ratings but she ws fitted to act as a command staff, with a specific admiral bridge and extra accomodation for nine officers. Design wise for her general outline, she was a reasonably sound design for the Baltic sea, with a relatively low-freeboard flsush deck hull raised at the bow, fitted with a ram.

Her lines were relatively rounded, with a progressive beam on a symetrical design fore and aft, two axial main turrets completed by four turrets, not installed on the battery corners, but further inside cutouts amidships. The latter battery deck hosting tertiary guns. She also had two masts when completed, both pole ones, the forward supporting a small covered spotting top. Service boats were installed alongside the funnels, with davis. The aft mast also had a service boom. Se would be modified many times in her career but not completely reconstructed as some ships on the Swedish Navy.


Oscar II as completed, notice the forward pole mainmast, soon replaced.

Oscar II was given two four-cylinder triple expansion steam engines (VTE) provided by Motala Verkstad. Each drove a three-bladed propeller. Steam came at a working pressure or 16.5 kg/cm2 (235 lb/sq in) from ten Yarrow water-tube boilers. They were distributed into three separate rooms as a flooding protection measure, with watertight doors.

The engines global output reached 9,400 shaft horsepower (7,000 kW) in normal conditions, probably around 9,800 with overheating. She carried Coal, a total of 490 long tons (500 t), making enough at her consumption rate for a range of 3,550 nautical miles (6,570 km; 4,090 mi) at 11 knots which was sufficient for her coastal role, but she can also speed up and maintain a range of 1,100 nmi at 17.8 knots.

On sea speed trials, she reached 18.14 knots (33.60 km/h; 20.88 mph), burning 0.95 kg/h (2.1 lb/h) per horsepower, which was not too bad. She famously was the sole Swedish coastal battleship with three funnels, so she earned nicknames such as “tre rör” (three pipes).

Armour scheme

General armour scheme on Brasseys. Note this was the already updated version with the tripod mast (so after xxx)

The major change compared to the previous Äran class was the side armour was taken to the upper deck for a short distance amidship. Her armour therefore was an improvement, especially when the lower decks were not forgotten either. In short:

  • Main belt on 67 m (219 ft 10 in), Schneider-Creusot steel 150 mm (5.9 in) amidships
  • Fore and aft tapered down belt: 125 mm (4.9 in), then 100 mm (3.9 in) both forward and aft
  • Citadel 23 m (75 ft 6 in) long, 100 mm thick
  • Main Barbettes 175 mm (6.9 in) rings
  • Main deck 22 mm (0.9 in) mounted on 22 mm steel plate
  • Forward Conning tower 157 mm (6.2 in) walls thick
  • Aft conning tower 100 mm
  • Bridge 10 mm (0.4 in)
  • Upper deck 57 mm (2.2 in) thick
  • Turrets 125 mm face, 60 mm sides and top (2.4-4.9 in)


The aft gun turret and secondary ones. Lighter 57 mm are also visible.

Main: Two turreted Bofors 21 cm K/44 M98

These 210 mm (8.3 in) models were mounted in single turrets fore and aft, centreline (axis). These models were first designed in 1898 and very similar to those used by the earlier Äran class. They fired a 125 kg (276 lb) shell at a 750 metres per second (2,500 ft/s). Rate of fire was two rounds a minute. The turrets were protected by Krupp cemented armor.

Secondary armament: 8x 15,2 cm K/50 M03

The 152 mm (6 in) K/50 M03 guns were mounted in twin (solidary apparently) cradles in turrets. The barrels and mounts were provided by Bofors and also used on the armoured cruiser HSwMS Fylgia. They fired a 45 kg (100 lb) shell at 850 m/s (2,789 ft/s). Rate of fire was 2.7 shells a minute. These four turrets amidships, two per side of the superstructure were partly encased in cutouts in the main battery.

Tertiary armament: 10x 5,7 cm, 3x 3,7 cm

These ten 57 mm (2.2 in) M/98B guns were provided by Finspång. Five were placed in single mounts on either side of the bridge. In addition, three 37 mm (1.5 in) Bofors M/98 were also placed in single mounts, but tthe latter allowed them to be placed on the ship’s steam cutters to be used for fire support when landing a party ashore. In that guise, Oscar II could carry about 20 Marines complemented by armed sailors and oficers for a total of around 60 when the occasion arose, transported in one go in all the service boats. Also like all ships of her generation, Oscar II was fitted with two torpedo tubes, of the standard 450 mm (18 in) caliber, both submerged, so below the waterline fore and aft.

Oscar’s II amazing three wars career

King Oscar II was to launch his namesake ship on 6 June 1905, but a combination of a labour dispute and dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden had it postponed until 10 June. By then, she was launched in a non-traditional way, without champagne (prohibited by Queen Sophia). But she became the Swedish warship named after a living monarch, at least since 1824. HMS started her yard trials after completion, then official trials and eventually entered service as flagship of the Swedish Navy on 3 April 1907.

Prewar service

HMS Oscar II

Oscar II departed for her shakedown cruiser the same summer 1907 in the Spithead for the coronation parade with the British Navy Home Fleet.

As the pride of the Swedish Navy, Oscar II was essentially showing the flag, making her first cruiser in England and back home, let the King sign his name on her aft conning tower, shortly before he passed out. The battleship became de facto the Swedish royalty’s yacht, visiting Saint Petersburg on 29 April 1908 with Prince Wilhelm (Duke of Södermanland) on board, on his way to marry the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna. Later she hosted and carried King Gustav V to Sassnitz in Germany, where on 6 July 1909 he had an official visit to Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Officers on deck to receive the Tsar.

In 1909–1910 she departed for her first long cruise, to the Mediterranean sea. In fact for the next three years she would tour the Mediterranean, visiting en route Denmark, England, Germany and the Netherlands.

In 1910–1911 she had her first major overhaul: Her front mast was replaced by a tripod mast to support a new spotting top and telemeter, considerably increasing accuracy at long range. In 1911–1912, she made another long cruise, visiting northern European countries.

By May-June 1912, hse carried the King and Queen Victoria of Sweden to Finland, for an official visit of Tsar Nicholas II, and was briefly mobilised as flagship, saw the First Balkan War before being back as a “royal yacht”, bringing the King to Christian X of Denmark (June 1913). She also visited Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in July 1913. In July 1914, so close to the war, she escorted the battleship carrying President Raymond Poincaré (France).

Wartime service (WWI)

Oscar II at anchor

When WWI broke out, Oscar II had two of her 57 mm cannons replaced by two AA guns of the same caliber. The control tower was moved slightly aft also to provide better visibility forward.

As the Swedish fleet was mobilised, Oscar II was used as flagship, protecting trade routes and shipping, patrolling along the shores and the Baltic sea lanes. Neutrality ensured she spent much time in firing drills and damage control, with some fleet manoeuvers, but with nothing notable.

Oscar II participated with the new HMS Sverige in the Åland Expedition in 1918: This was her only active military action outside neutrality patrols. This expedition targeted contested islands, after Sweden’s recognition of Finnish independence. It was indeed reported atrocities against Swedish-speaking inhabitants.

Russian forces in disarray due to Russian Civil War, with both sides claiming the islands, the Swedish government saw an opportunity to occupy them. However, Germany was also interested in gaining the islands as part of a wider strategy to control the Baltic Sea and sent a substantial fleet at the same time.

Oscar II crew signalling – credits

Major modifications

In 1929, she saw her aft mast shortened and other minor modification that gradually changed her overall appearance, notably to the bridge. She would make five long cruises during the the interwar period.

Oscar II visited Kiel 1929

Before World War II, HMS Oscar II was overhauled and also underwent her major modernization. Both her main and secondary artillery saw an increase of firing range thans to on one side, the modification of their mounts, and on the other, the installation of a better, higher central sight mounted on the tripod spotting top, and new optics from Sweden.

Oscar II in 1935. Credits Naval History Heritage Command

The old 57 mm guns were all replaced by modern anti-aircraft guns, four semi-automatic 57 mm Bofors, added to two 25 mm anti-aircraft guns, also from Bofors and two twin 8 mm KPV machine guns. The bridge gained a more modern intercom, a gyrocompass, the hull was fitted with a sonar, and three new searchlights were installed on platforms along the bridge and funner for night fighting. Paravanes were also added to severe mine cables.

Oscar II in March 1936.

But this also concerned the ship’s inside as well: The armor deck was removed to access the machinery spaces, and new steam boilers, two oil-burning, the other modern coal-burning models were installed, with a combustion efficiency far greater, while being smaller and lighter. They also had oil heating and boost injection. However all these modification had a cost as the ship’s displacement rose of 450 tonnes.

Oscar II in WW2

Oscar II in WW2

This major refit was completed on October 30, 1939, just in time for the start of WW2. After a refresher training, Oscar II was deployed to the Karlskrona department, multiplying neutrality patrols, with white bands painted fore and aft of her hull. She kept her light grey livery until 1942-43 for a 5-tone complicated pattern also used by other vessels of the Swedish Navy to better blend on the landscape.

Oscar II in WW2

She was later assigned to the Stockholm Squadron, and was used to train new recruits at the Naval Academy, before reassigned to the Karlskrona department until the end of the war.

Oscar II’s cold war (1947-1974)

Oscar II in Gothenburg, 1946

After the war, Oscar II was in the fleet of coastal defence ships that Sweden wanted to retire. Oscar II however made a last royal journey to return home the body of Prince Gustaf Adolf (Duke of Västerbotten) died in a KLM’ DC-3 air crash at Copenhagen Airport (26 January 1947).

In 1947-49 she resumed her training service. She was ultimately decommissioned on 24 February 1950. The hull was however subsequently equipped with learning spaces and used for training managing leaks and radioactive contamination, including decontamination drills. After a further twenty-six years in service, the vessel was sold for 850,000 kr on 11 September 1974 to be broken up for scrap. Oscar II was the last coastal defence ship in the Swedish Navy, outlasting the more modern HSwMS Gustav V by four years.

Sources/Read More
Old article on
wik se

Borgenstam, Curt; Insulander, Per; Åhlund, Bertil (1993), Kryssare : med svenska flottans kryssare under 75 år (1:a), Karlskrona
von Hofsten, Gustav; Waernberg, Jan (2003), Örlogsfartyg: Svenska maskindrivna fartyg under tretungad flagg (1:a), Karlskrona
Holmquist, Åke (1972), Flottans beredskap 1938-1940, Uddevalla: Bohusläningens AB
Insulander, Per; Ohlsson, Curt S (2001) (1:a), Falkenberg: C B Marinlitteratur AB
Lagvall, Bertil (1991), Flottans Neutralitetsvakt 1939-1945, Karlskrona

HSwMS Fylgia (1905)

HSwMS Fylgia (1905)

Swedish Navy – Armoured cruiser 1904-1960

HSwMS Fylgia was the smallest armored cruiser in the world, a three-funnelled 4,800 tons ship with eight 6-in guns (152 mm) in four twin turrets fore, aft and admiships, which was rather innovative at the time. She was commissioned on 21 June 1907, served as cadet training in the interwar and then was comprehensively modernized prior to WW2. She was to be integrated in a new coastal fleet together with recent Swedish coastal Battleships, with Clas Fleming, leading squadrons of torpedo boats. Her major reconstruction lasted until 1940. During the war, she performed neutrality patrols, camouflaged with white bands on her hull. She also saw the early cold war, used as target ship and eventually decommissioned in 1953. By 1957 when she was scrapped, her hull was more than half a century old.

Painting of Fylgia

Development History

In 1892, the naval committee which already planned the torpedo cruisers also determined that the Swedish fleet needed two types of cruisers, a large and a smaller one. As often when submitted this, the riskdag (parliament) refuse the larger one and authorized the smaller one, which in fact became a serie of five torpedo cruisers we saw earlier. In 1901 however, a new committee was appointed to investigate again the fleet’s ship needs in a rapidly changing international context and after some feedback from the small torpedo cruisers were clearly insufficient, pointed at the larger cruiser option again. This was the only one that can solve the fleet’s tasks. The prospect was initially even more ambitious, looking for not one but several cruisers that could independently spy at sea, combat destroyers and light cruisers and be used as school ships in peacetime.

HSwMS Fylgia was first planned at the turn of the century, cruisers were pretty rare in Swedish naval history: In fact, apart the frigate Vanadis in 1862 and screw corvette Balder in 1870, there was no proper “cruiser” in the Swedish Navy for decades, at least a proper one. In 1896 through, a whole serie of torpedo cruisers, the örnen class, were the only exception. These five vessels built in 1894-1900 after the conclusion of the 1892 naval committee, displaced barely more than 800 tons and were essentially designed and used as torpedo boats leaders. However they were green water naval assets, clearly not fit for longer cruises, as befitting of a normal “cruiser”. So the Swedish admiralty looked for a large fleet vessel that can be used to “lead the leaders”, meaning these torpedo cruisers and all the flotillas as a naval HQ, with a sufficient level of protection and armament as a backup. It was still a largely coastal vessel intended for a defensive role, and thus, the Navy did not needed a long range, needlessly large and costly vessel. From there, specifications dictated a very unique ship, tailored for Swedish needs.

In 1902 at last, funds were granted for final design work and construction of a single new cruiser, while the same year an order was placed with Bergsunds Mekaniska Verkstads AB (Stockholm). The latter delegated construction work to its newly acquired Finnboda shipyard. In 1903, funding was requested for the construction of a sister ship, but this was denied by the parliament.

Launch of HSwMS Fylgia


Hull & Protection

Fylgia was 115.1 meters long overall, to the tip of her ram, 14.8 meters wide and a draft of 5.1 meters. This was the size of an average German light cruiser of the time, not an armoured vessel. It even looked the part with her three raked funnels, two masts and sponsn artillery, typical forecastle and poop. It is hard from there to say for certain where influences layed, but certainly between British ang German ship design. Due to her armour, her standard displacement was 4,310 tonnes standard, 4,980 tonnes fully loaded, so much more than a light cruiser of equivalent size, closer to 3500 tonnes standard. All in all she was also an elegant ship, with a pointed stern, slight ram bow, three equally spaced, moderately tall funnels, and two also raked masts.

Behind and above her unique conning tower was built a small two-level (one enclosed, one open above) command and navigation bridge. As per usual visual conventions of the day, her hull was painted white, and the funnels, masts and air intakes and other “deck furniture” was painted in typical “canvas beige”. Decorum was kept minimal, there were just two small heraldry plaques at the bow with the Swedish Royal house symbology, painted blue and gold, her name at the stern and the usual officers open galley. She was built only for a crew of 322 men, of which 50 were cadets (so only 270), making her the least crewed armoured cruiser worldwide also, something helped in part by the armament’s choice.


As a protected ship, Fylgia was given a sturdy hull, built of 22–35 mm thick riveted high carbon content Swedish steel. The core of her protection rested on a 50 mm (2.5 in) (at both ends), up to 100 mm (4 in) thick waterline armor amidship, extended about 50% of the hull’s lenght. So it was protecting the central machinery spaces and ammo storages, but not the fore and aft turret barbettes. It was also internal, not shown on the hull. Its lower edge was connected by 50 mm to the main deck slopes, and its flat section was only 22 mm thickness behind the belt (1.1 inches). The main deck outside the citadel was down to 35 mm in thickness (1.9 inches), still turtleback.

The armored deck was arched as per usual standards of the day, in true turtleback fashion. During construction, there was criticism in the admirakty (after all this was Sweden’s first such construction) that she would have poor stability, but at sea it would turn out she had good seaworthiness, turning radius and agility at large. Her turrets were protected by 130 mm of armour for the face (5 inches), down to 40 mm (2 inches) for the sides and roof. The ammunition hoists were protected by 100 mm thick walls.



Fylgia was one of the last Swedish warships equipped with vertical, triple expansion, steam engines. She had two of them, fed by the steam produced in twelve coal-fired watertubes boilers, placed in three separate compartments. The two four-cylinder triple expansion engines drove a single propeller shaft each. Also, each separated boiler room’s four boilers had their pipes truncated into a single funnel, resulted in this “three pipes” appearance. This powerplant developed a total of 12,000 horsepower, making for a top speed of 22.77 knots (42 km/h) observed on trials, well above the estimated speed of 21.5 knots, also required in the navy specs. Still, 21 knots was not outstanding given the standards of the time, especially for a scout, but it was deemed sufficient at that time. Her coal stock was limited to 350 up to 900 tons maximum due to her small size, still providing her for a very generous 8,000 nautical miles at 10 knots. She was noted as a good steamer also. All in all Fylgia “looked right” and she certainly behaved that way.


Fylgia in a severe storm, listing, and showing her forward turret

Main artillery:

Fylgia’s main artillery was another strong selling point of the design; She had eight 15.2 cm cannons m/03 (6 inches), but instead of having them in individual mounts, in tandem fore and aft and sponsons, she had all eight grouped into twin turrets. It was no unusual for armoured cruisers though, but in this case, even size guns were mounted in broadside turrets, so bow, stern, and amidships, a “lozenge” configuration allowing six guns in chase, retreat and broadside. Front armor was 125 mm thick and sloped and the mounts were manually traversed, as well as the barrel elevation, individually. The artillery officer from its position in the mainmast fighting top, directed fire via an acoustic tube.

Light artillery & torpedoes:

Secondary artillery was homogeneous, and consisted of fourteen 57 mm cannons m/89B (12 pdr) placed in four casemates on the broadside at the battery deck edges, in enclosed sponsons, two amidship, four more forward and aft of the hull’s Forecastle and poop and deck guns front and aft of the bridge. In addition, there were two 37 mm m/98B for saluting also amidships. There was also a forward torpedo room with just two 45.7 cm underwater torpedoes of the m/04 type.


Fylgia, after launch, pending completion.

⚙ Specifications 1907

Displacement 4,734t standard, 4,900t FL
Dimensions 115.10 x 14.78 x 6.30 m (383 ft 10 in x 48 ft 7 in x 20 ft 8 in)
Propulsion 2 shafts, TE engines 12,000 ihp (8,900 kW)
Speed 22 knots (41 km/h)
Range 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Armament 8 x 6 in/50, 14 x 6-pdr, 2-in TTs
Armor KC, KNC, 4 in belt and 5in-2in turrets
Crew 320 (50 cadets)

Refit 1939-40

Modernization designs were proposed as early as 1935, and in 1936 a plan as accepted, but rejected by the Riskdag. It was rejected again in 1937 and 1938, before growing international tensions changed the context. After being postponed for so many years, the summer of 1939 saw the parliament voting a budget for the complete reconstruction and overhaul of HMS Fylgia. The admiralty planned the cruiser would be part of the west coast fleet after that, with its own close protection group.

The modernization was one of the most ambitious and thorough of that time. Fylgia was drydocked for almost two years. Her superstructures were dismantled, her deck gutted as well as her battery and protective decks, in order to access to her machinery spaces.
-Her powerplant was partly modernized: She kept her VTE engines, but all her twelve coal-fired boilers were removed, and replaced by four large oil-fired Penhoët boilers. The boiler room No1 was rebuilt as a cadet accommodation area. The truncated exhausts had her funnels down to two, altering her appearance.
-The ram was eliminated and the bow reshaped into a semi-clipper variant, making her longer.
-The bridge structure was entirely rebuilt, and the CT eliminated. It was much roomier as a result, and inspired by Swedish destroyers of the time.
-Main artillery was modernized: She kept all her eight main guns in turrets, but with a new gun cradle, new barrel, new relload mechanism and new, more powerful ammunition. As a result, her main guns new had a firing range of 16,000 meters.
-The central fring direction was modernized too, with modern fire control systems and telemeters.
-All the electrical circuitry and subsystems, the communication network, were also entirely modernized.
-New electrical supply based on modern diesels, feeding generators and more powerful batteries.
-New wireless radio sets, many compartments modified.
-All former 57 mm guns replaced by:
> Four 57 mm Bofors w/98B-38B AA

> Four twin gyro-stabilized 40 mm automatic w/36 Bofors guns
> Four single 25 mm automatic w/32 Bofors
> Two twin 20 mm automatic AA gun.
-The two fixed underwater torpedo tubes were replaced by swiveling 533 cm tubes on opposite sides of the deck.
The diversity of armament was on purpose: It was to help the cadets familiaizing with all guns types in service with the Swedish Navy.

⚙ Specifications 1940

Speed 26 knots (50.9 km/h; 31.6 mph)
Armament 6 x 152 mm (2×2, 2×1) 6-in
-4x 75 mm (3 in)
-4x 25 mm AA (1.2 in)
-4x 2 40mm AA
-2x 2 20mm AA

Crew circa 480

HSwMS Fylgia in service

HMS Fylgia was launched on December 20, 1905, completed and commissioned on 20 June 1907. She was the Swedish fleet’s largest ship to date, and yet the world’s smallest armored cruiser. Fitting out work took longer than expected due to a strike, in fact, planned initially to early 1907. This summer, Fylgia started right away in a “shakedown cruise” to the Caribbean sea and United States coastal waters. In fact she would make ten long journeys until the First World War broke out. In 1913, her stern casemate were removed to provide better crew accommodation and those in the bow would be also removed soon. The foremast was reinforced and mounted a military lookout. After a firing incident, vulnerable aft 57 mm cannons were also relocated. On February 7, 1913 Fylgia ran aground off Karlskrona. This took place near Kurrholmarna, in Karlskrona’s inner archipelago, and fortunately nobody was injured and damage was minimal. After being towed away she resumed service.

The Great War

When World War I broke out, Fylgia was underway to the Mediterranean. At her first stop, news came in and her cruise was cancelled. She wa scalled back home to perform guarding patrols, enforcing the coastal national neutrality zones, under command of Captain Fredrik Riben. On several occasions she spotted, warned and fired upon foreign warships travelling through these areas and Swedish waters, all repelled. In the autumn of 1915 Fylgia led the only Swedish ship convoy ever during this war, and in 1916, her old aft 57 mm (12 pdr) guns were replaced with new 57 mm AA guns from Bofors. After the war ended, the Swedish admirakty devised a brand new plan for the coastal fleet. There was to be a main force including three new armored ships, well protected by several layers of smaller ships each, so three task forces or flotillas. One such plans included Fylgia, Fleming working together with a screen of destroyers, closest to the main force, and ten torpedo boats for close protection. Discussions went on but nothing changed for Fylgia.

HSwMS Fylgia’s interwar career

In 1919, Fylgia departed made her first postwar trip as a naval cadet training vessel, to the Caribbean, and the West coast of the United States. During the decades between wars she undetook no less than 20 of such cruises, without notiable incident, before was disarmed in 1933, docked in Karlskrona pending her fate. By then, the venerable cruiser was in poor conditions and obsolete. She was transferred to the reserve fleet to be investigated by a commission in charge or evaluating her fate, scrapyard or modernization, and to which degree. The team soon stated the boilers were completely outdated, and the armament and its attached fire control systems were also completely out of date. Discussions went on but it was decided to keep and modernize her was on paper less costly than building a brand new ship. Her interwar captains were Gunnar Unger (1919-1920), Claës Lindsström (1922–1923), Nils Åkerblom (1925–1925 & 1927–1928), Arvid Hägg (1925–1926), Lave Beck-Friis (1931–1932) and Magnus von Arbin (1933–1934). For the refit details, see above.

Fylgia in 1941 after completion, with her first baltic grey livery and white bands, later changed for camouflage.

Fylgia, camouflaged in 1943-45

Fylgia, camouflaged in 1943-45

WW2 service

Fylgia’s reconstruction took the full year of 1940 and went on until early 1941. By then she started her post-refit trials, fixes in dock, and training with partly new recruits in order to gain operational status. After this she was assigned to the Gothenburg Squadron, in late autumn 1941. She belonged to the Gothenburg Squadron until 1944/45 and reorganization of the Swedish fleet, but she was retook also in 1942-45 her role at the naval school department for training, and during the winters, still traveled along the Swedish coast with officer cadets.


Fylgia during WW2

Post-WW2 service

Fylgia in Amsterdam, 1948
Fylgia in Amsterdam, 1948
Fylgia in Amsterdam, 1948

Fylgia in Amsterdam, 1948

HMS Fylgia after the war went on as the fleet’s main training ships for cadets, and resumed her long trips abroad. The feature film “The Navy’s Cavaliers” was shot in connection in 1948 during her long journey under command of Gunnar Fogelberg. Fylgia cruised each year, often twice, before the winter season and her service back in coastal waters plus yearly maintenance, until 1953, so for nine years during the cold war. Eventually the admiralty recoignised her slow speed was a disadvantage in wartime and she was still too cramped as a training vessel. She was discarded on 1st January 1953, mothballed, and from January 30, 1953 she was disarmed. Useful equipment was landed, her artillery moved to the Kalix fortification line in Norrbotten, placed near the village of Siknäs, in 1960. Special blockhouse and facilities were created to operate them. Two such turrets were condemned and blasted for safety after their closure in the early 2000s, but the main facility with another other turrets and liaison center remained, now part of the Siknäsfortet museum. The last one was sealed, but is also part of the museum’s exhibition.

Meawnhile, the hull also found its usefuless. After some minor modifications for the task, she was converted as a target hulk. She was repeatedly fired upon by the last generation of Swedish destroyers and cruisers (such as the Göta Lejon class) but also by coastal artillery. She was it was hit many times, but always refused to sink. Eventually, the old vessel was sold in 1957 for 418,157 crowns (approx. 5.77 million by 2009) to a scrapyard at Gothenburg near Copenhagen.

Fylgia as target ship

Fylgia as a target ship, 1955

Fylgia's former guns, fortification, Siknäsfortet museum

Salvaged turret, recycled into a naval fortification, still listed as “reserve”.

Read More & Src

John Gardiner, Conway’s all the world’s fighting ship 1860è1905, 1906-1921, 1922-47.
Borgenstam, Curt; Insulander, Per; Åhlund, Bertil (1993), Kryssare : med svenska flottans kryssare under 75 år
Lagvall, Bertil (1991), Flottans Neutralitetsvakt 1939-1945, Karlskrona: Marinlitteraturföreningen nr 71
von Hofsten, Gustav; Waernberg, Jan (2003), Örlogsfartyg: Svenska maskindrivna fartyg under tretungad flagg (1:a), Karlskrona: Svenskt Militärhistoriskt Bibliotek

On navypedia
Nice colorized photo by Frank, Fylgia saluting 1928; Maritime Museum in Stockholm (Fo229116).
Additional photos WT
wiki SE
Swedish history museum

The models corner
1:100 brass wood model at the Baltic sea Museum
shapeways 1:700
1/1250 model (pdf)

Tre Kronor class cruisers (1944)

Tre Kronor class cruisers

Swedish Navy 1944-64
HSwMS Tre Kronor, Göta Lejon

The “Three Crowns” class was the most ambitious naval program of Sweden during WW2. It was created out of necessity in case Sweden’s neutrality would end one way or another. Launched in 1943, however the first one was only completed in 1947. Undoubtedly the best Swedish cruisers ever produced (and the last) they missed WW2 but were ready for the cold war. They would have been classes as light cruiser under the Washington Treaty, with their 8,000 tonnes standard displacement and 6-in artillery. The armament was modified and the AA was exclusively composed of the 40 mm Bofors. By necessity to stay relevant, Göta lejon was modernized and rebuilt, served with the Swedish Navy until she was sold in Chile in 1971 and under her new flag she served until the end of the cold war while Tre Kronor was stricken in 1964. Two cruisers with very different fates and styles, which marked the Swedish Navy.

HSwMS Fylgia
HSwMS Fylgia


World War II had the Swedish Navy reconsider its naval strategy in case of a forced implication. The fleet was reorganized entirely into two destroyer squadrons, each now led by a cruiser. It was radically different from the usual peacetime slower coastal defence ships/torpedo boats defence scheme. In 1940 as events became more worrying between the campaign in nearby Norway and the war in Finland and occupation of Denmark, the Swedish government voted in emergency the construction of two cruisers to lead these destroyer groups. As the last Swedish cruiser, HSwMS Fylgia (1905) was outdated and HSwMS Gotland (1935) was too slow to effectively be used for the task, brand new cruiser designs were needed.

Project Panzerskepp 1935 Designer: Marinförvaltningen “Tre Kronor”
Displacement: 7680 t, 130 m long, top speed: 22,5 knots, armed with two twin 283mm, twelve 120mm, twelve 25mm

Project Panzerskepp 1937 Designer: C-in-C of the navy, admiral de Champ
Dimensions: 160 x 19 x 5,7 m, 27 knots, two triple 210mm, eight 120mm, eight 40mm, six 533mm TT

Project Battlecruiser 1936 Designer: C-in-C navy, admiral de Champ
Displacement: 14,000 t, 160 m x 19 m x 5,7 m, 27 knots, two twin 283 mm, twelve 120 mm

Project 1939 Pznerskepp Designer: Generalstaff Obst. (gen. Thörnell)
8000t, 130m, 22,8 knots, 2×2 254mm, 4x 152mm, 6x 120mm, 40mm AA

‘Psilander’ Ansaldo proposal, 1942 (rejected)
17,000t heavy cruiser, 170m x 20m, 23 knots
Armed with 2×3 283mm, 8x 120mm, 57mm, 30mm, 20mm AA

The Riksdag had granted funding for new “armored ships” (Panzerskepp) in 1938, but the general poor condition of the fleet had them postponed to purchase smaller vessels, refurbishing the larger, outdated coastal battleships and two cruisers. By December 1939 the naval administration requested permission to order two new cruisers again, but it was rebuffed by the parliament, postponed while a debate raged about what type of ship was really needed. Instead of battleships, more efficient ship types and several different projects were considered, for larger artillery vessels. Then since Sweden was at war, focus shifted to cruisers to lead two battlegroups made of brand new destroyers. At some point, due to the nature of this endeavour, it was considered to purchase the old USN cruiser of the Pensacola class.

Panzerskepp project
Initial Panzerskepp project, before the war and a move towards cruisers used as squadron leaders

Negotiations for a purchase started, since the USA were still neutral at that point. However the US Congress never gave its approval in the end. The capacity of the Swedish shipbuilding industry needed too much time for a local construction, and negotiations resumed, as the Swedish delegation went to Italy and try to purchase the Italian Alberico da Barbiano, but it never came to fruition. Instead, it was decided to copy locally the cheaper and simpler Dutch HNLMS Tromp design. As designed, it was to be 4,800 tonnes armed with the same artillery found on the Gotland. But this proposal was ultimately rejected and the commission recommended four even smaller cruisers.

In the spring of 1940, AB Bofors was ordered 6-in cannons for the Dutch navy, just seized by the Swedish state. This opportunity effect meant they were now available for a Swedish cruiser, but their size was no longer compatible with the type of smaller cruisers previously advocated. Instead, Riksdag voted in 1940 the construction of two larger cruisers able to carry these guns. Ultimately this was opened to bids, even in this context, to the only possible still neutral supplier at that time, which in addition had quite a good reputation in cruiser and battleship design: Italy.

Netherlands Eendracht class
Netherlands Eendracht class (cancelled). Her artillery was reused on the Tre Kronor class.

CRDA Design

Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino (Trieste) merged with Cantiere Navale Triestino (Monfalcone) in 1930 to create Cantieri Riuniti dell’Adriatico (CRDA). The yard became quickly famous to built numerous light and heavy cruisers (ike the Garibaldi class, plus state of the art battleships like the Veneto and Roma for the Regia Marina, and had quite a design expertise, on par with Ansaldo, on the international scene. CRDA was trusted and started working on a proposal, largely based on the Garibaldi class to gain time. The design was worked out even after Italy entered the war, and was ultimately ready in 1941, approved by the Swedish Government. It was to be armed in Sweden to avoid retention/requisition of foreign artillery and systems, and built locally in Sweden with all possible local subcontractors.

As designed, the new cruisers were given seven Bofors 152 mm guns (instead of the ten 6-in of the Garibaldi class), and with a singular arrangement that resemble the one chosen for the Siamese Taksin class cruisers. Indeed she was built with a single triple turret forward, and two twin turrets aft. They already existed, previously manufactured at Bofors for the planned Dutch Eendracht-class battlecruisers, but taken over by the Swedish government as the country surrendered in May 1940.

Swedish 12 cm guns light cruiser project (1944):

Further design delays (1941-43)

There was an intense political debate about them, which needed to rework the design, and its completion was not done until early 1943. During these debates extensive work with the contract documentation was done until tenders could be requested from Götaverken and Eriksbergs Mekaniska Verkstads AB, in June 1942. They were many back and forth reunions between the admiralty, the purchase commission and the Swedish government. On 15 September 1942 an agreement was signed with the shipyards, for the construction of the two vessels at a cost of SEK 65 million per vessel (SEK 1.2 billion 2009). At last, the final drafts were approved, and the ships order to the Götaverken and Eriksberg shipyards, Gothenburg, which had to be modified to accept their large hulls was authorized and setup. HSwMS Tre Kronor was eventually launched on 16 December 1944, HSwMS Göta Lejon on 17 November 1945, but none was ready to take any part in the conflict as their completion dragged on in a postwar context.

Göta Lejon original tower superstructure
Göta Lejon original tower superstructure


Both vessels were the most impressive ships ever to be built in Sweden (and remained so arguably to this day), by size and tonnage. It required many adjustments to the shipyards and by default of a direct purchase, the solution of building these ships locally was a lenghty process. So much so, that between the parliament agreed to plan the ships in 1940, the design mukltiple revisions, whereas guns were already available, led to a launch in 1945 and completion was not done before 1947. Both were now confronted to a brand new context and potential adversary: The Soviet Baltic fleet. This had an effect on the design revisions made on Tre Kronor’s sister ship later, Göta Lejon, as well as radical post-trial design revisions.

Hull & construction

Both cruisers were sized like Italian cruisers of the interwar, 180.2 meters long for 16.7 meters wide and a 5.7 meters draft. They were more beamier to compensate for less draught, better adapted to the shallow waters of the Baltic. Standard displacement as completed became 7,650 tonnes, for a fully loaded displacement of 9,238 tonnes, so even if they were both no longer concerned by the Washington treaty in any case (they were not signatories, and design was planned in wartime), these dimensions were dicated by the limited size of the available shapes.
Construction was modern, all in welded steel, with the exception of the screwed armor plates to the outside of the hull. The main superstructure was very reminiscent of Italian cruisers, with a main bridge shaped as a cylindrical tower. It was considered top-heavy and impractical and rebuilt after completion at last on Göta Lejon, as a larger, much lower open control bridge, also greatly improving stability. The superstructure contained the main navigation bridge, a combat bridge and the admiral deck, to command a destroyer squadron. Radar was not initially installed, but both ships were provided with two masts for later installation of radar antennas. The funnels shape was also reworked after tests were made in KTH wind tunnel, leading create a cap with steep slope rearward. This was intended to improve visibility from the bridge. All in all, both vessels were a mix of influence, but they were impressive looking, one often forgotten role of a warship.


Since both were light cruisers, and reflecting the italian practice at the time, the Tre kronor class were lightly armoured. Also their armor plates were not forged anew, but instead just “recycled” from the old Panzerskipp HMS Oden and Thor, to spare time. The belt armour therefore was 70 mm thick with a back plate 20 mm thick and sloped. There were internal bulkheads and the main armored deck was divided into double plating, 30 mm each. The hull was designed with a lower double hull extending over more than half the length. The main turrets were protected by 127 mm frontal armor, 50 mm on the sides, roof and rear, and the conning tower had walls 25 mm thick, with a 20 mm roof plate.
-Belt: 70 mm (2.8 in)
-Armoured Deck: 30 mm (1.2 in) upper deck, 30 mm (1.2 in) main deck
-Turrets: 50 mm sides, roof, back, 127 mm front (2.0–5.0 in)
-Conning tower: 25 mm walls, 20 mm roof (0.79–0.98 in)


The Tre Kronor machinery consisted of four French-provided Penhoët water tubes boilers which in turn fed two de Laval steam turbines. As usual compartmentation for ASW protection, the front compartment housed the two separated boiler rooms that supplied steam to the front turbine room, which drove the starboard propeller, and aft there were two boiler rooms and a turbine room that drove the port propeller. The propulsion machinery generated 90,000 horsepower, sufficient to exceed the contracted speed on trials, initially of 33 knots. It any this was a another sure character detail of Italian designs of the late 1930s. To feed the numerous subs-systems on board not hydraulic and lighting, there were smaller steam-powered electric generators and two diesel-powered generators.


Dutch Bofors 15,2 cm
The Peruvian light missile cruiser B.A.P. Almirante Grau (CLM-81) fires 15.2 cm caliber cannons for naval surface fire support of the largest Latin American amphibious assault ever during UNITAS 45-04. These were Dutch 15,2 cm (6 in Bofors) identical to those of Tre Kronor.

Main armament:

The Tre Kronor class were given three turrets, but using a peculiar and quite unique arrangement: Al large triple turret on the foredeck and two superimposed aft, narrower twin turrets, each mounting two 15.2 cm cannons w/42, so seven in all. The mounts were dual purpose, with sufficient elevation for anti-aircraft fire.
-Shell weight: 46 kgs (101 lb) shell at 26,000 metres (28,000 yd).
-Rate of fire: 12–15 rounds per minute
-Elevate: 70 degrees (AA use)
-Maximum range was 22,000 meters. Ceiling circa 10,000 m
-Stowage 200 shell per barrel of various types (Smoke, tracer, AP, HE, AA shpapnel).
-Main Optically Telemeter on the bridge (artillery radar 1947)
-Ballistic computer, Three artillery direction centers.
-Second telemeter for AA direction aft.

Secondary/AA armament:


The cruisers carried only light artillery, no intermediate caliber, but it was compensated by a heavy “light” AA and the dual purpose nature of the main guns. It also cleaned up the decks and simplified ordnance.
-Twenty Bofors 40 mm guns lvakan m/36 (10 twin turrets)
-Seven 25 mm guns in individual positions.
The Bofors 40 mm had all the characteristics of the well-known Swedish Bofors, themselves a development of the British pom pom 2-pdr purchased in 1922. But their iconic model was in reality a scaled down 57 mm (6-pdr) semi-automatic QF naval gun developed earlier by Finspång, leading to a re-barreled Nordenfelt test gun with new semi-automatic loading mechanism. Test in 1929, fixing details, again in 1930 until the open breech mecanism with dropping rounds was found ideal to sustain the rate of fire. Krupp purchased a part of Bofors and improved the overall manufacturing processes and quality, and the final prototype was tested in 1932, while in between the government wanted a light MG, leading Bofors to scale down its produce and produced a 25 mm. The Dutch navy purchased the L/60 with the famous Hazemeyer mount, and in 1935-36 it was sold also to Belgium, Poland, Norway, and Finland, before the Swedish Government changed its mind again.
The Bofors 40 mm L/60 with its Hazemeyer mount was protected by a turret. There were six gyro-stabilized water-cooled twin mounts and four hand-directed air-cooled twin mounts. They were placed as follows:
-One at the foot of the bridge, on a raised platform behind the fore turret
-Two in broadside sponsons either side of the bridge
-Two aft of the forward funnel, close to the boats
-Two abaft the aft funnel, amidships, in side sponsons
-One aft of the second funnel
-Two on either side in sponsons.

The 25 mm was developed after a 1925 Swedish Navy request of a 20 mm AA gun, and in 1928, a new 40 mm and 25 mm AA guns to be produced in parallel as the M/32. It was essentially a scaled down 40 mm, 64 caliber (so longer than the original), using the same long-recoil operating system and hydro-spring recoil mechanism. It was interesting as using 6-rounds clips mounted side by side as a traditional belt, but articulated, so that a continuous fire can be made, unlike the manually fed 40 mm.
-25 × 205 mm R cartridge
-Cyclic rate 160–180 rpm
-Muzzle velocity 850 m/s.
They were placed in individual position without masks, all manually operated, as follows: Four in a platform abreast the fore funnel, three abaft of the AA telemeters aft, one centerline, two on the superstructure on either side, so seven in all. Each needed four operators.
In addition to the 25 mm, the Swedes added on completion nine 20 mm Oerlikon w/40 AA machine guns in single mounts, with masks along the hull, foredeck close to the prow and stern.

In addition both cruiser were designed to carry two triple 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes banks, placed just after the foredeck, on the lower aft deck. They were directed from two sights, one on each side of the front superstructure. The latter was also equipped with rails in order to carry a total of 160 mines and two sets of ASW grenades racks at the poop.

Tre Kronor 1947

Author’s rendition of the Tre Kronor in December 1947

Tre Kronor Specifications

Dimensions 174 (182 oa) x 16.70 x 5.94 m (570/597 x 66 x 19.6 ft)
Displacement 7,400 t standard, 9,200 FL
Crew 610 officers and ratings
Propulsion 4 shafts Laval Steam geared turbines engines, 100,000 shp
Speed 33 knots, Range: 4,350 nm
Armament 7×152, 27×40 mm Bofors AA, 6 TLT 533 mm, 160 mines, 2 DCR
Armor 20-70 mm, see notes

Tre Kronor career

Tre Kronor in completion after launch, 1946
Tre Kronor in completion after launch, 1946

Construction and completion: HMS Tre Kronor* was built at Götaverken (Gothenburg), launched on December 16, 1944, baptized by Crown Princess Louise. The a first delay erupted, after a prolongated shipyard strike broke out. When it ended, construction resumed until the ship was able to be completed two years later, running her sea trials in December 1946. Some problems were found, notably a water flow creating cavitation and improper lubrication of the propeller shafts. After being fixed and new trials, the ship was delivered to the Navy in October 1947 and commissioned, so in total three years after launch, and four after start.

*Tre kronor “Three Crowns” refers to the national symbol of Sweden and in reference to the Kalmar Union, the reunion of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Tre Kronor as completed, sea trials, December 1946

Tre Kronor in service, 1947
Tre Kronor in service, 1947 (HD)

Faeroe islands expedition, 1950
Faeroe islands expedition, 1950

Tre Kronor (background) and HMS Uppland (foreground) in Stockholm, 1950s
Tre Kronor (background) and HMS Uppland (foreground) in Stockholm, 1950s

Uppland seen from the aft deck of Tre Kronor
Uppland seen from the aft deck of Tre Kronor

Minelaying exercise in the 1950s
Minelaying exercise in the 1950s

Tre Kronor operated as intended as flotilla leaders, making a first exercise until she was refitted in mid-March 1948 in Götaverken. A review was carried out by a commission to upgrade and modernize the design. A modern telemeter, ballistic computer and radar system were installed. In April 1949 she was out of the yard, recommissioned, resuming service. In the summer of 1950, she participated in an expedition to the Faroe Islands. At that time, he Faroese parliament was made independent under constitutional law. In 1951, both ships, similarly equipped, served together, taking part in a large naval exercise. Tre Kronor was back in drydock and stayed there for two years, with her superstructure rebuilt some of her 1946 equipment replaced. This ended in 1953 and she resumed service, but until the autumn of 1958, she was modified again. After limited service she was eventually placed in reserve at Karlskrona, remaining there until sold for scrap on 1st January 1964 to Götaverken. Her superstructure was dismantled in 1969–1970 but her hull was used as a pontoon bridge in Brofjorden, then sold to a Norwegian shipbreaker in 1993.

Göta Lejon long, double life

HMS Göta Lejon after her bridge reconstruction in 1950-52.

HMS Göta Lejon was named in reference to the The first coat of arms of Sweden (13th century), featuring a golden lion on wavy blue plus white diagonal lines, now part of the greater coat of arms of Sweden with three crowns. Since in this, the two lions were related to Götaland and Svealand, the first was called “Göta lion”.
Identical to her sister ship, Göta Lejon was built at Eriksberg’s shipyard, in Gothenburg, but Construction was delayed by a strike. She launched one year later than Tre Kronor, on 17 November 1945, baptised by Crown Prince Gustav Adolf. She displaced 9,238 tonnes fully loaded and reached more than 34 knots, as seen during her sea trials.

At kast she was accepted in service on December 15, 1947, just back from a six-month shakedown cruise. In October 1948, she was disarmed and decommissioned to be modernized in a drydock, before Tre kronor, in 1950-52. Her superstructure was rebuilt, radar, communication systems and new telemeters installed. As rebuilt, her superstructure addressed her initial stability problem. The tall tower was removed entirely and a new, low wide and sturdier structure as built instead.
In March 1951, she received another refit, and during the summer, both sister-ships were equipped similarly. Göta Lejon had another refit in 1953, and returned in drydock in 1957-1958. During this period, she received an extensive modification of her AA artillery. It was still based on AA guns, but modernized. After these modifications Göta Lejon made a shakedown cruise, and was disarmed again in 1959. She served until 1964, for her last naval exercise. Her sister ship was stricken in January, while she was placed in reserve until July 1, 1970, scheduled to be sold for scrapping.

Göta Lejon and the destroyer Uppland
Göta Lejon and the destroyer Uppland

Göta Lejon underway

Göta Lejon during a visit in St Petersburg, with a Sverdlov class cruiser in the background

HMS Göta Lejon, camouflaged at the end of her career
HMS Göta Lejon, camouflaged at the end of her career
HMS Göta Lejon, camouflaged at the end of her career

Life on Board:

But fate would have it that the Swedish Government could get more value from the ship than crap metal. The Cruiser in 1964 was still relevant with its modern radar guided AA artillery and electronics suite. Instead, Göta Lejon was put up for sale. There were proposals, all studied by the commission in charge, from 1965 to 1970, until following long negotiations, an agreement was struck on 25 August 1971 with the Chilean Government. On September 18, the new Chilean flag was raised as the ship was officially transferred, under the new name of Almirante Latorre (The name formerly of its WWI era dreadnought, admiral ship of the Chilean Navy). The new cruiser took that role again, and on 9 December 1971 she departed for Chile, staying in service until February 4, 1984. Stricken and disposed of in August 1985 she was sold for scrapping, to Taiwanese shipbreakers. A long career for a ship based on an interwar Italian cruiser design.

Latorre in Valparaiso, Septemer 1975
Latorre in Valparaiso, Septemer 1975

Almirante Latorre in 1978, showing her camouflage

Read more/Src

Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1921-47,_1944)
von Hofsten, Gustav; Waernberg, Jan (2003), Örlogsfartyg: Svenska maskindrivna fartyg under tretungad flagg
Borgenstam, Curt; Insulander, Per; Åhlund, Bertil (1993), Kryssare : med svenska flottans kryssare under 75 år

The model Corner

Hansa S 96 Swedish Light Cruiser Tre Kronor 1947 1/1250 Scale Model Ship
Card Model Kit – Swedish cruiser Tre Kronor


The Tre Kronor class by Drachinfels
The last year: Göta Lejon in 1963-64
In Chilean service, as Almirante Latorre.