Von der Tann

SMS Von der Tann


When the worlds first battlecruiser, HMS Invincible, was commissioned, Britain had gained a sizeable advantage in making all previous armoured cruiser designs obsolete at a stroke. The Germans decided to build similar ships, just as they did when HMS Dreadnought left the shipyard, and began planning their own battlecruiser designs. The German engineers chose a different approach than their British colleagues, however: the German Navy laid a heavy emphasis on armour protection and stability, as "the first duty of a ship is to swim", and the ship would have a different purpose. Whereas the British battlecruisers were designed for long-range cruises in order to hunt down enemy cruisers and protect shipping lanes all over the world, the German battlecruisers were to be used mainly close to home. This accounted for many design differences, and when the first German battlecruiser took shape on the Blohm & Voss shipyard, it promised to be something very different indeed. Like the British counterpart, it sported heavy artillery, but with a smaller calibre, as it was custom these days. But it received a full set of middle artillery as well, which the Invincible lacked. The new ship was also fitted with a strong armour protection, whereas HMS Invincible only carried little armour to conserve weight, and British authorities of the time believed that superior speed could replace armour. SMS Von der Tann, named after a Bavarian general in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, carried the first turbine engine in a German capital ship, which proved to be much stronger than anticipated. On trial at sea, the turbines generated almost twice as much power than expected, giving Von der Tann a fantastic top speed of 27.1 knots, which even outclassed the Invincible. The strong power plant and good protection took their toll, however, on range and crew accommodation: Von der Tann was not intended for long cruises, and when forced to stay on the open sea, the crew had to endure very small and poky quarters indeed.Von der Tann entered fleet service in 1907 and was immediately transferred to the Scouting Forces.

Ship data

Relative combat value: 14136

Basic damage control capacity: 86%


Displacement: 19064 tons

Length: 172 m

Width: 27 m

Draught: 8 m

Standard crew: 1174


Maximum speed (undamaged): 26 knots

Endurance: 8153 km

Coal capacity: 2960 tons

Armour protection

Conning tower armour: 10

Hull armour: 6

Main belt armour: 14 (includes backing slope of deck armour)

Deck armour: 2 (sloped at edges to provide additional belt level protection)

Best armour type: Krupp


8 x 28cm SK L/45, centrally controlled. Ammo: 656 rounds

10 x 15cm SK L/45 20deg, centrally controlled. Ammo: 1500 rounds

12 x 8,8 SK L/45, centrally controlled. Ammo: 2400 rounds

4 x 8,8cm Flak L/45, centrally controlled. Ammo: 800 rounds

4 x 45cm C/03 D Torpedoes, locally controlled. Ammo: 12 torpedoes

Ships in class

  • Von der Tann