Austro Hungarian Navy

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Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby NeoVisionist » 08 May 2017 01:27

In developing an alternate timeline whereupon Hitler enlists in the Austro Hungarian navy before his mother's death, I'm after a few pertinent facts; I know that the navy was relatively multinational, with Italians especially serving in considerable capacity. Did Austro Hungarian ships ever call into the port of Naples in southern Italy? Did any ships visit the United States or did they stick to the Med? What about the far east? A quick check of Italian websites doesn't reveal much. Officers were required to be multilingual: were English and Italian taught at the Austro Hungarian Naval Academy? Finally, did Austro Hungarian naval intelligence operate in British territories before the first world war?

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby James A Pratt III » 14 May 2017 04:04

I know there was a visit to the US by one A-H warship pre WW I but don't know the year This may be in mentioned in Warship international magazine. The KUK navy did have a cruiser in China pre WWI. I would say their ships did visit Naples pre war. Intelligence wise I would say they would mainly be operating in Italy and possibly the Balkans during WW I. There could be an agent or two in British territory. Yes I believe KUK naval officers were taught both English and Italian and other languages.

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby NeoVisionist » 02 Jul 2017 16:45

Thanks :-)

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 03 Sep 2017 23:42

The k.u.k. navy is an interesting topic. Many people are surprised to hear A-H had a navy at all, but the service, and its fleet, had several very necessary purposes. "Showing the flag" was one, and two cruisers (SMS Aspern and SMS Sankt Georg) visited the US for the exposition of the 300th anniversary of Jamestown in 1907.

A Chinese presence was almost continuous (not sure) from the late 1890s until 1914. I did read that Austrian sailors in a landing party assisted US marines in protecting US citizens during riots in Shanghai before the Boxer rebellion. During the Boxers, SMS Zenta was on station in China and A-H sailors were involved in defending the international legations in Peking. The old cruiser SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth was stationed in China in the year or so before WW I.
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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 04 Sep 2017 00:01

As a couple of resources, there are two websites with interesting photos of the ships of the navy, its yards and harbors, and the men. There are also two good books that can shed light on its progress and its problems:

http://www.kuk-kriegsmarine.at (in German).

http://www.kriegsmarine.at (German with an English option).

Laurence Sondhaus, The Naval Policy of Austria-Hungary, 1867-1918 (Purdue, 1994).

Milan Vego, Austro-Hungarian Naval Policy, 1904-14 (London, 1996). Both books are available through Amazon

There is also an interesting book by a former kuk officer published in 1967 by the US Naval Institute Press - Anton Sokol, The Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy. It appears to be out of print, but may be in libraries or available through used book dealers.

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 04 Sep 2017 01:36

^^ In addition to the resources above, there are two Osprey titles recently published. One is on A-H battleships, 1914-18 and another on A-H cruisers and destroyers, 1914-18. These are readily available, and they have enough information to be of interest.

Another old title is not too common, and if found is very expensive. It is Rene Greger, Austro-Hungarian Warships of WW I (Ian Allen, 1976?) As I recall, the photographs in this volume are not of a high standard, and I have seen many others of much better quality in on-line sources.

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 16 Oct 2017 21:19

Since an interested member opened a thread on the Austro-Hungarian navy (K.u.K. Kriegsmarine), let's discuss it in its strategic and operational aspects. I will start with a brief essay on the strategic purpose and needs of the navy in terms of Austria-Hungary's geopolitical interests. Then further discussion could follow on the fleet and the circumstances that affected its ships, bases and personnel.

I. A Navy in a Narrow Sea

The Adriatic Sea runs essentially northwest to southeast roughly 500 miles from Venice in Italy to the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea between southern Italy to the west and the Balkans to the east. The Adriatic varies from about 140 miles at its widest to about 60 miles at the entrance to the Med north of the Greek Ionian Islands. In the west, Italy occupies the entire length of the Adriatic with few ports or harbors, and with narrow coastal areas close to the sea. There are few natural defenses on that side of the Adriatic. In the east, in what was Austria-Hungary, it consists of about 370 miles of coast with many natural harbors and more than 1200 islands separated by numerous deep water channels behind which ships can navigate and shelter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adriatic_Sea

The sea coast of the Austro-Hungarian (A-H) empire consisted of a peninsula at the northern end of the Adriatic and also its eastern coast which was virtually all of Dalmatia. In the north, the Istrian peninsula was connected to the interior of Austria by railroads which by the early 20th century were being expanded and improved. Along these rail lines raw material, products and people reached the cities of Trieste, Fiume and Pola where commercial shipping was becoming a contributor to the A-H economy. This was an economic aspect of the need for an A-H navy. The Adriatic was a commercial lifeline to the Mediterranean Sea.

Along the Dalmatian coast, as had been the case for many centuries, communication up and down the eastern Adriatic was mostly by water. The interior of the western Balkans was geographically rugged, sparsely populated and had minimal economic value. Roads and rail lines were few and primitive. Here the interests of Austria, and also of Hungary, were geostrategic. The eastern coast of the Adriatic constituted a flank for Austrian political interests in the Balkans, and it had to remain secure. If the harbors on that side of the Adriatic, or the estuaries of several rivers, were in foreign hands, Austria-Hungary's strategic position in the Balkans would be threatened and its access to the Med endangered.

II. The Place of the Navy in Politics

Until the 1890s, the K.u.K. navy had been an afterthought for the A-H war ministry, starved of funds and looked upon only as a coast defense force equipped mostly with old ironclads, often with obsolete, reused machinery, and with small torpedo boats. Some of these boats were only 65-85 tons displacement. Many of the fleet's newer warships were foreign built (British and German yards) and used foreign made naval artillery (Krupp). The Hungarian part of the empire, being primarily agricultural, had little interest in naval matters and usually acted politically against funding for the navy.

By 1890, the newer ships of the navy consisted of two new coast defense ships (7400 tons; 2 x 12" guns) and two protected cruisers (4000 tons) all of which were obsolescent when commissioned, three small cruisers built in the 1880s (all less than 2000 tons with two or four 4.7" guns) and about 30 torpedo boats, the largest of which was 100 tons. The remaining old ships were of little to no military value. Being constantly underfunded, the A-H navy's practice was often not to dispose of old ships but to keep many as non-operational storage hulks and accommodation ships, or to covert them to tenders.

Naval ship building in the 1890s added one armored cruiser, three protected cruisers of about 2400 tons, and three small coast defense battleships of 5600 tons with 4 x 9.4" guns. In addition a dozen larger torpedo craft of differing types were acquired. In 1898 the navy proposed a plan for 12 ocean going battleships, 12 cruisers, 12 destroyers and 36 large torpedo boats. How that was to be achieved in the face of political opposition was to be a challenge.

The Habsburg dynasty had several archdukes who had interests in naval matters and without their interest and influence, the navy may never have progressed beyond a stage when, in case of war, it could not prevent another naval power from overwhelming it in its own sea. Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian had commanded the navy in the 1850s and 60s, had established new dockyards and had developed a fleet with which Austria defeated a superior Italian fleet at Lissa in 1866. The victorious admiral of that battle, and Ferdinand Max's successor, Wilhelm Tegetthoff, gave the navy some prestige, but after his death in 1871 the navy was neglected. Another Habsburg, Archduke Franz Ferdinand developed an interest in naval matters during a long cruise in 1892 and 1893. By 1898, having become heir to the Habsburg monarchy, Franz Ferdinand was in a position to promote Austria's naval interests and the needs of the fleet and its officers.

Another Habsburg with naval background and connections was Archduke Charles Stephen, a grandson of Fieldmarshal Archduke Charles of Teschen. Charles Stephen was promoted to admiral on the retired list in 1901 and was inspector general of the navy through most of World War One. Although never in operational command, his opinion was important and he had access to the highest authorities in government and the dynasty.

In the course of the 1890s, Austrian industry had expanded and improved, her commercial interests extended from the Mediterranean to South America and the Far East, and there was a need for a stronger navy to protect and promote that - to "show the flag" - and to deter another naval power from controlling the Adriatic Sea. Franz Ferdinand, in his capacity as an important and well connected military official, reported the deficiencies of the fleet to the Emperor, Franz Josef. The A-H foreign ministry and other interests, industrial and political, published articles and held lectures to promote the commercial and military need for a stronger navy. Public support increased, even in Hungary where new industrial interests saw benefit from increased foreign trade. In 1902 Franz Ferdinand was appointed admiral and in 1904 the Austrian Navy League was established adding dynastic influence to increasing publicity. The stage was set for the development of a modern fleet. There would be more and better ships, more personnel, and more money. Once there was a fleet of new ships, its purpose had to be defined and established.

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 25 Oct 2017 19:59

III. A New Century; a New Navy

Continuing with the k.u.k. (Imperial and Royal) Austro-Hungarian navy, and with the composition of the fleet, there were three events that had a combined effect on the needs of the fleet to be built:

First, the publication of Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History in 1890 and his subsequent writings impacted the views of the admirals, and eventually of the government of the monarchy. Mahan's strategic theories also influenced the navies of Japan, the United States and Germany. An important aspect of naval strategy was the concentration of naval power to either control - or to deny control - of strategically important narrow seas.

Limiting naval operations to coastal defense was a recipe for being dominated by other naval forces and for likely defeat at sea in war time. Successful naval doctrine required a fleet that could fight, or threaten to fight, other naval forces in its geographic area on more or less equal terms. In many cases, the best defense should be an aggressive offense, and naval forces should be used to support land forces when necessary.

Second, the Japanese navy in their war with China, 1894-95, experienced a lack of heavy guns aboard their warships, but was able to use its cruisers to overwhelm their opponent with rapid fire of medium caliber guns. The Japanese determined that they must acquire heavy gunned battleships to dominate the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea and the Straits of Tsushima - a narrow sea choke point between Japan and Korea - that connected them. Using war reparations wrung from China, Japan ordered the first of six modern battleships from British yards.

Third, the war between Spain and the US in 1898 demonstrated that the longer range of new heavier guns would devastate even armored cruisers while the ships carrying them could remain out of range of damaging return fire. At Santiago Bay, Cuba, the USN had five battleships and an armored cruiser against Spain's four armored cruisers and two torpedo boat destroyers. The Spanish squadron was destroyed, and the narrow entrances to the important Caribbean at each end of Cuba were secured.

Actual experience of contemporary fleets seemed to confirm Mahan's theories. Thus, Japan and the US had early experiences with naval action in "narrow seas" and with the utility of large gunned warships. A coast defense fleet built around cruisers and torpedo craft was no longer adequate. The narrow sea of the Adriatic could be defended best by battleships that might deter other navies from attempting to control it. From 1899, the precious construction funding for the navy was expended prioritizing battleships and dockyard facilities to support them.

The political reality of Hungarian opposition to the navy's requested budgets meant that, after 1899, only one battleship per fiscal year could be provided for. The first sea going, modern battleships were begun with two in 1899 (one for the year 1900) and one in early 1901. These were 8900 ton ships with 9.4" (24 cm) main armament and a powerful secondary battery of 12 x 5.9" (15 cm) guns. This was the S.M.S. Habsburg class and included the Habsburg, the Arpad and the Babenburg commissioned in 1902, 1903 and 1904 respectively. With the earlier Monarch class, S.M.S. Monarch (1898), Wien (1897), and Budapest (1898), six battleships were in commission by 1904.

Thereafter, a larger class of battleships followed with the Erzherzog class. These were three 11,800 ton ships also with 9.4" guns, but with a very powerful secondary armament of 12 x 7.6" (19 cm) guns. The three were commissioned as Erzh. Karl (1906), Erzh. Friedrich (1907) and Erzh. Ferdinand Max (1907).

Although the armored cruiser was becoming an obsolescent type of warship, the k.u.k. navy had three of them. One dated from 1895 and had been relegated to secondary duties. One had been laid down in 1896; another in 1901, and were commissioned 1900 and 1905 respectively. Their original purpose of commerce raiding had been retooled to act as fast gunfire support ships for lighter torpedo-armed warships. As shown in the Russo-Japanese War, armored cruisers in addition could support the battleships with their guns which were also 9.4" caliber.

Thus, by 1907, the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine had nine battleships and two armored cruisers armed with 9.4" guns and all with heavy secondary armament. Plans were being designed to add three more battleships of 15,800 tons and with 4 x 12" and 8 x 9.4" guns when in 1906 the Royal Navy commissioned H.M.S. Dreadnought, upsetting any equilibrium there may have been in battleship technology. Naval architects understood the concept of an "all big gun" ship, but money and engineering for most navies were behind the curve. The next three battleships of the k.u.k. navy would be "semi-dreadnoughts."

However, in the naval budgets from 1899 onward, the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine's plan proposed in 1898 was largely realized. There were nine battleships with three planned. In support of the battle fleet, 12 destroyers were built 1904-09. Also 24 sea going torpedo boats were added 1904-1910 and 12 coast defense torpedo boats were laid down, all in 1909, to add to those that were still serviceable. Worn out older TBs were either retired or converted to other duties such as mine sweeping and escort duty.

A deficiency in achieving the 1898 plan was the lack of sufficient modern cruisers, only two of the armored and three older, slower protected cruisers having any combat utility. This deficiency, even with modern additions, was to last through the end of the First World War. No further armored cruisers were built and the battle cruiser type was not considered suitable for operations in the Adriatic due to its narrow confines and the short sailing distances there. The battle cruiser was considered a waste of resources which could be spent on battleships and other ships, as well as harbor facilities. Further cruisers were to be designed as fast scouts, and as flotilla leaders to provide gunfire support for destroyers and torpedo boats. They would turn out to be excellent ships, fast and durable, but there were never enough of them.

The k.u.k. Austro-Hungarian Navy had a new, modern fleet. Now, what were they going to do with it?

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 31 Oct 2017 20:08

IV. The Character of the Fleet

There is little doubt that the ships of the k.u.k. navy were designed and built with some considerations being paramount. The geography of the Adriatic Sea, the chronic under funding of the navy due to domestic politics, and a lack of sources of coal all had to be considered. In addition, the ships, and their strategic and tactical uses, had to be based upon a realistic assumption of who would be the most likely opponents at sea during war time.

Naval Bases and geography in the Adriatic:

Navies cannot operate without secure and adequate bases. In the north of the Adriatic, at the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, the naval base at Pola (now Pula, Croatia) had the facilities to maintain and repair warships of all types. It had an excellent harbor and was well fortified, as well as shielded from an attacking fleet by islands off shore. Pola had secure interior communications to the industrial resources of Austria-Hungary by rail.

About half way down the east coast of the Adriatic, another excellent harbor was located at Sebenico (now Sibenik, Croatia). Sebenico had been used by the navy for many decades, but it was without major facilities and its fortifications were outdated. Again, the harbor was shielded by the off shore islands that extended down most of the eastern coast.

At the southern extent of Austro-Hungarian territory was the magnificent harbor in the Bay of Cattaro (now Kotor in Montenegro). This extensive, deep water harbor was virtually undeveloped and nearly all supplies, equipment, personnel and any components of infrastructure had to be brought in by sea. Neither Sebenico nor Cattaro were served by railroads to the interior. This map shows the three locations:

https://uboat.net/media/articles/images ... ic_wwi.gif

Control of Cattaro was critical to A-H interests in the Balkans.

Funding and sources of coal for the navy:

The coal burning ships of the k.u.k. navy were of necessity "short legged" naval vessels. Lack of funds had caused battleships to be designed with the most gun power and protection on the smallest platform which was practical. There was little room for crew accommodations and not as much room for coal bunkers as in other navies. As the realistic theater of operations for the bulk of the fleet was the Adriatic, that was acceptable, crews being mostly housed ashore in barracks or aboard accommodation ships. Lengthy foreign deployments for the battleships were not necessary and the smaller torpedo craft, all short range ships, were designed to support activity of the battle fleet. After the early years of the twentieth century, Austrian cruisers did not make as many cruises as they had before. As the number of major warships grew, fuel had to be conserved.

The A-H Empire did not have an abundance of coal, what there was not being of the quality needed by the navy. Most of the navy's coal was purchased from Britain, with small amounts coming from Germany and the US. The coal had to be stockpiled and used with discipline.

Italy as ally, and as adversary:

Without considering all the diplomacy before World War One, the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy had been established in 1882. The three parties all had their own vital interests, and although the Alliance had been renewed several times, some of those interests changed over the years. Italy and A-H, although alliance partners, had conflicting interests in the Balkans. Italian public opinion often was aroused by the future of Italian speaking subjects in Austria, as well as the economic (and strategic) benefits of securing control of the Adriatic Sea. Italy had a history of animosity toward Austria that caused her to view A-H as more an adversary than an ally.

In naval terms, Italy relied on Great Britain concerning important technical aspects for her navy. Even more importantly, Italy, as did Austria, relied on Britain for coal and was unlikely to jeopardize that source of supply. After the mid 1890s, Italy was seen as an unreliable ally at best. She continually hedged her bets politically, playing off both her alliance partners and Britain and France against one another.

The ultimate fiction of Triple Alliance naval cooperation in the Mediterranean by Italy and A-H was masked by agreements in 1900 and revived in 1913. By that time, the k.u.k. navy knew its adversary in a future war at sea would be Italy. The A-H naval construction programs previous to 1914 were openly designed to counter the Italian navy rather than to fight either French or British naval forces in the Mediterranean. Italian duplicity and harebrained Italian/German schemes for the Austrians to send ships to the western Mediterranean to attack the French were viewed with polite, but serious, misgiving. The navy understood its purpose to be defending Austro-Hungarian interests in the "near seas" of the Adriatic.

An examination of the navy approaching World War One, and of circumstances in the Adriatic, will demonstrate the purpose and capabilities of the fleet and of its commanders. Long distance deployments were unrealistic due to the types of ships A-H designed and built, and because of the lack of reliable naval bases from which they might operate. Diplomatic games and infeasible military plans could not be engaged in by ships that were designed for specific purposes.

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 05 Nov 2017 19:05

V. The Modern Fleet, 1902-1914 (Phase 1, 1902-1909)

NOTE: Some of this may be repetitive, but it is better to repeat than to assume many people are familiar with this subject.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the expectation was that Austria-Hungary's most likely opponent at sea in a future war would be Italy (their Triple Alliance partner). In 1902, the major units of the fleet comprised:

2 old coast defense ships
5 old protected cruisers
3 newer protected cruisers (1899-1901)
2 armored cruisers (1895, 1900)
3 coast defense battleships (1897-1898)
37 old torpedo craft
6 new torpedo boats (1896-1899)

The Royal Italian Navy had a number of mostly obsolescent battleships of doubtful value, but in 1901 it had commissioned the first of two modern battleships, followed by the second in 1902. Two further battleships were building and would enter service in 1904 and 1905. Italy also had five modern armored cruisers.

The k.u.k. navy had three recently commissioned coast defense battleships (Monarch class - less than 6000 tons; 4 x 9.4" guns), and had begun to design battleships with sea keeping qualities to operate in the open ocean (three Habsburg class - 8900 tons; 3 x 9.4" guns; 19 knots). These entered service 1902-1904. In order to counter the new Italian ships building, the Navy Technical Committee planned a new class (three Erzherzog Karl class - 11,800 tons; 4 x 9.4" guns; 20 knots). These ships were laid down 1902-1904 and would enter service in 1906 and 1907. In addition, a third armored cruiser was commissioned in 1905 giving Austria-Hungary eight armored ships commissioned since 1900 as opposed to Italy's nine. Considering the great extent of coast line Italy was responsible for, and in addition her new overseas colonial territories, the Austrians had made progress in countering their erstwhile ally in the Adriatic.

However, in fast torpedo craft that could support the battle fleet, A-H was far behind. Therefore, in 1904, two new ships were laid down at Britain's Yarrow ship yards. These were a 420 ton destroyer (capable of 28 knots) based on a very successful Royal Navy design, and a 210 ton ocean-going torpedo boat (28 knots). Additional ships of these two classes would be built in Austro-Hungarian yards. There would be 12 destroyers completed 1905-1909, and 24 "high seas" torpedo boats completed 1905-1910. In addition, 12 new coast defense torpedo boats were added starting in 1909, and completing in 1911. In 1908, as a result of naval developments in other modern navies, the first fast "scout cruiser" was laid down (3500 tons; 27 knots). This was the first of a new type of ship that could act as both scout for the fleet, and as a flotilla leader for torpedo craft. She would enter service in 1910.

Also in 1904, along with the new torpedo craft, the Technical Committee ordered the design of a new class of battleships that would supercede the Italian battleships mentioned above. This was to be the Radetzky class of three ships (15,800 tons; 4 x 12" guns and 8 x 9.4" guns; 20 knots). These ships were not laid down until 1907 and 1909 and would be in commission by summer, 1911.

By the time the Radetzkys were laid down, HMS Dreadnought had been in commission for a year, but the immediate effect of that revolutionary warship would not be seen in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas for several more years. By 1909, the k.u.k. navy's ten year fleet plan of 1898 (see Part II above) had essentially been realized:

12 battleships (3 building)
12 cruisers (3 new; 9 old)
12 destroyers (all new)
36 high seas torpedo boats (all new)

In the decade after 1898, there were many changes and developments in ship design, construction techniques, and in armor and weapons technology. Technically speaking, keeping up with these changes was not an issue for Austria-Hungary. However, the vast majority of A-H's military budgets had to be spent on the army.

The k.u.k. navy would continue to modernize the fleet starting in 1909, but its resources would have to be used economically and its ships carefully conserved. Notwithstanding her allies' pressure to plan operations in the far waters of the western Mediterranean, and in the unlikely theater of the Black Sea, the navy intended to defend Austria's Adriatic coast and to deny control of that sea to any other power. This strategy, as the navy's high command understood, was its purpose, and what it was capable of. Under these circumstances, in January, 1909, Austria-Hungary's navy entered the dreadnought age.
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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 06 Nov 2017 00:01

Armored ship classes of the k.u.k. navy. Gallery, 1902-1909

- Monarch class coast defense battleship. S.M.S. Monarch, S.M.S. Wien, S.M.S. Budapest

https://www.russellphillipsbooks.co.uk/ ... 6/wien.jpg

Their low free board gave these small coastal battleships the look of monitors.

- Habsburg class battleship. S.M.S. Habsburg, S.M.S. Babenberg, S.M.S. Arpad

http://www.mlorenz.at/Bewaffnete_Macht/ ... urg_01.jpg

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205315583

These were reconstructed to reduce superstructure and improve stability. The siting of the 5.9" (15 cm) battery had caused them to be top heavy.

- Erzherzog Karl class battleship. S.M.S. Erzh. Karl, S.M.S. Erzh. Friedrich, S.M.S. Erzh. Ferdinand Max

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... 2kopie.jpg

- Armored cruisers S.M.S. Karl VI and S.M.S. Sankt Georg

http://www.kuk-kriegsmarine.at/bilder/s ... lkopie.jpg

These two cruisers were similar in appearance, but Sankt Georg was 1000 tons larger, and she carried a heavy secondary battery of 7.6" (19 cm) guns. Karl VI had 5.9" (15 cm) guns as her secondary battery.

All eleven of these ships had 9.4" (24 cm) guns as their primary armament.

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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 06 Nov 2017 21:25

VI. The Modern Fleet, 1902-1914 (Phase 2, 1909-1914)

The capital ships described in the previous posts were certainly equal to those of the Italian navy, and for that matter the French as well. But HMS Dreadnought had changed everything. After her 1906 commissioning, most new battleships would be "all big gun" ships with ten or more 11" or 12" guns, and with larger guns to follow. The k.u.k. navy was completing its three Radetzkys with 4 x 12" guns and a heavy secondary armament of 8 x 9.4" and by late 1908 plans were being made to build Austria's first dreadnought battleships. The naval budget of 1909 made provision for planning and assembling material for two capital ships of 20,000 tons, with 12 x 12" guns in four triple turrets.

Rumors and intelligence of these plans caused Italy to lay down her first dreadnought in June, 1909, plans having previously been considered by the Italians. In Austria-Hungary, throughout much of 1909, the Hungarian part of the Monarchy was affected by political problems that prevented official authorization of the funds for these ships. In order to avoid delay because of Hungary's political gridlock, The Kommandant of the navy, Admiral Count Montecuccoli, arranged funding for the ships to be laid down through extralegal means, and with the support of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and also the powerful Rothschild bank, Creditanstalt.

In May, 1910, S.M.S. Tegetthoff was laid down followed in July by S.M.S. Viribus Unitis. The dreadnought race was on between these two cautious "allies" with conflicting interests in the Balkans. Relations between Italy and Austria-Hungary had become more strained due to the crisis in the Balkans caused by Austria's 1908 annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which she had been administering since the 1878 Congress of Berlin.

In summer, 1910, Italy began construction of three more dreadnoughts, followed in winter, 1912 by two more. In January, 1912, A-H also began two more of the same class as S.M.S. Tegetthoff. These were S.M.S. Prinz Eugen and S.M.S. Szent Istvan. By the beginning of the First World War, both Italy and Austria-Hungary had three dreadnoughts with 12" guns in commission. Austria had one building (comm. late 1915), and Italy had three building (comm. 1915-16). Austria had twelve pre-dreadnoughts (three coastal) and Italy had eight. In the narrow confines of the Adriatic Sea, Austria had a substantial advantage with these numbers. By 1914, the k.u.k. navy also had entering service three more new 3500 ton cruisers and six new 850 ton destroyers in addition to its twelve older boats. These ships would support and supplement the navy's existing 24 high seas torpedo boats, and an additional 24 larger boats entering service or being built.

The battleships, being enormously expensive and time consuming to build, had to be kept as a "fleet-in-being," a force that could not be discounted or ignored and that would always be a threat at sea. That strategy was successful, first, in securing the Balkan flank of Austria's position in the Balkans after summer, 1914; second, in denying control of the Adriatic to any other power. This deterrent, and with the new weapon of the submarine, would be very effective until late 1918, when, with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, such a force was no longer meaningful.

Here are some images of the 12" gun battleships and of the fleet:

http://www.mlorenz.at/Bewaffnete_Macht/ ... and_01.jpg

^^ The three Radetzky class pre-dreadnoughts in the roadstead at the naval base, Pola. The two smaller battleships are Habsburg class.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... t_Pula.jpg

^^ Three of the four Tegetthoff class battleships at Pola, with their superimposed turrets, all on the center line.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _fleet.jpg

^^ A shot of the battle fleet at sea.
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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 06 Nov 2017 22:58

Torpedo craft of the k.u.k. navy. Gallery, 1904-1914

- Huszar class destroyer (13 ships) 1905

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... reiter.jpg

- Tatra class destroyer (10 ships) 1912

http://www.navypedia.org/ships/austrohu ... _dd_51.gif

- Admiral Spaun class scout cruiser (4 ships) 1910-1914

http://www.stampdomain.com/country/austria/novara.jpg

- High seas torpedo boat, "250 ton" type (27 boats) 1914

http://www.navypedia.org/ships/austrohu ... _dd_57.gif

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pikeshot1600
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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 07 Nov 2017 23:16

In addition to the ship classes in the post above, here is another:

- High seas torpedo boat, "210 ton" type (24 boats) 1905

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... a_1912.png

These boats were built to a British design by Yarrow, with 23 constructed in Austria-Hungary. Although small, they were considered a very successful torpedo boat design and were used heavily by Austria, 1914-1918.

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pikeshot1600
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Re: Austro Hungarian Navy

Postby pikeshot1600 » 10 Nov 2017 16:32

Here is a Youtube of the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine - newsreel, most probably just before WW I:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXBfpePxvss

Interesting stuff.


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