Moltke Class Battlecruiser (1910)

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Overview of 2 vessels
Citations for this data available on individual ship pages
Name Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Moltke Blohm & Voss, Hamburg 7 Dec, 1908 7 Apr, 1910 30 Aug, 1911 Scuttled 21 Jun, 1919
Goeben Blohm & Voss, Hamburg 28 Aug, 1909 28 Mar, 1911 2 Jul, 1912 Transferred 16 Aug, 1914


Searchlights were about 1m in size. They were controlled by a pair of Evershed-like devices mounted port and starboard in a position abaft the bridge. This director was an open sight with elevating and training gear and clearly transmitted bearing to the searchlights in 1/16th degree increments, but it was unclear if elevation were also sent and no mention is made of how range was used (if it were) for convergence.[1] Perhaps the elevation of the director fed a calculation of range?[Inference]

Fire Control Position

A non-trainable armoured tower abaft the conning tower with four periscopes for use with the training-only director served as the forward, primary control position. The aft pair were higher and were for the main battery. The forward pair was for the secondary armament.[2]

Transmitters and repeat receivers were marked in 1/16th of a degree, the uniform standard of deflection and training in the German navy.[3]

A rangefinder was mounted in the middle, trained manually by its user. An upper T.S. below the control position had six transmitter men and phone men, similar to those in a Royal Navy foretop crew.[4]

A voicepipe on each side of the forward control position allowed the gunnery officer to speak to the upper T.S. immediately below. The upper T.S. had range deflection and order transmitters to the T.S.and telephones and voicepipes of 8 inches diameter. One or more of these telephones addressed the turrets, with cut-out switches to allow the removal of individual turrets.[5]

Spotting Position

The spotting officer was aloft on the foremast, with a portable telephone (chest microphone and telaupad combination) to the gunnery officer. A bearing receiver of some kind helped the spotter find the target, but no device similar to the Aid to Spotter was noted. The spotting position seemed flimsy and the Royal Navy suspected it would have been prone to vibration.[6]

Transmitting Station

A pair of range clocks served main and secondary batteries, but these were removed prior to the British inspection. That for the main appeared smaller than the other, and the report seems to indicate that this was the Mittlungsapparat. There were range, order, deflection and bearing transmitters to all guns and voicepipes as in the British ships, but with more voicepipes.[7]

The master gyro was housed in the T.S., but no receivers were to be found in turrets or forward control position. It was noted that the secondary armament had F.T.P. sights, but not the main guns. Each gun did have a firing gong, as firing was thought to be entirely local though the common report persisted that German ships appeared to fire pure salvoes from time to time.[8]


According to Royal Navy inspectors, the ship had been equipped with the following stereoscopic equipment:[9]

  • One in gun control tower of unknown length.
  • One 3m RF in four foremost turrets
  • Two 1.5m RFs arranged, one per broadside) to support secondary fire. These did not transmit to the T.S.

The field contained "a small diamond in the centre, with four lines of triangular dots radiating from it and a small vertical line like a flagstaff in the left of the field." A pair of working heads permitted coarse and fine adjustments in range, movements of which were tracked by two pointers (one pointer?) around a range dial.[10]


The gunnery officer of H.M.S. Superb inspected Goeben after the Armistice and reported that the turrets seemed to have:[11]

  • Three trainers (primary one in centre)
  • Four gunlayers (one both sides of each gun)
  • Eight sightsetters (one for deflection and another for range for each gunlayer)

The implication here is that the trainers had Free Sights or similar. The guns had had their elevation limit increased to 22.5 degrees. The gunsights were missing by the time the inspection occurred, but it seemed clear that they were not FTP type and had no form of gyroscope.[12]

Training was smooth and usually controlled from the centrre hood. It was provided by electric means based on two clutchable motors near the roof, which was very quiet and exceptional in smoothness, being able to creep at a rate of 1 degree a minute. As a fallback, manual training could be performed by nine men working a winch.[13]

Each turret had a control position in the centre, behind the centre sights, with an officer's hood, a rangefinder with periscopic ends of about 3 metres in length was fitted below the turret roof, equipped with a range transmitter, and receivers for range, order, bearing and deflection. Voicepipes led to the gunlayers, sightsetters and trainers.[14]

Each gun had 12 men in its crew, suggesting a number of men in the turret that seemed high to British observers. The turret was well-lit by lanterns that were covered by blue tint at night. Instructions were profusely posted on enameled plates.[15]

The Turkish crew reported that the Germans seemed to load the guns effortlessly and never got tired — an endurance they did not claim for themselves. It was thought that endless drill was the reason. Sub-calibre guns similar to 6-pdrs were stored in cylindrical boxes bolted to the deck under the rear of the turret for aiming practice. These guns were fired by the gun's own mechanisms.[16]

There was no means of cleaning the sighting telescopes fitted.[17]

Turret Rangefinder

The rangefinder was trained by a shoulder piece, affording about 5 degrees movement though it is not clear whether this was to each side or total movement. It had no markings for training angle. The left periscope was in the small armoured control tower and the right one remotely housed in its own small tower and stiffed by an iron cross-stay above the turret roof. There was no means of cleaning the optics fitted. All turrets but the aft-most (on Goeben) had a rangefinder.[18]

Secondary Battery

Each broadside had a single 1.5m rangefinder. it did not transmit its ranges to the T.S..[19]

See Also


  1. ADM 186/240, p. 9.
  2. ADM 186/240, p. 7.
  3. ADM 186/240, p. 7.
  4. ADM 186/240, p. 7.
  5. ADM 186/240, p. 7.
  6. ADM 186/240, p. 7.
  7. ADM 186/240, p. 8.
  8. ADM 186/240, p. 7.
  9. ADM 186/240, pp. 8-9.
  10. ADM 186/240, p. 8.
  11. ADM 186/240, p. 2.
  12. ADM 186/240, p. 2.
  13. ADM 186/240, p. 3.
  14. ADM 186/240, p. 8.
  15. ADM 186/240, p. 6.
  16. ADM 186/240, p. 7.
  17. ADM 186/240, p. 8.
  18. The National Archives. ADM 186/240 p. 8.
  19. The National Archives. ADM 186/240 p. 8.


  • Koop, Gerhard; Schmolke, Klaus-Peter (1998). Die Groẞen Kreuzer Von der Tann bis Hindenburg. Bonn: Bernard & Graefe Verlag. ISBN 3-7637-5972-7.

Moltke Class Battlecruiser
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