SMS Konig Wilhelm was originally ordered by the Ottoman Navy as "Fatikh" and saw her keel laid down in 1865 by Thames Iron Works of London. However, her future quickly changed when she was sold off to the Kingdom of Prussia in early 1867 but her eventually career would be with Germany after the demise of the Prussian Navy. Launched on April 25th, 1868. SMS Konig Wilhelm saw her construction end in 1869 and commission forthcoming on February 20th, 1869. When taken into service with the Prussian Navy, she made up the most powerful vessel in the fleet.
The warship displaced 10,755 tons (short) and featured a length of 368 feet, a beam of 60 feet and a draught of 28 feet. Her propulsion power came from 8 x trunk-style boilers feeding a single Maudslay, Son & Field (London) 2-cylinder horizontal single-expansion steam engine driving a single shaft. She could make headway at nearly 15 knots in ideal conditions and held a range was out to 1,300 nautical miles. Despite her machinery the vessel was still outfitted with three sailing masts to help supplement her more onboard propulsion system - such was the warship design practice of the day.
The crew complement for Konig Wilhelm numbered 730 men. Armor protection reached up to 395mm thickness at the belt and 150mm thickness at the battery. Main armament originally 33 x 72-poundr guns but this later became 18 x 9.4" (240mm) main guns backed by 5 x 8.3" (210mm) secondary guns. Improvements to her armament suite also later included the addition of torpedo tubes and smaller-caliber gun installations.
Under Prussian ownership, the vessel originally carried the name of "Wilhelm I" but this was officially changed to "Konig Wilhelm" on December 14th, 1867. Due to her power and prestige, the warship quickly was made the flagship of the Prussian Navy. With the arrival of the Franco-Prussian War (1970-1871), the Konig Wilhelm was placed into action for the first time in her sailing career. However, the warship would see no direct combat in the conflict as her machinery was plagued with unreliability. In the post-war period, Konig Wilhelm suffered considerable damage when colliding with the ironclad Grosser Kurfurst. Repair work spanned from 1878 to 1882 at Wilhelmshaven.
In the decades following, Konig Wilhelm went on to serve in various roles that would see her become fleet flagship and a ceremonial platform as well as partake in training exercises. In 1895 she was placed in drydock and modified for the role of armored cruiser which revised (and improved) her armament fit. It was at this time that she lost her original sailing masts and saw a pair of pole masts take their place. The crew complement was also increased beyond 1,100 personnel.
Konig Wilhelm re-entered German naval service in January of 1897 to which her career now took her to reserve status for 1904. While laying in harbor, she was given the role of barracks ship from 1904 until 1907. From there, she served as a floating training platform throughout World War 1 (1914-1918). While surviving the conflict, her days on the water were numbered and she fell to the scrapman's torch in the massive worldwide military drawdown that followed the conflict. Her name was struck from the Naval Register on January 4th, 1921 and her stripped hulk was soon sold for scrapping - bringing about an end to over fifty years of service to both the Prussian and German navies.
Status Decommissioned, Out-of-Service
Complement 730 Personnel
Ship Class [ SMS Konig Wilhelm ] Ships-in-Class [ 1 ]Ship Names:SMS Konig Wilhelm
Imperial Germany; Prussia
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
368 ft (112.17 m)
Width / Beam:
60 ft (18.29 m)
Height / Draught:
28 ft (8.53 m)
8 x Boilers with 1 x Horizontal single-expansion steam engine developing 8,440 horsepower while driving 1 x shaft.
15 kts (17 mph)
1,303 nm (1,500 miles; 2,414 km)
33 x 72-Pounder Guns
18 x 9.4" (240mm) main guns
5 x 8.3" (210mm) guns
Torpedo tubes and smaller-caliber guns were added before the end of her military career.
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