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Naval Warfare

SMS Konig Wilhelm (1869)

Armored Frigate / Armored Cruiser Warship [ 1869 ]

The SMS Konig Wilhelm served with the Kingdom of Prussia as well as the German Empire during its tenure - she survived over fifty years before being scrapped.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/31/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

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.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

Prussia national flag graphic

Destroyed, Scrapped.

SMS Konig Wilhelm

SMS Konig Wilhelm

National flag of modern Germany Imperial Germany; Prussia
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Offshore Bombardment
Offshore bombardment / attack of surface targets / areas primarily through onboard ballistic weaponry.
Offshore strike of surface targets primarily through onboard missile / rocket weaponry.
Maritime Patrol
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
Airspace Denial / Deterrence
Neutralization or deterrence of airborne elements through onboard ballistic of missile weaponry.
Fleet Support
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.

368.0 ft
112.17 m
60.0 ft
18.29 m
28.0 ft
8.53 m

Installed Power: 8 x Boilers with 1 x Horizontal single-expansion steam engine developing 8,440 horsepower while driving 1 x shaft.
Surface Speed
15.0 kts
(17.3 mph)
1,303 nm
(1,500 mi | 2,414 km)

kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers

1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 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.

Supported Types

Graphical image of a historical warship turreted main gun armament
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo

(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)

Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War period
Military lapel ribbon for early warship designs
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective naval campaigns / operations / periods.

Images Gallery

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Image of the SMS Konig Wilhelm (1869)
Image courtesy of the Public Domain.

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