German Mackensen Class Battlecruiser



  • The United States had the New York Class ships. The Italians the Conte di Cavour class. The British had the Repulse class and Queen Elizabeth class capital ships. Japan had the British built Kongo class ships. All of these older ships played a role in WWII.

    How do you think the unfinished Mackensen Class Battlecruisers would have preformed had these ships been finished and allowed to survive the Allies peace agreement ending WWI? These ships would have needed modernization in the 30’s. Do you see these ships carrying 15’’, 14", the existing 13’’ or downsized to 11"?


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Wow! I am way out of my depth here Worsham.
    Will try and look into this tomorrow. No promises.
    Always good to read your WW2 threads.


  • Customizer

    I’ll also have to break out my books for this one.  Playing a game tonight, so not until tomorrow.  It would have been superior to the Scharnhorst/Gneisenau, though.  They would have had heavy ships to challenge the British right in 1939.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Compared with the modern battleships and battlecruisers that were produced from 1930 onward, the Mackensen battlecruiser class would have fitted in an odd sort of place, with no precise equivalent.  It had 14-inch guns, so the only modern counterparts in that respect would be the 14-inch King George V class battleships.  The KGVs had 10 such guns (versus 8 for the Mackensens).  Both the British and German 14-inch guns were 45 calibers in length, so their basic ballistic performance would in principle be similar (though in practice this would be affected by differences in shell weight, shell length, shell filling, shell cap design, and of course the type and size of bagged powder charge used).  Their 28-knot speed was identical, but the KGVs had slightly more horsepower; the KGVs also had a couple more inches of armour.  So all in all, the KGVs would have had the edge in several areas, though not by a huge margin in each case.

    The balance would have been a bit different in a match-up between the Mackensens and the roughly equivalent modern French vessels: the Dunkerque class battlecruisers.  These had 13-inch guns (vs. 14-inch for the German ships); I couldn’t find their caliber length, but their performance was apparently excellent.  Both classes carried 8 main guns, though with a different turret disposition.  The Dunkerques seem to have had about twice the armour protection of the Mackensens, and about a 3-knot speed advantage.  So here too, the Mackensens appear outclassed to various degrees in most areas.

    A hypothetical refit of the Mackensens in the interwar period would probably have replaced their two-thirds coal-fired / one-third oil-fired boilers with a 100% oil-fired power plant: oil is easier to handle when refueling, and it delivers more energy per weight than coal so this would have increased the range of the ships.


  • Customizer

    Good analysis. +1 to you.

    Had the Germans had these, though, it would be hard to say what they would match up against.  Britain and France would have ships to counter these.  Instead of being an answer to the Deutschland class, they would have had to have built answers to the more powerful Mackensens.  The KGV very likely would have had 15 guns rather than 14s.

    Very hard to figure out what France and Britain would have responded with.  And in turn, whatever the French did would influence the Italians.  My guess is you would have seen a much more aggressive battleship race between the major powers.  The super battleships planed by everyone probably would have materialized sooner.



  • @jim010:

    Good analysis. +1 to you.

    Had the Germans had these, though, it would be hard to say what they would match up against.  Britain and France would have ships to counter these.  Instead of being an answer to the Deutschland class, they would have had to have built answers to the more powerful Mackensens.  The KGV very likely would have had 15 guns rather than 14s.

    Very hard to figure out what France and Britain would have responded with.  And in turn, whatever the French did would influence the Italians.  My guess is you would have seen a much more aggressive battleship race between the major powers.  The super battleships planed by everyone probably would have materialized sooner.

    +1 you took the words out of my mouth



  • @jim010:

    Good analysis. +1 to you.

    Had the Germans had these, though, it would be hard to say what they would match up against.  Britain and France would have ships to counter these.  Instead of being an answer to the Deutschland class, they would have had to have built answers to the more powerful Mackensens.  The KGV very likely would have had 15 guns rather than 14s.Â

    Very hard to figure out what France and Britain would have responded with.  And in turn, whatever the French did would influence the Italians.  My guess is you would have seen a much more aggressive battleship race between the major powers.  The super battleships planed by everyone probably would have materialized sooner.

    Well said.


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