Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boats

Austria-Hungary (1875-1916)

Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boats: The torpedo invention

Austro-Hungary almost invented the torpedo: An unknown Austro-Hungarian Officer designed in the middle of the XIXth century a small boat carrying a large charge of explosives. It was remotely steered by cable and propelled by a powerful steam or an air engine in order to reach its target as fast as possible before being spotted and hit. Croatian officer Giovanni Biagio Luppis Ritter von Rammer obtained his papers and began perfecting his ideas. He devised a new floating device controlled from land, and exploding on impact. Unfortunately his one metre long, glass wings prototype steered by ropes failed miserably. His second device had a clock mechanism propeller and an explosive at the stern triggered by a pistol-like control plus cables for steering. This “Salvacoste” worked and was shown to the Emperor. However the naval commission rejected it as not precise and fast enough for operations. In 1860 Lupis retired from the navy and in 1864 he was introduced to British Engineer Robert Whitehead. The latter managed at that time the ‘Stabilimento Tecnico Fiumano’ and took the idea further. He redesigned the device, renamed Minenschiff, demonstrated on 21 December 1866 with success to the naval commission which accepted it. This 355 mm, 3.35m long torpedo was the first operational ever.

Robert Whitehead inspecting damage after first trials of the 1875 torpedo.

So it should seems legitimate that the Austro-Hungarian Navy would be the first to operate ships tailored to use it. But at that stage, propulsion for small crafts was in its infancy, and torpedoes were carried by large ships, cruisers and capital ships, or more often than not, operated from land. Whitehead in the 1870s created a new company and renegotiated the copyrights to control the sells of torpedoes, an instant success with all Navies of the age. The first torpedo station was American, the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island. The first “kill” by torpedo occurred in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. This was compounded later by naval actions such as the 1891 Chilean Civil War, the 1894 Revolta da Armada and 1895 Sino-Japanese War. The first modern torpedo boats appeared in UK, a mixing of this new weapon and the turbine-driven 1897 Parson’s Turbinia. They eclipsed previous spare-torpedo vessels and VTE-propelled boats and announced the coming of age of the destroyer.

Development of Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boats, 1875-1914

As underlined above, Torpedo Boats development practically started in Austria-Hungary, the first listed boat being commissioned as far back as 1875. What were called the I and II, prototypes. Immediately following were the III/IV all for testings, retired well before the war. The real first “serie” started in 1880, the III class and the IIa and IIb classes built either at Pola or Yarrow. They were followed by the 1884-89 I class (24 boats), IIc class (1886-88, 7 boats) and IId class (6, 1891) and the larger (120-200 tons) semi-experimental “animals” serie of 7 ships. The last one, Kaiman, was built in 1905 at Yarrow, London and was the real first ocean-going TB type ever delivered to any navy. She was followed by a serie of 24 ships until 1909, then the pre-war (1913) TB74T, wartime TB82F, TB98M, before reverting to a new coastal type, with the TBI and TBVII series.

Ships of the Tb 82 and 74 F Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boats classes

Early series: I-IV (1875-79)

These were not however the very first torpedo boats operational in any navy. The Royal Navy indeed launched the experimental HMS Vesuvius in 1873. However the first “modern TB” was perhaps the HMS lighting in 1876, designed by John Thornycroft, which had a powerful Two-cylinder compound steam engine, giving 460 hp (340 kW)for 18.5 kn (34.3 km/h). The Austro-Hungarian boats were just in-between:
-The I (launched 19/06/1875) was built by the same designer. A 7.5 tons (10 fully loaded), 20.7 x2.61 x1.23 vessel rated for 185 hp (18 knots). She was not seagoing by any means and was even unarmed. She ended her career as a patrol boat in 1893 on the Danube.
-The II (launched 21/05/1878) was a larger 28.4 tons, 26.5 x 3.5 x 1.55m boat rated for 300 hp and capable of 18.2 knots, armed with two TTs on the bow and served by a crew of 10. She was sold in 1905.
-The III and IV were sister Yarrow prototypes, launched in September 1879. She was a 27 tons, 26.4 x 3.3 x 1.5m boat propelled by a 430 HP engine which gave 17.5 knots and carrying 2 TT on the bow. Also both sold in 1905.

SMS 15 Boa, Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boat

SMS Natter coastal torpedo boat (cdts navypedia)

III class (1880)

These six coastal TBs were built in two groups: The first group of four were all built locally, at Pola NYd. They were launched between Dec. 1880 and Feb. 1881, 27.7 tons, 27.7 x 3.3 x 1.35m with the same engine power but better speed at 18.3 knots, carrying also two bow TTs and served by a 10-strong crew.
The second serie comprised two “leader” boats (IX-X) built at Yarrow on a much larger design, 37 tons light, 42 fully loaded. They were 31.2 x 3.69 x 1.60 m long, carrying also two bow TTs but in addition one 37 mm QF gun either Nordenflet or Hotchkiss. She was serbed by a crew of 20 and with a 500 hp engine, was capable of 18 knots.

SMS XXXIV 1889 (cdts navypedia)

SMS XXXIII 1887 Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boat (cdts navypedia)

V class Torpedo Boats (cdts navypedia)

IIB class (1883-86)

The first large homogeneous serie of 16 Torpedo Boats, all built at Pola NYd, launched between 30/08/1883 and 07/01/1886. These were still coastal at 47 tons light, 55 fully loaded, propelled by a 600 hp engine (VTE ?) capable of 18 to 19 knots and carrying the same armament as described above on the Yarrow boats that served like prototypes. All were sold between 1904 and 1909, three reconverted in targets or transports.

SMS Adler, model kit, by Thomas Simpson:

I class or “Adler class” (1884-89)

These 24 Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boats were from three different groups.
-The Adler (Adler, Falke) were built at Yarrow, launched in Dec. 1884. They were much larger than previous ships at 95 tons light, 100 FL, 41.2 x 4.2 x 1.7 m in size, carrying as always two bow TTs but this time also two 37 mm QF guns. They were served by a crew of 22 and were given a large powerplant able to deliver a whooping 1300 hp, for 22 knots of top speed. Probably the best of their class at that time in the whole Mediterranean.

Sperber, 1/730 scale

-The Sperber, 1st class TBs, were slightly smaller, and for the first time experimentally ordered at Schichau, Elbing in Germany to keep pace with the state of technological advances there. The Sperber were 78 tons/93 tons FL 39.9 x 4.8 x 1.9m boats, propelled by 970 hp to 18.5 knots and armed the same way as above.

Rabe, 1/730 scale

-The Kuruk class was an homogeneous 1st class Torpedo Boats type ordered in three yards on Admiralty specifications and therefore identical at least on paper. These were twenty boats from Schichau (5), Pola (9) and Stabilimento Tecnico Trieste, John Thornycroft’s own company (6). They were launched between 1887 and 1889, all 78/88 tons FL, same specs as the previous Sperber, but with 1000 hp for 19 knots. Also armament configuration was different, with a fixed bow and an orientable deck TTs, and still two 37 mm QF guns. The crew was unchanged, still 16 officers and sailors.
Their fate varied a lot. The two Sperber had their boilers removed in 1905 and replaced by Yarrow modern oil burner ones. They served in WW1 and ended as war reparations to Italy. For the Kuruk serie, they all also participated in WW1 being given after the war either to italy or Yougoslavia. SMS Rabe received in 1896 brand new watertube boilers which altered her silhouette to two funnels (all others had one).

IIC class (1883-86)

-The first group (XXVII-XXXII) was built at Pola NYd between June 1886 and January 1888. These were smaller ships back to 47/55 tons, with a 600 hp engine capabe of 18 knots and the same armament as above.
-A single ship was ordered at Pola and launched in November 1887, 36.4 x 4.5 x 1.9m in size and 66/70 tons. Powered by 700 hp it could only reach 17 knots. Armament two 37 mm instead of one. Fate: Scrapped or sold before 1909. XXX resold to Danubius and reconverted, XXXII sunk as target in 1910.

IID class (1889-91)

-One ship was built at Scichau, Elbing (XXXIV), launched in March 1889, the others five were all from Pola, all launched in January 1891 on the same specs: 64 tons, 36.9 x 4.8 x 1.9 m, 750 hp, 20.3 knots, 2 TTs (bow and deck) and two 37 mm QF guns. Fate: all sold 1912 to 1915 (XXXV).

Late sea-going Torpedo Boats (1896)

These were the first true sea-going types, all between 130 and 200 tons, with top speed above 24 knots.
-Schichau first delivered the Natter (launched Feb. 1896), 166 tons, 47.3 x 5.3 x 2.8 m, 2200 hp for 24 knots. The SMS Natter had a crew of 21 and was armed with two 47 mm QF guns and three TTs centerline on deck. Deactivated 1910, war reparations to Britain resold and crapped in Italy 1920.
-SMS Viper was ordered in Yarrow, launched in January 1896. 124 tons, 44.96 x 4.5 x 2.3 m, 1900 hp for 25 knots, crew 25, same armament as above. War reparation to France in 1920 and scrapped.
-Python group: 4 ships built at Yarrow, 132 tons, 46.5 x 4.7 x 2.3 m, 2000 hp and 24.5 knots, crew 21, same armament as above. War reparations to France and Britain in 1920. From 1910 all extant boats were renamed with numbers.

Large sea-going TBs: Kaiman class (1905)

1/400 illustration of the Kaiman class by the author

First built at Yarrow, she was the lead ship of a new “major serie” of sea-going TBs. She was 203 tons, 56x 5.4x 1.5 m, 3000 hp for 26.2 knots and armed this time with four 47 mm guns in addition to her three deck TTs. The Kaiman was a lead ship in 1905 of a brand new serie, she was named herself later TB50E (E for England). The following (Anaconda) was built at Trieste (STT) and therefore called Tb51T from November 1913. In all 23 ships were delivered, launched by STT and Danubius Fiume Yd under British assistance, plans and engineering.

69F of the Kaiman class (ex. SMS Polyp)

The four 47 mm guns were were 33 calibers. The three 450 mm (17.7 in) TTs were on the deck, one single at the rear, one port and starboard just after the raised bow turtleback and direction post. They had two funnels, close together. In 1915 they received a 8mm machine gun for AA defence. These successful ships were very active in ww1, survived the war despite collision and minings, and ended as war reparations to Britain and Yugoslavia. British boats were resold and scrapped in Italy.

Tb 51 T (ex-Alligator)
Tb 51 T (ex-Alligator) after being torpedoed by French submarine Papin. She was towed, repaired and back in service.

Tb-I coastal class (1909)

A class of six coastal TBs one of the three designs for a 110 tons model proposed by the Austrian Naval Technical Committee i 1905. These differed by their VTE engine or turbines arrangements. An oil-firing VTE model was preferred and chosen for blueprints in 1907, and compared to Krupp, Yarrow and Schichau designs. Danubius NYd being not able to deliver his share, only six were ordered at STT and Fiume. All six were launched in 1909. One of the good surprise of their design was their seaworthiness by gale force winds. Their armament comprised two TTs, centerline, and two 47 mm/44 calibers, one at the rear before the aft Torpedo tube and the other on a raised platform on the prow turtleback.
Two funnels, 1 shaft, 3 cylinders VTE coupled to two watertube Yarrow boilers, producing 2500 hp to reach 28 knots.
166 tons, 44.2 x 4.3 x 1.2 m in size, crew 20. They all srerved well in WW1, for escort duties, patrols and ASW warfare, even minesweeping. All but one were given to Italy and scrapped. Tb3 was used briefly until 1925 as an Italian customs boat.

Tb-VII coastal class (1910)

Tb XI, of the Tb VII class, 1/400 illustration by the author

Six ships built at Danubius, Fiume, on the same specs as before. Launched between January and May 1910, only differing from the previous class by their searchlight platform location (after the forward turret), although internally, had different boiler systems, main and auxiliary machinery and lower top speed (100 hp less) due to White-Forster boilers. Guns were also a more modern mode, 47 mm of 47 calibers rather than 44. These were Hungarian-built for the sake of politics. They also had a heavy angle of heel at high speed when turning. All six survived the war only to be given to Italy, and scrapped, but Tb7 which served briefly as a customs boat. Tb 11 was the only ship suffering a mutiny, in 1917. Her crew crossed the Adriatic and surrendered to the Italians, commissioned as Francisco Raimondo and scrapped in 1925.

Tb-74 T class (1913)

These were eight sea-going TBs, larger than the Kaiman. They proceeded from a 1910 requirement for a 275 tons TB design capable of sustaining 30 knots for 10 hours, what needed to cross the Otranto canal for attacking at down and then returning full speed to Cattaro. At that stage indeed, the blockage of the Otranto strait by the Italians was a realistic scenario. After eliminating powerplants like diesel and turbo-electric the choice fell on the turbine design proposed by STT, which secured the order. The eight ships were launched between August 1913 and August 1914. These Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boats therefore brand new when the war erupted. As being the first small ships fitted with turbines they encountered a stray teething problems for all their career, until the crews were used to manage these. For the sake of standardization their armament stayed the same as for the Kaiman class.

Tb-81T and Tb-76T

All these Torpedo Boats were very active during the war, and all survived, after making patrols, ASW missions, escort duties, minesweeping. Four were allocated to Romania (one saw service in ww2 and was still active by 1958), the other four were Yugoslavian and after 1941, Italian, Croatian after 1943, even German, TA48 lasting until 1945.

-Displacement: 262/267.3 tonnes -Dimensions: FL, 57.8 x 5.08 x 1.5m (190 x 18 x 5ft)
-Powerplant: 2 shafts, Parsons turbines, 2 Yarrow WT oil-fired boilers, 5000 hp, 28 knots.
-Armament: 2x 66 mm/30, 2x 450mm TTs centerline. In 1914, 1x 8mm MG added. 1917: 66mm on AA mounts.

Tb-82 F class (1914)

Tb 82F
1/400 Profile of the Tb 82F by the author
Although derived from the 1910 specs, these sixteen 244 tons ships were built at Danubius Yds facilities at Porto Re and Bergudi (now Kraljevika and Brgud). They had another set of turbines (less troublesome) and two funnels instead of one. To gain the order, the yard has to lower the tag price of 10%. They were launched from August 1914 to July 1916 and were commissioned between July 1915 and December 1916. Apart diverging specs from the two previous sea-going groups they were similarly armed, and can reach 28 knots thanks to ther Danubius turbines coupled with Yarrow boiler (watertube, oil-fired) that delivered 5000 hp. The major improvement was the adoption of double torpedo tube banks, so that any ship can fire a broadside of four engines at once, a dark prospect for any battleship.

All served actively and survived the war. They were afterwards given as war reparations to Romania (three), six were sold to Portugal, three to Greece, three to Yugoslavia and after 1941, Italy and Croatia. They all served in WW2 (fate seen in the future articles about these navies).

-Displacement: 244/267 tonnes -Dimensions: FL, 58.8 x 5.8 x 1.5m (192 x 19 x 5ft)
-Powerplant: 2 shafts, AEG-Curtis turbines, 2 Yarrow WT oil-fired boilers, 5000 hp, 28 knots.
-Armament: 2x 66 mm/30, 4x 450mm TTs centerline (2×2). In 1914, 1x 8mm MG added. 1917: 66mm on AA mounts.

Tb-98 M class (1914)

Profile of the Tb98T by the author

The last Austro-Hungarian torpedo-boats were also derived from the same 1910 design concept. They were the only one actually reaching the top speed projected, 29.5 knots regular (30 forced). All were built at Cantiere Navale Triestino, Montfalcone. They were the longest of the lot and the narrowest, which perhaps explained their speed, at the price of agility. Only three ships were built, Tb98M, 99M and 100M. They shared the same armament as the previous class, including the two twin TT banks, but received a 8mm Schwartzlose AA machine-gun or assimilated. This time, they tried Melms-Pfenninged turbines, but still relied on Yarrow boilers. All three were very active in WW1 and were sold to Greece in 1920. Under their new names, Kyzikos, Kidonai and Kios, they were scuttled at Salamis Yard in 1941 to prevent captured by the Germans, Kidonai being blown up by a German plane (most probably Stuka) the day after.

-Displacement: 250/265 tonnes FL -Dimensions: 60.4 x 5.6 x 1.5m (192 x 19 x 5ft)
-Powerplant: 2 shafts, Melms-Pfenninged turbines, 2 Yarrow WT oil-fired boilers, 5000 hp, 29.5 knots.
-Armament: 2x 66 mm/30, 4x 450mm TTs centerline (2×2), 1x 8mm MG.

Late Tb 98 M class
Late Tb 98 M class Austro-Hungarian Torpedo Boat at sea

Sources, links by Joseph Hinds
Conway’s all the world’s fighting ships 1860-1906 and 1906-1921

Panther class cruisers (1885)

Austro-Hungarian Navy ensign Austria-Hungary (1885)
Panther, Leopard, Tiger

Austro-Hungarian Torpedo-cruisers

These three cruisers are grouped together in the same class by convenience. In reality they differed in detail but overall proceeded of the same philosophy: In 1884, the Admiralty decided to order two torpedo cruisers from Great Britain to study foreign construction, and in this case the state of British technology, then, world’s famous. Shipyards Armstrong Elswick received an order and proposed the usual design of small export protected cruiser. Both ships would enter service in 1885-56 but served after modernisation as coast guards and used later for menial roles, being disarmed in 1918. The previous ships of comparable class were the old Zara (Zara, Spalato, Sebenico 1879) and SMS Lussin (1883).

The previous Zara class (1879)


The Panther was laid down in October 1884 and the Leopard in January 1885. They were launched in June and September 1885 and accepted in December 1885 and March 1886. With their displacement of 1557 tons, their armament was limited to two 120 mm (5 in) guns in barbettes, and several rapid-fire 47 mm, 44 caliber pieces of ordinance including 6 revolvers. Their also had four torpedo tubes of small caliber (350 mm). Their overall military value was equal to that of simple gunboats. Nevertheless, Austro-Hungarian engineers learned a few lessons that they applied to the construction of a third ship to STT, SMS Tiger.

SMS Tiger

Vice Admiral Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck, then at the head of the Navy published a memorandum in 1884, arguing for a torpedo-ram cruiser (“Torpedo-Rammkreuzer”). One of the crucial point was a reinforced bow for ramming. She was also like the previous Panther, to be able to carry out patrol and reconnaissance duties. She was begun in October 1886, launched in June 1887 and accepted in March 1888. She was larger and heavier (1657 tons), and somewhat inspired by the British Navy’s light cruiser HMS panther. Like the two previous ships, she had two 120 mm guns in barbettes, and ten guns, of 47 mm, as well as the usual four 350 mm torpedo tubes.

She was not especially faster than the others. Her specs were as follows: 74.16 meters (243 ft 4 in) long, 10.55 m (34 ft 7 in) wide, with a 4.3 m (14 ft 1 in) draft and displacement of 1,657 to 1,680 t (1,631 to 1,653 long tons; 1,827 to 1,852 short tons). Her crew was later decreased from 188 officers and men to 177. Her propulsion consisted of two 2-cylinder compound steam engines rated at 5,700 indicated horsepower (4,300 kW). Their top speed was 18.56 knots (34.37 km/h; 21.36 mph). She was better armed with four 120 m (4.7 in) Krupp 35 cal. mounted in sponsons, but the light armament remains the same, six 47 mm (1.9 in) quick-firing guns and four 47 mm revolver cannon.

SMS Tiger as built, 1886

SMS Panther before the war

Service History

The Panther was part of the East Asian station in 18966-98 and in this period, assisted American Marines from USS Monocacy in Shanghai with its own landing party. She later cruised the western Mediterranean Sea, briefly the Atlantic Ocean and ventured as far as East Africa in 1905 (Captain Ludwig von Höhnel). These three ships were already obsolete in 1909. The two Panthers were modernized in 1909-1910, by removing their their 120 mm guns. They kept a battery of four 66 mm (2.6 in) 45-cal. guns and ten 47 mm QF guns. In 1914 she was part of the Coastal Defense Special Group, supporting an attack against Montenegrin forces in 1916. She later received a 66 mm gun in an anti-aircraft mounting. Subsequently, the Panther was used as a coastguard in Cattaro and in 1917 was converted into a submarine cadet training ship. The Leopard was reduced to a crew of gunners, and used from March 1914 as a coastguard to Pola.

SMS Leopard underway, circa 1890.

The Leopard participated in the events in Crete in 1897, toured the Pacific Ocean in 1900–1901 and was part of the East Asia squadron in 1907–1909, before join the drydoc for modernization. By May 1914, she has been decommissioned. She stayed at Pola for the duration of the war.

HMS Panther in an official visit to Australia

The Tiger showed the flag in the international naval demonstration off Crete in 1897 and was present at the Greek-Turkish war that same year. She was converted into the Admiralty Yacht in 1905 under the name SMS Lacroma. Her armament was reduced to six 47 mm QF guns. In 1915 she was completely disarmed, and in 1918, captured by the Yugoslavs and used shortly by the Royal Yugoslav Navy before being handed over to UK according to the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as a war prize. But the latter declined and like the other two, she was broken up in Italy.

SMS leopard, date unknown

Links and sources

The Panther class on wikipedia
Google Books
Index of ww1 Austro-Hungarian ships
Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1865-1905

SMS Lacroma, Admiralty ship.

Panther specifications (1914)

Dimensions 73,2 x 10,4 x 4,3 m (ft)
Displacement 1560 t FL
Crew 92
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 VEC 2 cyl., 16 BOILERS, 5950-6400 HP.
Speed 18,5 knots (xx km/h; 20.1 mph Budapest)
Armament 10 x 47mm QF guns
Armor Deck 12 mm


Illustration of the Panther – 1/730


Austro-Hungarian Navy ensign Austria-Hungary (1893)

The Coastal Battleships

This type of “pocket” battleships existed in any second or third-rate navy alongside torpedo-boats for self-defense purposes. With still relatively big guns and decent armour, they were a potent deterrent in 1914. But in the 1890s they were the cornerstone of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The Monarch class has been the first to used proper turrets instead of barbettes. They served for the duration of ww1 but Trieste was sank in 1917.

SMS Wien before the war

Development history

By 1890, SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf and SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie were former sail ironclads dating back from the 1870s, although modernized, they were hopelessly outmatched, in particular by 1880s Italian Brin’s battleships. By 1893, funds were available to build three new battleships, but the Hungarian and Austrian parliaments only authorized coastal defense ships according to the naval policy of the day. Indeed displacement was to be about 5,600 tonnes (5,512 long tons). The new ships were named Budapest, Wien, and Monarch. They were the brainchild of the newly appointed director of naval construction, Siegfried Popper. The first two were built at Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino yards in Trieste and the Monarch at Naval Arsenal in Pola. They were laid down in 1893, launched in 1895-96 and commissioned in 1897-98.


The three ships displacement was about 5,878 tonnes (5,785 long tons), making them early “pocket batteships”. Their armament was not negligible though, with four turreted 240 mm (9 in) L/40 guns, six individual masked 150 mm (6 in) L/40 guns, ten 47 mm (1.9 in) L/44 and four L/33 guns, one 8 mm (0.31 in) MG gun, and four torpedo tubes. Later in the war, in 1917, a Škoda 7 cm K16 anti-aircraft gun was added on two ships but the SMS Monarch, which contented with an older L/45 BAG.

Brassey’s diagram of the Monarch class

All three ships were fitted with Harvey armour. Belt armor thickness was 270 mm (11 in), the turrets had 203 mm (8.0 in), the conning tower 220 mm (8.7 in), the deck by 64 mm (2.5 in) and the redoubt and casemates 76 mm (3.0 in). Crew was 26 officers and 397 sailors, 423 personnel total per ship.

Propulsion varied by ship. Budapest used 12 coal-fired Belleville boilers without economizers, giving an output of 9,180 hp (6,846 kW) for a top speed of 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph). Wien and Monarch had coal-fired cylindrical boilers and vertical triple expansion engines giving 8,500 hp (6,338 kW) for a maximum speed of 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph). Monarch-class ships normally carried 300 tons of coal, with a maximum of 500 tons, for a range of about 2,200 nmi (4,100 km), quite sufficient for extended raids in the Adriatic.

Model of the Budapest
Model of the Budapest


Service History

Soon after being commissioned, the Budapest, Monarch and Wien began a cruise around the Adriatic and Aegean in 1899 to display the flag in foreign waters, as the Ist Battleship Division. Early on Wien participated in the Diamond Jubilee of the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1897 and the international blockade off Crete during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.

The newly completed SMS Habsburg conducted a training cruise with the three Monarch-class battleships in January 1903, and the next year, they were joined by the SMS Árpád. Eventually the three Habsburg-class battleships engaged the three Monarchs in simulated combat. The three new ships also were given the 1st Battleship Division while the three Monarch were versed into the newly created 2nd battleship division, which was changed to the IIIrd, IVth and the Vth with the arrival of the Erzherzog Karl and Radetzky classes.

The SMS Monarch during the war

In 1914 the Monarch class served as coastal defense ships, training ships, and bombarded coastal positions during the early years of the war: Budapest was transferred to Cattaro to shell Mount Lovcen, Monarch shelled the French radio station at Budva, Montenegrin radio station off Bar, as well as the barracks and radio HQ at Volovica Point in August. On 28–29 December 1915 Budapest participated in the aborted raid to Durazzo. In January 1916, Budapest shelled fortifications on Mount Lovcen, helping capture the city while Budapest and Wien shelled Italian troops in the Gulf of Trieste.

However the latter were torpedoed on 10 December 1917, by two Italian boats which managed to penetrate the port of Trieste undetected. Wien was hit twice and sank in less than five minutes, Forty-six men going down with her. Her executioner was MAS 9, manned by Luigi Rizzo (He also sank the Szent Istvan dreadnought) which became a national hero at home. Budapest was demoted to a floating barrack for German U-boat crews, but in June 1918 she received a 380 mm (15 in) L/17 howitzer in her bow for coastal bombardment, which was never used. The Monarch was anchored at Cattaro when in February 1918 a mutiny took place on board. The two ships were handed over to Great Britain as war reparations and left to UK which sold her to be broken up in Italy in 1920 and 1922. In 1914, replacement were planned, the Ersatz Monarch-class, which were improved Tegetthoff class dreadnoughts.

Links and sources

The Monarch class on wikipedia
3D versions on
Index of ww1 Austro-Hungarian ships
Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1865-1905

Monarch specifications

Dimensions 99,2 x 17 x 6,6 m (325 x 55 x 22ft)
Displacement 5800 t FL
Crew 469
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 TE 3 cyl., 12 boilers, 8500-9000 hp
Speed 15,5-17 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph Budapest)
Range 2,200 nmi (4100 km) at cruise speed
Armament 4 x 240, 6 x 150, 1 x 70AA, 10 x 47, 4 x 37, 4 TT 445 mm SM (ft, rear, sides)
Armor Turrets 280, Casemate 76, Belt 270, Blockhaus 220, Deck 60 mm


Illustration of the Monarch – 1/730

Painting of the SMS Wien
Painting of the SMS Wien

Kaiserin und Königin Maria Theresia

Austria-Hungary (1893)

The first Austro-Hungarian Armoured Cruiser

The KuK Maria Theresia (abbreviated) was the first armoured cruiser of the Austro-Hungarians. Before, the only spent experience was on protected cruisers of Kaiser Franz Joseph I class. It goes without saying that the engineers were inspired largely by her. However, this cruiser integrated in its design British influences from several projects as Camell Laird, Fairfield, Napier, and the inevitable Vickers-Armstrong were contacted. But to save time, not yet named, the cruiser was started already on October 6, 1891 at STT Trieste.


Design Development

She was reset three times: In its original design, it was to comprise six 150 mm and fourteen 47 mm, but it was deemed too modest this endowment, especially since she had let him assume the role held by a battleship. Its launch was made April 28, 1893 and she was accepted into service in November 1894 with an armament of two 240 mm Krupp 35 calibers, eight 150 mm Krupp and 35 rapid-fire calibers, 12 Skoda 47 mm 44 calibers and 6 other Hotchkiss 33 calibers, 2 Skoda 66 mm howitzer (15 cal) to support the landings and four torpedo tubes that formed a diamond defense (sides, bow and stern).

The KuK Maria Theresia in service

The Kaiserin und Königin Maria Theresia was completely rebuilt in 1906 and 1910, loosing her thick poles, while the armament was reshuffle (see listing below), with all its 150 mm cannons being spread on the main deck. Its armor was not impressive, not exceeding 100 mm whereas the caliber of equivalent ships was far superior. Everything seemed sacrificed for weight gain, allowing to hold 19.35 knots, at the end a performance identical to the battleships she was supposed to evade in combat. She was criticized for its small dimensions.

In 1895 she participate in the celebrations for the opening of the Kiel Canal, stopping at brest and Portsmouth for courtesy visits in return. In 1897 she participated in the international fleet that demonstrated off Crete against the Greek annexation. She was deployed in 1898 to the Caribbean to safeguard Austro-Hungarian interests and evacuate Austrian and German nationals in the city of Santiago.


She was nearly shelled herself off Santiago de Cuba when crossing the Spanish fleet attempting to break the American blockade. She was also deployed in China in 1900, under Victor Ritter Bless von Sambuchi command and saw the end of the Boxer rebellion. In june 1901, she sailed up the Yangtze River, the biggest ship to ever do so. She then returned to Pola and was later rebuilt from 1908 to 1910.

Stationed in Sebenico (now Sibenik in Croatia) in 1914 she participated in shelling raids against Montenegro, then returned to port and until 1916 was used as coastguard. In January 1917 she was demobilized and taken to Pola to be moored as utility pontoon, its guns being unloaded and transferred to the Army. She was broken up soon after the war.


The KuK Maria Theresia class on wikipedia
On coll.
About Austro-Hungarian Cruisers
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1860-1905.

KuK Marian Theresia specifications

Dimensions 113,7 x 16,25 x 6,8 m
Displacement 5400 t standard – 6000 t FL
Crew 475
Propulsion 2 screws, 2 TE 3 cyl., 12 boilers, 9775 cv. 19,3 knots max
Speed 22 knots (40.7 km/h; 25.3 mph)
Range 7,000 nmi (12,960 km; 8,060 mi) at 14 knots (25.9 km/h; 16.1 mph)
Armament 2 x 190, 8 x 150, 14 x 47, 2 x 77 Howitzer, 4 x 37, 4 TT 445 mm SM (ft, rear, sides)
Armor Turrets 100, Casemate 80, Belt 100, Blockhaus 50, Bridges 57 mm


The KuK Maria Theresia freshly in service (1895)



In 1905 after the Boxer rebellion


Austro-Hungarian Submarines

Austria-Hungary (1909-1916)


Austro-Hungary has full awareness of its small size compared to its immediate neighbors and long declared enemy, Italy, and France beyond the peninsula. Submarines, just like torpedo boats were a way to recover cheaply some form of parity, although the naval staff left the impression to late to recognize the potential of submersible warfare. It’s only under a new impulsion in 1909 that it was voted the purchase of submarines in various naval yards, in the optic of a future local production. In 1909 indeed, three yards were chosen, Lake and Holland (USA) and Germaniawerft (Germany). Just like the German Navy, naval authorities preferred to wait for the pioneering work to be done and the technology gain in maturation.

U1 (Lake type, 1909)

The Naval Technical Committee (MTK) was ordered in 1904 to purchase a design, competition was open, and eventually three were retained, with two units for each. All three were relatively similar in size, displacement, but not so for technology and capabilities. The Lake type were the best divers but were disadvantaged for surface cruising, a bit like the Holland design, given a problematic gasoline engin that poisoned the crew. Germaniawerft design was by far the better for surface cruise, was roomy and reliable, the most solid with its double hull, but was the worst diver. This experience led the admiralty to define the ideal design, which ended with the first serie based on the German UD type. Because the war broke it it was only possible to ship smaller vessels by rail for assembly in Pola, so delays ensure they were not ready on time and Austria-Hungary entered the war with its tow prototypes series (The U1 serie was undergoing refitting of new engines).

The Havmanden-type Whitehead design from Denmark were the only commissioned serie in “numbers” (4) to see action, but the naval staff was not happy with it, and only see action for a short, late period, in the fall if 1917 due to reliability issues. For some time the captured ex-French Curie was the most capable and larger submarine in operation. Another solution was the fast assembly of small German UB types shipped by railed to Pola in prefabricated modules. The first contracts fall in February 1915, to AG Weser. They were intended for operations in the Dardanelles, which never took place. Licences were also negotiated for the construction of a serie of UBII types.

SM U31 assembled

The other important point is the presence and operation of German submarines. Although captain Hersing demonstrated his abilities to reach Pola with the U21, coastal types easy to assemble were preferred, shipped by rail. For security reasons, they all flew the Austro-Hungarian colours, despite a German crew and after a while, Austrian officers. In fact by October 1916 only the U35, 38 and 39 still flew the national flag. German flag was generalized. In March 1917 order for an “unrestricted sub warfare” was not seen as a good eye by Australian authorities as it also imply to sink hospital ships. At the end, communicates about ships sunk were collectively denominated “by the Central Powers”.


In total 27 Austrian submarines had been commissioned, and served with mixed results. 63 ocean-going types were planned but lack of workforce and of materials ensure massive delays and only a fraction ever saw operational service in time. For successes in combat, the ace was Georg Ritter Von Trapp (U5, U14) a future actor of a famous Hollywood movie, followed by another ace, Zdenko Houdecek (U17, 28), but the palm gone to the impressive U27 that include one destroyer and 35 civilian ships (mostly schooners).



Globally Austrian subs sunk Armoured Cruisers Leon Gambetta and Giuseppe Garibaldi, destroyers Phoenix, Renaudin, Fourche, Impetuoso, Nembo, submarins Circe and Nereide and badly damaged the Jean Bart, Dublin, Weymouth, even the Japanese destroyer Sakaki and 108 civilian ships had been sank or captured, plus 11 more unconfirmed.

These German U-boats (about 70 of them) operated from Pola and Cattaro.The Gäa was their default depot and supply ship. They were joined at some point with locally assembled Torpedo Bootes, A51 and A82. They operated from Pola. German crews usually tend to despise their Austro-Hungarian fellow sailors, because of a supposed relaxed discipline in order to release tensions between a multitude of ethnicities, whereas German crews were a disciplined and homogeneous lot.


Some submarine projects never materialized, like the experimental Loligo, intended to be used on Lake Garda. Another was a cruiser cargo submarine influenced by German Deutschland and intended to reach neutral Spain. It was a proposition by the naval league, but rejected because naval yards were already busy with more urgent ships to deliver. It was dropped in August 1916. Another design was submitted in the Autumn of 1916, a river model able to operate along the Serbian and Bulgarian shores of the Danube. But the over-ambitious asks it was intended for eventually condemned the project as unfeasible.


Links/sources – The Austro-Hungarian Submarine Force by Erwin Sieche
Central Powers subs on
U1 class on Wikipedia
The SM U3 on Wikipedia
The U5 class on Wikipedia
The SM U6 on Wikipedia
The SM U10 on Wikipedia
The SM U12 on Wikipedia
The SM U23 on Wikipedia
The SM U30 on Wikipedia
About Ritter Von Trapp
Specs Conway’s all the world fighting ships 1906-1921.

U1 class (2, 1909)


First submersible of the Austro-Hungarian navy, U1 and U2 were from plans drew by the American engineer Thomas Lake. Their original gasoline engines were under-powerful and were quickly replaced. Dumping procedures were particularly arduous, to the point they needed 8 minutes for diving. Therefore, they never saw action, being relegated to training tasks in Pola until January 1918, date of radiation from service. They were ceded to Italy in 1920, who hastened to them demolished.

Displacement & Dimensions :220-277 tons surf/dive, 30.8 x 4.8 x 3,90m
Propulsion: 2 diesel engines, two propellers, 200/720 hp. and 6/10.3 n. max.
Crew: 17
Armament: 1 removable 37mm cannon, 3 TT 450mm (two bow, a stern).

U3 class (2, 1909)

U3 and U4 in Pola

While the former Austro-Hungarian submarines were of American origin, Lake patent, the next two were ordered in Germany at Germaniawerft and allowed to test the latest technological advance of this country. The U3 and U4, issued in 1908 had a double hull and internal ballasts. Testing showed excessive design problems and had to be partly refitted and rebuilt. Despite of this they were unsatisfactory but unlike previous submersibles, widely used during the war: The U3 was sunk by French destroyer Bisson after a failed attack of Città di Catania, and after being rammed and forced to surface in August 1915. U4 sank the cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi on July 18, 1915 and many other ships. It was ceded to France in 1919 and demolished in 1920.

Displacement & Dimensions:  240-300 tons surf/dive, 42.3 x 4.5 x 3.8 m
Propulsion: 2 electric and 2 gasoline engines, 2 propellers, 600/320 hp. and 12/8.5 n. max.
Crew: 21
Armament: 2 TT 450mm (bow torpedo 3).

U5 class (3, 1909)


After trying Germaniawerft and Lake the Austro-Hungarian Admiralty turned to Holland for the delivery of its next submarines. She ordered two units, and a third optional. Whitehead installed in Fiume produced these Holland licensed designs. Industrial assembly was such that basic modules were prepared in the USA, then shipped to Fiume, but this caused structural problems. U5 and U6 were launched in 1909, and U7 (later U12) was finally launched in 1911. The latter was offered for sale to the Austrians who refused after their disappointments with the U5 and U6, but eventually bought it while she was still unsold in August 1914. Torpedo tubes were mobile and had opening hatches cloverleafs. U5 hit a mine in 1917 but was salvaged and repaired. It was fitted with a German kiosk and new 75 mm gun. The U6 tried to penetrate the barrage of Otranto and was caught in a net, here crew evacuated as she was scuttled. U12 hit a mine while trying to force Venice entry in August 1916.

Displacement & Dimensions: 240-273 tons surf/dive, 32.1 x 4.2 x 3.9 m
Propulsion: 2 electric motors, two gasoline engines, 2 propellers, 500/230 hp. and 10.7/6 n. max.
Crew: 19
Armament: 2 TT 450mm (bow torpedo 4).

U10 class (5, 1915)


U-7 to U11 with has been too large to be built in sections and shipped to Pola by rail, so they never reached the Adriatic back it November 1914. They were sold to Germany instead and joined the Hochseeflotte. For cons, AG Weser shipyards proposed to build UB1 class subs in removable sections, because of their reduced tonnage they were though to be transported by rail more easily to Pola, and assembled on site. Five units were therefore commissioned in April 1915. At first the U10 and U11 entered service in June-July 1915, with a German crew and an Austrian officer. The U15, 16 and 17 followed in December 1915, this time with a fully Austro-Hungarian crew. All received 37 mm and later 47 mm gun in November 1917, while the U11 received a 66 mm. U16 torpedoed in October 1916 the destroyer Nembo, but was rammed by the freighter Borminda and had to be scuttled. U10 hit a mine in July 1918, was recovered and towed to Trieste, but never repaired. The others had an uneventful carrer and were given to Italy as war reparations, which in turn decided to have them demolished in 1920.

Displacement & Dimensions: 140 125 tonnes surf/dive, 27, 9x 5.2 x 2.7 m
Propulsion One diesel, one electric motor, 1 propeller, 260/120 hp. and 6.5/5.5 n. max.
Crew: 17
Armament: 2 TT 450mm (bow torpedo 4).

U14 (1912)


One of the best Austro-Hungarian submersible was U14, which “double life” is quite an interesting one: It was indeed at the origin the French submersible Curie (Brumaire class, a Laubeuf type sub, in 1912). The Curie was sent in the Adriatic in 1914 to monitor fleet safe passage and guard merchant traffic. But she also tried to enter Pola to torpedo the best units in the fleet. On 20 December 1914, she almost reached its goal but was found stuffed into a net and could not disengage. She was later discovered, and shelled to destruction. Then she was refloated in January 1915, sent to Pola to be repaired, and modified. Among others, she added a new Germanic kiosk type, a 88 mm gun and two Germans diesels. She was accepted into service in 1916 after testing in November, and placed under the command of Georg Ritter von Trapp. U14 was assigned to France as war reparations after the war and served until 1928 under its former name.

Displacement & Dimensions: 263-300 tons surf./dive 36.1 x 4.4 x 3.7 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 Diesels, 2 electric motors, 284/280 hp. and 9.2/5.8 n. max.
Crew: 22
Armament: 2 TT 500 mm (bow torpedo 4) 1 88 mm gun, 1 8 mm Schwartzlöse MG.

U20 class (4-1916)


Four submarines were produced Whitehead of Fiume in 1915 on plans originally designed for a Danish order, that of Havmanden in 1912. Their design was therefore inspired by the Holland license, but their construction time was considerable, due to the allocation of construction in many subcontractors Austrians and Hungarians. The U20 and 21 to Pola, U22 and 23 to UBAG. They were operational in October-November 1917 and their active campaign was short and without success. The U23 was sunk in a dirgigeant attque in the passage of Otranto against an Italian convoy in February 1918, the U20 was torpedoed by the Italian submarine F12 before the estuary of the Tagliamento in July 1918, and the other two ceded to Italy and France and promptly demolished.

Displacement & Dimensions: 173-210 tons surf./plongée 38.8 x 4 x 2.8 m
Propulsion: 1 Propeller, one diesel, one electric motor, 450/160 hp. 12/9 and kn. max.
Crew: 18
Armament: 2 TT 450 mm (bow torpedo 4), 1x 66 mm gun, 1x 8 mm MG.

U27 class (8-1916)


The most prolific serie by far and the best of the Austro-Hungarian navy was that of U27, designed on the basis of type Ubii under German license. The order was given to Pola on October 12, 1915 and no less than 8 units were started, including two at Danubius, Fiume. They were launched from 1916 to 1917 and operational in 1917, the U41 being lengthened by 77 cm to accommodate the diesel of U6, damaged in combat but recovered. They formed in a short time an excellent hunting score, U27 alone claiming a destroyer and 33 freighters, U28 (commanded by Maj. Zdenko Houdecek) a destroyer and 11 freighters. U30 was sunk in the Strait of Otranto in 1917, and the others were allocated postwar Italy and demolished in Fiume and Venice.

Displacement & Dimensions: 264-300 tons surf./dive 36.9 x 4.4 x 3.7 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 Diesels, 2 electric motors, 270/280 hp. and 9/7.5 kn. max.
Crew: 23
Armament: 2 TT 450 mm (bow torpedo 4) 1x 75 mm gun, 1x 8 mm MG.

U43 class (2-1917)


The last two Austro-Hungarian submarines to enter service were the U43 and U47, Type Ubii Weser built in 1916 and conveyed by rail to Pola, assembled on site, and entering service under German flag and crew. They were sold June 21, 1917 in the Austro-Hungarian navy, but not long in service. After the armistice, they were offered as war reparations to France but scrapped in situ in 1920.

Displacement & Dimensions: 263-300 tons surf./dive 36.1 x4.4 x3.7 m
Propulsion: 2 propellers, 2 Diesel, 2 electric engines, 284/280 hp. and 9.2/5.8 kn. max.
Crew: 22
Armament; 2 TT 500 mm (bow torpedo 4) 1x 88 mm gun, 1x 8 mm MG.