Sverige-class coastal defence ship

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HMS Sverige during WW2.jpg
Class overview
Builders: Götaverken, Gothenburg (2 ships)
Kockums, Malmö (1 ship)
Operators: Swedish Navy
Built: 1912–1922
In commission: 1917–1957
Completed: 3
Scrapped: 3
General characteristics
Type: Coastal defence ship
Displacement: 7,239 tonnes standard, 7,755 tonnes full load
(Sverige: 6,961 tonnes tons standard, 7,758 tons deep load)
Length: 121.6 m (399 ft)
(Sverige: 120 m (390 ft))
Beam: 18.6 m (61 ft)
Draught: 6.2 m (20 ft)
Propulsion: original 12 Yarrow type coal-fired boilers, upgraded to oil-fired boilers in the 30's
"Sverige" 4-shaft direct drive turbines / "Drottning Victoria" and "Gustav V" 2-shaft geared turbines
Speed: "Drottning Victoria and Gustav V" 23.5 knots (43.5 km/h) ("Sverige" 22,5 kn)
Complement: 427 (standard)
443 (as flagship)
Armament: 4 x 11.1 inches (280 mm) guns in two twin turrets
8 x 6 inches (150 mm) guns in one twin turret and four single mounts
6 x 75 millimetres (3.0 in) guns in single mounts
2 x 57 millimetres (2.2 in) guns
2 x machine guns
2 x 18 inches (460 mm) fixed torpedo tubes
Armour: Main belt 200 mm (7.9 in); deck 45 mm (1.8 in); turrets 200 millimetres (7.9 in); control tower 175 millimetres (6.9 in)
Aviation facilities: None

The Sverige class coastal defence ships were the largest ships to serve in the Swedish Navy until that point. Their design was completely new and was influenced by the ships of the time. Their armament consisted of four 28.3 cm Bofors guns in two turrets and eight 15.2 cm guns in one double and six single turrets. During the Second World War they were the backbone of the Swedish Navy.

Specification as built[edit]

  • Belt: 200/150–60 mm (7.9/5.9-2.4 in)
  • Turret: 8 in. Front, 4 in. Sides, 4 3/8 in Rear
  • Conning Tower: 175/100–60 mm (6.9 in)
  • Deck: 1 5/8 in.
  • Redoubt: 4 in.
  • Barbettes: 6 in.
  • Small Turrets: 5 in. Front, 3 in. Sides
  • 4 shafts; Curtis direct-coupled turbines 20,000 SHP in Sverige; 12 Yarrow type coal-fired boilers
  • 2 shafts; Westinghouse Geared Turbines Manufactured by Motala Company in Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria 22,000 SHP; 12 Yarrow-type coal-fired boilers
  • All ships was upgraded to oil fired boilers in the 30´ts, (In Gustaf V and Drottning Victoria it was however by strategic reasons decided to keep the ability to burn coal to secure their ability to operate on alternative fuel if the Swedish oil supply was cut of)
  • 4x 283 mm (11.1 inch 45 cal.) Bofors guns (2 twin turrets), load in 17 seconds, rated as cramped, dividing partition between guns
  • 8x 152 mm (6 inch 50 cal.) Bofors QF guns (1 twin turret superfiring over the forward 11 inch battery, and 6 single turrets, 3 on each beam)
  • 4x 75 mm Bofors AA cannons mounted forward of the rear 11 inch battery
  • 2x 57 mm short-barreled Bofors cannons (6 pdr.)
  • 9x 6,5 mm MG
  • 2x 457 mm (18 in) TT
Armament after modernization (late 1930´ts to WW-II)
  • The underwater torpedo tubes were removed, and the underwater torpedo room was converted into an artillery central to serve the installation of modern range meeters and fire control equipment for heavy, secondary and AA-gunnery
  • All small gunnery and 2x152mm (6 inch 50 cal. ) was removed and replaced with modern Bofors 75mm, 40mm and 20mm Anti aircraft gunnery.
  • The range of the 281 mm (11 inch) main-artillery was upgraded by new ammunition.
  • 450 after reconstruction

All three ships looked similar until reconstruction. Gustav V had funnels trunked into one and the upper works modified heavily. Sverige had the fore funnel trunked back away from the superstructure which was modified, and kept the second funnel, making the ships very different in appearance between the main turrets. "Gustav-V" also har her forward superfiring 2x152mm tower removed, and replaced with a platform for gyro stabilized AA-artillery ( 4 x 40mm bofors) while "Sverige" and "Drottning Victoria" had their midship single 1x152mm towers removed and replaced with gyro stabilized AA-plattforms (Bofors 40mm double mountings)


Right elevation and deck plan as depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual, 1923

Three of these ships were built:

  • HMS Sverige was ordered in 1912 and completed in 1917, built by Götaverken Gothenborg, she was paid for by public subscription as the Swedish people's gift to the country.
  • HMS Drottning Victoria (Queen Victoria) was ordered in 1915 and completed in 1921, built by Götaverken Gothenborg.
  • HMS Gustav V was built by Kockums shipyard in Malmö ordered in 1915 and completed in 1922.

A fourth ship was considered but not built due to economic difficulties.

The ships were modernised in the 1930s with oil-fired boilers replacing the old coal-fired boilers, removal of underwater torpedo equipment, new anti-aircraft guns and fire control equipment.

"Sverige-class", tactical doctrine and effectiveness[edit]

The Sverige-class ships differed in several ways from the classical coastal defence ship; at first by heavier armament as well as better speed and armor, but still small enough to operate and hide in the archipelagos and shallow waters . But the main difference was to be noted in their tactical doctrine and operations. Unlike other coastal defence ships the "Sverige-class" formed the core of a traditional open sea battle group (Kustflottan), operating with cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats and air reconnaissance like traditional battleship tactics of the time. This “mini-battle group” had no intention to challenge the superpowers in blue sea battles but to operate as defensive shield to aggression challenging Swedish interests and territory. Based on the doctrine that you need a battle group, to challenge a battle groups this force intended to form a problematic obstacle in the confined and shallow Baltic and Kattegat theatre where traditional large warships would be limited to very predictable moving patterns exposing them to submarines, fast torpedo crafts and minefields. It has been suggested that the Sverige class ships were one reason why Germany did not invade Sweden during World War II. This speculation appeared in Warship Magazine 1992 Edition, in the article 'The Sverige Class Coastal Defence Ships, by Daniel G Harris.' This could partly said to be confirmed in the post war publication of German tactical orders, and when tactical scenarios regarding attacking Sweden was published. The problems of maintaining an army in Sweden without sea superiority was underlined and lack of available suitable units to face the Swedish navy was pointed out (“Stations for battle”, Insulander/Olsson, 2001) Summarizing the question of effectiveness for the “Sverige-class” it likely that despite a good armament they would have been too small, too cramped, too slow and without enough range to perform against any traditional battlecruiser or battleship in blue water scenario. However, if used rightly in their home waters and in a defensive situation they would probably have presented a major challenge for any aggressor.

See also[edit]

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