Wednesday 5 November 2014

The Battle of Jutland or “Skagerrakschlacht” – 1916

The time has come to indulge my fascination for big Dreadnoughts and Imperial Navies in the form of the single largest battleship confrontation ever - the Battle of Jutland, or as the Germans call it: Skagerrakschlacht.

The GHQ GWG14 Kaiser-Class, painted as Friedrich der Große.

Fought on the 31 May – 1 June in 1916 between the numerically superior British Grand Fleet under Admiral Jellicoe and the technologically advanced Imperial German Hochseeflotte under Admiral Scheer, the Battle of Jutland was the climax of the British and German naval arms race. 

Tirpitz - the Father of the Hochseeflotte.

This race for naval supremacy was initiated some 10 years earlier and driven by the British doctrine of having a fleet greater than the two biggest competing powers at any given time, and the German aspirations for further respect in the league of Empires, by adding a first class navy to bolster the nations military strength, owning also what was perhaps the finest land-army of the period. 

First Sea Lord, Sir John "Jacky" Fisher.
The man behind the Dreadnought.

The creators of these iconic navies were for the British Sir. John Fisher (the man behind the Dreadnought), and for the German Empire, the renowned Admiral Tirpitz.

Added a little name tag with the original 
Kriegsmarine flag and indication of ship class (BB for Battleship).

When ascending to the role of First Sea Lord, John “Jacky” Fisher described the British navy as a series of ships “that could neither fight nor run away”. When he retired in 1910, Britain had spawned the Dreadnought and possessed the World’s largest navy.

A German Battleships gives a broadside.
The Battle of Jutland 1916.

Meanwhile in Germany, Tirpitz and the navy enthusiastic Kaiser drove the ambitious Flottenpolitik forward, clearing ever larger budgets for new, bigger, faster and better ship-classes for the Kriegsmarine.

The Battle of Jutland map overview.

Born and raised in Jutland with family ties to the fishing industry on the west coast, the battle of Jutland has always held a special allure over me. The same could be said for GHQ, a miniatures producer which wonderful WW1 naval models spellbound me since I first set eyes on their crisp and detailed sculpting.

A Kaiser-Class battleship.

So, armed with my first purchase from GHQ, I opted to start off the collection with the German Flagship, the Kaiser-Class Battleship, Friedrich der Große.

A shot from the side. 
Note the little German Kriegsmarine flag from the rear mast.
Made from bending a small piece of tape around the rigging.

Ship Data: Friedrich der Große
Laid Down: 26 Jan 1910
Launched: 10 June 1911
Completed: Oct 1912
Constructed at: The Vulkan Wharf in Hamburg
Displacement: 24.380 tons
Dimensions: 564 x 95 x 27 ft.
Main Guns: 10 x 12in 50cal
Armour: 7 – 13 inch belts / 3 inch deck / 11,75 inch Turrets.
Machinery: 3 Shaft Parsons Turbine (31.000 shp = 21knots)
Endurance: 9.500Miles at 10knots
Cost: 2 Mio Pounds in 1912 (ca. 270 million Dollars in todays currency)

S.M.S Friedrich der Große as Line Drawing.

Friedrich der Große was the Flagship of the Commaner-in-Chief of the Hochseeflotte from 1914-16. At the Battle of Jutland she was part of 3rd Battle Squadron arriving to the battle with the main fleet under Admiral Scheer. She avoided any hits, but scored several on the British Warspite, forcing a withdrawal of the huge Queen Elizabeth-Class ship.

Signal flags added to the side rigging, again made from tape.
Its worth noting the German markings on the turrets, for clear air identification.

Friedrich der Große was retired as Flagship when the Baden came into service in late 1916. She was later surrendered in 1918, and scuttled by her crew at Scapa Flow.

Thank you very much for reading!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Christopher, it was actually nice to switch to something completely different after a long period of finishing up 28's for the show!

  2. Nice post and beautiful ships!

    1. Cheers Phil, those GHQ ships were amazing to paint and the period have so much graphic appeal, so it was hard not to get really caught up. More ships to come!

  3. Very interesting historical background and beautiful model! Growing up in Jutland certainly stoked the fire of interest for this battle, didn't it?

    1. Thanks Jonathan, yeah I've spend many summers at the sea on the Jutland west coast, which is just beautiful. It is said that even though the battle happened many miles out to sea, the immense thunder of the 12 and 13" guns during the battle made whole fishing communities on the coast just stop in their tracks, people gathering on the beach and gazing at the horizon.

  4. Fantastic painting Søren, but I can't even begin to understand how you do it! My eyes hurt just by looking at those photos ... :)

    1. Ha ha, well Jonas I'm not sure about the long term effect of what I'm doing to my eyes at the moment, nor my neck. Seems I'm getting dangerously close to the old Vulture-neck syndrome. Seriously, the GHQ models are probably the most detailed 1/2400s on the market, and they took to washes and highlighting like any old 28mm figure, but the little signal flags... those were a pain!

  5. Wow, amazing miniatures and absolutely crisp bases.

    1. Thanks Engel - it was really nice to do something else after all the 28s of recent. Even painting sea water proved a welcome change. It's actually just VMC 898 "Dark Sea Blue", then highlighting waves with a 898 thinned with light grey. Finally some foam dotted on in clear white using a 0/5 brush. Happy you liked the result!

  6. Wow! Really love it. I always was a fan of WW2 sea battles and wanted to have a go on them one day. But having seen your excellent Schlachtschiff I might drop the Bismarck in favour of SMS Friedrich der Große. Must have an eye out for GHQ as the detailing on your battleship looks amazing.

  7. Glad you liked it - the period of 1864-1914 is a personal favorite when it comes to German history. You got everything in there. Bismarck, forging of the Nation, the Kaiser and the fantastic refinement of German engineering, like the Krupps! If you ever decide to jump onto 1/2400 naval wargaming, I can really recommend GHQ. The level of detail makes it very easy to go from 28mm to this, as the washes and highlighting really takes well on the models. The WW2 battle of the Atlantic have loads of charm too, plus it allows the addition of combining naval and aeronautic warfare. I've got a friend here in Stockholm who is doing Bismarck, Gneisenau, Tirpitz et.c at the moment, also using GHQ, so we''ll probably have some pictures up on those sometime soon.

  8. Very nice Sören ! Might have to give it a go anyway... :)

    1. Thanks Micke, I hope you do. Mark, Jesper and I ran a game of Naval Thunder last week, and they seemed to contain a perfect mix between interesting historical "spice" and an easy accessed and very playable rules mechanics! Ideal for a nice gaming night a the club.

  9. Replies
    1. Thank you Stephen! I'm considering bringing this collection to the next DffCon in Copenhagen, so drop by for a game then!

  10. Fine looking models for a famous battle - I'll stick with Jutland - not even going to try to pronounce the German variant :) Best, Dean

    1. Thanks Dean, and since I'm born and raised in Jutland I prefer that name too;0) Thanks for dropping by for a read.

  11. War is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.