The latest addition to the World of Warships fleet, Prinz Eitel Friedrich, lives up to what we would expect of the mighty German navy, with high speeds and punishing firepower.
Let’s go over the intricacies of this steel giant to get a working knowledge of her potential combat roles and performance.
Remember that you can get her for free by playing through the new mission chain “In the Name of His Highness!”.
We’ll start this breakdown by taking a cruise into the past and discovering the origins of battlecruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich: Who was she named after? What purpose was she meant to serve? Why is she classified as a “battlecruiser”?
The answer to the first question is quite straightforward: Eitel Friedrich was one of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s six sons, and holder of the title ‘Prince of Prussia’. The second answer is slightly more complex. The beginning of the revolutionary Dreadnought battleship boom in the first years of the 20th century also saw parallel development in cruiser design, which incorporated some of the lessons learnt from designing the new battleships, such as uniform caliber guns and turbine engine propulsion. The new types of cruisers—first built for the Royal Navy and later adopted by Germany—would be classified as ‘battlecruisers’.
As the word itself suggests, these ships were functionally and physically close to battleships. The main justification for the ‘-cruiser’ tag comes from their relatively high speeds, achieved at the cost of having thinner armor protection, and slightly smaller caliber guns. Having a high potential speed was by design, as it allowed for the ship to be used not only in support of battleships in fleet engagements, but to pursue a routing fleet after a fight, to raid shipping, and to provide reconnaissance. Smaller cruisers stood little chance against a battlecruiser’s firepower, and battleships could be easily avoided with speed; and it was speed itself that provided them with their best protection.
This type of design proved ideal for the tactical needs of the German Navy before and during World War I. Since competing with the Royal Navy in total fielded ship tonnage was becoming increasingly difficult, having ships that could fill multiple roles was the best way to consolidate naval forces and make up for the disparity.
Seven battlecruisers of four different classes were commissioned into the German fleet during this period and saw great success in raiding and at the battle of Jutland in 1916, where they managed to destroy three of their British counterparts. Prinz Eitel Friedrich was laid down in the opening stages of the First World War, part of the Mackensen class of four ships. She was a direct improvement over the latest line of battlecruisers at the time, carrying bigger guns (350 mm) and sporting a higher top speed of 28 knots. In order to maintain speed with the added weight of the guns, the hull was enlarged to reduce draft, giving her a length of 223 m.
Prinz Eitel Friedrich was launched in May 1915, but was never completed or put into service. This was due to the German Admiralty, at this point in the war, deciding to dedicate the available resources to the submarine fleet, as they had lost confidence in the potential of the war being won at sea. The hull was scrapped in Germany shortly after the war.
Recreating Prinz Eitel Friedrich
The Prinz Eitel Friedrich we see in-game is a version of the ship as she might have appeared, had she been spared the shipbreakers and been retrofitted at the beginning of World War II. As a result, besides the characteristically World War I-era tripod mast, we can see modernized swept-back funnels, two domed ‘Wackeltöpfe’ Anti-Aircraft fire-control directors, and an array of 1930’s era conventional German naval AA armament. Let’s take a closer look at some of these guns:
Main Armament: Eight 350 mm L/45 SK C/14 guns, spread out across four twin turrets: two fore and two aft. These massive rifles were designed to be used only on the Mackensen-class battlecruisers, but just like the ships themselves, they were never completed. However, tubes from the incomplete guns intended for Prinz Eitel Friedrich were used in the construction of the famous Paris Gun, which in the last months of World War I shelled the French Capital from a distance of approximately 120 km. For this reason, the Paris Gun was crewed by naval personnel.
Secondary Armament: Fourteen 150 mm L/45 SK C/13 casemated guns: seven per side. This weapon was one of the most widespread in the German Navy during World War I, used on cruisers, battleships, and battlecruisers alike. Guns like these were also used widely in the opening months of World War II aboard the disguised German merchant raider ships.
Heavy AA: Sixteen 105 mm L/65 Dop. L. C/37 dual purpose cannons in twin mountings on either side amidships. These guns were able to stabilize and compensate for the motion of ships on heavy seas, and proved to be effective weapons in general, despite their slow turning rate.
Light AA: Sixteen 37 mm Flakzwilling 30 guns in double mounts. These were used on a wide array of German Navy ships and featured semi-automatic fire operated with manual loading, giving them a somewhat sluggish firing rate of about 30 rounds per minute. Additional light AA was provided by twelve 20 mm Flak 38 single-barrel mounts.
- Speed and surprise is your ally! Crank the engines to full and flank the enemy. Get up close and personal, then let loose your strong secondary battery.
- This Mackensen-class battlecruiser can take some serious punishment from incoming shell fire with her powerful vertical armor. Enemy ships will find it hard to citadel you but it’s not impossible, so stay angled and vigilant!
- Enemy aircraft will think twice before attacking you. Her stand-out feature is her impressive AA capabilities (28 AA mounts), with a high damage output. But don’t get too brazen, it’s always best to stick to your allies and combine your AA firepower, for both your survivability and theirs.