Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Austro-Hungarian Battleships

It is often forgotten that the Austro-Hungarian Empire had a small navy, and that it played no small part in the naval side of the First World War. The existence of the Austro-Hungarian Navy in the Adriatic was always a threat to Italy and – to a lesser extent – to Britain's control of the Eastern Mediterranean and its access to the Suez Canal.

The Austro-Hungarian Navy had a number of battleships, and these are described in Ryan Noppen's AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN BATTLESHIPS 1914-18. The book was published in 2012 by Osprey Publishing as part of their 'New Vanguard' series No.193 (ISBN 978 1 84908 688 2) and contains a number of excellent colour illustrations by Paul Wright.

This is a worthwhile addition to my collection of naval books, and although it covers little that is new to me, it is a very handy one-volume guide to the Austro-Hungarian Navy’s battleships.


  1. Very interesting - I thought I had all of the 1890 - 1918 naval Ospreys but clearly not.

    I read an interesting theory in The Great Naval Race by Peter Padfield, that the building of four AH battleships contributed more to the First World War than the Germans' 13 did. The race had been going on for some years between Britain and the Germans and an uneasy status quo had developed; it was the unexpected laying down of four battleships by Austria-Hungary in 1911 that destabilised the situation and forced the Admiralty's hand. Not sure how credible that is, given the distant AH coastline... any thoughts, Bob?

    Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Colonel Scipio,

    The problem posed by the Austro-Hungarian dreadnoughts is their effect upon the balance of seapower in the Mediterranean. The Anglo-French Naval Agreement allowed the RN to concentrate its efforts - and ships - in the North Sea and Channel as the French would secure the Mediterranean against the Italian Navy. (Don't forget that the Italians were a member of the Triple Alliance alongside Germany and Austro-Hungary.) The increase in the number of modern battleships available to the Triple Alliance would mean that the British would have to divert battleships away from their main theatre of operations in order to protect the route to India via the Suez Canal. Any battleships diverted away from the North Sea and Channel would need to be replaced by building more battleships ... an increase that the Germans would feel the impelled to match.

    In the end the Italians sided with the British and French ... but if they had not the situation in the Mediterranean in 1914 would have been very different.

    My thoughts, anyway.

    All the best,



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