Portal:Battleships

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The battleship USS IOWA (BB-61) firing its Mark 7 16-inch/50-caliber guns off the starboard side during a fire power demonstration.

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. As they were the largest, best-armed and most heavily armored ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a nation's naval power from the late nineteenth century until World War II. With the rise of air power, notably aircraft carriers, battleships were no longer able to establish naval superiority, and so all have been withdrawn from active service. The related battlecruiser, a successor to the armored cruiser, shared the very large main armament, general size, and cost of a battleship of the same generation, but they traded armor or firepower for higher speed.

Battleship design evolved to incorporate and adapt technological advances to maintain an edge. The word battleship was coined around 1794 as a contraction of the phrase line-of-battle ship, the dominant wooden warship during the Age of Sail. It came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, but these are now referred to as "pre-dreadnoughts". In 1906, the launch of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design. Later designs that were influenced by this ship were referred to as "dreadnoughts". Battlecruisers were developed around this time by the British First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher. They were envisioned as being more effective armored cruisers, able to destroy any normal cruiser while being able to outrun any ships capable of sinking them.

By 1910, so-called "super-dreadnoughts" were entering service. In the four years between Dreadnought and the first super-dreadnoughts, the Orion class, displacement had increased by 25% and weight of broadside had doubled. Many battlecruisers and battleships of all varieties served in the First World War, most notably in the Battle of Jutland. None were built between the Nelsons of the early 1920s and the Dunkerques of the early 1930s due to various treaties, but quite a few battleships were constructed shortly before or during World War II. The last, HMS Vanguard, was commissioned just after the war, in 1946.

From this time on, most battleships and all battlecruisers were decommissioned and broken up. France's Jean Bart and Turkey's Yavuz were the last to be scrapped. However, members of the American Iowa class lasted until 1992 to aid troops with fire support; four were deployed in Korea, one in Vietnam, and two to Iraq. Nine battleships exist today as museum ships; eight from the United States, and Japan's Mikasa. (more...)


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painting of the Hood by Edward Tufnell

HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was one of the four Admiral class battlecruisers and the last battlecruiser of the Royal Navy (though sometimes regarded as a Fast battleship). Named after Admiral Samuel Hood, she was designed in 1916 to counter the Mackensen-class battlecruiser, but the only one of her class to be constructed. Launched in just before the end of World War I and commissioned on May 15, 1920, she saw significant service in the Mediterranean Sea during the interwar years as the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet's Battlecruiser Squadron. In 1931, her crew participated in the Invergordon Mutiny, and in 1941, badly in need of a scheduled refit. However, the outbreak of World War II precluded this, and the "Mighty Hood" was pressed into war service despite her degradations and being partially obsolete. In July 1940, she fired on French ships at Mers-el-Kébir to prevent their capture by the Kriegsmarine, then took up station with the Home Fleet to prevent invasion. After a few failed intercepts, she was sent with HMS Prince of Wales to keep the German battleship Bismarck out of the Atlantic Ocean. Catching up to the Bismarck and German cruiser Prinz Eugen, the Battle of the Denmark Strait left the Hood sunk after a magazine explosion. The loss of the "pride of the navy" led to the order to "sink the Bismarck!"

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painting of Beatty in the dress uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet

Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO (17 January 1871 – 11 March 1936) was an admiral in the Royal Navy. Achieving career success at an early age in the Mahdist War and Boxer Rebellion, he commanded the British battlecruisers in World War I, most notably at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, a tactically indecisive engagement after which his aggressive approach was contrasted with the caution of his commander John Jellicoe. Later in the war, he succeeded Jellicoe as Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet, in which capacity he received the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet at the end of hostilities, and then in the 1920s he served a lengthy term as First Sea Lord.

He is best remembered today for his comment that "there is something wrong with our bloody ships today" at Jutland, where two of his battlecruisers exploded and sank under German fire exacerbated by design faults and poor strategy. However, some of his critics fault him for mishandling his squadron during the battle.

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USS Colorado (BB-45) steams off lower Manhattan, circa 1932. The battleship had just undergone an overhaul, including the installation of new 5"/25 caliber anti-aircraft guns. She would later provide earthquake relief at Long Beach, California, search for Amelia Earhart, and fight in World War II.
Credit: National Museum of Naval Aviation photo

USS Colorado (BB-45) steams off lower Manhattan, circa 1932. The battleship had just undergone an overhaul, including the installation of new 5"/25 caliber anti-aircraft guns. She would later provide earthquake relief at Long Beach, California, search for Amelia Earhart, and fight in World War II.

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Operation Majestic Titan is the code name for a long-term Wikipedian project with two primary objectives, the first of which is to create the single largest featured topic on Wikipedia, centered around the battleships considered, planned, built, operated, canceled, or otherwise recorded. There are probably a few hundred articles of this nature which will be included, from the earliest pre-dreadnoughts to the last of the dreadnoughts. Once all articles are featured this project will reorient to ensuring that the articles remain up to standard. If you're interested, please view the project page to familiarize yourself with the guidelines, and simply pick an article to improve! There is also ongoing discussion you can participate in.

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