Portal:Battleships

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Introduction

The firepower of a battleship demonstrated by USS Iowa (c. 1984). The muzzle blasts distort the ocean surface.

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.

The term battleship came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, now referred to by historians as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906, the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design. Subsequent battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts", though the term eventually became obsolete as they became the only type of battleship in common use.

Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. A global arms race in battleship construction began in Europe in the 1890s and culminated at the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, the outcome of which significantly influenced the design of HMS Dreadnought. The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 commenced a new naval arms race. Three major fleet actions between steel battleships took place: the decisive battles of the Yellow Sea (1904) and Tsushima (1905) during the Russo-Japanese War, and the inconclusive Battle of Jutland (1916) during the First World War. Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war, and it was the last major battle fought primarily by battleships in world history.


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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 Bismarck and German cruiser Prinz Eugen, the Battle of the Denmark Strait left Hood sunk after a magazine explosion. The loss of the "pride of the navy" led to the order to "sink the Bismarck!"

Selected biography

photograph of Captain Bey in 1940, wearing the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Konteradmiral Erich Bey (23 March 1898 – 26 December 1943) was a German naval officer who most notably served as a commander of the Kriegsmarine's destroyer forces and died during the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst at the Battle of North Cape. Joining the Kaiserliche Marine on 13 June, 1916, he served on destroyers and earned the Iron Cross during World War I, and continued through the transformation into the Reichsmarine and Kriegsmarine. As a commander at the outbreak of World War II, he commanded the 4th Destroyer Flotilla under Friedrich Bonte, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during the Battles of Narvik. Promoted, he succeeded Bonte (who had been killed in the battle), and successfully screened for Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Prinz Eugen during the Channel Dash.

Promoted to rear admiral on 25 December 1943, Bey led a task force, consisting of Scharnhorst and the destroyers Z29, Z30, Z33, Z34, and Z38 out of Alta Fjord in Operation Ostfront. Intending to intercept the Allied Convoy JW-55B en route to Murmansk, he encountered a superior Royal Navy force led by HMS Duke of York (17). In the ensuing battle, Scharnhorst was sunk with only 36 of 1,968 of her crew rescued. His British counterpart, Admiral Bruce Fraser, later told his officers, "I hope that if any of you are ever called upon to lead a ship into action against an opponent many times superior, you will command your ship as gallantly as Scharnhorst was commanded today".

Read more about Erich Bey • Archives

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A launch rescues a seaman from the burning USS West Virginia (BB-48) after the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred, the ship having sustained several torpedo and bomb hits, as well as fire damage from nearby USS Arizona. Doris Miller would famously become the first African American Navy Cross recipient for his role in the battle. Though damaged enough to settle on the bottom of the harbor, the West Virginia was repaired, refloated, and sent to fight in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
Credit: United States Navy image at Library of Congress archive

A launch rescues a seaman from the burning USS West Virginia (BB-48) after the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred, the ship having sustained several torpedo and bomb hits, as well as fire damage from nearby USS Arizona. Doris Miller would famously become the first African American Navy Cross recipient for his role in the battle. Though damaged enough to settle on the bottom of the harbor, the West Virginia was repaired, refloated, and sent to fight in the Pacific Theater of World War II.

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Battlecruisers of GermanyBayern-class battleshipsIndefatigable-class battlecruisersIowa-class battleshipsKönig-class battleshipsRivadavia-class battleshipsTosa-class battleshipsYamato-class battleships

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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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