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 word battleship was coined around 1794 and is a contraction of the phrase line-of-battle ship, the dominant wooden warship during the Age of Sail. The term 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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Royal Oak sits at rest near a shoreline, 1937

HMS Royal Oak (pennant number 08) was a Revenge-class battleship of the British Royal Navy. Launched in 1914 and completed in 1916, Royal Oak saw action in First World War at the Battle of Jutland. In the inter-war period, she served in the Atlantic, Home and Mediterranean fleets, coming under accidental attack on more than one occasion. The ship became the centre of worldwide attention in 1928 when her senior officers were controversially court-martialled. During a twenty-five year career, attempts to modernise Royal Oak could not address her fundamental lack of speed, and by the start of the Second World War, she was no longer suited to front-line duty. Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland on 14 October 1939 when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47, becoming the first of the five Royal Navy battleships and battlecruisers sunk in the war. Although the sinking made little difference to the naval balance of power, it considerably affected wartime morale. The raid made an immediate celebrity and war hero out of the U-boat commander, Günther Prien, who became the first Kriegsmarine submarine officer to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. To the British, the raid demonstrated that the Germans were capable of bringing the naval war to their home waters, and the shock resulted in rapidly arranged changes to dockland security. Now lying almost upside-down in 30 m (98 ft) of water with her hull 5 m (16 ft) beneath the surface, Royal Oak is a designated war grave. In an annual ceremony to mark the loss of the ship, Royal Navy divers place a White Ensign underwater at her stern. Unauthorised divers are prohibited from approaching the wreck at any time.

Selected biography

Lütjens aboard a ship as a Vizeadmiral in April 1940

Günther Lütjens (25 May 1889 - 27 May 1941) was a German admiral whose military service spanned almost three decades, most well known for his actions during World War II, especially his command of the Operation Rheinübung sortie. Joining the Kaiserliche Marine in 1907, he served aboard the SMS Freya, Elsass, and König Wilhelm, then commanded several torpedo boats until the end of World War I, earning the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. In 1921, he joined the Reichsmarine, serving in and eventually commanding the 3rd Torpedo Boat Flotilla and Karlsruhe. In 1936, Lütjens was appointed Chief of Personnel of the Kriegsmarine, then assigned as Führer der Torpedoboote the next year.

When World War II erupted, he was Commander of Scouting Forces in Operation Weserübung, notably the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau (using the latter as his flagship), then promoted to Commander of Battleships and third Flottenchef. Rheinübung originally planned for all four battleships (Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and Tirpitz) to make a raid into the Atlantic, but ultimately sailed with only Bismarck and Prinz Eugen on 19 May, 1941. On 24 May, his ships were intercepted by HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales at the Battle of the Denmark Strait, in which Hood was famously sunk. Furious at the loss of their most powerful ship, the Royal Navy began a dogged pursuit that ultimately sunk the Bismarck and killed Lütjens on 27 May. The German destroyer Lütjens (D185), lead ship of the Lütjens-class destroyers of the modern German Navy, would be named for him.

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The Japanese battleship Ise with after her 1935 conversion. Sustaining considerable losses at the Battle of Midway, the Japanese navy converted some of its oldest battleships to aircraft carriers, including the Ise class. The two aft 356 mm (14 in) gun turrets were replaced by a small flight deck and hangar to launch a squadron of aircraft. Note the distinctive pagoda mast.
Credit: Imperial Japanese Navy photo

The Japanese battleship Ise with after her 1935 conversion. Sustaining considerable losses at the Battle of Midway, the Japanese navy converted some of its oldest battleships to aircraft carriers, including the Ise class. The two aft 356 mm (14 in) gun turrets were replaced by a small flight deck and hangar to launch a squadron of aircraft. Note the distinctive pagoda mast.

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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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