A battleship is a large, heavily armored warship with a main gun battery consisting of the largest calibre of guns generally firing 12 to 18 inch diameter shells. Battleships were larger, better armed, and better armored than cruisers and destroyers. The last battleships were withdrawn from possible service in 2006.
Battleship design continually evolved to incorporate and adapt technological advances to maintain an edge. The word battleship was coined around 1794 and is a shortened form of 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 as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906, the launch of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design, and subsequent types were referred to as dreadnoughts.
Battleships were a potent symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. The global arms race in battleship construction in the early 20th century was one of the causes of World War I, which saw a clash of huge battle fleets at the Battle of Jutland. The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships but did not end the evolution of design. Both the Allies and the Axis Powers deployed battleships of old construction and new during World War II.
Nevertheless, some historians and naval theorists question the value of the battleship. The Battle of Tsushima was the only decisive clash between steel battleship fleets and, apart from the indecisive Battle of Jutland, there were few great dreadnought clashes. Despite their great firepower and protection, dreadnoughts were increasingly vulnerable to much smaller, cheaper ordnance and craft: initially the torpedo and the naval mine, and later aircraft and the guided missile. The growing range of engagement led to the battleship’s replacement as the leading type of warship by the aircraft carrier during World War II; battleships were retained by the United States Navy into the Cold War only for fire support purposes. The last battleships were removed from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in March 2006.Battle Of Trafalgar 1805
The Battle of Trafalgar was a historic sea battle between the British Royal Navy fleet of 27 ships of the line which defeated the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy of 33 ships of the line. It was fought on 21 October 1805 west of Cape Trafalgar in south-west Spain.
The French and Spanish lost 22 ships, while the British lost none in the most decisive naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars. The British commander Admiral Lord Nelson died late in the battle. Since then he has been considered one of Britain's greatest naval heroes.
It was part of the War of the Third Coalition, and a pivotal naval battle of the 19th century. The British victory spectacularly confirmed the naval supremacy that Britain had established during the 18th century. However, by the time it was fought, Napoleon had abandoned his plans to invade southern England and instead was defeating the other two major powers of the time, Austria and Russia in Central Europe at the Battle Of Austerlitz.Battle Of Hampton Roads 1861 Battle Of Tsushima 1905
This was the only decisive battle between steel battle fleets in history. The Russian fleet sailed 18000 miles from European waters toward their base on the Pacific at Vladivostok during the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese war. The Japanese fleet intercepted them in the relatively narrow Tsushima straight to the south west of Japan. The superior training, tactics and speed of the Japanese fleet allowed them "cross the T" twice to destroy almost the entire Russian fleet, with the remnants surrendering. More information at WikipediaBattle Of Jutland 1916
The Battle of Jutland was the major naval battle of World War I fought between the British Royal Navy and The German Imperial Fleet. An initial action between battlecruiser fleets led to a full engagement by both battle fleets in which the British achieved tactical surprise, and "crossed the T" of the German fleet, but skillful manouvers by the German fleet commander and the poor visibility and oncoming darkness allowed the German fleet to disenage and escape back to the safety of port. More information at WikipediaHood vs Bismarck 1941
HMS Hood, although a relatively lightly armored battlecruiser, was the pride of the British fleet. Together with the newly commissioned battleship Prince of Wales, she took the fight to the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen which were attempting to break out into the Atlantic ocean to attack merchant shipping. Two earlier British battlecruisers had suffered magazine explosions at Jutland and Hood was refitted with another inch of steel plate above her magazines, but it was not enough and Admiral Holland in Hood attempted to close the range to Bismarck to prevent plunging shellfire which he knew was Hood's vulnerability. After only a few salvoes, Hood was hit, probably in the aft magazine for the 4 inch guns, causing a huge propellant fire and plume of flame just aft of the main mast. The explosion and fire probably spread within seconds to the aft 15 inch gun magazine, which exploded and blew the ship in half.What remained of the stern sank quickly, and the bow reared up as the forward section of Hood also sank quickly taking all but 3 of her crew down. Prince of Wales had to change course quickly to avoid Hood's wreckage, and continued the fight for a few more salvoes, but was soon hit and outnumbered, and unable to return fire adequately her commander decided to turn away and make smoke rather than sacrifice his ship.
Bismarck had received several hits and although not badly damaged Admiral Lutjens decided to make for Brest in north western France for repairs. The Bismarck never made it as almost every British asset in the North Atlantic was ordered to track her down and sink her. Despite some serious errors by British forces (torpedo failures, torpedoing their own ship, and a navigation error - "joining the reciprocal club" - that resulted in the British capital ships steering away from Bismarck for several hours) Biskmark was hit in the stern by a torpedo, and despite desparate attempts at a repair, was unable to steer a true course and was doomed to steam in circles as the British fleet caught up. Bismarck was bombarded for hours by the King George V and the Rodney as well as receiving more torpedo hits, but was eventually scuttled by her remaining crew to avoid further carnage. A diving expedition to Bismarck's wreck showed that the British gunfire was unable to penetrate Bismarck's armor.
Animation Of Hood vs. Bismarck
Explosion Of HMS Barham, November 1941There is a remarkable video of the explosion of the battleship HMS Barham's magazine after she was torpedoed in the Mediterranean, about six months after the sinking of Hood and Bismarck, with the loss of 859 of her crew.
The first battle between carrier forces in which the opposing ships never sighted each other directly was the beginning of the end of the battleship and demostrated the rise of airpower. Tactically it was a Japanese victory, but the action prevented the further southern expansion of the Japanese invasion of the Pacific.Battle Of Midway 1942 Battle Of Leyte Gulf 1944