Tuesday, August 6, 2013


battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy 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 vital for any nation which desired to maintain command of the sea. During World War II, aircraft carriers overtook battleships in power. Sony PCG-31211T Battery

Some battleships remained in service during the Cold War and the last were decommissioned in the 1990s.

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.[1] The term came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship,[2]now referred to by historians as pre-dreadnought battleships. Sony PCG-31311T Battery

In 1906, the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design. Following battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts".

Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in bothdiplomacy and military strategy.[3] Sony PCG-51111T Battery

 The global arms race in battleship construction began in Europe, following the 1890 publication of Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660–1783.[4] This arms race culminated at the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905;[5][6] the outcome of which significantly influenced the design of HMS Dreadnought.[7][8] Sony PCG-81111T Battery

The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 commenced a new naval arms race which was widely considered to have been an indirect cause of World War I.[9] The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships, though technical innovation in battleship design continued. Both the Allies and the Axis Powers deployed battleships during World War II. Sony PCG-81311T Battery

The value of the battleship has been questioned, even during the period of their prominence.[10] In spite of the immense resources spent on battleships, there were few pitched battleship clashes. Even with their enormous firepower and protection, battleships were increasingly vulnerable to much smaller, cheaper ordnance and craft: Sony VPCF138FC Battery

initially the torpedo and the naval mine, and later aircraft and the guided missile.[11] The growing range of naval engagements led to the aircraft carrier replacing the battleship as the leadingcapital ship during World War II, with the last battleship to be launched being HMS Vanguard in 1944. Battleships were retained by the United States Navy into the Cold War for fire support purposes.Sony VPCF219FC Battery

The last battleship was finally stricken from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in 2006.

A ship of the line was a large, unarmored wooden sailing ship on which was mounted a battery of up to 120 smoothbore guns and carronades. The ship of the line was a gradual evolution of a basic design that dates back to the 15th century, Sony VPCS135EC Battery

and, apart from growing in size, it changed little between the adoption of line of battle tactics in the early 17th century and the end of the sailing battleship's heyday in the 1830s. From 1794, the alternative term 'line of battle ship' was contracted (informally at first) to 'battle ship' or 'battleship'. Sony VPCS136EC Battery

The sheer number of guns fired broadside meant a sail battleship could wreck any wooden enemy, holing her hull, knocking downmasts, wrecking her rigging, and killing her crew. However, the effective range of the guns was as little as a few hundred yards, so the battle tactics of sailing ships depended in part on the wind. Sony VPCS138EC Battery

The first major change to the ship of the line concept was the introduction of steam power as an auxiliary propulsion system. Steam power was gradually introduced to the navy in the first half of the 19th century, initially for small craft and later for frigates. The French Navy introduced steam to the line of battle with the 90-gun Napoléon in 1850[14]—the first true steam battleship.[15] Sony VPCS139GC Battery

 Napoléon was armed as a conventional ship-of-the-line, but her steam engines could give her a speed of 12 knots (22 km/h), regardless of the wind conditions: a potentially decisive advantage in a naval engagement. The introduction of steam accelerated the growth in size of battleships. Sony VPCYA15EC Battery

France and the United Kingdom were the only countries to develop fleets of wooden steam screw battleships, although several other navies operated small numbers of screw battleships, including Russia (9), Turkey (3), Sweden (2), Naples (1), Denmark (1) and Austria (1).

The adoption of steam power was only one of a number of technological advances which revolutionized warship design in the 19th century. Sony VPCYA16EC Battery

The ship of the line was overtaken by the ironclad: powered by steam, protected by metal armor, and armed with guns firing high-explosive shells.

Guns which fired explosive or incendiary shells were a major threat to wooden ships, and these weapons quickly became widespread after the introduction of 8 inch shell guns as part of the standard armament of French and American line-of-battle ships in 1841.[17] Sony VPCYA25EC Battery

In the Crimean War, six line-of-battle ships and two frigates of the Russian Black Sea Fleet destroyed seven Turkish frigates and three corvettes with explosive shells at the Battle of Sinop in 1853.[18] Later in the war, French ironclad floating batteries used similar weapons against the defenses at the Battle of Kinburn.[19] Sony VPCYA26EC Battery

Nevertheless wooden-hulled ships stood up comparatively well to shells, as shown in the 1866 Battle of Lissa, where the modern Austrian steam two-deckerSMS Kaiser ranged across a confused battlefield, rammed an Italian ironclad and took 80 hits from Italian ironclads,[20] many of which were shells,[21] but including at least one 300 pound shot at point blank range. Sony VPCYB15JC Battery

Despite losing her bowsprit and her foremast, and being set on fire, she was ready for action again the very next day.

The development of high-explosive shells made the use of iron armor plate on warships necessary. In 1859 France launchedGloire, the first ocean-going ironclad warship. Sony VPCYA17GH/R Battery

She had the profile of a ship of the line, cut to one deck due to weight considerations. Although made of wood and reliant on sail for most journeys, Gloire was fitted with a propeller, and her wooden hull was protected by a layer of thick iron armor.[23] Gloire prompted further innovation from the Royal Navy, anxious to prevent France from gaining a technological lead. Sony VPCCW2S8E/W Battery

The superior armored frigate Warrior followed Gloire by only 14 months, and both nations embarked on a program of building new ironclads and converting existing screw ships of the line to armored frigates.[24] Within two years, Italy, Austria,Spain and Russia had all ordered ironclad warships, Sony VPCCW2Z1E/B Battery

and by the time of the famous clash of the USS Monitor and theCSS Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads at least eight navies possessed ironclad ships.

Navies experimented with the positioning of guns, in turrets (like the USS Monitor), central-batteries or barbettes, or with the ram as the principal weapon. As steam technology developed, masts were gradually removed from battleship designs. Sony VPCY11S1E Battery

By the mid-1870s steel was used as a construction material alongside iron and wood. The French Navy's Redoutable, laid down in 1873 and launched in 1876, was a central battery and barbette warship which became the first battleship in the world to use steel as the principal building material. Sony VPCY11S1E/S Battery

The term "battleship" was officially adopted by the Royal Navy in the re-classification of 1892. By the 1890s, there was an increasing similarity between battleship designs, and the type that later became known as the 'pre-dreadnought battleship' emerged. These were heavily armored ships, mounting a mixed battery of guns in turrets, and without sails. Sony VPCW1 Battery

The typical first-class battleship of the pre-dreadnought era displaced 15,000 to 17,000 tons, had a speed of 16 knots (30 km/h), and an armament of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns in two turrets fore and aft with a mixed-caliber secondary battery amidships around the superstructure.[2] An early design with superficial similarity to the pre-dreadnought is the British Devastation class of 1871.[27] Sony VPCW1E8R/BU Battery

The slow-firing 12-inch (305 mm) main guns were the principal weapons for battleship-to-battleship combat. The intermediate and secondary batteries had two roles. Against major ships, it was thought a 'hail of fire' from quick-firing secondary weapons could distract enemy gun crews by inflicting damage to the superstructure, and they would be more effective against smaller ships such as cruisers. Sony VPCY11AGJ Battery

Smaller guns (12-pounders and smaller) were reserved for protecting the battleship against the threat of torpedo attack from destroyers and torpedo boats.[28]

The beginning of the pre-dreadnought era coincided with Britain reasserting her naval dominance. For many years previously, Britain had taken naval supremacy for granted. Sony VPCY11AHJ Battery

Expensive naval projects were criticised by political leaders of all inclinations.[3] However, in 1888 a war scare with France and the build-up of the Russian navy gave added impetus to naval construction, and the British Naval Defence Act of 1889 laid down a new fleet including eight new battleships. Sony VPCY11AVJ Battery

The principle that Britain's navy should be more powerful than the two next most powerful fleets combined was established. This policy was designed to deter France and Russia from building more battleships, but both nations nevertheless expanded their fleets with more and better pre-dreadnoughts in the 1890s.[3] Sony VPCY11M1E Battery

In the last years of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th, the escalation in the building of battleships became an arms race between Britain and Germany. The German naval laws of 1890 and 1898 authorised a fleet of 38 battleships, a vital threat to the balance of naval power.[3] Sony VPCY11S1E Battery

Britain answered with further shipbuilding, but by the end of the pre-dreadnought era, British supremacy at sea had markedly weakened. In 1883, the United Kingdom had 38 battleships, twice as many as France and almost as many as the rest of the world put together. By 1897, Britain's lead was far smaller due to competition from France, Sony VPCY11V9E Battery

Germany, and Russia, as well as the development of pre-dreadnought fleets in Italy, the United States and Japan.[29] Turkey, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Chile and Brazil all had second-rate fleets led by armored cruisers, coastal defence ships or monitors.[30] Sony VPCY11V9E/S Battery

Pre-dreadnoughts continued the technical innovations of the ironclad. Turrets, armor plate, and steam engines were all improved over the years, and torpedo tubes were introduced. A small number of designs, including the American Kearsarge andVirginia classes, experimented with all or part of the 8-inch intermediate battery superimposed over the 12-inch primary. Sony VPCY219FJ/S Battery

Results were poor: recoil factors and blast effects resulted in the 8-inch battery being completely unusable, and the inability to train the primary and intermediate armaments on different targets led to significant tactical limitations. Even though such innovative designs saved weight (a key reason for their inception), they proved too cumbersome in practice. Sony VPCY21AFJ Battery

In 1906, the British Royal Navy launched the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought. Created as a result of pressure from Admiral Sir John ("Jackie") Fisher, HMSDreadnought made existing battleships obsolete. Combining an "all-big-gun" armament of ten 12-inch (305 mm) guns with unprecedented speed (from steam turbine engines) and protection, Sony VPCY21AGJ Battery

she prompted navies worldwide to re-evaluate their battleship building programmes. While the Japanese had laid down an all-big-gun battleship, Satsuma in 1904,[32] and the concept of an all-big-gun ship had been in circulation for several years, it had yet to be validated in combat.Dreadnought sparked a new arms race, Sony VPCY21AHJ Battery

principally between Britain and Germany but reflected worldwide, as the new class of warships became a crucial element of national power.

Technical development continued rapidly through the dreadnought era, with step changes in armament, armor and propulsion. Sony VPCY21AVJ Battery

Ten years after Dreadnought's commissioning, much more powerful ships, the super-dreadnoughts, were being built.

In the first years of the 20th century, several navies worldwide experimented with the idea of a new type of battleship with a uniform armament of very heavy guns. Sony VPCY21S1E/L Battery

Admiral Vittorio Cuniberti, the Italian Navy's chief naval architect, articulated the concept of an all-big-gun battleship in 1903. When the Regia Marina did not pursue his ideas, Cuniberti wrote an article in Jane's proposing an "ideal" future British battleship, a large armored warship of 17,000 tons, armed solely with a single calibre main battery (twelve 12-inch {305 mm} guns), Sony VPCY21S1E/P Battery

carrying 300-millimetre (12 in) belt armor, and capable of 24 knots (44 km/h).[33]

The Russo-Japanese War provided operational experience to validate the 'all-big-gun' concept. At the Yellow Sea and Tsushima, pre-dreadnoughts exchanged volleys at ranges of 7,600–12,000 yd (7 to 11 km), beyond the range of the secondary batteries. Sony VPCY21S1E/SI Battery

It is often held that these engagements demonstrated the importance of the 12-inch (305 mm) gun over its smaller counterparts, though some historians take the view that secondary batteries were just as important as the larger weapons.[3]

In Japan, the two battleships of the 1903-4 Programme were the first to be laid down as all-big-gun designs, Sony VPCCW1E8R/WU Battery

with eight 12-inch guns. However, the design had armor which was considered too thin, demanding a substantial redesign.[34] The financial pressures of the Russo-Japanese War and the short supply of 12-inch guns which had to be imported from Britain meant these ships were completed with a mixed 10- and 12-inch armament. Sony VPCCW1S1E Battery

 The 1903-4 design also retained traditional triple-expansion steam engines.

As early as 1904, Jackie Fisher had been convinced of the need for fast, powerful ships with an all-big-gun armament. If Tsushima influenced his thinking, it was to persuade him of the need to standardise on 12-inch (305 mm) guns.[3] Fisher's concerns were submarines and destroyersequipped with torpedoes, then threatening to outrange battleship guns, making speed imperative for capital ships.[3] Sony  VGP-BPS13 Battery

Fisher's preferred option was his brainchild, the battlecruiser: lightly armored but heavily armed with eight 12-inch guns and propelled to 25 knots (46 km/h) by steam turbines.[36]

It was to prove this revolutionary technology that Dreadnought was designed in January 1905, laid down in October 1905 and sped to completion by 1906. Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13A/B Battery She carried ten 12-inch guns, had an 11-inch armor belt, and was the first large ship powered by turbines. She mounted her guns in five turrets; three on the centerline (one forward, two aft) and two on the wings, giving her at her launch twice the broadside of any other warship. She retained a number of 12-pound (3-inch, 76 mm) quick-firingguns for use against destroyers and torpedo-boats.

Her armor was heavy enough for her to go head-to-head with any other ship in a gun battle, and conceivably win.

Dreadnought was to have been followed by three Invincible-class battlecruisers, their construction delayed to allow lessons from Dreadnought to be used in their design. Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13B/B Battery While Fisher may have intended Dreadnought to be the last Royal Navy battleship,[3] the design was so successful he found little support for his plan to switch to a battlecruiser navy. Although there were some problems with the ship (the wing turrets had limited arcs of fire and strained the hull when firing a full broadside, Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13/S Battery

and the top of the thickest armor belt lay below the waterline at full load), the Royal Navy promptly commissioned another six ships to a similar design in the Bellerophon and St. Vincent classes.

An American design, South Carolina, authorized in 1905 and laid down in December 1906, was another of the first dreadnoughts, but she and her sister, Michigan, were not launched until 1908. Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13A/S Battery

Both used triple-expansion engines and had a superior layout of the main battery, dispensing with Dreadnought's wing turrets. They thus retained the same broadside, despite having two fewer guns.

In 1897, before the revolution in design brought about by HMS Dreadnought, the Royal Navy had 62 battleships in commission or building, a lead of 26 over France and 50 over Germany.[29] Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13B/S Battery In 1906, the Royal Navy owned the field with Dreadnought. The new class of ship prompted an arms race with major strategic consequences. Major naval powers raced to build their own dreadnoughts. Possession of modern battleships was not only vital to naval power, but also, as with nuclear weapons today, represented a nation's standing in the world.[3] Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13/Q Battery

Germany, France, Japan,[38] Italy, Austria, and the United States all began dreadnought programmes; and second-rank powers including Turkey, Argentina, Russia,[38] Brazil, and Chile commissioned dreadnoughts to be built in British and American yards.

The First World War was an anticlimax for the great dreadnought fleets. Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13A/Q Battery There was no decisive clash of modern battlefleets to compare with the Battle of Tsushima. The role of battleships was marginal to the great land struggle in France and Russia; and it was equally marginal to the First Battle of the Atlantic, the battle between German submarines and British merchant shipping. Sony  VAIO VGP-BPS13B/Q Battery By virtue of geography, the Royal Navy could keep the German High Seas Fleet bottled up in the North Sea: only narrow channels led to the Atlantic Ocean and these were guarded by British forces.[39] Both sides were aware that, because of the greater number of British dreadnoughts, a full fleet engagement would be likely to result in a British victory. Sony  VGP-BPS21 Battery The German strategy was therefore to try to provoke an engagement on their terms: either to induce a part of the Grand Fleet to enter battle alone, or to fight a pitched battle near the German coastline, where friendly minefields, torpedo-boats and submarines could be used to even the odds.[40] Sony  VGP-BPS21A Battery The first two years of war saw conflict in the North Sea limited to skirmishes by battlecruisers at the Battle of Heligoland Bight and Battle of Dogger Bank and raids on the English coast. On May 31, 1916, a further attempt to draw British ships into battle on German terms resulted in a clash of the battlefleets in the Battle of Jutland.[41] Sony  VGP-BPS21B Battery

The German fleet withdrew to port after two short encounters with the British fleet. This reinforced German determination never to engage in a fleet to fleet battle.[42]

In the other naval theatres there were no decisive pitched battles. In the Black Sea, engagement between Russian and Turkishbattleships was restricted to skirmishes. Sony  VGP-BPS21/S Battery In the Baltic, action was largely limited to the raiding of convoys, and the laying of defensive minefields; the only significant clash of battleship squadrons there was the Battle of Moon Sound at which one Russian pre-dreadnought was lost. The Adriatic was in a sense the mirror of the North Sea: the Austro-Hungariandreadnought fleet remained bottled up by the British and French blockade. Sony  VGP-BPS21A/b Battery

And in the Mediterranean, the most important use of battleships was in support of the amphibious assault on Gallipoli.[43]

The war illustrated the vulnerability of battleships to cheaper weapons. In September 1914, the potential threat posed tocapital ships by German U-boats was confirmed by successful attacks on British cruisers, Sony VGP-BPS26 Battery including the sinking of three British armored cruisers by the German submarine SM U-9 in less than an hour. Sea mines proved a threat the next month, when the recently commissioned British super-dreadnought Audacious struck a mine and sank. By the end of October, the British had changed their strategy and tactics in the North Sea to reduce the risk of U-boat attack.[44] Sony VGP-BPL26 Battery The German plan for the Battle of Jutland relied on U-boat attacks on the British fleet; and the escape of the German fleet from the superior British firepower at Jutland was effected by the German cruisers and destroyers closing on British battleships, causing them to turn away to avoid the threat of torpedo attack.[45] Sony VGP-BPS26A Battery

 Further near-misses from submarine attacks on battleships and casualties amongst cruisers led to growing concern in the Royal Navy about the vulnerability of battleships.

The German High Seas Fleet, for their part, were determined not to engage the British without the assistance of submarines; Sony VGP-BPS22 Battery and since the submarines were needed more for raiding commercial traffic, the fleet stayed in port for the remainder of the war.[46] Other theatres equally showed the role of small craft in damaging or destroying dreadnoughts: SMS Szent István of the Austro-Hungarian Navy was sunk by Italian motor torpedo boats in June 1918, while her sister ship,SMS Viribus Unitis, Sony VGP-BPL22 Battery

was sunk by frogmen. The Allied capital ships lost in Gallipoli were sunk by mines and torpedo,[47] while a Turkish pre-dreadnought,Mesûdiye, was caught in the Dardanelles by a British submarine.

For many years, Germany simply had no battleships. Sony VGP-BPS22A Battery

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