Instead, most of them were scuttled by their German crews on 21 June 1919 just before the signature of the peace treaty. The treaty also limited the German Navy, and prevented Germany from building or possessing any capital ships.The inter-war period saw the battleship subjected to strict international limitations to prevent a costly arms race breaking out. Sony VAIO PCG-3D1M Battery While the victors were not limited by the Treaty of Versailles, many of the major naval powers were crippled after the war. Faced with the prospect of a naval arms race against the United Kingdom and Japan, which would in turn have led to a possible Pacific war, the United States was keen to conclude the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Sony VAIO PCG-3G2M Battery This treaty limited the number and size of battleships that each major nation could possess, and required Britain to accept parity with the U.S. and to abandon the British alliance with Japan. The Washington treaty was followed by a series of other naval treaties, including theFirst Geneva Naval Conference (1927), Sony VAIO PCG-5R1M Battery the First London Naval Treaty (1930), the Second Geneva Naval Conference (1932), and finally the Second London Naval Treaty (1936), which all set limits on major warships. These treaties became effectively obsolete on 1 September 1939 at the beginning of World War II, but the ship classifications that had been agreed upon still apply. Sony VAIO PCG-7162M Battery The treaty limitations meant that fewer new battleships were launched from 1919–1939 than from 1905–1914. The treaties also inhibited development by putting maximum limits on the weights of ships. Designs like the projected British N3-class battleship, the first American South Dakota class, and the JapaneseKii class—all of which continued the trend to larger ships with bigger guns and thicker armor—never got off the drawing board. Sony VAIO PCG-7181M Battery
Those designs which were commissioned during this period were referred to as treaty battleships.As early as 1914, the British Admiral Percy Scott predicted that battleships would soon be made irrelevant by aircraft.By the end of World War I, aircraft had successfully adopted the torpedo as a weapon. Sony VAIO PCG-41112M Battery
In 1921 the Italian general and air theorist Giulio Douhet completed a hugely influential treatise on strategic bombing titled The Command of the Air, which foresaw the dominance of air power over naval units.In the 1920s, General Billy Mitchell of the United States Army Air Corps, Sony VAIO PCG-7153M Battery believing that air forces had rendered navies around the world obsolete, testified in front of Congress that "1,000 bombardment airplanes can be built and operated for about the price of one battleship" and that a squadron of these bombers could sink a battleship, making for more efficient use of government funds. Sony VAIO PCG-71312M Battery This infuriated the U.S. Navy, but Mitchell was nevertheless allowed to conduct a careful series of bombing tests alongside Navy and Marine bombers. In 1921, he bombed and sank numerous ships, including the "unsinkable" German World War I battleship SMS Ostfriesland and the American pre-dreadnought Alabama. Sony VAIO PCG-7144M Battery Although Mitchell had required "war-time conditions", the ships sunk were obsolete, stationary, defenseless and had no damage control. The sinking of Ostfriesland was accomplished by violating an agreement that would have allowed Navy engineers to examine the effects of various munitions: Mitchell's airmen disregarded the rules, and sank the ship within minutes in a coordinated attack.Sony VAIO PCG-7191L Battery The stunt made headlines, and Mitchell declared, "No surface vessels can exist wherever air forces acting from land bases are able to attack them." While far from conclusive, Mitchell's test was significant because it put proponents of the battleship against naval aviation on the back foot. Rear Admiral William A. Sony VAIO PCG-3C1M Battery
Moffett used public relations against Mitchell to make headway toward expansion of the U.S. Navy's nascent aircraft carrier program.The Royal Navy, United States Navy, and Imperial Japanese Navy extensively upgraded and modernized their World War I–era battleships during the 1930s. Sony VAIO PCG-3F1M Battery Among the new features were an increased tower height and stability for the optical rangefinder equipment (for gunnery control), more armor (especially around turrets) to protect against plunging fire and aerial bombing, and additional anti-aircraft weapons. Some British ships received a large block superstructure nicknamed the "Queen Anne's castle",Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M Battery such as in the Queen Elizabeth and Warspite, which would be used in the new conning towers of the King George V-class fast battleships. External bulges were added to improve both buoyancy to counteract weight increase and provide underwater protection against mines and torpedoes. Sony VAIO PCG-3J1M Battery The Japanese rebuilt all of their battleships, plus their battlecruisers, with distinctive "pagoda" structures, though the Hiei received a more modern bridge tower that would influence the new Yamato-class battleships. Bulges were fitted, including steel tube array to improve both underwater and vertical protection along waterline. Sony VAIO PCG-8141M Battery The U.S. experimented with cage masts and later tripod masts, though after Pearl Harbor some of the most severely damaged ships such as West Virginia and California were rebuilt to a similar appearance to their Iowa-class contemporaries (called tower masts). Radar, which was effective beyond visual contact and was effective in complete darkness or adverse weather conditions, was introduced to supplement optical fire control. Sony VAIO PCG-8161M Battery Even when war threatened again in the late 1930s, battleship construction did not regain the level of importance which it had held in the years before World War I. The "building holiday" imposed by the naval treaties meant that the building capacity of dockyards worldwide was relatively reduced, and the strategic position had changed. Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M Battery In Germany, the ambitious Plan Z for naval rearmament was abandoned in favour of a strategy of submarine warfare supplemented by the use of battlecruisers andBismarck-class battleships as commerce raiders. In Britain, the most pressing need was for air defenses and convoy escorts to safeguard the civilian population from bombing or starvation, Sony VAIO PCG-5N2M Battery and re-armament construction plans consisted of five ships of the King George V class. It was in the Mediterranean that navies remained most committed to battleship warfare. France intended to build six battleships of the Dunkerque and Richelieu classes, and the Italians two Littorio-class ships. Neither navy built significant aircraft carriers. Sony VAIO PCG-5P1M Battery The U.S. preferred to spend limited funds on aircraft carriers until the South Dakota class. Japan, also prioritising aircraft carriers, nevertheless began work on three mammoth Yamato-class ships (although the third, Shinano, was later completed as a carrier) and a planned fourth was cancelled.Sony VAIO PCG-5S1M Battery the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish navy consisted of only two small dreadnought battleships, España and Jaime I. España (originally namedAlfonso XIII), by then in reserve at the northwestern naval base of El Ferrol, fell into Nationalist hands in July 1936. The crew aboard Jaime I murdered their officers, mutinied, and joined the Republican Navy. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M Battery
USS Missouri. Between those two events, it had become clear that aircraft carriers were the new principal ships of the fleet and that battleships now performed a secondary role.
However, clashes between battleships were of little strategic importance. The Battle of the Atlantic was fought between destroyers and submarines, and most of the decisive fleet clashes of the Pacific war were determined by aircraft carriers.