A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. As they were the largest, best-armed and most heavily armored ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a nation's naval power from the late nineteenth century until World War II. With the rise of air power, notably aircraft carriers, battleships were no longer able to establish naval superiority, and so all have been withdrawn from active service. The related battlecruiser, a successor to the armored cruiser, shared the very large main armament, general size, and cost of a battleship of the same generation, but they traded armor or firepower for higher speed.
Battleship design evolved to incorporate and adapt technological advances to maintain an edge. The word battleship was coined around 1794 as a contraction of the phrase line-of-battle ship, the dominant wooden warship during the Age of Sail. It came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, but these are now referred to as "pre-dreadnoughts". In 1906, the launch of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design. Later designs that were influenced by this ship were referred to as "dreadnoughts". Battlecruisers were developed around this time by the British First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher. They were envisioned as being more effective armored cruisers, able to destroy any normal cruiser while being able to outrun any ships capable of sinking them.
By 1910, so-called "super-dreadnoughts" were entering service. In the four years between Dreadnought and the first super-dreadnoughts, the Orion class, displacement had increased by 25% and weight of broadside had doubled. Many battlecruisers and battleships of all varieties served in the First World War, most notably in the Battle of Jutland. None were built between the Nelsons of the early 1920s and the Dunkerques of the early 1930s due to various treaties, but quite a few battleships were constructed shortly before or during World War II. The last, HMS Vanguard, was commissioned just after the war, in 1946.
From this time on, most battleships and all battlecruisers were decommissioned and broken up. France's Jean Bart and Turkey's Yavuz were the last to be scrapped. However, members of the American Iowa class lasted until 1992 to aid troops with fire support; four were deployed in Korea, one in Vietnam, and two to Iraq. Nine battleships exist today as museum ships; eight from the United States, and Japan's Mikasa. (more...)
The dreadnought was the predominant type of 20th-century battleship. The first of the kind, the British HMS Dreadnought had such an impact when launched in 1906 that battleships built after her were referred to as 'dreadnoughts', and earlier battleships became known as pre-dreadnoughts. Her design had two revolutionary features: an 'all-big-gun' armament scheme and steam turbine propulsion. The arrival of the dreadnoughts renewed the naval arms race, principally between Britain and Germany but reflected worldwide, as the new class of warships became a crucial symbol of national power. The concept of an all-big-gun ship had been in development for several years before Dreadnought 's construction. The Imperial Japanese Navy had begun work on an all-big-gun battleship in 1904, but finished the ship as a pre-dreadnought; the United States Navy was also building all-big-gun battleships. Technical development continued rapidly through the dreadnought era. Successive designs increased rapidly in size and made use of improvements in armament, armor, and propulsion. Within ten years, new battleships outclassed Dreadnought herself. These more powerful vessels were known as 'super-dreadnoughts'. Most of the dreadnoughts were scrapped after the end of World War I under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, but many of the newer super-dreadnoughts continued serving through World War II. While dreadnought building consumed vast resources in the early 20th century, there was only one pitched battle between dreadnought fleets. At the Battle of Jutland, the British and German navies clashed with no decisive result. The term 'dreadnought' gradually dropped from use after World War I, especially after the Washington Naval Treaty, as all remaining battleships shared dreadnought characteristics.
Admiral Hugh Rodman, KCB, (6 January 1859 – 7 June 1940) was an officer in the United States Navy who served during the Spanish–American War and World War I. Graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1880, he served on the USS Yantic, Wachusett, Hartford, and Essex. After a tour at the Navy's hydrographic office and the United States Naval Observatory, he began a four year survey of the Alaskan and British Columbian coats in 1891. During the Spanish-American War, he served on USS Raleigh and fought in the Battle of Manila Bay, then returned to survey duties in 1899. From 1901 to 1904, he commanded USS Iroquois in Hawaiian waters, the transferred to the Asiatic Squadron to serve on USS New Orleans, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, and commanded USS Elcano on the Yangtze Patrol.
After attending the Naval War College and acting as Lighthouse Inspector for the 6th Naval District from 1907 to 1909, he commanded the Sangley Point Navy Yard in Cavite, USS Cleveland, Mare Island Navy Yard, USS Connecticut (then flagship of the Atlantic Fleet), and USS Delaware in 1913. After duty as Marine Superintendent of the Panama Canal in 1914, he commanded USS New York (BB-34) and served on the General Board. Promoted to flag officer in 1917, he commanded Battleship Division 9 from New York and joined the British Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow to became the 6th Battle Squadron under Admiral Beatty and operated in the North Sea. After the war, he served with the Atlantic Fleet, until took command of the Pacific Fleet in July 1919, then the 5th Naval District from 1921 to 1922, with a mission to Peru as diplomatic envoy. After serving on an administrative policy board, he retired in 1923 at age 64. He continued to serve the Navy on various missions, such as accompanying President Harding on his ill-fated inspection of Alaska and attending King George VI's coronation.
The USS Rodman (DD-456) and USS Admiral Hugh Rodman (AP-126) were named for him.
Cutaway of a main battery turret of an Iowa-class battleship. The largest of the class' armament, each ship carries three of the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun each on three gun turrets: two forward and one aft in a configuration known as "2-A-1". The guns are 66 feet (20 m) long (50 times their 16-inch (410 mm) bore, or 50 calibers, from breechface to muzzle). About 43 feet (13 m) protrudes from the gun house. Each gun weighs about 239,000 pounds (108 000 kg) without the breech, or 267,900 pounds with the breech.
||Residue was never left in the [16-inch] guns. After each firing, the residue powder was blown out with compressed air. The rifling of each gun had to be checked after firing to ascertain there were no cracks in the tube. I happened to be the unlucky gunner's mate chosen to do this in turret two. I had to actually crawl the complete length of the tube, continuously rotating to search each square inch of the inside surface of the rifling to search for cracks and in the process scraping a fair amount of skin from my shoulders, elbows and knees.
—Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Billy J. Slate, regarding his service aboard USS North Carolina (BB-55)
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.