The term battleship came into 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 into the United Kingdom's Royal Navy heralded a revolution in the field of battleship design. Subsequent battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts", though the term eventually became obsolete as dreadnoughts 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 long-range gunnery duel at the Battle of the Yellow Sea in 1904, the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905 (both during the Russo-Japanese War) and the inconclusive Battle of Jutland in 1916, during the First World War. Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of dreadnoughts of the war, and it was the last major battle in naval history fought primarily by battleships.
The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships, though technical innovation in battleship design continued. Both the Allied and Axis powers built battleships during World War II, though the increasing importance of the aircraft carrier meant that the battleship played a less important role than had been expected in that conflict. (Full article...)
SMS Von der Tann was the first battlecruiser built for the German Kaiserliche Marine, as well as Germany's first major turbine-powered warship. At the time of her construction, Von der Tann was the fastest dreadnought-type warship afloat, capable of reaching speeds of more than 27 knots (50 km/h). Built by Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, Von der Tann was designed in response to the British Invincible class. While the German design had slightly lighter guns—28 cm (11 in), compared to the 30.5 cm (12 in) Mark X mounted on the British ships—Von der Tann was faster and significantly better-armoured. She set the precedent of German battlecruisers carrying much heavier armour than their British equivalents, albeit at the cost of smaller guns. The ship participated in a number of fleet actions during the First World War, including the Battle of Jutland, where she destroyed the British battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable. Von der Tann was hit several times by large-calibre shells, but the damage was quickly repaired and the ship returned to the fleet in two months. Following the end of the war in 1918, Von der Tann, along with most of the High Seas Fleet, was interned at Scapa Flow pending a decision by the Allies as to the fate of the fleet. The ship met her end when the fleet was scuttled in 1919 to prevent them falling into British hands. The wreck of Von der Tann was raised in 1930, and scrapped at Rosyth from 1931 to 1934.
Image 14Schematic section of a typical pre-dreadnought battleship with an armoured upper and middle deck and side belt (red), lateral protective coal bunkers (grey), and a double-bottom of watertight compartments. The machinery was arranged in the protected internal void. (from Pre-dreadnought battleship)
Image 18Punch cartoon from May 1876 showing Britannia dressed in the armor of an ironclad with the word Inflexible around her collar and addressing the sea god Neptune. Note the ram sticking out of Britannia's breast plate. The caption reads: OVER-WEIGHTED. Britannia. "Look here, Father Nep! I can't stand it much longer! Who's to 'rule the waves' in this sort of thing?" (from Ironclad warship)
Image 19HMS Dreadnought shows the low freeboard typical for early ironclad turret-ships. This ship, launched in 1875, should not be confused with her famous successor, launched in 1906, marking the end of the pre-dreadnought era. (from Pre-dreadnought battleship)
Image 25A plan of Bellerophon(1907) showing the armament distribution of early British dreadnoughts. The main battery is in twin turrets, with two on the "wings"; the light secondary battery is clustered around the superstructure. (from Dreadnought)
Image 39This section of SMS Bayern shows a typical dreadnought protection scheme, with very thick armour protecting the turrets, magazines and engine spaces tapering away in less vital areas (from Dreadnought)
Image 47Mikasa, a typical pre-dreadnought in many respects; note the positioning of secondary and tertiary batteries, and the concentration of armour on turrets and engineering spaces (from Pre-dreadnought battleship)
Image 71The gun trials of the Brazilian dreadnought Minas Geraes in 1910, where all the guns capable of training to the port side were fired, forming what was at that time the heaviest broadside ever fired from a warship (from Dreadnought)
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.