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 Definition A heavily-armored, warship optimized for fighting other warships using large-caliber guns; certain armor requirements differentiated from cruisers; obsolete by end of World War II. [d] [e]


Howard, isn't this definition redundant?

"A heavily-armored, warship optimized for fighting other warships using large-caliber guns; certain armor requirements differentiated from cruisers; obsolete by end of World War II."

Yes, tonnage plays a role in the definition of a battleship. To my way of thinking, a battleship is a heavy, all-big-gun ship descendant in design from the HMS ''Dreadnought''. We don't need to get an all inclusive definition (some were fast some were slow; and then there was the Battlecruiser variant, and the pocket battleship), but one that covers just the essentials. And, yes, there was a universal naval doctrine that like ships fight like ships. And come to think of it, some battleships just didn't have the armor (HMS Lion comes to mind); or were these classified as battlecruisers? And then there was the USS Alaska and Guam; the Graf Spee and sisters. Hey, I just thought about the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships. How do they define a battleship? Russell D. Jones 19:17, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Not tonnage, armor and guns. Still, I think it's more logical to class battlecruisers with battleships. "Pocket battleships" were really cruisers.
No, it's not all-big-gun. That was the definition of HMS Dreadnought (1905); pre-Dreadnought battleships had mixed calibers of guns intended to fight large ships &mdash I tend to think of the start of "big" as 12"/300mm; a 9.2 or 8" gun seemed intended to fight cruisers while fighting battleships. John Arbuthnot Fisher arguably was a pioneer in operations research for actually challenging the assumptions.
Nevertheless, all-big-gun evolved. There remained only one caliber of gun intended to fight capital ships, but the standard evolved to secondary and tertiary batteries first to defend against fast torpedo vessels, and then aircraft.
Lion was a BC. Alaska and Guam were "CB" large cruisers, for which a mission never was clear. There was some argument that the Iowa-class battleships (Iowa, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Missouri) should either be distinguished as "fast battleships" or even BCs, as they were much faster than the cancelled followon class of heavier Montana-class. Nevertheless, while the Iowa never faced a Yamato, there's a fair argument that the Iowas, even though having 16" rather than 18.1" main guns, could have taken a Yamato -- their guns were more energetic, their speed and fire control was superior, and postwar analysis showed the Japanese armor was flawed.
Most references rate a battleship as immune to shells of its own main battery, within certain constraints, where a battlecruiser could not take a hit from its own guns. Obviously, "immune" has to be taken in context, as any battleship could be hammered to scrap by enough shells.
"Pocket battleship" never had a very good meaning. Graf Spee, however, was an effective commerce raider, which seems to have been the intended purpose. Note that she was mission-killed by two light cruisers and a heavy cruiser at the Battle of the River Plate.
Some like to call the Kirov-class battlecruisers, but that just doesn't fit. Their guns are modest but their missiles fierce. Still, a Burke-class destroyer probably could have taken a Yamato using SM-2 missiles in surface-to-surface mode.
What of this belongs in the article? Howard C. Berkowitz 19:43, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
All of it, no? I don't think it wise to re-write the classification of battleships (or all ships for that matter). More thought had been given to this by smarter people than I. That's why I mentioned the DAFS. It also just occurred to me that both the Washington and London Conferences must have addressed this definitional issue. So I guess my point is that there are definitions out there already. The exceptions (Alaska, Graf Spee, etc.) are exceptions in the sense that they bent the already established definitions. So, yes, exceptions should be discussed too. Russell D. Jones 20:19, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually, the only thing the Washington and London treaties defined precisely was heavy cruiser. There were limits on battleships, but not definitions. Aircraft carriers were fairly softly defined, which, in part, is why that a number of heavy ships under construction (e.g., Lexington-class started as battlecruisers) became carriers. There was one bizarre exception that I'd need to look up -- a Japanese BB (Nagano?) was paid for by childrens' contributions and sentimental modification was made so they could keep it.
I don't think, however, that I'm creating my own definitions, as much as synthesizing. Much of the Dreadnought discussion came from Massey's book, but I worked in later perspectives so it wasn't purely in WWII terms. Dreadnought (1905) was well defined, but the Montana vs. Yamato vs. Iowa debates continue on naval forums; with occasional digressions into "could an Iowa take a Kirov" and the Japanese refloating a flying Yamato in whatever-movie-it-was. DANFS is OK, but not as authoritative as some USNI and other publications, as well as naval research literature. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:25, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Approval via History Workgroup

Since I see no indication any other Military Editors are likely to be active soon, would anyone object to my adding the History Workgroup and trying for Approval there? There's always more that can go into subarticles, but I believe destroyer, cruiser and battleship are in decent shape. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:45, 20 May 2010 (UTC)