Last of the American Battlewagons
USS Iowa (BB-61) being prepared for her launching from the New York Shipyards, Brooklyn, August 27, 1942.
Representing the first of the last line of American battleships ever built, and one of the last of the final battleship class globally to ever see action (but not the last to be commissioned), USS Iowa was ordered (along with USS New Jersey) on July 1, 1939; two months before the outbreak of WW2, and over two years before hostilities erupted with the Empire of Japan. A time when the battleship was, too many, still very much relevant, and a key instrument in terms of sea power.
At the time of the launching of USS Iowa, the Imperial Japanese Navy and the U.S. Navy and other Allied warships were fighting hard for supremacy at sea in the Solomons around the little known Island of Guadalcanal. Engagements that occurred mainly at night were often classic gun battles between duelling armoured warships reflecting a type of sea warfare that had prevailed for centuries. In fact one of the last battleship vs. battleship engagements in history occurred during the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on the night of November 14/15, 1942, when USS South Dakota (BB-57) and USS Washington (BB-56) clashed at relatively close range with the Imperial Japanese Kongō-class battleship Kirishima.
By the mid-Spring of 1944, USS Iowa (BB-61) and all three of her IOWA-class sister ships built were in service, however none of them would ever get the chance to test the capability of their 16" guns, armour, and speed against another battleship; the very thing they were designed to tackle.
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