The Iowa class battleship is the largest ship to ever use the Panama Canal.
Battleships had been the capital ships of fleets in terms of historic navies since their invention. The sheer size, power, and armor made them fearsome foes. Whether it’s a wooden man o’ war or a steel dreadnought, battleships dominated the seas, until WW2 came around.
The great world powers had been in competition with one another since before World War One in terms of who could create the largest, most powerful steel battleship to sail the seas.
In World War One, the navies of the allies and central powers rarely clashed, and in the one major naval battle between Great Britain and Germany, the Battle of Jutland, both sides claimed to have secured victory in the overall stalemate.
During the inter-war period, the world powers again put loads of effort and resources into producing larger and larger battleships to “rule the seas”. When war broke out, there was an array of battleship variants from each nation, each taking a different spin on things.
Great Britain had the HMS Prince of Wales, the United States the USS Arizona, Germany the Bismarck and Tirpitz, Japan the Yamato and Musashi, and France the Richelieu. These iron behemoths would see limited action during the war, and most would be sunk by aircraft from the new capital and decisive element of a fleet: the aircraft carrier.
Aircraft carriers were so pivotal because they could transport and launch warplanes anywhere on earth and attack vulnerable enemy convoys or fleets that did not have good air cover. You could load as many anti-aircraft guns as you desired on a battleship (@yamamoto) but in the end the bombs and the torpedos will eventually slip through. Furthermore, when you lose a battleship it is a loss of tens of millions of dollars whereas the loss of even a whole carrier-load of aircraft is much less.
It simply became not worth it to invest so much in a slow mongering war machine that had passed in prime time.
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