23 June 2013

FWS Ships of the Line:The Battleship and Battlecruiser

 Prior to the modern era of naval warfare, where aircraft carriers are now the dominating force of military control of the high seas, the fate of nations were decided by their battleships. These heavily armed and armored warships would fire massive shells at their enemies on the water or on land, and were the pride of their respected nations. However, by World War II, the importance of sea-based airpower shifted away priority from the battleship, and setting up the demise of these types of warships. The last of the battleship were retired from service in the 1990's, and there doesn't seem to be a call for their return to service. However, that is not so in science fiction war stories, where the battleship is still alive and well kicking ass in outer space. In the continuing series devoted to the combat starship classes, FWS will be covering the Battleship and the Battlecruiser.  

What is Difference between the Battlecruiser and the Battleship?
The two terms are often confused and used interchangeably, especially in sci-fi space combat games and general sci-fi sources. The majority of the time when someone or something is labeling a badass space warship a battlecruiser is actually battleship. The battleship is designed for war and to show the flag. They are the offensive punch of the fleet formation, and design to pound their targets with long-ranged naval artillery, while having the armor to withstand the enemy's onslaught, speed is a only third consideration. That is not so with the battlecruiser. While the armament layout tends to be the same or very similar to the battleship, armor was sacrificed for the sake of speed.
The HMS Hood of the Second World War was the final battlecruiser, however, the Cold War Soviet Kirov class had the label of battlecruiser. On top of the whole battleship/battlecruiser label debate, there is the "fast battleship" around the time of World War One. To me, when I used to watch ST: DS9, the battlecruiser reminds me of the Defiant. It rushes into the middle of the fray, blazing away with powerful weapons, while relaying on speed and weapons for survival. The battleship is the bruiser of the flotilla, it lays down naval artillery, and it the fire-focus of the enemy, much like the Galaxy class or Excelsior class.

The Combat Role of the Battleship/Battlecruiser
Simply put, the battleship for a number of years, was the apex of a nation's seapower (today is the aircraft carrier). It was to be the sweeper of the seas, cast away enemy warships, and controlling the sea lanes. These were, until the carrier, the most expensive naval ship, and symbol of their nation. While the battlecruiser was envisioned by the British navy during the opening years of the 20th century as a "second class battleship", that was able to launch rapid attacks with generous firepower. When the battlecruisers were originally ordered in 1906, they were commanded to do 21 knots (about 25 MPH) and mount 12inch guns. The British First Sea Lord laid down the role of the battlecruiser for us as well: Pursuit of enemy warships, protection of commerce ships, close support for the battle fleet, and heavy sea-recon. The battlecruiser was viewed as a cheaper warship during the heady days of the international Dreadnought dick-measuring contest by the European powers prior to Word War One.   

The History of the Battleship and the Battlecruiser

From Wood to Steel
When the nations of Europe established colonial empires, there was a growing need to increase security to prevent interruptions with international trade and invasion of the physical colonial site. This fell on the great wood and canvas sailing ships with their rows of cannons. The British, while late to the party of conquest and colonies in the New World, they nevertheless became the chief masters of the oceans for two centuries. In order to retain this global imperium, there was development of warships like the man-of-war that could pound an enemy warship into submission. We can all thank King Henry the VIII for the standing navy and the template for the future battleship with his fighting ships like the Mary Rose, that like most sailing ships, was not a dual-role vessel. The Mary Rose did not serve has a cargo vessel.
Alexandra Hildred of the Mary Rose Trust called this Tutor-era warship, "an embryonic battleship." After two centuries, the children of the Mary Rose, like the HMS Victory, where monsters of wood and sail that were designed to be floating naval artillery. Their target were other ships-of-the-line, that mounted similar weapons and purpose. These Man-of-War ships were much more than simple technology, the skill and dispine of their gunnery crews with a good commander could place one ship-of-the-line above another...just watch Master and Commander. By the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution, the era of the wood sail warship was out, and steam power was in.
In the 1830's, steam power was already powering cargo vessels, and when the French navy began the process of using steam powered paddle wheels, the British followed. However, paddle wheels were an easy target, and given where the paddle wheel needed to be placed, it hindered gun placement and lessening the number of guns that could be carried. The short term solution for this issue was steam powered paddle naval towers. Yep, you read that right. During the nascent introduction of steam power, sailing battleships were towed by paddle steamers. In the 1840's, the steam-powered propeller (AKA underwater screw) was developed along with metallic hulls. While the propeller was adopted, the metal hull was not by Britain, until the French the first metal-hull warship in 1859, the Le Glorie. 
This caused the British navy to field the HMS Warrior. Steam power was also interconnected with the French invention of the Paixhans gun that allowed explosive shells to be fired, altering naval warfare. Along with Paixhans guns was the invention of naval turrets in the 1860's, used in the USS Monitor in 1862, and started the moving away from banks of naval guns that caused the ship to be moved for gunnery consideration. that famous dual between iron-hull warships was a test case for the future of naval warfare. This led to the wide-scale adoption of the turret gun. Then the last gasp of the old ship-of-the-line, wood construction died off as the primary building material in battleships with the launch of the French battleship Redoutable in 1876. Battleships became the testbest for new technologies as one navy tried to outmatch their rival on the seas.

The 'Dreadnought'-era
In 1892, the British Navy formally adopted the term 'battleship', and between the late 1890's and the emergence of the HMS Dreadnought in 1906, the metal hull steam powered battleship was the king of the high seas. Battleships and naval power as a whole became increasing more important, causing nations to invest heavily in construction, training, and industrial infrastructure in order to field a modern naval force. The United States is a good example of this. By the 1890's, the US Navy did not have a single ship of war, and with increasing economic activity, there was real concern that a powerful navy could take New York away without much of a fight. In some ways, the battleship was the tool that allowed the empire-builders to keep colonial holdings...without a modern fleet, there could be no empire.
With the rise of Germany has the second largest navy in the world, the British had to up the game with the "all big gun" battleship with the launch of the HMS Dreadnought in 1906. Of course, the Dreadnought would become their classification of naval warship, for this time, the "all-big-guns" warship was the battleship that nations developed in a fever of one-upmanship that plagued Europe and set the table for the First World War. Instead of grand armies, these nations of Europe had rulers envisioning great floating beasts teeming in massive naval artillery cannons. While the Dreadnought class warships were the focus of development and funding, these navies still had older, pre-Dreadnought battleships that served along sides these leviathans.
What stopped the naval insanity was World War One, specifically, the Battle of the Jutlands, when these expensive beasts were not as effective as originally thought, despite the massive volume of fire. Not only did this seal the fate of the Dreadnought, but it called into question of the future of the battleship. The battle of the Jutlands displayed the strength and weakness of these "all big gun" battleships. They had the long range naval to put great volumes of shells raining down on their enemy. However, there was more art than science to direct these amount of steel and shot on the watery battlefield. There was no radar, communication was via flags. Simply put, while the gunnery technology had progressed, there was not enough developed in commander & control systems to allow for the proper and effective usage of this naval artillery. After that 1916 battle, the Imperial German navy turned to the more effective (and cheaper) U-Boat for naval operations, and would engage the royal navy unless there were U-boats in support.  After the war, treaties limited the number of battleships that major naval powers could put to sea, and Germany suffered the most from these restrictions, but universal all major military powers suffered after the war.

Their Last Battlefield

The rise of airpower and the end of the battleship were predicted as early as 1914 by British Admiral Percy Scott, but the development of naval air power and the Second War World did not come in time to completely eliminate the need for the battleship. Throughout the water, battleships, and battlecruisers would serve on the frontlines. By the end of the war, more than half of battleship lost in the Second World War were from air power, including the largest battleship ever put to sea, the Imperial Japanese Yamato. This was more true in the Pacific battlefield than the Atlantic, where there engagements between warships still existed.
The last engagement between battleships came during the October 24th, 1944 during the battle of Surigao Strait in the Pacific, when US battleships destroyed Japanese battleships. The last duty of the WWII battleship came on September 2, 1945 when the Missouri (BB-63) was the site of the Imperial Japan's surrender in Tokyo Bay. As Paul Stillwell, director of the history division for the US naval institute, "the Missouri symbolized the power and might of the United States...there could be no doubt which nation was the victory and which was the vanquished."
With the nuclear age upon the military, the abilities of the aircraft carrier, and submarines, battleships began to disappear, and only the United Stated kept them in use. During Korean and Vietnam War, the Iowa class battleships served as shore bombardment, and to support a beach landing. During the battleships time on the line, they fired six time more rounds than they did in World War II. New role for the battleship was as a fire support vessel that would operate in either a battleship battle group or carrier battle group, and was refitted with modern naval technological: offensive cruise missiles,  improved radar,and Phalanx defensive systems.
It was during the 1991 Gulf War, that these systems were put to the test, and last shells were fired from the great cannons of the American battleships. The Missouri and Wisconsin fired both 16inch shells and Tomahawk missiles at targets on Iraq and Kuwait, and this would close the era of the battleship and battlecruiser. By the 1990's, the last two battleships were retired, but two were kept in mothballs...just in case of alien invasion.   

Why Are Battleships Obsolete?
Four main factors have resulted in the end of the battleship: aircraft carriers, money, detection systems, and the range of modern naval weaponry.  Even today, if a battleship was able to get within range of an aircraft carrier, its guns could crush a Nimitz class, and the carrier lacks the offensive arms to deal with the battleship, due to most the carrier's armament are geared towards defensive operations against incoming hostile aircraft, and not incoming warships. What prevents this scenario from occurring is that any threat, like incoming warship, would be detected many miles out, well beyond the range of the battleship's guns, and fighters would be dispatched to deal with the threat. An battleship's AAA defensive would be easily overwhelmed with the weaponry of modern strike aircraft.
Even if our carrier has their fighters on a strike, the support cruisers could launch missiles that would intercept the incoming threat many miles away. Soon, the US Navy will be mount seaborne railguns, that would be the closes gunnery system to the old battleship cannons, and they could attack targets hundreds of miles away. By the time of the Vietnam War, the battleship was already out the door. No more of these grand ladies of the seas were being constructed, and most navies had eliminated them to save money for fielding aircraft carriers, which are more mission (tactical) flexible, but more expensive.

The Battleship/Battlecruiser and Science Fiction
With the popular misconception of battleships and battlecruisers being interchangeable, the bulk of science fiction heavy warships have suffered from mislabeling and/or classification switching. One of the worst offenders is Star Trek, especially in their 1998 DS9 Technical Manual. For example, the Jem'Hadar battlecruiser is fitted under 'cruiser', this is the with bulk of alien and Federation warships. From the Galor, to the K't'inga, and the Vor'cha, all are 'cruisers'.   What is universal is that these capitol warships are the most heavily armed, armored, and pride of the fleet, save for a stray Dreadnought or Battlestar class ships.
Given their badass combat abilities and massive naval artillery cannons, sci-fi authors and creators picked up on the theme of "battleships=cool starships", and firmly adopted this type of capital warship into the fold of space combat operas. It helps that the founder of sci-fi space opera, E.E. "Doc" Smith used battlecruisers in his landmark works, fueling the tradition that continues through today. Also, battleships have a powerful hold the human military imagination, and it seems like a no-brainer...big guns, heavy armor would make one bad mutha futha warship.

The Combat Role of the Spaceborne Battlecruiser/Battleship
With the relationship between historical 'blue-water' navies and soft science fiction space fleets, the role of the battleship and the battlecruiser transients from the high seas to the cold depths of space. In a soft-serve sci-fi universe, the battleship maintains its role has the king of the combat warships and the pride of whatever government fielded them into space. They are the heaviest armed, armored, and shielded. They are operated by the cream-of-the-crop, often by veteran officers and crew with sterling records, and constitute a mobile symbol of that society/government. Think of the Andromeda from Space Cruiser Yamato, the Enterprise-E, and the Sharlin of the Minbari, and what they represented to the friends and foes of that government. In space combat, the battleship is designed to dish out punishment and take it. It is the often the command vessel of the taskforce commander, and the first targeted by the enemy. In engagements, these battleships are out in front of the formation, and pounding the enemy vessels with long-range and powerful weapon ships.
Given their combat-focused design, short-range and mission, the battleship is not a flexible military starship that can serve both in a wide-range of peacetime operations. Instead, a spaceborne battleship could be moored until time of war. Here lays the difference between the battleship and the battlecrusier. The latter is a heavily armed, but more lightly armored/shielded warship that has a greater range over the its larger battle-brother can serve as a long-range patrol vessel in hostile zones of space. In combat, the battlecruiser can dish out the pain like its larger battle-brother, however, due to the battlecrusier's weaker hull armor and shielding, it cannot hang in a firefight as long as its larger brother, but it is cheaper...

Could There Be an Hard-Science Battleship/Battlecrusier?
If we consider the giant expense of hard science future warships, I believe there will only a few types of combat starships, and one of them would be a generalized warship...basically, a spaceborne battleship. These could stationed at specific points in the solar system, and be called on when the shit hit the fan. This warship would be well armed and armored to deal with hostile warships quickly. In keeping with the general number one rule of space combat: "thou who fires first, vanishes thy enemy", our hard-science battleship would be armed with weaponry and sensors able to fire first and score the killer blow. If we are discussing unmanned automated warships, there could be roaming battlecruisers, in place around the system, to respond to a threat, and would have a greater delta-vee capability. 


The Excelsior class Federation Battleship from the Star Trek Universe
According to the official Trek sources, the Excelsior class is a member of the "standard" Federation starship classification, and differs only in a few areas from the other classes of starships. Some official sources state that the Excelsior is an 'explorer', and fits within the same classification has the Galaxy class. In the TNG timeframe, the Excelsior class had become the workhorse of Starfleet, replacing the aging Constitution class. What finally ended the rein of the Excelsior was the great losses suffered during the Dominion War. The title of 'battleship'comes from the old 1980's FASA RPG starship combat game, and from old-school Trek fans like me, the title of battleship for the Excelsior class stuck.
The title was somewhat justified, it was fitted with twice  the phaser banks and torpedo launchers of the refitted Constitution class, and greater shield protection. One of the best websites devoted to the old game, called the Excelsior class: "massive , awesomely powerful, capable of clobbering multiple smaller opponents" It was not always so well respected. When it was introduced in 1984's Star Trek: The Search for Spock,  the 'great experiment' NX-2000 Excelsior was a radical departure from the classic Federation design, and some fans hated it, calling it 'pregnant whale.' But, for me, the NX-2000 Excelsior became my favorite Federation starship.

The Yamato from Space Cruiser Yamato
One of the most iconic spaceborne battleships is the Yamato from Uchu Senkan Yamato (AKA: The Argo from Starblazers) that was risen from ashes of the Second World War Imperial Japanese battleship in 2199 to kick some blue-alien ass. Some sources, including me for a time, classified the Yamato has a battlecruiser, however, upon fruther reflection, the Yamato/Argo is a battleship. Part of this is due to  the English translation of the title was 'space cruiser', senkan in Japanese is 'battleship', not cruiser. The Yamato is a badass warship that mount serious weaponry and is often projected in the series to be the only thing between Earth and the alien threat. From its devastating wave-motion cannon, to massive shock-cannons, banks of AAA laser pulse cannons, and a squadron of Black Tiger fighters to protect this Yamato from the fate of the original WWII battleship. Due to the giant popularity of this anime series, the Yamato would be one of the key ships responsible for the sci-fi tread of boat-like spaceborne warships. For many sci-fi fans including me,the Yamato is one the great sci-fi warships.  

The Negh'Var Klingon class Warship from Star Trek: DS9
According to the DS9 Technical Manual, the massive 2,000+meter long Klingon combat vessel  Negh'Var listed as a warship, but under 'type' the manual labels the Negh'Var has an 'heavy carrier'? This could be that due to the Negh'Var being able to  transport a number of Klingon warriors into battle, around 1500(?), but that seems a oddball combination. The Negh'Var is the largest of the Imperial Fleet, and is a massive presence on the battlefield, especially when backed up by support combat vessels. This green green warship was often seen being a spaceborne artillery platform that pounds the enemy, as other Klingon warship rush into the enemy lines.

The Primus class Centauri Republic Battlecruiser from Babylon 5
Much many of the races in the B5 universe, there are only a few warships seen per species, and most of their warships have a style theme. The lavish Centauri Republic is all about style and power, and more different classes of ships were seen of the CR than almost anyone else. Their primary warship is the 1.5km long Primus class battlecruiser that is getting on in years. Its role is to be the center of the action, taking punishment and doling it out, while the smaller warships of the Centauri fleet launch attacks. Like most of the warships in B5, the Primus class has the ability to carry fighters and troops into the battle.

The D'deridex class Romulan Warbird from Star Trek: TNG & DS9

Officially, this class of battlecrusier is listed as 'warbird', and is the only Romulan warship seen in the later Trek universe. Several sources, including the ST: DS9 Technical Manual, have classified this warbird as an 'cruiser' and the Trek wiki site, Memory Alpha, classifies the D'deridex as a 'battlecruiser'. This 1,041 meters long warship is staffed with 1500 and armed with six disruptors and two launchers and is powered via an artificial black hole(!). The ship was designed by Andrew Probert in 1988 for TNG's second season in three weeks, and was seen throughout the rest of the 24th century Trek series in both a physical model and CGI.
Probert attempted to tie the TOS warbird to this new one with predatory bird-like elements, set out for the D'deridex class to be a match for the Galaxy class, but the ship wasn't seen in combat until the DS9 series. According to rumor, the name D'deridex is some sort of predatory bird on one of the two homeworlds of the Romulan people. I've always thought that the D'deridex class is a beautiful warship, and the bell of the ball when it comes to the Trek ships.

The Royal Sovereign class Federation Battleship from the FASA Star Trek: RPG
Back in the days of 1987, when ST:TNG was first on-air, FASA extended their RPG universe to encompass the new reality of the 24th century with the non-canon ST: TNG: Officer's Manual. In the pages of that shortly lived technical manual was this badass Federation battleship was designed to be the offensive arm of Starfleet.  This was never seen on-screen, nor referenced to by an canonized source. Some of us fans of the FASA ship are convinced that the canon Sovereign class from the later TNG movies are somehow a nod to this class.

The Sharlin class Minbari War-Cruiser from Babylon 5
Besides the Vorlons, the Minbari stand has the other older race that can field the most advanced warship in the Babylon 5 universe, and their spearhead warship is the Sharlin class. This is one of the only combat ships seen in during series of the Minbari Warrior caste, and fulfills its duty as a general purpose warship. During the devastating Earth/Minbari War, just one of these Sharlin could take several Terran warships without worry. Unlike a great of sci-fi battleships, the Sharlin is organically shaped, appearing more akin to an alien shark than warship, and presents like a great predator wandering the ocean of space. What given the Shalin its fearsome reputation was its fifteen fighters, a number of advanced DEW beam cannons that slice through lesser ships, and has defensive stealth technology, and EM interference equipment. Not only could this warship hold its hold in space combat, it could also transport 2,000 Minbari warriors to the planetary battlefield, while holding the high-ground. In the B5 series, these are projected has one of the most feared warships in the the 23rd century.

The EDF Hood class Battlecruiser from Starblazers/Space Cruiser Yamato Universe
One of the few real examples of a battlecruiser that was designed to be a battlecruiser and not a mislabeled battleship. Supporting this battlecruiser classification was the fast 'cruiser' engine, smaller Type-10 Wave Motion Cannon, and the heavier armament over the traditional EDF cruisers. Instead of a few medium shock cannons and laser cannons, the Hood mounts five shock cannons over its 180 meter length, giving it a massive amount of firepower, while maintaining the speed of a cruiser. The Hood was named after the famous WWII British battlecrusier (which could be the reason for the name), and serviced in the Earth Defense Force Fleet during  the Comet Empire invasion and the Bolar Wars as offensive backup to patrol groups and the larger battleship Andromeda I and II classes.

The Osiris class Colonial Fleet 'Pocket Battlestar' from BSG: Blood and Chrome
In the recent Blood and Chrome webseries, the Colonial armed forces developed several types of battlestars that were supported by other smaller warships. Given the dire situation of the Clyon War, and effectiveness of the Battlestars, the Colonials began developing 'pocket battlestars', like the Osiris class, that could preform all of the tasks of the regular Battlestars, but to a lesser extend and cost less in money, crew, and materials. Since the Colonial Fleet of BSG seems not field battleships and/or battlecruisers, the closest thing is the Osiris and this class of vessel is an interesting hybrid between the carrier/battlecruiser/battleship.

The Terran Battlecruiser classes from the Starcraft universe

In the game (which I've never played Starcraft), it seems that the Terran battlecruiser is designed for heavy artillery support, in either space or planetary combat. During a push, they provide cover for the advancing smaller units. The interesting element of the Terran Starcraft warships is that they are used for planetary operations...like hovering in the skies like a god of judgement that sweeps the battlefield with massive weaponry, like the Yamato Cannon and plasam torpedoes, and an air wing. In seems from the wiki, that these are the main offensive armament against the various threats, and were constructed in larger numbers after Brood War. The term 'battlecruiser' that is used to describe at least five different classes of heavy warships are also called battleships as well in the Starcraft universe.   


  1. To be honest, the real reason the battleship was obsolete was because the Soviet Union had very little interest in fighting America on the high seas, not so much because of anything involving carriers. Every engagement held to show the superiority of carriers over battleships in WW2 was under circumstances where *any* ship would have been sunk, but the purposes of a battleship is to sink other ships and the Soviets weren't interested in building any ships for the US fleet to have to sink (still haven't forgiven the Navy for Tsushima over in Russia, I think).

    The US' theory in the Cold War was 'hulls in the water,' chancing that the Soviets couldn't nuke hundreds of ships built cheaply and with paper-thin armour (multi-thousand ton ships have less effective protection than tanks, in some cases). If there *had* been focus on BB design instead you'd have seen a much higher attendant focus on CIWS and would probably have modern battleships with Aegis systems, rocket-assisted shells and THEL knocking around by now, as well as their own compliment of missiles. A near-future BB could even carry VLS cells loaded with drone interceptors, though obviously this would need a fictional world where there's some risk of a clash between blue-water navies in a timeframe of less than fifty years.

    IIRC, they tested a modern Harpoon against an Iowa and it bounced off. The other big problem is lost technology; we simply don't have the facilities to manufacture the gun barrels and giant armour plates that a battleship requires. Indeed, one part of why the Iowas were finally decommissioned was stored ammo was found to be unstable and they'd have to build a whole new production line making charge bags.

  2. Also, Jutland didn't really tell anyone much about the battleships, it was more about battlecruiser theory and C&C. Only one battleship was sunk (Germany's Pommem) and she was an obsolete pre-Dreadnought anyway. What was mostly learned was information about who's ideas were right (mostly Germany's) that the Washington Treaty then stopped anyone putting into practice for 20 years, such that even new ships laid down for WW2 were doing things everyone had forgotten were mistakes. Bismarck's unarmoured steering gear and poorly protected rudder being a prime example of this silliness.

  3. Nice comments, and you have given me somethings to research. I think the idea of lost technology being one of the reasons behind the lack of large gun technology, and the loss of powder stores. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. I think it's best to consider the battleship as a seaborne tank while destroyers and cruisers are closer to IFVs. Obviously if nobody's building tanks but you, they're going to be of fairly limited usefulness.

    As far as I'm aware the term is actually just a shortening of "line of battle ship" and the key difference between a battleship and a cruiser was that cruisers didn't have either firepower or armour to exchange salvos as part of the line of battle used in classic naval strategy.

    I imagine that, had battleships continued to develop, their large size would make them the first ships to carry early cruise missiles which required launch ramps, possibly with recon planes which could use modern optics to steer the missiles during the final stage of their approach. The Iowa refits were pretty crappy for missile capacity simply because they had to stick missiles on top of a ship that was never designed for them.

  5. (Incidentally "line of battle ship" is just another way to express the older term "ship of the line").

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. The British First Sea Lord laid down the role of the battlecruiser for us as well: Pursuit of enemy warships, protection of commerce ships, close support for the battle fleet, and heavy sea-recon.

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  8. I'd actually contend that the difference between a battleship and a cruiser had more to do with role. The battleship is intended to be the dominant force of the seas, while the cruiser is more built around power projection.

    More-or-less, the cruiser is designed to function as both independent warship (for raiding/showing the flag purposes), and a fleet combatant. In contrast, the battleship was invariably too expensive to generally show the flag... but they also invariably boasted firepower and durability far in excess of any other ship, barring another battleship.

    If 10 nations all build cruiser-analogues, and suddenly one of them starts fielding battleship-analogues as well, then battleship-land is gonna own the seas *really* fast.

    That being said, I think that if battleships resurfaced today (and there's a lot of things that could easily allow for that)... then they would utterly dominate any current fleet on the seas. A "modern" battleship would probably be armed with railguns and use highly sophisticated active defenses.

    Atomic Rockets has a short bit under kinetics that talks a little about the US Navy's railgun program- or at least the program the USN had. It actually demonstrates the potential for a range in the hundreds of nautical miles, and with the firepower of a conventional TLAM.

    From a piece of metal that is significantly cheaper, completely inert, and substantially lighter.

    TLAMs threatened the dominance of carriers, because they were cheaper and could do many of the same things that naval aviation could. A battleship armed with a railgun (or seven) does the same thing, for cheaper. Obviously inland projection isn't as good as a plane, since bullets can only go so far, but it very handily dethrones the carrier.

    Incidentally, the above comments about carriers dethroning battleships having more to do with the fact that Russia decided to simply skip building buttloads of ships, rings quite a bit more true than the idea that carriers are just automatically superior.


    1. That's an interesting bit of speculation, Anonymous (Will), something to ponder about for any near-future setting featuring Naval Railguns. It does beg the question if the Super/Fleet Carriers would be replaced with Light Aircraft Carriers and Escort Aircraft Carriers.

      Then again, with the rising preference for the Destroyer as a general-purpose blue water naval warship, would there really be a return of the Battleship/Dreadnaught as we culturally remember?

      As for the blog entry itself, due to this particular Atomic Rockets classification webpage ( http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacewarship.php#id--Ship_Types--Ken_Burnside's_Ship_Types ), I've been indoctrinated towards the opinion that Battleships are basically warships that NEED to be in a fleet formation to protect its shortcommings whereas the Battlecruiser is a more independent cruise version of the Battleship; sacrificing armor and armament in certain places for endurance and speed.

      Still, Anonymous' analogy of Battleships and Cruisers as Tanks and IFVs does tickle the speculative part of a worldbuilder's creativity.

      Though the idea of Battleships being moored until times of war almost gives a kind of "strategic deployment" or Trump Card any potential Space/Star Force might consider since it's potentially limited in its tactical deployment compared to the Battlecruiser.

    2. The role of a cruiser is for versatility, not a "projection of power".

  9. Some time ago it was suggested that the main problem with battlecruisers was that they "looked like battleships". For this reason admirals (mainly British) tended to use them as though they were battleships fighting other real battleships.

    The HMS Hood leading the attack on the Bismarck being the classic (and deadliest) example.