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A view on the development of different warship classes during the centuries. The size and capabilities of ships of the same classification varied tremendously. This page is meant to lighten the things up a little bit.

Time Periods

To simplify the overview, time will be sliced into several periods. Until now only battleships and battlecruisers are complete, so the time periods are restricted to the time they where used.

  • 1895-1906: Japanese-Russian war. Ships active before 1907.
  • 1907-1918: First World War. Active before 1919.
  • 1919-1921: Post ww1. Completed after first world war, until 1921-11.
  • 1921-1934: Treaty of Washington. Official new constructions and modifications restricted by the treaty, between 1922 and 1934.
  • 1935-1945 Second World War. Active before 1946.
  • 1946- Post ww2.

Battleships & battlecruisers

The mighty battleships and battlecruisers of the two world wars are probably the most impressive ships ever built. Even if the modern super carriers of the USA and a few oil tankers are bigger than the armored behemots of the past, their gigantic artillery and their impressive lines are still inspiring.

Battleship classes

The British Dreadnought was a quantum leap in the "ship of the line" design. She was much bigger than the previous ones and was called an "all big gun ship". Instead of carrying three or more different kinds of guns, shie carried only two types: 30.5cm(12") and 7.6cm(3"). During ww1 the battleships became bigger, got stronger armor and whre equiped with heavier guns. The process was rather a continous one, so a seperation in different classes is somewhat difficult.

Pre Dreadnaugt ships of the line:
The standard pre Dreadnaugt ship of the line was armed with four 30.5cm (12") guns. Only the Germans used lighter 28.0(19") guns. The Italian Vittorio Emanuele class had only two 0.5(12") guns, but is not included in the overview, because it was some intermideate ship between an armored cruiser and a ship of the line. Some exotic attempts of minor navies to built battleships are not included in the overwiev.

The first generation battle ships of early ww1 where armed with ten to twelve 28cm(11") or 30.5cm(12") guns. Side armor at the waterline reached from 25cm(10") to 30.5cm(12").

The ships of the next generation where bigger, and had a better protection below the waterline. The British started to use 34.3cm(13.5") guns, while the Americans built their ships with 35.6cm(14") artillery. The Germans kept their 30.5cm guns but increased the thicknes of the main side armor belt to 35cm(13.8"). The very innovative and interesting placement of the main artillery of the 1st generation ships changed to a simpler and more effective centerline placement.

The americans used the centerline placement for their first all big gun ships, and used extrimely thick deck armor from the beginning

At end of ww1 German and British battleships where equiped with eight 38.0cm(14.9") or 38.1cm(15") guns. The Americans used twelve improved 35.6(14") guns instead. The British Queen Elizabeth class BBs reached a speed of 24kn, two more than the German Bayern. The Queen Elizabeth class and the design of the German battlecruiser Mackensen marked the beginning of the fast battleship.

Fast Battleships:
Fast battle ships have the armor and fire power of battle ships, and the speed of battle cruisers. All ships faster than 26kn with main belt armor of 25cm(10") or better and at least eight guns bigger than 30.5cm(12") are defined as fast battle ships in this overview.

  • SL/D: Default sail-less ship of the line. .
  • SL/X: Experimental sail-less ship of the line.
  • BB/X: Desperate attempts to built a battleship..
  • BB/1: 1st generation dreadnaught.
  • BB/2: 2nd generation dreadnaught.
  • BB/3: 3rd generation dreadnaught.
  • BB/4: Post ww1 slow battleship.
  • BB/F: Fast battleship.
Battleship Comparison
Class Time Dspl. Speed MA SA Trp. MB MD
SL/D 1895 12000-16000 17-19 4 × 28.0-30.5 12-16 × 12.7-17.0 2-4 22-25 5-7.5
SL/X 1895 16000-20000 17-20 4 × 30.5 4-12 × 20.3-25.4 2-4 22-30.5 5-9.3
BB/1 1907 17900-27700 20-23 8-13 × 28.0-30.5 10-22 × 7.6-15.0 2-4 25-30.5 5-21.5
BB/2 1907 25080-32060 20-24 10-13 × 30.5-35.6 10-20 × 10.2-15.2 2-4 25-35 5-15.2
BB/3 1907 31200-34000 21-24 8-12 × 35.6-38.0 14-22 × 12.7-15.2 2-4 23-35.6 7-12.8
BB/3 1919 33590 20.6-21.0 8-12 × 35.6-40.6 14 × 12.7 - 35.6-40.6 14-14.5
BB/F 1919 34100-44700 26.7-31 8 × 38.1-40.6 12-20 × 14.0 2-4 30.0-30.5 9-14.4
BB/X 1922 15900-16200 27-29 6 × 28.0 8 × 15.0 8 × 53.3 8 4.5-4.5
BB/4 1922 38000 23 9 × 40.6 12 × 15.2 2 × 60.9 35.6 15.9
BB/F 1934 44370-72800 27-34 8-10 × 35.6-46.0 16-20 × 12.0-15.0 - 32-40.1 13.0-35.5
BB/F 1946 51420 30 8 × 38.1 16 × 13.3 - 35.6 15.2

Dspl:Displacement, MA:Main Artillery, SA:Secondary Artillery, Trp.Torpedoes, MB:Maximum belt armor at waterline, MD:Maximum deck armor, BB:Battle ship

Dspl.: Minimum-maximum mass of displaced water in metric tons.
Speed: Top speed range in knots(nautical miles per hour).
MA: Number and calibre in cm of biggest guns on the ships. Form is explained here
SA: Second largest guns, given in same Form as MA.
Trp: Number and diameter in cm of torpedoes, given in same Form as MA.
MB: Range of maximum belt armor in cm. Maximum belt armor of ship with thinnest and thickest one is listed.
MD: Range of maximum deck armor in cm. Maximum added together armor of all decks at center of ship for ship with thinnest and thickest one is listed.

This page was developed with support from Gerhard Simon who provided most of the facts. It is heavily under construction, and will be extended. A complete listing of the books we used will follow sometimes...