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Comparison of Warships in the Post-Dreadnought era

A Dreadnought was the title given to a new warship design that was heavy on armor and big guns. The HMS Dreadnought of 1906 started the title and afterward there was a focus on large ships of the line with massive long range armament. Pre-dreadnoughts had scaling armament designed with closing distance in mind.

Although the title Dreadnought went away the spirit of the design remained. Yamato, Bismarck, and the USS Iowa were the final titans of the design with displacement five times greater than the “17,000” tons of the originals. The USS Arizona was 32,249 tons and the typical behemoth battleships of WWII were around the 30k range if they were build prior to the war.

A few German builds began to flirt with 40,000 in the 30’s but Bismarck shattered it at 50,000 tons. It out massed and out gunned the 20 year older HMS Hood in battle and Bismarck and Prinz Eugen sank the British Warship. Bismarck was defeated mostly by damage from long range heavy guns as its armor effectively stymied most lighter attacks.

In the Pacific, the true titans where out in force with the Yamato at 71,659 tons and the Iowa at 58,400, dwarfing most others. Yamato dwarfed all others, in fact, as the class was the largest battleship ever designed and fielded 18.1 inch guns. It was conceived as a battleship that could take on and defeat multiple US battleships at the same time.

Yamato was taken on and sunk by aircraft on its way to Kamikaze itself into a permanent artillery emplacement on Okinawa. Yamato lasted 46 minutes under attack in the final engagement before capsizing and exploding. Proving ultimately that aircraft needed to be part of any naval screen to protect from aircraft.

While Dreadnought as a term went away, that Battleships and Battlecruisers of WWII were ultimately the spiritual inheritors of the moniker.

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.