A battleship is a powerful, heavily armored naval vessel primarily armed with high caliber guns; in NationStates, this includes in practical terms large surface combatants that mount alternatives to the old-fashioned naval guns such as heavy anti-ship missiles.
See also Super-Dreadnoughts.
Examples of NS battleship-sized ships are:
- Coatewan-class Battleship: a PT (1930s/1940s) battleship of Inutoland
- Confessor-class Battleship: a PT (WW1-era) dreadnought battleship of Noders
- Damnation Class Battleship: Midlonian PT Era Dreadnought.
- Dreadnought-class battleship of Centropyge
- Mota the Great-class Carrier Battleship: a PT (1940s) hybrid battleship-aircraft carrier of Inutoland
- Tuyas-class Battleship: a PT (WW1-era) dreadnought battleship of Inutoland
Modern/Post Modern Tech
- Dragon-class Battleship of Inutoland: a late WW2 battleship with one or two examples still in service
- Joanna Von Sachshausen-class Battleship of Syskeyia
- Kingdom class heavy battleship of Isselmere-Nieland
- Ondeugd-class Battleship of Knootoss
- Peacemaker-class Battleship of Noders
- Yatoga Class Battleship of Kandorith
Real Life History
The term Battleship was coined in the Age of Sail to refer to the most powerful ships in the fleet, the "Ships of the Line (of battle)" or Line of Battle Ships which could expect to see combat. In early form, they were used in a line of battle, in which the fleet formations would form broadside lines to levy firepower on the opponent, much like a conventional musket line. By the dawn of the Steam Age, the Battleships would mount up to 144 guns on four decks - though 74 guns on three decks was the most common - designed to fire en masse. The Royal Navy, in particular, was dominant on the high seas from 1588 until the end of the era, often sending fleets of dozens of such ships to areas from the West Indies to the East Indies. The term Battleship was coined in the Age of Sail to refer to the most powerful ships in the fleet, the "Ships of the Line (of battle)" or Line of Battle Ships which could expect to see combat. In early form, they were used in a line of battle, in which the fleet formations would form broadside lines to levy firepower on the opponent, much like a conventional musket line. By the dawn of the Steam Age, the Battleships would mount up to 144 guns on four decks - though 74 guns on three decks was the most common - designed to fire en masse. The Royal Navy, in particular, was dominant on the high seas from 1588 until the end of the era, often sending fleets of dozens of such ships to areas from the West Indies to the East Indies.
1860, with the completion of HMS Warrior, saw the development of ships armored with iron, or "ironclads". The Battle of Hampton Roads was the first battle between two such ships, as USS Monitor dueled CSS Virginia to a stalemate. The Monitor was also turretted, and marked the beginning of turretted cannon. During the late 19th and early 20th century, most Battleships mounted as many as four 12 Inch Naval Guns and several mixed caliber smaller guns. The Battle of Tsushima, in which the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyed the Russian Baltic Fleet, proved smaller caliber guns to be of limited value and led to the next great inovation in naval warfare.
In 1905, British First Sea Lord Sir John "Jackie" Fisher (later the first Baron Fisher) was insturmental in the building of the first Battleship with a uniform big gun battery, HMS Dreadnought. Dreadnought so revolutionized naval design that all Battleships became classified as 'dreadnoughts' and 'pre-dreadnoughts'
The launch of Dreadnought sparked a new phase in the Anglo-German naval arms race. Technology advanced as quickly as ships could be produced, with the effect of obsoleting Dreadnought by the time the Great War broke out in 1914. Dreadnought did gain some fame by ramming and sinking U-29 - the only Battleship to ever sink a submarine. During the Great War, the German High Command - meaning Kaiser Wilhelm II - was largely unwilling to risk its fleet in battle against the Royal Navy's larger Grand Fleet. The Battle of Jutland, the largest battleship confrontation in modern history, was a tactical victory for the Germans but a strategic victory for the British, as the Germans never again challenged the blockade which the British had imposed.
After the war, a new naval arms race - this time between the United Kingdom and the United States - threatened an already exhausted world. The solution was found in the London and Washington Treaties, which limited the number and tonnage of most naval vessels and established a moritorium on the building of new Battleships.
The Second World War would be the last major conflict involving Battleships in a decisive rôle. The attempt by the Germans to sneak the Battleship Bismarck into the Western Approaches and its sinking by the Royal Navy's HMS King George V and HMS Rodney captured headlines; however, the real future of naval weapons had already been decided in the Mediterranean.
The Battle of Taranto, in November 1940, saw the use of Swordfish torpedo bombers by the Royal Navy to several vessels of the Italian Navy while it lay at anchor, effectively winning the sea war in the Mediterranean in one fell swoop. The verdict of air power's supremacy in WWII would later be confirmed by Japanese airmen over Pearl Harbor and in the sinking by aircraft of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse off Malaysia.
The Pacific Theatre also saw the most powerful Battleships ever to sail, the Imperial Japanese Navy's Yamato and Musashi. However, the twin behemoths proved to be too expensive to risk and did not see action until the war was already decided.
After the end of the Second World War, Battleships would never again gain their former luster. By 1970, all nations save the United States had scrapped their Battleships. Even America pushed back the 70,000 ton Montana class and eventually cancelled along with a planned widening of the Panama Canal locks.
Divergence in History: Real Life versus NationStates
Real Life Modern Battleships
By the 1970s, most nations had scrapped their Battleships, except for the United States, which recommissioned all four Iowa-class for the Korean War, the New Jersey for the Vietnam Conflict, and under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, all four vessels.
In the last reactivation, the old battle wagons were fitted with Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and modern fire-control systems. These vessels saw action in the Gulf War and Lebanon, but were again decommissioned in the early 1990s, being placed as museums in various ports. Even with the advancements in technology, in Real Life modern day, there is no high-seas rival to the United States Navy, and therefore, no need to maintain the Battleship. In Real Life, the Battleship has seen its last for the near future, and the Aircraft Carrier reigns supreme in projecting power.
NationStates Possibilities and the Use of the Battleship
When considering the rise and fall of the Battleship, it is wise to view the conditions that caused it to fade. In the Real Life world, there exists no standing navy to oppose the United States Navy, and no enemy that would take to the open field of battle. There is no Atlantic Wall to shatter, and no tank formations to bombard. Against an asymmetrical foe and numerous small but dangerous semi-powers, the United States Navy has adopted the CVBG as its weapon of choice, opting for the precision and projection of the Aircraft Carrier over the raw power of the Battleship.
More importantly, the reason why nations other than the US gave up their battleships in the first place (one should remember that even Argentina and Greece had operational battleship forces) was the emergence of the aircraft. The effectiveness of the aircraft has not changed since then, but the defences against them have. Using small-calibre anti-aircraft guns there wasn't a great likelihood of a battleship shrugging off an air attack. Now, with Surface to Air Missiles, aircraft can be engaged outside of their range of return fire with an excellent rate of effectiveness.
The big gun has never really left us in effectiveness. It's range has gone from the best out there to relatively low, maybe, but a big gun will most likely destroy any ship in active commission in any real world navy with a single hit. It is simply impossible to armour a destroyer against a 12" gun. Equally, a 12" cannot be shot down in the same way as a Harpoon missile. Although an attempt could be made against the shell, it will be traveling much faster than the missile and presenting a much smaller target.
In addition, some nations in NationStates roleplay a country which, for whatever reason, is not as advanced technologically as the majority of the community. This means that regardless of the effectiveness of the battleship, they do not have missiles to render a destroyer sized platform even remotely effective. It is worth remembering that Battleship gunnery can match very easily the destructive potential of anti-ship missiles.
There also exists a very real human fascination with the great Battleships of the past, and of past's futures. It is hard to look into science fiction without finding the massive battle wagon that sends foes into flights of terror. (See: The Super Star Destroyer Executor in Star Wars for an example or the written works of David Webber.) There is no singular symbol of military might greater than the battleship, with her great guns and imposing superstructure, dominating the high-seas. Given the importance of gunboat dipomacy in NS, the Battleship remains a useful tool for strategic purposes.
Because of this, in the world of NationStates, there exist thousands of nations with capable blue-water navies, and the age of the Battleship has well and truly returned. Not all nations use battleships, but thanks to those who do, the technologies of the naval guns have reached heights not seen in the divergent tech-tree of the real world. In NS, so-called "Super-Dreadnoughts" have been constructed as an off-shoot of the battleship, some up to a kilometer long.
New Battleship Technologies
Rail Guns are a possible place for advancement. Even in Real Life, there is talk in the United States Navy about bringing back the Battleship to use this new ballistic weapon. Utilitizing powerful magnets instead of chemical charges, a 6cm Naval Rail Gun could strike at targets 800 miles away with high precision. When fired, much of the mass of the rail is converted to plasma, and the impact of a 6cm Naval Rail Gun would be a tranfer of almost pure kinetic force and heat, devastating an area akin to a 5000lb bomb.
Although railguns are not currently possible with real-world materials, they are a good possible use for battleships in the future. The ability to rapidly, precisely, and accurately deliver strikes of greater magnitude than a Fighter/Bomber strike, at lower risk and cost, at higher volume, could vault the Battleship back to the top of the line, and bring sighs of joy to propoganda networks worldwide.
In the less distant future, ETC and rail-assist guns can be built, substantially increasing the range of the big gun and reducing the missile and aircraft's advantage of range. Extended Range Guided Munitions are another, cheaper option.
Another major advancement is, of course, fire control and automation. In the modern NS Battleship, there is little reason to have seamen (or women) working the guns. Instead, autoloaders and computerized firing sequences could drastically improve efficiency and safety, all while dropping manpower. In turn, modern Battleships which rely on missiles of course, already possess the ability to strike accurately out to ranges nominally enjoyed only by carriers and guided missile cruisers and submarines.
Other factors also come into play as possibilities. The use of automated drones and cooperation with both satellite and escort carrier formations can dramatically dilute the principal advantage of the carrier over the battleship, range, when coupled with the weapon advancement above. As the battleship itself is the launch platform rather than smaller aircraft, much heavier weapons can be carried.
The big advantage Battleships maintain, however, is their survivability. Thick armour belts, redundant gun and missiles stations and their large size and crews makes them capable of absorbing immense amounts of punishment. In RL, fully manned and operational battleships, particularly those built in the build up and during World War 2, were extremely durable, often sinking only under immense weight of fire from multiple waves of attackers. This survivability is significantly enhanced with new armour, damage control systems and advanced decoy and CIWS systems. This is important in the NS naval warfare environment, where significant amounts of munitions would be exchanged during any engagement. It is worth noting that carriers, though technically also capable of surviving significant punishment, would have their combat ability rapidly diminished even with relatively limited damage to their flight deck or command and control systems.
In short, while the Battleship may be forsaken in Real Life, largely due to the immense cost of construction, it is still a viable weapon in NationStates simply because budget is often not an issue with NS economies. Very often, fleets will comprise both weapon systems to great effect.