The firepower of a battleship demonstrated by USS Iowa
(c. 1984). The muzzle blasts distort the ocean surface.
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.
The term battleship came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, now referred to by historians as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906, the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought heralded a revolution in battleship design. Subsequent battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts", though the term eventually became obsolete as they became the only type of battleship in common use.
Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. A global arms race in battleship construction began in Europe in the 1890s and culminated at the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, the outcome of which significantly influenced the design of HMS Dreadnought. The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 commenced a new naval arms race. Three major fleet actions between steel battleships took place: the decisive battles of the Yellow Sea (1904) and Tsushima (1905) during the Russo-Japanese War, and the inconclusive Battle of Jutland (1916) during the First World War. Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the war, and it was the last major battle fought primarily by battleships in world history.
SMS Radetzky was the lead ship of the three Radetzky class of pre-dreadnought battleships (Schlachtschiff) of the Austro-Hungarian Navy (K.u.K. Kriegsmarine), named for the 19th century Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz. Radetzky and her sisters, Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand and Zrinyi, were the last pre-dreadnoughts built by the Austro-Hungarian Navy—they were followed by the larger and significantly more powerful Tegetthoff-class dreadnoughts. Radetzky was built at the Stabilimento Tecnico in Trieste and commissioned into the fleet on 15 January 1911. The ship conducted training cruises in the Merranean Sea before the outbreak of World War I in mid-1914. During the war, Radetzky operated largely as a fleet in being alongside her two sisters and the four Tegetthoffs; in doing so, the ships tied down considerable naval forces from the Triple Entente. Radetzky did participate in some offensive operations, primarily shore bombardments in the Adriatic Sea against French, Montenegrin, and Italian targets. With the war going against the Austro-Hungarians by the end of 1918, Radetzky was prepared to be transferred to Yugoslavia. On November 10, 1918—just one day before the end of the war—Yugoslav navy officers sailed the old battleship out of Pola and eventually surrendered to a squadron of American submarine chasers. In the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the transfer was not recognized; instead, Radetzky was given to Italy and broken up for scrap.
Franz Ritter von Hipper (13 September 1863 - 25 May 1932) was a German admiral of the Kaiserliche Marine during the First World War. He is most well-known for commanding the German battlecruisers at the Battle of Jutland. After joining the Imperial Navy at age 18 in 1881, he would move on to command torpedo boats, SMS Leipzig, SMS Friedrich Carl, SMS Gneisenau, SMS Yorck, and the High Seas Fleet's I Scouting Group at the Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, Battle of Dogger Bank and Jutland. Awarded the Iron Cross at Dogger Bank, he was later awarded the Pour le Mérite after Jutland for sinking two Royal Navy ships and ascended to command of the High Seas Fleet in August 1918. Though the war was all but lost by that time, he spent his final days of service attempting to control the Kiel Mutiny and administering the internment of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow (which would later be scuttled), and retired on 30 November 1918. The German cruiser Admiral Hipper, lead ship of the Admiral Hipper-class cruiser, would be named for him shortly after his death.