A main battery is the primary weapon or group of weapons around which a warship is designed. As such, a main battery was historically a gun or group of guns, as in the broadsides of cannon on a ship of the line. Later, this came to be turreted groups of similar large-caliber naval rifles. With the evolution of technology the term has come to encompass guided missiles as a vessel's principal offensive weapon, deployed both on surface ships and submarines.
A main battery features common parts, ammunition, and fire control across the weapons which it comprises.
In the age of cannon at sea, the main battery was the principal group of weapons around which a ship was designed, usually its heavies. With the coming of naval rifles and subsequent revolving gun turrets, the main battery became the principal group of heaviest guns, regardless of how many turrets they were placed in. As missiles displaced guns both above and below the water their principal group became a vessel's main battery.
Between the age of sail and its cannons and the dreadnought era of large iron warships fighting ships' weapons deployments lacked standardization, with a variety of naval rifles of mixed breach and caliber scattered throughout vessels. Dreadnoughts resolved this in favor of a main battery of large guns, supported by largely defensive secondary batteries of smaller guns of standardized form, further augmented on large warships such as battleships and cruisers with smaller yet tertiary batteries. As air superiority became all-important early in World War II, weight of broadside fell by the wayside as a vessel's principal fighting asset. Anti-aircraft batteries of scores of small-caliber rapid-fire weapons came to supplant big guns even on large warships assigned to protect vital fast carrier task forces. At sea, ships such as small, fast destroyers assigned to convoy protection, essential in the transport of the enormous stock of materials required for land war particularly in the European Theater, came to rely more on depth charge projectors.
The terms main battery and secondary battery fell out of favor as ships were designed to carry surface-to-air missiles and anti-ship missiles with greater range and heavier warheads than their guns. Such ships often referred to their remaining guns as simply the gun battery and to the missiles as the missile battery. Ships with more than one type of missile might refer to the batteries by the name of the missile. USS Chicago had a Talos battery and a Tartar battery.
The German battleship Bismarck, carried a main battery of eight 15 inch (380mm) guns, along with a secondary battery of twelve 5.9 inch (150mm) guns for defense against destroyers and torpedo boats, and an anti-aircraft battery of various guns ranging in caliber from 4.1 inch (105mm) to 20mm guns.
Many later ships during World War II used dual-purpose guns to combine the secondary battery and the heavier guns of the anti-aircraft battery for increased flexibility and economy. The United States Navy battleship USS Washington had a main battery of nine 16-inch (410 mm) guns arranged in three turrets, two forward and one aft. The secondary battery was 5-inch dual purpose guns, allowing use against other ships and aircraft. A dedicated anti-aircraft battery was composed of light Bofors 40 mm guns and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon.
The 20.3 cm SK C/34 was the main battery gun used on the German Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruisers.BL 8-inch Mk VIII naval gun
The 50 calibre BL 8 inch gun Mark VIII was the main battery gun used on the Royal Navy's County-class heavy cruisers, in compliance with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. This treaty allowed ships of not more than 10,000 tons standard displacement and with guns no larger than 8 inches (203 mm) to be excluded from total tonnage limitations on a nation's capital ships. The 10,000 ton limit was a major factor in design decisions such as turrets and gun mountings. A similar gun formed the main battery of Spanish Canarias-class cruisers. In 1930, the Royal Navy adopted the BL 6 inch Mk XXIII naval gun as the standard cruiser main battery in preference to this 8-inch gun.Battle of Drøbak Sound
The Battle of Drøbak Sound took place in Drøbak Sound, the northernmost part of the outer Oslofjord in southern Norway, on 9 April 1940. It marked the end of the "Phoney War" and the beginning of World War II in Western Europe.
A German fleet led by the cruiser Blücher was dispatched up the Oslofjord to begin the German invasion of Norway, with the objective of seizing the Norwegian capital of Oslo and capturing King Haakon VII and his government. The fleet was engaged in the fjord by Oscarsborg Fortress, an ageing coastal installation near Drøbak, that had been relegated to training coastal artillery servicemen, leading the Germans to disregard its defensive value. However, unbeknownst to German military intelligence, the fortress' most powerful weapon was a torpedo battery, which would be used to great effect against the German invaders.The fortress' armaments worked flawlessly despite their age, sinking the Blücher in the sound and forcing the German fleet to fall back. The loss of the German flagship, which carried most of the troops and Gestapo agents intended to occupy Oslo, delayed the German occupation long enough for King Haakon VII and his government to escape from the capital.Bismarck-class battleship
The Bismarck class was a pair of fast battleships built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine shortly before the outbreak of World War II. The ships were the largest and most powerful warships built for the Kriegsmarine; displacing more than 41,000 metric tons (40,000 long tons) normally, they were armed with a battery of eight 38 cm (15 in) guns and were capable of a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph). Bismarck was laid down in July 1936 and completed in September 1940, while her sister Tirpitz's keel was laid in October 1936 and work finished in February 1941. The ships were ordered in response to the French Richelieu-class battleships and they were designed with the traditional role of engaging enemy battleships in home waters in mind, though the German naval command envisioned employing the ships as long-range commerce raiders against British shipping in the Atlantic Ocean. As such, their design represented strategic confusion that dominated German naval construction in the 1930s.
Both ships had short service careers. Bismarck conducted only one operation, Operation Rheinübung, a sortie into the North Atlantic to raid supply convoys sent from North America to Great Britain. During the operation, she destroyed the British battlecruiser HMS Hood and damaged the new battleship Prince of Wales in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Bismarck was defeated and sunk in a final engagement after a three-day chase by the Royal Navy. Disagreements over the cause of the sinking persist with chiefly British sources claiming responsibility for the sinking of the ship. Evidence reviewed by Robert Ballard and James Cameron indicates that her loss was most likely due to scuttling as originally claimed by her surviving crew-members.
Tirpitz's career was less dramatic; she operated in the Baltic Sea briefly in 1941 before being sent to Norwegian waters in 1942, where she acted as a fleet in being, threatening the convoys from Britain to the Soviet Union. She was repeatedly attacked by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force between 1942 and 1944, but she was not seriously damaged in these attacks. In 1944, Lancaster bombers hit the ship with two Tallboy bombs, which caused extensive internal damage and capsized the battleship. Tirpitz was broken up for scrap between 1948 and 1957.Erebus-class monitor
The Erebus class of warships was a class of 20th century Royal Navy monitors armed with a main battery of two 15-inch /42 Mk 1 guns in a single turret. It consisted of two vessels, Erebus and Terror. Both were launched in 1916 and saw active service in World War I off the Belgian coast. After being placed in reserve between the wars, they served in World War II, with Terror being lost in 1941 and Erebus surviving to be scrapped in 1946.Fifth-rate
In the rating system of the British Royal Navy used to categorise sailing warships, a fifth rate was the penultimate class of warships in a hierarchical system of six "ratings" based on size and firepower.German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two Bismarck-class battleships built for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine (navy) during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy), the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and her hull was launched two and a half years later. Work was completed in February 1941, when she was commissioned into the German fleet. Like her sister ship Bismarck, Tirpitz was armed with a main battery of eight 38-centimetre (15 in) guns in four twin turrets. After a series of wartime modifications she was 2000 tonnes heavier than Bismarck, making her the heaviest battleship ever built by a European navy.After completing sea trials in early 1941, Tirpitz briefly served as the centrepiece of the Baltic Fleet, which was intended to prevent a possible break-out attempt by the Soviet Baltic Fleet. In early 1942, the ship sailed to Norway to act as a deterrent against an Allied invasion. While stationed in Norway, Tirpitz was also intended to be used to intercept Allied convoys to the Soviet Union, and two such missions were attempted in 1942. This was the only feasible role for her, since the St Nazaire Raid had made operations against the Atlantic convoy lanes too risky. Tirpitz acted as a fleet in being, forcing the British Royal Navy to retain significant naval forces in the area to contain the battleship.In September 1943, Tirpitz, along with the battleship Scharnhorst, bombarded Allied positions on Spitzbergen, the only time the ship used her main battery in an offensive role. Shortly thereafter, the ship was damaged in an attack by British mini-submarines and subsequently subjected to a series of large-scale air raids. On 12 November 1944, British Lancaster bombers equipped with 12,000-pound (5,400 kg) "Tallboy" bombs scored two direct hits and a near miss which caused the ship to capsize rapidly. A deck fire spread to the ammunition magazine for one of the main battery turrets, which caused a large explosion. Figures for the number of men killed in the attack range from 950 to 1,204. Between 1948 and 1957 the wreck was broken up by a joint Norwegian and German salvage operation.German cruiser Prinz Eugen
Prinz Eugen (German pronunciation: [ˈpʁɪnts ɔʏˈɡeːn]) was an Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruiser, the third of a class of five vessels. She served with Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The ship was laid down in April 1936, launched in August 1938, and entered service after the outbreak of war, in August 1940. She was named after Prince Eugene of Savoy, an 18th-century Austrian general. She was armed with a main battery of eight 20.3 cm (8.0 in) guns and, although nominally under the 10,000-long-ton (10,000 t) limit set by the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, actually displaced over 16,000 long tons (16,000 t).
Prinz Eugen saw action during Operation Rheinübung, an attempted breakout into the Atlantic Ocean with the battleship Bismarck in May 1941. The two ships destroyed the British battlecruiser Hood and moderately damaged the battleship Prince of Wales in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Prinz Eugen was detached from Bismarck during the operation to raid Allied merchant shipping, but this was cut short due to engine troubles. After putting into occupied France and undergoing repairs, the ship participated in Operation Cerberus, a daring daylight dash through the English Channel back to Germany. In February 1942, Prinz Eugen was deployed to Norway, although her time stationed there was curtailed when she was torpedoed by the British submarine Trident days after arriving in Norwegian waters. The torpedo severely damaged the ship's stern, which necessitated repairs in Germany.
Upon returning to active service, the ship spent several months training officer cadets in the Baltic before serving as artillery support for the retreating German Army on the Eastern Front. After the German collapse in May 1945, she was surrendered to the British Royal Navy before being transferred to the US Navy as a war prize. After examining the ship in the United States, the US Navy assigned the cruiser to the Operation Crossroads nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll. Having survived the atomic blasts, Prinz Eugen was towed to Kwajalein Atoll, where she ultimately capsized and sank in December 1946. The wreck remains partially visible above the water approximately two miles northwest of Bucholz Army Airfield, on the edge of Enubuj. One of her screw propellers was salvaged and is on display at the Laboe Naval Memorial in Germany.Guardians of the Universe
The Guardians of the Universe are a fictional race of extraterrestrials appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly in association with Green Lantern. They first appeared in Green Lantern Vol. 2, Issue 1 (July 1960), and were created by John Broome and Gil Kane. The Guardians of the Universe have been adapted to a number of films, television programs, and video games.
The Guardians of the Universe are the founders and leaders of the interstellar law enforcement agency known as the Green Lantern Corps, which they administer from their homeworld Oa at the center of the Universe. The Guardians resemble short humans with blue skin and white hair. They are depicted as being immortal and are the oldest living beings created in the Universe, but not the first.Helgoland-class battleship
The Helgoland class was the second class of German dreadnought battleships. Constructed from 1908 to 1912, the class comprised four ships: Helgoland, the lead ship; Oldenburg; Ostfriesland; and Thüringen. The design was a significant improvement over the previous Nassau-class ships; they had a larger main battery—30.5 cm (12.0 in) main guns instead of the 28 cm (11 in) weapons mounted on the earlier vessels—and an improved propulsion system. The Helgolands were easily distinguished from the preceding Nassaus by the three funnels that were closely arranged, compared to the two larger funnels of the previous class. The ships retained the hexagonal main battery layout of the Nassau class.The ships served as a unit in the I Division, I Battle Squadron alongside the Nassau-class ships in the II Division of the I Battle Squadron. They saw combat during World War I, including the Battle of Jutland in the North Sea and the Battle of the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic. All four survived the war, but were not taken as part of the German fleet that was interned at Scapa Flow. When the German ships at Scapa Flow were scuttled, the four Helgolands were ceded as war reparations to the victorious Allied powers in the sunken ships' stead. Ostfriesland was taken by the US Navy and expended as a target during Billy Mitchell's air power demonstration in July 1921. Helgoland and Oldenburg were allotted to Britain and Japan respectively, and broken up in 1921. Thüringen was delivered to France in 1920, and was used as a target ship for the French navy. The ship was eventually broken up between 1923 and 1933.Illinois-class battleship
The Illinois class was a group of three pre-dreadnought battleships of the United States Navy commissioned at the beginning of the 20th century. The three ships, Illinois, Alabama, and Wisconsin, were built between 1896 and 1901. They were transitional ships; they incorporated advances over preceding designs, including the first modern gun turrets for the main battery, and new rapid-firing secondary guns, but they were also the last American battleships to feature dated technologies like fire-tube boilers and Harvey armor. They were armed with a main battery of four 13-inch (330 mm) guns in two twin turrets, supported by a secondary battery of fourteen 6 in (150 mm) guns. The ships had a designed speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph), though they exceeded that speed by a significant margin.
The three ships served in a variety of roles and locations throughout their career. Illinois served with the North Atlantic Squadron and the European Squadron early in her career, while Wisconsin served as the flagship of the Pacific Fleet and then in the Asiatic Fleet. Illinois and Alabama started the cruise of the Great White Fleet in December 1907 from the east coast of the United States, though by the time they had rounded South America and stopped in California, Alabama was forced to leave the fleet due to machinery problems. Wisconsin joined the fleet there and continued on with it to the conclusion of its tour in February 1909. All three ships were modernized in 1909 and served in the Atlantic Fleet for a short time.
By 1912, all three ships had been reduced to the reserve fleet and were primarily employed as training ships. They continued in this role during World War I, training men to operate the machinery of warships and transports for the war effort. They were all decommissioned by 1920. Illinois was loaned to the New York Naval Militia and was converted into a floating arsenal. Renamed Prairie State in 1941, she was eventually sold for scrapping in 1956. Wisconsin was broken up for scrap in 1922, while Alabama was expended as a target ship in September 1921 in bombing tests with the US Army Air Service.Mackensen-class battlecruiser
The Mackensen class was the last class of battlecruisers to be built by Germany in World War I. The design initially called for seven ships, but three of them were redesigned as the Ersatz Yorck class. Of the four ships of the Mackensen class, Mackensen, Graf Spee, and Prinz Eitel Friedrich were launched, and Fürst Bismarck was not—but none were completed, after wartime shipbuilding priorities were redirected towards U-boat—and the ships were broken up in the early 1920s. The lead ship of the class was named for August von Mackensen, a prominent military commander during the war. In response to the Mackensen-class ships, the British Royal Navy laid down the Admiral-class battlecruisers, all but one of which would eventually be cancelled; the sole survivor, HMS Hood, was completed after the end of the war.
The design of the Mackensens was a much improved version of the previous Derfflinger class. The most significant improvement was a new, more powerful 35 cm (14 in) gun, compared to the 30.5 cm (12.0 in) gun of the earlier ships. The Mackensen-class ships also featured more powerful engines that gave the ships a higher top speed and a significantly greater cruising range. The Mackensen design provided the basis for the subsequent Ersatz Yorck class, armed with 38 cm (15 in) main-battery guns, after the Battle of Jutland in 1916 made the need for the larger guns clear.Majestic-class battleship
The Majestic class of nine pre-dreadnought battleships were built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1890s under the Spencer Programme, named after the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Poyntz Spencer. With nine units commissioned, they were the most numerous class of battleships in history. The nine ships, HMS Majestic, Caesar, Hannibal, Illustrious, Jupiter, Magnificent, Mars, Prince George, and Victorious, were built between 1894 and 1898 as part of a programme to strengthen the Royal Navy versus its two traditional rivals, France and Russia. This continued the naval re-armament initiatives begun by the Naval Defence Act 1889.
The Majestics introduced a number of significant improvements to British battleship design, including armoured gun shields for the barbette-mounted main battery guns. The ships were armed with a main battery of four BL 12-inch Mark VIII guns, the first large-calibre weapon in the Royal Navy to use smokeless propellant, which made it superior in almost all respects to earlier, larger guns. They were also the first British ships to incorporate Harvey armour, which allowed them to carry a much more comprehensive level of protection. The ships proved to be among the most successful designs of their day, and they were widely copied in foreign navies, including the Japanese Shikishima class and the battleship Mikasa, which were both modified versions of the Majestic design.
The nine ships served in a variety of roles throughout their careers. They primarily served in the Channel Fleet, though several took rotations in the Mediterranean Fleet, and Victorious served on the China Station in 1900–02. No longer frontline ships by the outbreak of World War I in July 1914, the vessels were used to protect the crossing of the British Expeditionary Force and various points on the British coast. In 1915, several of the ships were disarmed, their guns going to equip the Lord Clive-class monitors. The disarmed battleships were used as troop ships during the Dardanelles Campaign, and Prince George and Majestic were used to bombard enemy positions before Majestic was torpedoed by a German U-boat. The surviving ships were employed in secondary roles from 1915 onwards, and after the war, all were sold for scrapping in 1920–22. Only one, Prince George, avoided the breakers' yards by wrecking off Camperduin.North Carolina-class battleship
The North Carolina class was a class of two fast battleships, North Carolina and Washington, built for the United States Navy in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The navy was originally uncertain whether the ships should be fast enough to counter the Japanese Kongō class, which was believed by the United States to be capable of 26 kn (48 km/h; 30 mph), or should sacrifice speed for additional firepower and armor. The Second London Naval Treaty's requirement that all capital ships have a standard displacement of under 35,000 LT (35,600 t) prevented the desired objectives from being fully realized within its limits, and the navy considered over fifty designs before one was chosen.
Towards the end of this lengthy design period the General Board of the United States Navy declared its preference for a battleship with a speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph), faster than any in US service or under construction, with a main battery of nine 14-inch (356 mm)/50 caliber Mark B guns. The board believed that such ships could fulfill a multitude of roles, as they would have enough protection to be put into a battle line while also having enough speed to escort aircraft carriers or engage in commerce raiding. However, the acting Secretary of the Navy authorized a modified version of a different design, which in its original form had been rejected by the General Board. This called for a 27-knot (50 km/h; 31 mph) ship with twelve 14-inch guns in quadruple turrets and protection against guns of the same caliber. In a major departure from traditional American design practices, this design accepted lower speed and protection in exchange for maximum firepower. After construction had begun, the United States became concerned over Japan's refusal to commit to the caliber limit of the Second London Naval Treaty, so they invoked the "escalator clause" of that pact and increased the class' main armament to nine 16-inch (406 mm)/45 Mark 6 caliber guns from the original twelve 14-inch guns.
Both North Carolina and Washington saw extensive service during the Second World War in a variety of roles, primarily in the Pacific theater where they escorted fast carrier task forces and conducted shore bombardments. North Carolina shot down between seven and fourteen Japanese aircraft in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, and later sustained a torpedo hit from a Japanese submarine. During the naval battle of Guadalcanal, which was a chaotic night engagement, Washington's radar-directed main batteries fatally damaged the Japanese battleship Kirishima causing it to sink the next day. In February 1944, Washington crushed its bow in a collision with battleship Indiana. Following repairs, Washington rejoined her sister for the Battle of the Philippine Sea. After the end of the war, both ships took part in Operation Magic Carpet, the withdrawal of American military personnel from overseas deployments. The vessels were laid up in the reserve fleet until the early 1960s, when North Carolina was sold to her home state as a museum ship, and Washington was broken up for scrap.Pensacola-class cruiser
The Pensacola class was a class of United States Navy heavy cruiser, the first "treaty cruisers" designed under the limitations set by the Washington Naval Treaty, which limited cruisers to a maximum of 10,000 long tons (10,160 t) displacement and a maximum main battery caliber of 8-inch (203 mm).Regina Elena-class battleship
The Regina Elena class was a group of four pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Italian Regia Marina between 1901 and 1908. The class comprised four ships: Regina Elena, the lead ship, Vittorio Emanuele, Roma, and Napoli. Designed by Vittorio Cuniberti, they were armed with a main battery of two 12-inch (300 mm) guns and twelve 8 in (200 mm) guns, and were capable of a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). They were the fastest battleships in the world at the time of their commissioning, faster even than the British turbine-powered HMS Dreadnought.
The ships saw service during the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912 with the Ottoman Empire. They frequently supported Italian ground forces during the campaigns in North Africa and the islands of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. They served during World War I, in which Italy participated from 1915 to 1918, but they saw no combat as a result of the cautious policies adopted by the Italian and Austro-Hungarian navies. All four ships were discarded between 1923 and 1926 and broken up for scrap.Sixth-rate
In the rating system of the British Royal Navy used to categorise sailing warships, a sixth-rate was the designation for small warships mounting between 20 and 28 carriage-mounted guns on a single deck, sometimes with smaller guns on the upper works and sometimes without. It thus encompassed ships with up to 30 guns in all. In the first half of the 18th century the main battery guns were 6-pounders, but by mid-century these were supplanted by 9-pounders. 28-gun sixth rates were classed as frigates, those smaller as 'post ships', indicating that they were still commanded by a full ('post') captain, as opposed to sloops of 18 guns and less under commanders.South Dakota-class battleship (1939)
The South Dakota class was a group of four fast battleships built by the United States Navy. They were the second class of battleships to be named after the 40th state; the first were designed in the 1920s and canceled under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.
Four ships comprised the class: South Dakota, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Alabama. They were designed to the same treaty standard displacement limit of 35,000 long tons (35,600 t) as the preceding North Carolina class and had the same main battery of nine 16"/45 caliber Mark 6 guns in three-gun turrets, but were more compact and better protected. The ships can be visually distinguished from the earlier vessels by their single funnel, compared to twin funnels in the North Carolinas. According to naval historians William Garzke and Robert Dulin, the South Dakota design was the best "treaty battleship" ever built.Construction began shortly before World War II, with Fiscal Year (FY) 1939 appropriations. Commissioning through the summer of 1942, the four ships served in both the Atlantic, ready to intercept possible German capital ship sorties, and the Pacific, in carrier groups and shore bombardments. All four ships were retired shortly after World War II; South Dakota and Indiana were scrapped in the 1960's, Massachusetts and Alabama were retained as museum ships.Worcester-class cruiser
The Worcester class was a class of light cruisers used by the United States Navy, laid down in 1945 and commissioned in 1948-49. They and their contemporaries, the Des Moines-class heavy cruisers, were the last all-gun cruisers built for the U.S. Navy. Ten ships were planned for this class, but only two (USS Worcester (CL-144) and USS Roanoke (CL-145)) were completed.
The main battery layout was distinctive, with twin rather than triple turrets, unlike the previous Cleveland-class, St. Louis-class, and Brooklyn-class light cruisers. Aside from the Worcesters main battery consisting of 6 in (152 mm) rather than 5 in (127 mm) guns, the layout was identical to the much smaller Juneau-class light cruisers, carrying 12 guns in six turrets, three forward and three aft, with only turrets 3 and 4 superfiring. The 6"/47 Mk 16 gun was an autoloading, high-angle dual purpose gun with a high rate of fire, and the Worcesters were thus designed to serve as AA cruisers like the Juneaus but with much more potent guns, as well as conventional light cruisers.
Both ships were decommissioned in 1958, the last conventional light cruisers to serve in the fleet, and scrapped in the early 1970s.