Paper Tiger: Why a Battlecruiser Is No Battleship

    Michael Peck


    You can have armor, firepower or speed, but not all three, and armor was the trait that was sacrificed.

    The irony is that while battlecruisers are gone, they are still with us today. Battlecruisers were eggshells armed with hammers, which exactly describes modern warships. Today’s combat vessels mount weapons of staggering lethality, especially anti-ship missiles.  They also defend themselves with cannons and missiles to shoot down incoming weapons with a technological finesse that would have seemed like an H.G. Wells novel to a sailor in 1914.

    “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today,” said Admiral Beatty as he watched his battlecruisers blow up one by one at the Battle of Jutland.

    The words were classic British understatement, but 3,000 dead sailors were ample evidence that something was indeed wrong with the vessels that were neither battleships nor cruisers.

    It wasn’t supposed to work that way when Britain’s Grand Fleet encountered Imperial Germany’s High Seas Fleet off the Jutland peninsula of Denmark on May 31, 1916. Battlecruisers were meant to be a solution to a problem, not a problem themselves.

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