|Andrew kicks ass ... rather than just touching it|
A large, powerfully-armed and heavily-armoured warship, designed to support a nation's foreign policy by dominating the high seas. No examples are currently in service with any navy.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME
"Ship of the Line-of-Battle"; later abbreviated to "Line-of-Battle Ship", and finally to "Battleship".
FIRST TRUE BATTLE SHIPS
Although the Frogs were the first to have a 'battleship' (the Redoutable, launched in 1876, and was the first to mainly use steel), HMS Dreadnought revolutionised naval power in 1906.
THE RISE AND FALL
Unfortunately, at roughly the same time as HMS Dreadnought was tooling around the North Sea and elsewhere, someone went and invented aeroplanes, and it was these that finally did for this class of warship. Big, not that quick at the traffic lights and expensive, they presented the perfect target for any slanty-eyed devil in an aeroplane with an axe to grind.
The slanty-eyed devils were pretty good at sinking battleships. They took notice of a little-regarded US Army Air Service officer who'd twigged pretty early on that a few aeroplanes could really fuck up the afternoon tiffin in the Wardroom. Typically, the establishment dismissed such lunatic rantings only for General Billy Mitchell's musings to be utterley vindicated a few years later. Come WW2 the Sons of Nippon also took more than a passing interest in the Royal Navy's efforts to give Johnny Italian a drubbing at Taranto - the end product of all this being the decimation of the the entire US Pacific Fleet in a one-er at Pearl Harbour. The ungrateful cnuts then went on to sink two of ours: HM Ships Prince of Wales and Repulse. Still, we got our own back.
THE END IS IN SIGHT
World War II was the swansong of the Battleship. The Royal Navy's last 'battlewaggon' HMS Vanguard was commissioned in 1946, only to be decommissioned and scrapped a few years later in 1960. The spams managed to hold on to theirs for a while longer with their Iowa Class ships seeing service in Korea and Vietnam before being mothballed.
Surprisingly, the Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri and Wisconsin were re-activated in the 1980s - the latter two seeing service in the Gulf War. All four were decommissioned in the 1990s and that was it: ENDEX. Top tip. Never criticise the chef on a BB.