Britain’s last battleships – at last

All empires, it seems, decline and fall, often disgracefully. The one exception is the British Empire, which faded away in a quite civil manner by comparison with the usual way these entities collapse. It happened during the twentieth century, largely on the back of two world wars that effectively bankrupted Britain. By 1945 – when … More Britain’s last battleships – at last

The battle of Jutland and the Royal Navy’s steampunk computers

It’s Jutland day again – 101 years since the great fleets of Britain and Germany clashed in the North Sea in what was expected to be a kind of second Trafalgar in which the German High Seas Fleet was supposed to be sunk. It wasn’t. The British won it strategically: the German fleet scuttled back … More The battle of Jutland and the Royal Navy’s steampunk computers

Why ships are more than just steel and lists of statistics

There’s a vigorous naval enthusiast community out there. And it’s always intrigued me how often their discussions devolve to bitterly personalised argument, often infused with a kind of nationalist machismo in which paper statistics become weapons for invalidating the personal worth of the other party. Setting aside the point that this is basically dick-waving, using … More Why ships are more than just steel and lists of statistics

Why the Bismarck myths were – well, myths

As we saw in the previous post, the German battleship KM Bismarck has been subject to its fair share of mythology. Much flowed from exaggerated claims about Bismarck’s characteristics. In fact the only real advantage of Bismarck was size. In the 1930s, battleships were limited to standard displacement of 35,561 tonnes (35,000 long tons) by international treaties dating to 1922, … More Why the Bismarck myths were – well, myths

De-mythologising the ‘invincible’ Bismarck…at last…

I’ve been writing a bit of military history lately on this blog, courtesy of a couple of recent anniversaries – Jutland and D-Day. I thought I’d wrap it up, for now, with a two-parter debunking some of the mythology surrounding the German battleship KM Bismarck, whose sortie into the Atlantic in May 1941 lasted just 210 … More De-mythologising the ‘invincible’ Bismarck…at last…