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What is the armor belt on a battleship?

What is the armor belt on a battleship?

Battleships

Battleship belt armor was a critical element of naval warfare for much of the 20th century. It was designed to protect the hull of a battleship from enemy fire, particularly from shells and torpedoes. The development of belt armor was closely tied to the evolution of naval artillery, as the need for stronger armor grew alongside the increasing caliber and power of naval guns.

The concept of belt armor can be traced back to the ironclad ships of the 19th century. During the American Civil War, both the Union and the Confederacy deployed ironclad vessels that were armed with heavy guns and protected by iron or steel plates. These ironclads were a significant improvement over wooden ships, which were highly vulnerable to enemy fire.

The development of steel in the late 19th century revolutionized naval construction.

Steel was stronger and more durable than iron, and it could be rolled into plates of much greater thickness. This made it possible to build stronger and more heavily armored ships, including battleships.

The first battleships, which emerged in the 1880s and 1890s, were protected by thick belts of steel armor that ran along the sides of the ship. These belts were typically about 15 inches thick and covered the vital parts of the ship, such as the machinery and magazines. They were designed to deflect or absorb the impact of enemy shells and prevent them from penetrating the hull of the ship.

As naval artillery continued to evolve, so did the design of battleship belt armor. In the early 20th century, the caliber of naval guns increased dramatically, and this led to the development of thicker and more heavily armored battleships. The belt armor of these ships was typically around 18 inches thick and was supported by a network of internal bulkheads and other structural elements that helped to distribute the load and prevent the armor from deforming or failing.

During World War I, battleship belt armor faced its first major test.

The naval battles of the war, such as the Battle of Jutland, saw heavy fighting between battleships and cruisers, and the effectiveness of belt armor was put to the test. While some ships were able to withstand heavy damage and remain afloat, others were sunk or severely damaged by enemy fire.

Armor and underwater protection of King George V and Tirpitz.

After World War I, the design of battleship belt armor continued to evolve. The Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, which was signed in 1922, placed limits on the size and caliber of naval guns and mandated that the thickness of battleship belt armor could not exceed a certain level. This led to a period of relative stability in the design of battleships, as the major naval powers focused on refining and improving existing designs rather than developing new ones.

During World War II, battleship belt armor was again tested in combat. The naval battles of the war, such as the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway, saw heavy fighting between battleships and aircraft carriers. The belt armor of these ships was typically around 16 inches thick and was supported by a network of internal bulkheads and other structural elements.

Belt armor on damaged USS Oklahoma (BB-37).

In the post-World War II period, the role of battleships in naval warfare declined as aircraft carriers and other types of ships became increasingly dominant. As a result, the development of battleship belt armor slowed and eventually came to a halt. Today, battleships are no longer in active service, and the concept of belt armor has largely been superseded by newer technologies. Most notably, air power.

What is the armor belt on a battleship?