The battlecruiser (also written as battle cruiser or battle-cruiser) was a type of
Battlecruisers served in the navies of the
Improvements in armour design and propulsion created the 1930s "fast battleship" with the speed of a battlecruiser and armour of a battleship, making the battlecruiser in the traditional sense effectively an obsolete concept. Thus from the 1930s on, only the Royal Navy continued to use "battlecruiser" as a classification for the World War I–era capital ships that remained in the fleet; while Japan's battlecruisers remained in service, they had been significantly reconstructed and were re-rated as full-fledged fast battleships.[Note 1]
Battlecruisers were put into action again during World War II, and only one survived to the end. There was also renewed interest in large "cruiser-killer" type warships, but few were ever begun, as construction of battleships and battlecruisers was curtailed in favor of more-needed convoy escorts, aircraft carriers, and cargo ships. Near the end, and after the Cold War era, the Soviet Kirov class of large guided missile cruisers have been the only active ships termed "battlecruisers".
The battlecruiser was developed by the
In the 1890s, technology began to change this balance. New
Britain, which had concluded in 1892 that it needed twice as many cruisers as any potential enemy to adequately protect its empire's sea lanes, responded to the perceived threat by laying down its own large armoured cruisers. Between 1899 and 1905, it completed or laid down seven classes of this type, a total of 35 ships. This building program, in turn, prompted the French and Russians to increase their own construction. The Imperial German Navy began to build large armoured cruisers for use on their overseas stations, laying down eight between 1897 and 1906.
The cost of this cruiser arms race was significant. In the period 1889–1896, the Royal Navy spent £7.3 million on new large cruisers. From 1897 to 1904, it spent £26.9 million. Many armoured cruisers of the new kind were just as large and expensive as the equivalent battleship.
The increasing size and power of the armoured cruiser led to suggestions in British naval circles that cruisers should displace battleships entirely. The battleship's main advantage was its 12-inch heavy guns, and heavier armour designed to protect from shells of similar size. However, for a few years after 1900 it seemed that those advantages were of little practical value. The torpedo now had a range of 2,000 yards, and it seemed unlikely that a battleship would engage within torpedo range. However, at ranges of more than 2,000 yards it became increasingly unlikely that the heavy guns of a battleship would score any hits, as the heavy guns relied on primitive aiming techniques. The secondary batteries of 6-inch quick-firing guns, firing more plentiful shells, were more likely to hit the enemy. As naval expert Fred T. Jane wrote in June 1902,
Is there anything outside of 2,000 yards that the big gun in its hundreds of tons of medieval castle can affect, that its weight in 6-inch guns without the castle could not affect equally well? And inside 2,000, what, in these days of gyros, is there that the torpedo cannot effect with far more certainty?
In 1904, Admiral
The Battle of Tsushima proved conclusively the effectiveness of heavy guns over intermediate ones and the need for a uniform main caliber on a ship for fire control. Even before this, the Royal Navy had begun to consider a shift away from the mixed-calibre armament of the 1890s
Of what use is a battle fleet to a country called (A) at war with a country called (B) possessing no battleships, but having fast armoured cruisers and clouds of fast torpedo craft? What damage would (A's) battleships do to (B)? Would (B) wish for a few battleships or for more armoured cruisers? Would not (A) willingly exchange a few battleships for more fast armoured cruisers? In such a case, neither side wanting battleships is presumptive evidence that they are not of much value.
Fisher's views were very controversial within the Royal Navy, and even given his position as First Sea Lord, he was not in a position to insist on his own approach. Thus he assembled a "Committee on Designs", consisting of a mixture of civilian and naval experts, to determine the approach to both battleship and armoured cruiser construction in the future. While the stated purpose of the committee was to investigate and report on future requirements of ships, Fisher and his associates had already made key decisions.
Under the Selborne plan of 1902, the Royal Navy intended to start three new battleships and four armoured cruisers each year. However, in late 1904 it became clear that the 1905–1906 programme would have to be considerably smaller, because of lower than expected tax revenue and the need to buy out two Chilean battleships under construction in British yards, lest they be purchased by the Russians for use against the Japanese, Britain's ally. These economies meant that the 1905–1906 programme consisted only of one battleship, but three armoured cruisers. The battleship became the revolutionary battleship Dreadnought, and the cruisers became the three ships of the Invincible class. Fisher later claimed, however, that he had argued during the committee for the cancellation of the remaining battleship.
The construction of the new class was begun in 1906 and completed in 1908, delayed perhaps to allow their designers to learn from any problems with Dreadnought.
While the Invincibles were to fill the same role as the armoured cruisers they succeeded, they were expected to do so more effectively. Specifically their roles were:
- Heavy reconnaissance. Because of their power, the Invincibles could sweep away the screen of enemy cruisers to close with and observe an enemy battlefleet before using their superior speed to retire.
- Close support for the battle fleet. They could be stationed at the ends of the battle line to stop enemy cruisers harassing the battleships, and to harass the enemy's battleships if they were busy fighting battleships. Also, the Invincibles could operate as the fast wing of the battlefleet and try to outmanoeuvre the enemy.
- Pursuit. If an enemy fleet ran, then the Invincibles would use their speed to pursue, and their guns to damage or slow enemy ships.
- Commerce protection. The new ships would hunt down enemy cruisers and commerce raiders.
Confusion about how to refer to these new battleship-size armoured cruisers set in almost immediately. Even in late 1905, before work was begun on the Invincibles, a Royal Navy memorandum refers to "large armoured ships" meaning both battleships and large cruisers. In October 1906, the Admiralty began to classify all post-Dreadnought battleships and armoured cruisers as "
Along with questions over the new ships' nomenclature came uncertainty about their actual role due to their lack of protection. If they were primarily to act as scouts for the battle fleet and hunter-killers of enemy cruisers and commerce raiders, then the seven inches of belt armour with which they had been equipped would be adequate. If, on the other hand, they were expected to reinforce a battle line of dreadnoughts with their own heavy guns, they were too thin-skinned to be safe from an enemy's heavy guns. The Invincibles were essentially extremely large, heavily armed, fast armoured cruisers. However, the viability of the armoured cruiser was already in doubt. A cruiser that could have worked with the Fleet might have been a more viable option for taking over that role.
Because of the Invincibles' size and armament, naval authorities considered them capital ships almost from their inception—an assumption that might have been inevitable. Complicating matters further was that many naval authorities, including Lord Fisher, had made overoptimistic assessments from the Battle of Tsushima in 1905 about the armoured cruiser's ability to survive in a battle line against enemy capital ships due to their superior speed. These assumptions had been made without taking into account the Russian Baltic Fleet's inefficiency and tactical ineptitude. By the time the term "battlecruiser" had been given to the Invincibles, the idea of their parity with battleships had been fixed in many people's minds.
Not everyone was so convinced. Brassey's Naval Annual, for instance, stated that with vessels as large and expensive as the Invincibles, an admiral "will be certain to put them in the line of battle where their comparatively light protection will be a disadvantage and their high speed of no value." Those in favor of the battlecruiser countered with two points—first, since all capital ships were vulnerable to new weapons such as the torpedo, armour had lost some of its validity; and second, because of its greater speed, the battlecruiser could control the range at which it engaged an enemy.
Battlecruisers in the dreadnought arms race
Between the launching of the Invincibles to just after the outbreak of the First World War, the battlecruiser played a junior role in the developing dreadnought arms race, as it was never wholeheartedly adopted as the key weapon in British imperial defence, as Fisher had presumably desired. The biggest factor for this lack of acceptance was the marked change in Britain's strategic circumstances between their conception and the commissioning of the first ships. The prospective enemy for Britain had shifted from a Franco-Russian alliance with many armoured cruisers to a resurgent and increasingly belligerent Germany. Diplomatically, Britain had entered the
For their first few years of service, the Invincibles entirely fulfilled Fisher's vision of being able to sink any ship fast enough to catch them, and run from any ship capable of sinking them. An Invincible would also, in many circumstances, be able to take on an enemy pre-dreadnought battleship. Naval circles concurred that the armoured cruiser in its current form had come to the logical end of its development and the Invincibles were so far ahead of any enemy armoured cruiser in firepower and speed that it proved difficult to justify building more or bigger cruisers. This lead was extended by the surprise both Dreadnought and Invincible produced by having been built in secret; this prompted most other navies to delay their building programmes and radically revise their designs. This was particularly true for cruisers, because the details of the Invincible class were kept secret for longer; this meant that the last German armoured cruiser, Blücher, was armed with only 21-centimetre (8.3 in) guns, and was no match for the new battlecruisers.
The Royal Navy's early superiority in capital ships led to the rejection of a 1905–1906 design that would, essentially, have fused the battlecruiser and battleship concepts into what would eventually become the fast battleship. The 'X4' design combined the full armour and armament of Dreadnought with the 25-knot speed of Invincible. The additional cost could not be justified given the existing British lead and the new Liberal government's need for economy; the slower and cheaper Bellerophon, a relatively close copy of Dreadnought, was adopted instead. The X4 concept would eventually be fulfilled in the Queen Elizabeth class and later by other navies.
The next British battlecruisers were the three
By 1911 Germany had built battlecruisers of her own, and the superiority of the British ships could no longer be assured. Moreover, the German Navy did not share Fisher's view of the battlecruiser. In contrast to the British focus on increasing speed and firepower, Germany progressively improved the armour and staying power of their ships to better the British battlecruisers. Von der Tann, begun in 1908 and completed in 1910, carried eight 11.1-inch guns, but with 11.1-inch (283 mm) armour she was far better protected than the Invincibles. The two Moltkes were quite similar but carried ten 11.1-inch guns of an improved design. Seydlitz, designed in 1909 and finished in 1913, was a modified Moltke; speed increased by one knot to 26.5 knots (49.1 km/h; 30.5 mph), while her armour had a maximum thickness of 12 inches, equivalent to the Helgoland-class battleships of a few years earlier. Seydlitz was Germany's last battlecruiser completed before World War I.
The next step in battlecruiser design came from Japan. The
The next British battlecruiser,
1912 saw work begin on three more German battlecruisers of the Derfflinger class, the first German battlecruisers to mount 12-inch guns. These ships, like Tiger and the Kongōs, had their guns arranged in superfiring turrets for greater efficiency. Their armour and speed was similar to the previous Seydlitz class. In 1913, the Russian Empire also began the construction of the four-ship Borodino class, which were designed for service in the Baltic Sea. These ships were designed to carry twelve 14-inch guns, with armour up to 12 inches thick, and a speed of 26.6 knots (49.3 km/h; 30.6 mph). The heavy armour and relatively slow speed of these ships made them more similar to German designs than to British ships; construction of the Borodinos was halted by the First World War and all were scrapped after the end of the Russian Civil War.
World War I
For most of the combatants, capital ship construction was very limited during the war. Germany finished the Derfflinger class and began work on the Mackensen class. The Mackensens were a development of the Derfflinger class, with 13.8-inch guns and a broadly similar armour scheme, designed for 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph).
In Britain, Jackie Fisher returned to the office of First Sea Lord in October 1914. His enthusiasm for big, fast ships was unabated, and he set designers to producing a design for a battlecruiser with 15-inch guns. Because Fisher expected the next German battlecruiser to steam at 28 knots, he required the new British design to be capable of 32 knots. He planned to reorder two
At the same time, Fisher resorted to subterfuge to obtain another three fast, lightly armoured ships that could use several spare 15-inch (381 mm) gun turrets left over from battleship construction. These ships were essentially light battlecruisers, and Fisher occasionally referred to them as such, but officially they were classified as large light cruisers. This unusual designation was required because construction of new capital ships had been placed on hold, while there were no limits on light cruiser construction. They became Courageous and her sisters Glorious and Furious, and there was a bizarre imbalance between their main guns of 15 inches (or 18 inches (457 mm) in Furious) and their armour, which at three inches (76 mm) thickness was on the scale of a light cruiser. The design was generally regarded as a failure (nicknamed in the Fleet Outrageous, Uproarious and Spurious), though the later conversion of the ships to aircraft carriers was very successful. Fisher also speculated about a new mammoth, but lightly built battlecruiser, that would carry 20-inch (508 mm) guns, which he termed HMS Incomparable; this never got beyond the concept stage.
It is often held that the Renown and Courageous classes were designed for Fisher's plan to land troops (possibly Russian) on the German Baltic coast. Specifically, they were designed with a reduced
The final British battlecruiser design of the war was the
The Admiral class would have been the only British ships capable of taking on the German Mackensen class; nevertheless, German shipbuilding was drastically slowed by the war, and while two Mackensens were launched, none were ever completed. The Germans also worked briefly on a further three ships, of the Ersatz Yorck class, which were modified versions of the Mackensens with 15-inch guns. Work on the three additional Admirals was suspended in March 1917 to enable more escorts and merchant ships to be built to deal with the new threat from U-boats to trade. They were finally cancelled in February 1919.
Battlecruisers in action
The first combat involving battlecruisers during World War I was the
The German battlecruiser Goeben perhaps made the most impact early in the war. Stationed in the Mediterranean, she and the escorting light cruiser SMS Breslau evaded British and French ships on the outbreak of war, and steamed to Constantinople (Istanbul) with two British battlecruisers in hot pursuit. The two German ships were handed over to the Ottoman Navy, and this was instrumental in bringing the Ottoman Empire into the war as one of the Central Powers. Goeben herself, renamed Yavuz Sultan Selim, fought engagements against the Imperial Russian Navy in the Black Sea before being knocked out of the action for the remainder of the war after the Battle of Imbros against British forces in the Aegean Sea in January 1918.
The original battlecruiser concept proved successful in December 1914 at the Battle of the Falkland Islands. The British battlecruisers Inflexible and Invincible did precisely the job for which they were intended when they chased down and annihilated the German East Asia Squadron, centered on the armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, along with three light cruisers, commanded by Admiral Maximilian Graf Von Spee, in the South Atlantic Ocean. Prior to the battle, the Australian battlecruiser Australia had unsuccessfully searched for the German ships in the Pacific.
During the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915, the aftermost barbette of the German flagship Seydlitz was struck by a British 13.5-inch shell from HMS Lion. The shell did not penetrate the barbette, but it dislodged a piece of the barbette armour that allowed the flame from the shell's detonation to enter the barbette. The propellant charges being hoisted upwards were ignited, and the fireball flashed up into the turret and down into the magazine, setting fire to charges removed from their brass cartridge cases. The gun crew tried to escape into the next turret, which allowed the flash to spread into that turret as well, killing the crews of both turrets. Seydlitz was saved from near-certain destruction only by emergency flooding of her after magazines, which had been effected by Wilhelm Heidkamp. This near-disaster was due to the way that ammunition handling was arranged and was common to both German and British battleships and battlecruisers, but the lighter protection on the latter made them more vulnerable to the turret or barbette being penetrated. The Germans learned from investigating the damaged Seydlitz and instituted measures to ensure that ammunition handling minimised any possible exposure to flash.
Apart from the cordite handling, the battle was mostly inconclusive, though both the British flagship Lion and Seydlitz were severely damaged. Lion lost speed, causing her to fall behind the rest of the battleline, and Beatty was unable to effectively command his ships for the remainder of the engagement. A British signalling error allowed the German battlecruisers to withdraw, as most of Beatty's squadron mistakenly concentrated on the crippled armoured cruiser Blücher, sinking her with great loss of life. The British blamed their failure to win a decisive victory on their poor gunnery and attempted to increase their rate of fire by stockpiling unprotected cordite charges in their ammunition hoists and barbettes.
The better-armoured German battlecruisers fared better, in part due to the poor performance of British fuzes (the British shells tended to explode or break up on impact with the German armour). Lützow—the only German battlecruiser lost at Jutland—had only 128 killed, for instance, despite receiving more than thirty hits. The other German battlecruisers, Moltke, Von der Tann, Seydlitz, and Derfflinger, were all heavily damaged and required extensive repairs after the battle, Seydlitz barely making it home, for they had been the focus of British fire for much of the battle.
In the years immediately after World War I, Britain, Japan and the US all began design work on a new generation of ever more powerful battleships and battlecruisers. The new burst of shipbuilding that each nation's navy desired was politically controversial and potentially economically crippling. This nascent arms race was prevented by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, where the major naval powers agreed to limits on capital ship numbers. The German navy was not represented at the talks; under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was not allowed any modern capital ships at all.
Through the 1920s and 1930s only Britain and Japan retained battlecruisers, often modified and rebuilt from their original designs. The line between the battlecruiser and the modern fast battleship became blurred; indeed, the Japanese Kongōs were formally redesignated as battleships after their very comprehensive reconstruction in the 1930s.
Plans in the aftermath of World War I
Hood, launched in 1918, was the last World War I battlecruiser to be completed. Owing to lessons from Jutland, the ship was modified during construction; the thickness of her belt armour was increased by an average of 50 percent and extended substantially, she was given heavier deck armour, and the protection of her magazines was improved to guard against the ignition of ammunition. This was hoped to be capable of resisting her own weapons—the classic measure of a "balanced" battleship. Hood was the largest ship in the Royal Navy when completed; thanks to her great displacement, in theory she combined the firepower and armour of a battleship with the speed of a battlecruiser, causing some to refer to her as a fast battleship. However, her protection was markedly less than that of the British battleships built immediately after World War I, the Nelson class.
The navies of Japan and the United States, not being affected immediately by the war, had time to develop new heavy 16-inch (410 mm) guns for their latest designs and to refine their battlecruiser designs in light of combat experience in Europe. The Imperial Japanese Navy began four Amagi-class battlecruisers. These vessels would have been of unprecedented size and power, as fast and well armoured as Hood whilst carrying a main battery of ten 16-inch guns, the most powerful armament ever proposed for a battlecruiser. They were, for all intents and purposes, fast battleships—the only differences between them and the Tosa-class battleships which were to precede them were 1 inch (25 mm) less side armour and a .25 knots (0.46 km/h; 0.29 mph) increase in speed. The United States Navy, which had worked on its battlecruiser designs since 1913 and watched the latest developments in this class with great care, responded with the Lexington class. If completed as planned, they would have been exceptionally fast and well armed with eight 16-inch guns, but carried armour little better than the Invincibles—this after an 8,000-long-ton (8,100 t) increase in protection following Jutland. The final stage in the post-war battlecruiser race came with the British response to the Amagi and Lexington types: four 48,000-long-ton (49,000 t) G3 battlecruisers. Royal Navy documents of the period often described any battleship with a speed of over about 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph) as a battlecruiser, regardless of the amount of protective armour, although the G3 was considered by most to be a well-balanced fast battleship.
The Washington Naval Treaty meant that none of these designs came to fruition. Ships that had been started were either broken up on the slipway or converted to aircraft carriers. In Japan, Amagi and Akagi were selected for conversion. Amagi was damaged beyond repair by the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and was broken up for scrap; the hull of one of the proposed Tosa-class battleships, Kaga, was converted in her stead. The United States Navy also converted two battlecruiser hulls into aircraft carriers in the wake of the Washington Treaty: USS Lexington and USS Saratoga, although this was only considered marginally preferable to scrapping the hulls outright (the remaining four: Constellation, Ranger, Constitution and United States were scrapped). In Britain, Fisher's "large light cruisers," were converted to carriers. Furious had already been partially converted during the war and Glorious and Courageous were similarly converted.
In total, nine battlecruisers survived the Washington Naval Treaty, although HMS Tiger later became a victim of the
Unable to build new ships, the Imperial Japanese Navy also chose to improve its existing battlecruisers of the Kongō class (initially the
There were two exceptions: Turkey's Yavuz Sultan Selim and the Royal Navy's Hood. The Turkish Navy made only minor improvements to the ship in the interwar period, which primarily focused on repairing wartime damage and the installation of new fire control systems and anti-aircraft batteries. Hood was in constant service with the fleet and could not be withdrawn for an extended reconstruction. She received minor improvements over the course of the 1930s, including modern fire control systems, increased numbers of anti-aircraft guns, and in March 1941, radar.
In the late 1930s navies began to build capital ships again, and during this period a number of large commerce raiders and small, fast battleships were built that are sometimes referred to as battlecruisers. Germany and Russia designed new battlecruisers during this period, though only the latter laid down two of the 35,000-ton Kronshtadt class. They were still on the slipways when the Germans invaded in 1941 and construction was suspended. Both ships were scrapped after the war.
The Germans planned three battlecruisers of the O class as part of the expansion of the Kriegsmarine (Plan Z). With six 15-inch guns, high speed, excellent range, but very thin armour, they were intended as commerce raiders. Only one was ordered shortly before World War II; no work was ever done on it. No names were assigned, and they were known by their contract names: 'O', 'P', and 'Q'. The new class was not universally welcomed in the Kriegsmarine. Their abnormally-light protection gained it the derogatory nickname Ohne Panzer Quatsch (without armour nonsense) within certain circles of the Navy.
World War II
The Royal Navy deployed some of its battlecruisers during the
In the early years of the war various German ships had a measure of success hunting merchant ships in the Atlantic. Allied battlecruisers such as Renown, Repulse, and the fast battleships Dunkerque and Strasbourg were employed on operations to hunt down the commerce-raiding German ships. The one stand-up fight occurred when the battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen sortied into the North Atlantic to attack British shipping and were intercepted by Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales in May 1941 in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. The elderly British battlecruiser was no match for the modern German battleship: within minutes, the Bismarck's 15-inch shells caused a magazine explosion in Hood reminiscent of the Battle of Jutland. Only three men survived.
The first battlecruiser to see action in the Pacific War was Repulse when
The Japanese Kongō-class battlecruisers were extensively used as carrier escorts for most of their wartime career due to their high speed. Their World War I–era armament was weaker and their upgraded armour was still thin compared to contemporary battleships. On 13 November 1942, during the
Returning to Japan after the
Large cruisers or "cruiser killers"
A late renaissance in popularity of ships between battleships and cruisers in size occurred on the eve of World War II. Described by some as battlecruisers, but never classified as capital ships, they were variously described as "super cruisers", "large cruisers" or even "unrestricted cruisers". The Dutch, American, and Japanese navies all planned these new classes specifically to counter the heavy cruisers, or their counterparts, being built by their naval rivals.
The first such battlecruisers were the Dutch Design 1047, designed to protect their colonies in the East Indies in the face of Japanese aggression. Never officially assigned names, these ships were designed with German and Italian assistance. While they broadly resembled the German Scharnhorst class and had the same main battery, they would have been more lightly armoured and only protected against eight-inch gunfire. Although the design was mostly completed, work on the vessels never commenced as the Germans overran the Netherlands in May 1940. The first ship would have been laid down in June of that year.
The only class of these late battlecruisers actually built were the United States Navy's Alaska-class "large cruisers". Two of them were completed, Alaska and Guam; a third, Hawaii, was cancelled while under construction and three others, to be named Philippines, Puerto Rico and Samoa, were cancelled before they were laid down. They were classified as "large cruisers" instead of battlecruisers. These ships were named after territories or protectorates. (Battleships, were named after states and cruisers after cities.) With a main armament of nine 12-inch guns in three triple turrets and a displacement of 27,000 long tons (27,000 t), the Alaskas were twice the size of Baltimore-class cruisers and had guns some 50% larger in diameter. They lacked the thick armoured belt and intricate torpedo defence system of true capital ships. However, unlike most battlecruisers, they were considered a balanced design according to cruiser standards as their protection could withstand fire from their own caliber of gun, albeit only in a very narrow range band. They were designed to hunt down Japanese heavy cruisers, though by the time they entered service most Japanese cruisers had been sunk by American aircraft or submarines. Like the contemporary Iowa-class fast battleships, their speed ultimately made them more useful as carrier escorts and bombardment ships than as the surface combatants they were developed to be.
The Japanese started designing the B64 class, which was similar to the Alaska but with 310-millimetre (12.2 in) guns. News of the Alaskas led them to upgrade the design, creating Design B-65. Armed with 356 mm guns, the B65s would have been the best armed of the new breed of battlecruisers, but they still would have had only sufficient protection to keep out eight-inch shells. Much like the Dutch, the Japanese got as far as completing the design for the B65s, but never laid them down. By the time the designs were ready the Japanese Navy recognized that they had little use for the vessels and that their priority for construction should lie with aircraft carriers. Like the Alaskas, the Japanese did not call these ships battlecruisers, referring to them instead as super-heavy cruisers.
Cold War–era designs
In spite of the fact that most navies abandoned the battleship and battlecruiser concepts after World War II, Joseph Stalin's fondness for big-gun-armed warships caused the Soviet Union to plan a large cruiser class in the late 1940s. In the Soviet Navy, they were termed "heavy cruisers" (tjazholyj krejser). The fruits of this program were the Project 82 (Stalingrad) cruisers, of 36,500 tonnes (35,900 long tons) standard load, nine 305 mm (12 in) guns and a speed of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph). Three ships were laid down in 1951–1952, but they were cancelled in April 1953 after Stalin's death. Only the central armoured hull section of the first ship, Stalingrad, was launched in 1954 and then used as a target.
The Soviet Kirov class is sometimes referred to as a battlecruiser. This description arises from their over 24,000-tonne (24,000-long-ton) displacement, which is roughly equal to that of a First World War battleship and more than twice the displacement of contemporary cruisers; upon entry into service, Kirov was the largest surface combatant to be built since World War II. The Kirov class lacks the armour that distinguishes battlecruisers from ordinary cruisers and they are classified as heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers (Тяжелый Атомный Ракетный Крейсер (ТАРКР)) by Russia, with their primary surface armament consisting of twenty P-700 Granit surface to surface missiles. Four members of the class were completed during the 1980s and 1990s, but due to budget constraints only the Pyotr Velikiy is operational with the Russian Navy, though plans were announced in 2010 to return the other three ships to service. As of 2021, Admiral Nakhimov was being refitted, but the other two ships are reportedly beyond economical repair.
- Imperial German Navy five surviving battlecruisers were all scuttled at Scapa Flow in 1919.
- Royal Australian Navy decommissioned its only battlecruiser HMAS Australia in 1921.
- Kongo-classbattlecruisers into fast-battleships in the 1930s, ending their operation of battlecruisers.
- Royal Navy last battlecruiser, HMS Renown was decommissioned in 1945, following World War II.
- United States Navy two Alaska-class battlecruisers were both decommissioned in 1947.
- Turkish Naval Forces decommissioned its only battlecruiser TCG Yavuz in 1950.
- List of battlecruisers
- List of battlecruisers of World War I
- List of battlecruisers of World War II
- List of ships of the Second World War
- List of sunken battlecruisers
- The German Scharnhorst-class battleships and Deutschland-class cruisers and the French Dunkerque-class battleships are all sometimes referred to as battlecruisers, although the owning navies referred to them as "battleships" (German: Schlachtschiffe), "armoured ships" (German: Panzerschiffe) and "battleships" (French: Bâtiments de ligne) respectively. Since neither their operators nor a significant number of naval historians classify them as such, they are not discussed in this article.
- Breyer, p. 168
- Gröner, pp. 31, 60; Gille, p. 139; Koop & Schmolke, p. 4
- Chesneau, p. 259
- Bidlingmaier, pp. 73–74
- Sondhaus, p. 199; Roberts, p. 13
- Sumida, p. 19
- Breyer, p. 47
- Lambert 2002, pp. 20–22; Osborne, pp. 61–62
- Gardiner & Gray, p. 142; Osborne, pp. 62, 74
- Sumida, p. 351, Table 9. Figures are for First-Class Cruisers and exclude armament.
- Sumida, pp. 42–44
- Quoted in Sumida, p. 44
- Roberts, p. 15; Mackay, pp. 212–13
- Breyer, p. 48
- Roberts, pp. 16–17
- Mackay, pp. 324–25; Roberts, pp. 17–18; Sumida, p. 52
- quoted in Sumida, p. 52
- Roberts, p. 19
- Breyer, p. 115
- Sumida, p. 55
- Roberts, pp. 24–25
- Burr, pp. 7–8
- Breyer, pp. 114–17
- Gardiner & Gray, p. 24
- Roberts, p. 18
- Mackay, pp. 325–26
- Admiralty Weekly Orders. 351. – Description and Classification of Cruisers of the "Invincible" and Later Types. ADM 182/2, quoted at The Dreadnought Project: The Battle Cruiser in the Royal Navy.
- Massie, p. 494
- As quoted in Massie, pp. 494–95
- Friedman, p. 10
- Sondhaus, pp. 199–202
- Roberts, p. 25; Mackay, pp. 324–25
- Sondhaus, pp. 201–02
- Staff, pp. 3–4
- Roberts, p. 26
- Breyer, pp. 61–62
- Roberts, pp. 28–29
- Brown 1999, p. 57
- Sondhaus, p. 203
- Roberts, p. 32
- Roberts, pp. 31–33
- Sondhaus, pp. 202–03
- Breyer, pp. 269–72
- Breyer, pp. 267, 272
- Evans & Peattie, pp. 161–63
- Gardiner & Gray, p. 233
- Roberts, pp. 37–38
- Breyer, p. 136
- Breyer, pp. 277–78
- Breyer, p. 399
- Breyer, pp. 283–84
- Roberts, pp. 46–47
- Roberts, pp. 50–52
- Breyer, p. 172
- Roberts, p. 51
- Roberts, pp. 55–61
- Roberts, pp. 60–61
- Gröner, pp. 58–59
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