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A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships are larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. After the old wooden sailing ship of the line became obsolete around 1870, battleships were the new capital ships, the largest armed ships in a fleet. They were used to take command of the sea, and represented the apex of a nation's naval power. In 1906 the new HMS Dreadnought made all older battleships obsolete.
Battleships gave support gunnery (that is: shooting targets on coast or inland) for amphibious invasions. They often served as flagships.
After World War II with the rise of bombers and guided missiles, a battleship's large guns and thick armor were less useful for fighting other ships. Battleships were no longer made, and faded from use. The United States Navy used battleships until 2004, when the last ones were made museums. Aircraft carriers and large submarines took their jobs.
The development of high-explosive shells made the use of iron armor plate on warships necessary. In 1859 France launched Gloire, the first ocean-going ironclad warship. She had the profile of a ship of the line, cut to one deck due to weight considerations. Although made of wood and reliant on sail for most journeys, Gloire was fitted with a propeller, and her wooden hull was protected by a layer of thick iron armor. Gloire prompted further innovation from the Royal Navy, anxious to prevent France from gaining a technological lead.
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