(Comprehensive Guide to Military History)

The class of large turbine-powered ships that dominated naval warfare between about 1906 and 1941. The first such ship, the Dreadnought, was launched in Britain in 1906. Unlike earlier vessels, it had an “all-big-gun” armament: ten 12-inch guns in five twin turrets, twenty-four 3-inch quick-firing guns and, for countering torpedo boats and destroyers, five maxim machine guns and four torpedo tubes. Indeed, there was no real need for guns of secondary caliber, as improvements in naval artillery made long-range fire more accurate. The Dreadnought displaced 18,000 tons, was 526 feet long and carried a crew of 800.

The advent of dreadnoughts (for so they were named, after the original of their type) was a watershed event in the naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain prior to World War I (1914-1915). The dreadnought, though soon replaced by “superdreadnoughts” of greater speed and with larger guns, created a pattern for capital ships that was widely followed.