Iowa Class Battleship

Continuing concern that Japan was constructing battleships exceeding the 35,000-ton treaty limit caused the United States, together with the co-signatories United Kingdom and France, to agree (in June 1938) to raise the limit to 45,000 tons. Contingency work had already commenced on such ships, allowing orders to be placed exactly one year later.

All extra 10,000 tons were allocated to improve speed and protection, with main and secondary armament effectively identical; in scope and disposition. The first four units were laid down in the seven months between June 1940 and January 1941. The fifth and sixth ships of the class were delayed until December 1944 and January 1945 respectively because of other building priorities. Inevitably, so late in the war, they were never completed. Kentucky was actually launched but plans for her completion with a guided-missile armament came to naught.

Completed in 1943/4 the surviving quartette formed the 'Fast battleship' division of the Pacific Fleet. Halsey's poor judgment during the Leyte Gulf battles saw them miss their only real chance to prove themselves in surface action. Only Missouri was ever damaged, and that by a single Kamikaze.

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