Release: February 11, 2008
The Battleships: Before the nuclear bomb, no weapon on earth had evoked so much fear, veneration and passion as the battleship. In destructive power it had no equal. Produced for Channel 4, The Battleships in four epic programmes unveils the dramatic saga of power, international politics, and one-upmanship that led to the titanic wars of the twentieth century. It is a story involving rulers, warlords and admirals who all became intoxicated by the grandeur, majesty and sheer power of these floating fortresses. Enriched with eyewitness accounts and contributions from naval experts around the globe, the series explores the rapid evolution of firepower and battleship design from canvas to steam, timber to steel, muzzle-loading cannon to 18-inch guns, and beyond, to rocket launchers and missiles. As the spearhead of colonial expansion and in defence of the great empires the battleship reigned supreme. In the decade leading up to World War I, Britain and Germany became embroiled in an unprecedented arms race for domination of the seas. It was a period when the battleship reigned supreme, a reign, however, that could not keep pace with the technological advancements taking place that would effect the way wars would be fought in the future. In the face of submarines and air warfare, the battleship would have a real fight on its hands to survive as the ultimate weapon of naval warfare. Destruction by aerial bombing and torpedo attacks during World War II became turning points in the story of the battleship. With the major powers rethinking their arsenals, only the four US Iowa Class battleships would survive to play a significant role in the wars of the latter part of the twentieth century.