Battlecruisers are large capital warships that emphasize speed over armor. Though they are thin in armor, their speed and firepower make them formidable at longer ranges. However, battleships that have both speed and firepower would easily rout a battlecruiser. Such an example was the HMS Hood, a British battlecruiser, which was destroyed by one hit from the German battleship Bismarck.
At around the same time the dreadnought battleship was in development, the same man who gave birth to it, Sir John Jack Fisher, also known as Jacky, gave birth to the battlecruiser. His concept was that this warship would act as cruiser, scouting for enemy fleets before retreating, but can also act as a capital ship, sinking enemy cruisers. The idea was that these ships would have guns big enough to sink any ships faster, and have the speed to run away from ships that can outgun them. The firepower indeed was usually only slightly smaller than the dreadnoughts, having only one less turret, and their speed were well over 5 knots faster than any dreadnought. The Germans however had different views on the battlecruiser. The kaiser wanted his battlecruisers to operate in the line of battle with battleships. So instead of removing armour, they gave their battlecruisers smaller guns. This factor would prove significant to the famous Battle of Jutland, where the British lost three battlecruisers and the Germans lost only one.
The advent of the fast battleship soon made the battlecruiser unworthy. Indeed, only a few WWI era battlecruisers remained, outdated by new technology. Of those battlecruisers, only the Renown survived; her sister Repulse was sunk along with the Prince of Wales by Japanese bombers, the Hood was destroyed in the Battle of the Denmark Strait and the four Kongo class battlecruisers were sunk throughout the Pacific war. The only battlecruisers built after WWI were the Scharnhorst-class and the Dunkerque-class, though many were planned, most were scrapped due to the Washington Treaty or converted into carriers, like the Lexington-class, the Courageous-class and the Akagi.
These ships are armed like battleships, with armaments up to 46 cm Guns. However, they lack the durability necessary to survive the hits. Despite this, they take the form of a battleship. They may also carry Mk 45 5 inch guns, AAA and ASW.
Roles and Usage
In the game, they could be used with skill as farming ships on single-player, owing to their relatively high firepower and because of the lessened armor, lower cost. Lightweight armor, which would enable both speed and firepower to mix, is pricey for new players. This could be used as a stopgap warship before the construction of more expensive battleships. When they are to be replaced, they could be modified like the Lexington and the Saratoga- as a carrier. Using the inherent durability that any surface warship has and the range of a carrier, they can serve as the first carrier for a new player. Moreover, their streamlined hulls, designed for speed and maneuverability, make them attractive for conversions to a carrier. They could also receive a modification like the IJN Ise, which combines the firepower of medium-weight guns with a respectably-sized air fleet. Battlecruisers, for the most part, make poor multiplayer ships as their heavy guns bring them into a realm of warships armed with similar-sized weapons but with considerably heavier armor than themselves. Such a vessel is outclassed by faster battleships, who can keep up with a battlecruiser and sports heavier armor.
See Battle Tactics
Play this vessel more like a cruiser than a battleship, for you have the firepower but not the armor of a battleship. Use the superior mobility to destroy enemy vessels, bringing heavy guns with cruiser speed. Perhaps the biggest niche role it carries is aircraft carrier destroyer. As battleships already are extremely vulnerable to aircraft, use the weight savings to invest in an airtight air defense. With it, you can approach carriers safely with little worry from enemy aircraft. However, standard anti-aircraft warfare maneuvers apply. Then use the heavy guns to demolish carriers with ease. However, it is usually unwise to employ overly specialized warships in random PvP.
New and deadly weapons loom on the horizon, like missiles, where accuracy is not a problem. Battlecruisers, like battleships, will need to adapt to this new weaponry. However, they will be handicapped by a lack of armor, making them easy to kill. With more high-damage weaponry, what will happen to the battlecruiser? It remains in the domain of single-player farming, given its lower cost and heavy guns. But will the battlecruiser forever remain in that domain?
- Battlecruisers are really just battleships with the armor and speed of a cruiser
- Marked obsolete with the end of Battleships and the beginning of Guided Missile Cruisers (although the Russian Navy's Kirov-class are sometimes called battlecruisers due to their size relative to other guided missile cruisers).
- Aircraft carriers USS Lexington CV-2 and USS Saratoga CV-3 were originally planned to be battlecruisers, but were converted to aircraft carriers.
- The largest battlecruiser ever built was the HMS Hood with a length of 860 ft 7 in (262.3 m)
- The only battlecruiser left in service today is the Kirov-class battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky, with her 3 sister ships being reactivated. Some, however, would classify her as a missile cruiser.