One of the great things about being able to write for this or any other blog is the ability to ask questions with the purpose of drawing out opinions and generating discussion amongst knowledgeable readers.
The question I pose today is the following:
In your opinion, what was the most beautiful warship ever built?
Defining “beauty” in an instrument of war may seem a contradiction, but to the denizens here and elsewhere who are either Naval enthusiasts or have been to sea on a warship, there is an instinctive reaction to the sight of a graceful and well-balanced vessel that exudes power and strength.
Beauty, also being in the eye of the beholder, still has some qualifiers on this first offering:
- The ship (for this round, at least) must be a capital ship, a fleet carrier, battleship, battle cruiser, armored cruiser, guided missile cruiser, or heavy cruiser.
- The ship must be primarily steam-powered and of steel/iron construction.
Note that neither design success nor combat record is a part of any consideration. This is not about the most effective fighting vessel, but rather the most aesthetically pleasing.
My offerings below are not at all exhaustive, and I encourage any additional input for which class or one-off ship strikes your sense of beauty. That said, one can likely easily spot some of my biases in my selections. The “clipper” or “Atlantic” bow. Funnel caps. I could think of no pre-Dreadnoughts that were beautiful ships. Amphibs, either. I offer only a single aircraft carrier class, as well. I heavily favored guns, but not exclusively. And there are a few selections that either precede or follow major rebuilds which make the vessels all but unrecognizable from their original design. Which is good in one case, bad in another.
And I selected no French battleships. They tend to be ugly affairs, with tumble-home sides and oddly-spaced machinery and funnels. Even the Dunkerques and Richeleius, while significant improvements, suffer from the truncated appearance that plagued Nelson and Rodney, which are also not on my list.
Without further ado, grouped by country, below are my considerations for the most beautiful warships ever built. Select from them, if you like, or offer your own choices.
Helgoland-class Second Generation Dreadnoughts
Hipper-class Heavy Cruisers**
Queen Elizabeth-class Super Dreadnoughts (As built)
Mikuma-class Heavy Cruisers
Maya-class Heavy Cruisers
Andrea Doria-class Battleships (post-rebuild)
Vittorio Veneto-class Battleships
Zara-class Heavy Cruisers
The United States
Lexington-class Fleet Aircraft Carriers
South Dakota-class Battleships
Des Moines-class Heavy Cruisers
California-class Nuclear Guided Missile Cruisers
Duquesne-class Heavy Cruisers
Suffern-class Heavy Cruisers
Project-68 (Sverdlov)-class Heavy Cruisers
So there you are, some suggestions for the most beautiful warships ever built. Fire away, either with the ones I provided, or offer your own ideas.
(Next round will be Light Cruisers and Destroyers.)
** Both Gneisenaus and cruiser Hipper were completed with straight stem and no funnel cap. The addition of the “clipper bow” and capped funnel was not considered a significant rebuild in either class/unit.
UPDATE and BUMPED: Now with a poll added. I’ll have to teach URR how to make one before the next round. Vote!