What were the most powerful battleships of World War 2?

World War 2 was the largest and bloodiest war of all time.  Every part of the world and every major world power participated in this conflict.  From the US east coast to the Indian Ocean, large naval battles occurred on every ocean of the world.  But if World War 2 naval warfare showed anything, it was that the Battleship was no longer the capital ship of the navy.  With the advent of the aircraft carrier, the Battleship became second fiddle to the powerful fleet carriers.

But Battleships still provided a valuable contribution to the war effort.  Battleships escorted and
protected the carriers and other ships from surface and air attacks.  They provided valuable shore bombardment duties.  Also, surface to surface actions still happened, with battleships dominating the smaller cruisers and destroyers.  But which country had the most powerful battleship?  Each of the main Allies and Axis powers had a Battleship component.  Below is a summary of the most  powerful class of Battleship by country:

Italy:  Italy had 3 modern Battleships in its fleet.  The Vittorio class of Battleship was the largest ship ever built by the Italian navy.  These ships weighed 52,000 tons and possessed nine 15 inch guns.  However, these ships served little purpose in the war.  Early in the war, British carrier based planes attacked the Italian fleet moored in their home base at Taranto.  British torpedo planes destroyed or damaged all three ships.  On the Italian surrender in 1943, the ships were transferred to the Allies.

Germany:  Traditionally, Germany is not a naval power.  This was also true during World War 2.  However, the German navy did possess two of the most powerful Battleships during the war.  The Bismarck class of warship was designed to patrol the North Atlantic in search of Allied convoys.  However, the German navy was greatly outnumbered and outgunned in naval firepower.     Both ships were destroyed by the British.  The Bismarck was destroyed by a fleet of British ships that included 2 Battleships.  It’s sister ship, the Terpitz, was destroyed by British carrier based planes.  Neither ship ever fulfilled its mission and so much as fired a shot at a convoy.  These ships weighed 52,000 tons and had eight 15 inch guns.

Great Britain:  The main British Battleship was the HMS King George V class.  5 of these ships were built, each weighing 42,000 tons.  They carried ten 14 inch guns and served in every theatre of the war.  Four of these ships survived the war, with only the HMS Prince of Wales being sunk by Japanese land based bombers.

Japan:  The two largest Battleships ever built were the Yamato and the Musashi.  These 72,000 ton battlewagons had nine 18 guns, larger than any ship in history.  However, neither ship ever fired a shot in battle until the war was practically decided in 1944.  Both ships were sunk by American carrier based warplanes.


US:  The Iowa Class of warship was perhaps, the best Battleship ever built.  Four of these 52,000 ton ships were built and each carried nine 16 inch guns.  While there guns were smaller than those of Japanese battlewagons, they had superior armor, fire control and speed.  Two of these ships served into the 1990s and were the last Battleships to ever serve in any fleet.