Written by CaptainSausage

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The golden age of the battleship was undoubtedly World War II. Although first used in the 1800s, initial models were pulled by dolphins, who quickly tired. Thankfully the invention of the steam engine soon led to vastly increased power and size of the ships. By the time WW2 arrived, these iron titans of the sea were ready to cock-slap each other out of the water with great vigour, ultimately deciding the course of the war.

From the early 1900s, battleships were a sign of a nation's power and virility. Countries would compete with each other to see who had the biggest one. Britain had the enormous HMS Manhood, while the Americans had the gargantuan SS Johnson.

It was the Germans however, who in 1940 built the biggest of all - the Schlong, 2 miles from base to tip. It was so large that it took half an hour to penetrate the North Sea's waters. A watching Swedish ship expert described it as "magnificent. You could see the seawater splashing its sides like beads of sweat. I wouldn't want to have that ramming into my stern."

Regrettably, the ship was so large that it was incapable of turning. It had been aimed roughly towards the UK, but it missed and came to a sticky end in the Arctic.

Britain's HMS Manhood had a more successful war career, cruising the North Atlantic for enemy seamen to devour. It was also a monster ship, notable not only for its length but its sizeable girth. It would fire 12 inchers through its glory hole, leaving the enemy with a very bad taste in the mouth.

The Japanese were latecomers to battleship development. Theirs tended to be smaller than everyone else's. Nevertheless, they made up in tenacity what they lacked in size. Groups of Japanese battleships would surround an enemy ship and fire load after load continually over its face. These "bukkake" tactics proved deadly to the US navy in the early stages of the war.

The turning point came when the US began to deploy midget submarines. These would be crewed by Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz, often still dressed in full costume, and they managed to successful sink dozens of Japanese vessels without being seen.

Nowadays, naval warfare is not so much about the size of the boat but what its crew does with it, but many war enthusiasts still dream of the good old days. As military shipwatcher Bertram Crevice said, "There is nothing more glorious than watching a great beast of a battleship gliding through the water like an erect cock in the bath."

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