The ship type liner developed in the mid to late 16th century by technical innovations in shipbuilding and armament. At the beginning of the 16th century, with the invention of the gun port, it became possible to use openings deeper in the hull for guns, which were only opened to fire the cannons and otherwise remained closed so that no water could enter.

In addition to the gunports, the ship's guns continued to develop and not only larger calibers but also heavier cannons were created, which could now be installed on the lowest cannon decks without jeopardizing the ship's stability.

Through these technical innovations, the naval command was adapted to the circumstances. In the Middle Ages naval battles were often conducted by boarding and / or ramming, the tactics shifted towards the end more on the guns and their missions. In the course of this, the new types of ships were named after the formation in which they were moving, since the ships of the line were in line after each other in combat and were thus able to simultaneously fire their broadsides of guns on the enemy.




Sailing ships of the line:

The first sail liners were made of wood and equipped with sails.
During the 17th century, the tactics of the Kiellinien Formation were introduced, which ultimately gave the ships their name.

The armament of the ships consisted usually of 50 to 130 guns. These were distributed on the decks, the ships were divided later also after the number of cannon decks in Zweidecker, Dreidecker or Vierdecker.
On the bottom deck were the largest and heaviest guns with a caliber of 32-pounders to 42-pounders, on which means. and upper deck lay the 24-pounders and 12-pounders.

Despite the high number of guns, the caliber of the cannons was generally insufficient enough to actually cause great damage to enemy ships. In sea battles it therefore often came to a stalemate when the ships fought keel line against keel line and it was partly still resorting to subsequent boarding.

Only with the development and the emergence of the steam drive and larger caliber, the tactics changed.


Die HMS Victory um 1900 in Portsmouth

The HMS Victory in 1900 in Portsmouth




Screws Line Ships:

With the development of the steam propulsion system, existing sailing ships began to be retrofitted with this propulsion system in order not to rely on the wind in general and to make the ships more manoeuvrable. However, since shortly thereafter newly built ships were already equipped with the new drive from the outset and were designed accordingly, the helicopters quickly disappeared again from the naval forces.




Armored Steel Lines:

In addition to the steam drive, the development of steel production from the middle of the 19th century led to a change in ship construction. The battleships were now made as armored steam-powered ships, which now had a much better maneuverability, speed, range and armor. In addition, the guns were further developed and the accommodation was now on the deck in rotatable towers and not in dozens of rows on the ship's side. Thus, the new battleships were also classified according to their gun lineup and their armor:

  • Battery ship / broadside ship
    This ship type still had its guns after old construction on the side on several battery decks
  • Central Battery Ship
    The design of the central battery ship was also similar to that of the wooden battleships, only by the conversion of the guns from front to rear loader and the resulting larger guns, the number was drastically reduced. The guns were still set up in a gun battery and fired at the side of the ship
  • Casemate ships
    Casemate ships had their middle artillery lined up in armored boxes. These guns were mounted on rotating carriages
  • Turret ship
    The guns of the tower ships were set up in simple cylindrical spaces, similar to the later more modern version of the turrets
  • Barbed ship / Reduit ship
    In this type of ship front and back deck armored breastworks were attached, which were circular or pear-shaped and in which the guns were


HMS Hood, das letzte Turmschiff

HMS Hood, the last tower ship




Unity Line ships:

The unit-line ships formed out of the barbells, with the 2 guns were distributed on back and Schanz. At the end of the 19th century, the ships built in Germany of the Brandenburg class with their 3 twin turrets provided the basis for later warships.

In addition, the casemates of the individual turrets were now separated by transverse bulkheads in order not to endanger other areas of the ship at a meeting.


Das Einheits-Linienschiff HMS Caesar

The unit-liner HMS Caesar




Large liners:

At the beginning of the 20th century, the states of the United States and England began producing larger ships of the line, known as dreadnought. These were battleships, where greater emphasis was placed on the main guns and this was increased to 4, in part to 5, gun turrets and the caliber was much larger. The designation Großlinienschiff was used in Germany for these types of ships and after World War I the term battleship was generally used.


USS Texas (1919), ein „Super-Dreadnought“

USS Texas (1919), a "super dreadnought"


Contemporary postcard of the SMS Thuringia

Contemporary postcard of the SMS Thuringia


After the Second World War and the successful introduction of aircraft carriers as the largest warships, the battleships disappeared from the naval forces and were replaced by cruisers and frigates.






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