is a fascinating documentary series for those interested in history,
and navies in particular, and traces the rise of one of the most
powerful weapons devised by man - the battleship.
the launch of the first battleship - the Mary Rose - in the time
of England's Henry VIII, right through to the Gulf War, empires
have used the floating gun platforms as objects of power and prestige.
better, faster, stronger became the catchcries of imperial navies
and the constant need to remain technologically ahead of rivals
led directly to the arms race that helped cause World War I.
series is split into four episodes of about 50-minutes - A Thirst
For Blood and Iron (1800-1906), Clash of the Dreadnoughts (1906-1916),
The Darkness of the Future (1916-1939) and Terror From Above (1939-present
day) - covering the major episodes in the chronology of battleships.
Royal Navy figures heavily in the series as its early rivalries
for naval supremacy over France, Spain and Holland set the tone
for its ability to not only protect itself from invasion, but also
project its influence around the world.
do this Britain had a doctrine of staying more powerful that its
two closest rivals put together.
the Battle of Trafalgar, Britain definitely ruled the waves - and
that continued despite the attentions of other powers to building
up their navies. If France designed a steamship or iron ship, then
Britain developed better ones.
from some excellent imagery and footage of naval battles, the most
interesting thing about the series is following the arms race through
building steel vessels called Dreadnoughts at the turn of the century,
Britain almost shot herself in the foot because overnight its entire
naval supremacy was almost wiped out.
numerous old vessels became obsolete and suddenly other powers could
almost begin to match the great Royal Navy. When Germany decided
to challenge Britain in the naval stakes the road to war was inevitable.
World War I most nations - except the US - hauled back on production,
and so America became the world's equal most powerful navy.
early this century, Britain's fear of a strong US navy could have
led to another war between the now-firm friends. Since World War
2 the Soviets replaced the Royal Navy as America's only naval challenge.
Battleships is a marvellous piece of work that details the politics
and developments of the battleship and is one of those series you
sit down to one rainy afternoon and watch the lot in one sitting.