What Do You Know About Battleships?


By: Bambi Turner

6 Min Quiz

Image: Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Do you know why "Remember the Maine" was a powerful rallying cry, or which battleship was present to mark the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII? Know which ships sank at Pearl Harbor, or which country built the largest battleships in history? Take our quiz to prove your battleship IQ!

Boats have been used by military forces around the world for thousands of years to carry fighting forces, transport equipment and even launch attacks at sea. While ships got bigger and bolder over the centuries, it wasn't until the 1880s that the battleship was born. It was during this period that countries began to clad ships with iron plates to resist damage from enemy fire, all while souping up the vessel with powerful guns to take down intended targets. Advances in technology during the time  even allowed military groups to build these battleships without sacrificing speed or power, resulting in some truly terrifying and capable vessels.

This type of ironclad boat became the standard in water-based warfare as WWI dawned, and some of these vessels were even used in WWII. By the 1940s however, the battleship had fallen out of favor thanks to the meteoric rise of military aircraft. Gone were the speedy battleships, replaced by larger aircraft carriers and destroyers capable of carrying an entire fleet of planes. 

While the true battleship was in use for less than a century, the story of these ships lives on. See if you can ace this battleship quiz!

This American battleship still lies beneath the waves at Pearl Harbor after sinking in 1941.

Built in the 1910s, the USS Arizona was part of the Pennsylvania class of American battleships. More than 1,100 sailors died when the Arizona was truck by Japanese bombs on Dec. 7, 1941. The ship still lies on the sea bed, serving as a memorial to the lives lost on that terrible day.


How many American battleships were damaged at Pearl Harbor during the infamous WWII attack?

While the USS Arizona gets most of the attention, eight American battleships were damaged by the Japanese on Dec. 7 , 1941. Four of these, the Arizona, Oklahoma, West Virginia and California, sunk due to heavy damage.


This country's Gloire was the first iron-clad battleship in history.

You might picture battleships as modern creations, but the term has been used for well over a century. France produced one of the first battleships with the 1859 introduction of Gloire, an iron-clad vessel designed to sail the ocean.


This is the only contiguous U.S. state that never had a battleship named after it.

Every one of the 48 contiguous U.S. states has had the honor of at least one battleship being named for it -- except for Montana. No battleships were named for Alaska or Hawaii because this style of ship design was no longer used by 1959, when these two states joined the union.


Most 20th century battleships are given this designation, after a revolutionary British vessel.

Britain changed the face of the battleship with the 1906 introduction of the HMS Dreadnought. It was the first ship to combine speed, powerful guns and effective armor into a single vessel. All battleships built after 1906 are typically refer to as dreadnoughts after this legendary ship.


This country introduced its first dreadnought-style battleships in 1909 with the Nassau class.

Germany was quick to borrow the British-inspired dreadnought design with its Nassau class of battleships. Introduced in 1909, the class consisted of four vessels, including the SMS Nassau, West Falen, Rheinland and Posen.


This U.S. battleship famously exploded in Havana Harbor in 1898.

The USS Maine was anchored in Cuba's Havana Harbor on Feb. 15, 1898 when it was destroyed in an enemy attack, killing more than 200 Americans. The attack served as a major catalyst for the Spanish-American War, which started just a few months later.


Which American vessel was present at both Pearl Harbor and D-Day?

The USS Nevada was anchored at Pearl Harbor in Dec. 7, 1941, but escaped without major damage. It was used by the U.S. military on June 6, 1944 during the D-Day invasion of France.


The USS Zrinyi, Radetzky and Ostfriesland weren't named for U.S. states because they were actually captured from this nation.

America has traditionally named battleships after U.S. states. The USS Zrinyi, Radetzky, and Ostfriesland have such unique names because they were actually named by the Germans. The U.S. captured and took charge of these ships during WWI, giving them the USS designation.


How many American battleships have been lost at sea in total?

No American battleship has ever been lost at sea. Four ships were sunk at Pearl Harbor, and a few others were sunk after being decommissioned and sold to other nations.


The final class of U.S. Navy battleships -- which were canceled completely in 1943, were named for this state.

The U.S. Navy was authorized to build five battleships in the Montana class in the 1940s. As this style of ship fell out of favor, the entire class was canceled before the Montana-class ships were ever constructed.


What nickname is associated with the USS Missouri?

The USS Missouri is one of the most famous battleships in U.S. history. Part of the Iowa class of vessels, she was commissioned in the '40s and affectionately referred to as Mighty Mo.


What made the Iowa class of battleships so special?

The Iowa class was the final class of U.S. battleships. Used in WWII, Korea and the Gulf Wars, the Iowa class ships were the only U.S. battleships designed to fire nuclear shells.


France was the first country to produce a fully steam powered battleship with the 1850 introduction of this vessel.

The Napoleon was a major advancement in the history of battleships. Completely powered by steam, the vessel could travel at 12 knots -- almost 14 mph -- when it was introduced in 1850.


The USS Idaho was part of this class of battleships.

The Idaho was a Mississippi class battleship. Commissioned in 1908, it was sold to Greece in 1914 -- only to be sunk by German forces in the 1940s.


What was the first class of U.S. battleships to copy the dreadnought design?

The South Carolina class was the first American battleship class inspired by the dreadnought style of the period. Commissioned starting in 1910, these vessels were the first from the U.S. to have the armor plating, firepower and speed to take on the latest European battleships.


Part of the Florida class of ships, this battleship sank early in the Pearl Harbor attack.

Commissioned in 1911, the USS Utah was part of the Florida class of American battleships. Though not as well-known as the Arizona, the Utah also sank at Pearl Harbor, taking 64 men to a watery grave.


Commissioned in 1946, this was the British Navy's final battleship.

The British Navy was still commissioning battleships after many other developed nation had moved on to other technologies. Commissioned in 1946, the HMS Vanguard was the final British vessel with this design. Powered by four steam turbines, she had a top speed of 36 mph.


What year did Japan commission its final dreadnoughts -- the Kawachi class?

The Japanese commissioned the Kawachi class in 1911, followed by the Settsu in 1912. Heavily armed, these ships were the final dreadnoughts produced by Japan.


The Espana class was the only class of dreadnoughts ever produced by this country.

Despite being a major power at the peak of battleship use, Spain produced only a single class of dreadnoughts. Known as the Espana class, it was the smallest class of dreadnoughts ever built.


The final battleships produced by this European nation were named the Bismarck class.

Germany ended battleship production with the Bismarck class Bismarck and Tirpitz, which were commissioned in 1940 and 1941, respectively. Both of these mighty battleships sank during WWII.


Yamato was the final class of battleships produced by this nation.

Japan was still producing battleships through the early years of WWII. The Yamato class included the Yamato, Musashi and Shinano, all commissioned between 1941 and 1944.


This battleship made headlines in 1989 when its sunken wreckage was discovered.

The Bismarck was a German battleship used in WWII. It spent just 8 days on offensive duties before it was scuttled in 1941 due to heavy damage. The remains of the ship were located in 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard -- the same man who located the Titanic.


This sister ship to the Musashi was one of the largest battleships ever built.

A sister ship to the Musashi, Japan's Yamato was one of the largest battleships ever built. She carried 18.1-inch guns -- some of the largest on any battleship in history, but that wasn't enough to save her from destruction. She sank in 1945 after heavy damage in WWII.


The USS Texas was the first American battleship to ...

Commissioned in 1914, the USS Texas was the first American battleship to launch an aircraft. She was also the first American battleship equipped with anti-aircraft guns.


Which country dubbed a WWI battleship the Andrea Doria?

Completed in 1916, Italy's Andrea Doria served in WWI and WWII before she was retired in 1958. This battleship shares a name, but no other relationship, with the SS Andrea Doria pleasure vessel that infamously sank in 1956.


Which ship was General MacArthur aboard when he accepted the Japanese surrender to end WWII?

On Sept. 2, 1945, Japanese officials boarded the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. America's General MacArthur officially accepted the Japanese surrender, putting an end to WWII.


Who was responsible for the sinking of Japanese battleship Mutsu?

Mutsu was a Nagato class battleship commissioned by Japan in 1921. It sunk in 1943, killing more than 1,000 people, after a disgruntled crew member initiated an explosion. The Japanese took steps to hide the sinking and its cause to avoid damaging morale in the country.


The name of the Japanese battleship Yamashiro means this in Japanese.

Yamashiro was a Fuso class battleship whose name means Mountain Castle. Commissioned in 1917, it largely only served in a support role because its 14-inch guns were rather puny compared to other battleship weapons of the period.


This U.S. battleship is now a museum, and also serves as one of the only remaining dreadnoughts in the world.

The USS Texas, now a permanent museum, is one of the only remaining dreadnoughts in the world. It's also one of only half a dozen surviving ships that served in both world wars.


Arguably the most powerful battleship ever built, Musashi, was commissioned by this nation.

Part of the Yamato class of battleships, Japan's Musashi ranks among the most powerful battleships ever constructed. At 800 feet long, it could carry half a dozen airplanes, as well as a heavy arsenal of guns. Commissioned in 1942, the ship sank just two years later in battle during WWII.


The Battle of Jutland featured one of the largest naval battles in history between England and this nation.

The Battle of Jutland, which took place May 31 and June 1, 1916, was one of the largest sea battles ever waged. More than 250 warships took part, including at least 32 English dreadnoughts and dozens of German battleships.


What was the final battleship commissioned in America?

The USS Missouri was the final American battleship ever built. Commissioned in 1944, it was part of the Iowa class of ships, along with five sister vessels.


The Canopus, a battleship of this nation, fired the first shots at the Battle of the Falklands.

The HMS Canopus was commissioned in 1899 to replace the aging Majestic class of British battleships. The Canopus represented England at the Battle of the Falklands, firing the first shots of the skirmish, before being sold for scrap in 1920.


This mighty British battleship was among the nation's lead battleships in WWII, despite a nasty collision with the HMS Punjabi.

The HMS King Henry V was the lead battleship for England through much of WWII. It suffered damage, but survived a collision in 1942, which resulted in the sinking of the HMS Punjabi.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!