Although naval development before World War II focused on aircraft carriers, the British nevertheless had seventy battleships--larger and more powerful than ever before--under construction at the outbreak of the war. Indeed, one of the Allies' first successes came in December 1939 when British ships hunted down and successfully engaged the German Graf Spee off the coast of South America. The war would hasten the battleship's decline, but not before producing dramatic moments at sea.
Peter C. Smith is a well-known authority on the history of dive-bombing and is the author of over sixty naval history books that are published on four continents. He currently lives with his wife and two Labradors in Bedfordshire, England.