Interwar: Surface Fleet

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The development of Royal Naval ships between the World Wars

In 1919 the Royal Navy possessed 120 cruisers of all types while the US Navy had around 35: Japan had 26, France 29 and Italy 17. Not all the British cruisers were of World War One design, some were from the 19th Century and relatively obsolete. Nevertheless the Royal Navy was the largest force in the world unmatchable by even two enemies. As American and Japanese construction programmes began in the 1920s Britain had to react or risk being overtaken. As the threat of war became more real in the late 1930s a massive arms race swept the world’s major powers.

HMS Rodney, 1925 (RNM)
HMS Rodney, 1925 (RNM)

Article Highlights

  • Introduction

  • Decommissioning and limitation

  • Washington Treaty

  • The Interwar ships

  • Threat of war

  • Rearmanent