Battleships in the 19th century were built to mount the largest naval guns available. The first British battleship was the Minotaur . Completed in 1863 it was armed with a 9-inch muzzle-loading guns. By 1898 battleships like Germany's 10,000-ton Fuerst Bismark , had become slow moving gun platforms.

The all-steel, armoured battleships of the early 20th century carried breech-loading artillery mounted on revolting turrets wth an effective range of over 100,000 metres. Battleships were rendered obsolete by the British dreadnought completed in 1906.