The American Battleship Montana: A Seaborne Titan of Hypothetical Might
Despite never being realized beyond the drafting tables due to shifting naval warfare priorities in WWII, the American Battleship Montana continues to capture the imagination of naval enthusiasts and gamers alike due to her awe-inspiring design and projected capabilities.
The Montana design envisioned one of the largest battleships in history, standing as an epitome of naval gunnery. Its main armament was to consist of twelve 16-inch (406 mm) Mark 7 guns in four turrets, outnumbering the Iowa-class battleships, which were armed with just three turrets. These guns, with their unparalleled firepower, would have allowed the Montana to unleash a devastating barrage on enemy ships. This superior firepower, however, didn't come at the expense of versatile engagement options, as secondary and anti-aircraft armaments were also heavily integrated into Montana’s design.
Design and Armor
The Montana-class proposed a conventional yet highly effective armor layout. Her extensive protection system, featuring more resilient layers of high-tensile steel, was arranged to safeguard the vessel against a broad spectrum of threats. Key attributes include a thick belt armor capable of resisting massive artillery shells and an intricate layered deck armor system designed to mitigate threats from plunging fire and aerial bombing.
Montana's presumably robust torpedo defense system was to be significantly stronger than the Iowa-class, marking an evolution in design focus towards comprehensive protection. The multi-layered system would have involved an outer hull to absorb the initial impact, followed by an intermediate liquid-filled layer to absorb explosion shock waves, and finally, an inner hull to prevent flooding into the ship’s vital sections.
Speed and Maneuverability
Though the Montana’s tremendous size and armor enhancements would have resulted in a slower speed compared to the nimble Iowa-class battleships, her projected top speed of around 28 knots was respectable for a ship of such substantial tonnage. Balance between firepower, armor, and speed is a key aspect in naval architecture, and the Montana design sought to optimize this delicate equilibrium.
Although Montana never graced the waves, her design legacy established a tantalizing "what if” in naval history and serves as a reminder of the awesome might that the final generation of battleships could have achieved.