The distinctive feature that marks the battleship is the supposed ability to receive as well as give hard knocks, or in other words, defensive armor of such thickness and so arranged as to keep out the shells of an enemy. The question of whether the battleship is merely the survival of an idea, and is no longer a utility, has been confused by the consideration of new weapons of offense, the torpedo, the mine, the airplane bomb; but we may dismiss these weapons from consideration and consider the gun only.
In the eighties and nineties, the main topic of naval discussion was the struggle between the armor and the gun. We had compound armor, then Harveyized and Krupp armor; the steel shell, then the capped shell. But after the introduction of a new powder that was a chemical compound instead of a mechanical mixture, the armor versus gun discussion faded away, leaving the gun victor. That the victory was complete is shown in the increase of battle ranges from ten to twenty-five thousand yards.