Why Stalin's Dreams of a Soviet Navy of Battleships Never Came True

Kyle Mizokami

Key point: After the destruction of World War II, Moscow did not have enough resources to build dozens and dozens of battleships no matter how badly Stalin wanted them.

At the end of the Second World War, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin stood undisputed as the most powerful man in Eurasia. His Red Army had crushed Nazi Germany, repelling an invasion and going on to capture Berlin after a grueling, four year campaign. Stalin’s Red Army was arguably more powerful than the American, British, French and western European armies combined.

Still, that was not enough.

Stalin had long craved a strong navy that would extend Soviet influence far from Europe and Asia, and do it in a big way.

The Soviet leader wanted battleships, and a lot of them.

A fleet that simply was never meant to be, it existed largely on paper and even included some highly advanced ships that were flat-out hoaxes.

The Idea:

During World War II the Soviet Navy was a distant third in priorities. It was the Red Army that had fought the grueling ground battles and campaigns that defeated Germany. Supporting it was a Red Air Force optimized, like the Luftwaffe, on tactical battlefield support of ground forces. The Navy, on the other hand had played a very limited role, providing convoy protection for Lend-Lease equipment from the U.S and support for land operations and harassment of the German military in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.

Still, by mid-1945 it was clear to Stalin that with Germany gone, his most powerful rivals—the United States and United Kingdom—lay across the water and out of his armies’ reach. So was Japan, which the USSR had been shut out of occupying, and many of the former European colonies that were ripe for revolution. Powerful army or not, if  Stalin wanted to remain a major military power, he was going to need a powerful navy.

Why Battleships?:

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