In 1281, Japan seemed poised to fall, outnumbered by the mighty fleet of Kublai Khan. Then, according to legend, the Japanese Emperor prayed for salvation--and got it in the form of a devastating typhoon.
Throughout the ages, combat ships were built to be fast and deadly, combining clever design, raw firepower and human heroism to carve out glory in battle. But some vessels, let down by bad design or bad luck, would go on to become bywords for failure: from the 16th-century Swedish warship that sank on its maiden voyage, to the Royal Navy's HMS Hood--a WWI cruiser with so little armor, she was easily dispatched by Germany's legendary Bismarck. It's a sobering account of the greatest tragedies in naval history.
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