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Sixers vs. Bucks Preview: The Battle of Jutland

Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After 30 games and one win, you'll forgive me for not relitigating all the ways in which the current Sixers season resembles the first half of the book of Job.

So let's go back, back, back, all the way to May 31, 1916, in the waters off Denmark.

The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval confrontation of World War I, an enormous but ultimately inconclusive attempt by the Germans to break its main surface fleet out of port and even the odds against the numerically superior British, who'd blockaded German ports and cut off most shipping in the North Atlantic. The battle itself is less important than the fate of one particular ship, the Royal Navy battlecrusier HMS Indefatigable.

World War I was the time of the dreadnought- and super dreadnought-style ships: massive, heavily armed, heavily armored beasts that used state-of-the-art turbine technology to carry around crews of thousands and fling 850-pound armor-piercing shells at targets over the horizon. They were a testament both to the ingenuity and mettle of mankind, and to mankind's arrogance--as Nimrod built the Tower of Babel, the Admiralty built the Dreadnought.

Of course, the navies of the day didn't just build dreadnoughts--they also built what became known as battlecruisers. Battleships were slow and expensive, so battlecruisers were a sort of middle ground between smaller warships and the unwieldy capital ships. Battlecruisers packed the offensive punch of a battleship, but were much faster and less expensive. The problem with this arrangement is that these gains were made by skimping on armor, as ship designers figured that the battlecruisers would be able to outrun or outmaneuver their opposition. Nonetheless, because battlecruisers were vulnerable to enemy fire, they were often deployed with the heavier dreadnoughts, which were able to take on enemy battleships.

Around 4 p.m. on May 31, the Indefatigable was hit by enemy shell fire, knocking out her engines and opening up a hole in her hull. Three minutes later, another hit started a fire in an ammunition cache, and the ship didn't sink, it exploded. The Indefatigable was 590 feet long, 80 feet wide and weighed more than 20,000 tons, and it was torn completely apart by the explosion like a potato in a microwave, killing all but two of its crew of 1,019.

Never mind that battlecruisers--and battleships--were hampered by the Washington Naval Treaty after World War I, and rendered obsolete by a smaller, faster, more flexible class of surface combatants shortly thereafter.

Let's look at the fatal flaws of the battlecruiser: fragilitylack of defense, and an inability to carry the offensive load on their own.

These are still fatal flaws 100 years later.

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