Both types of capital ships were originally developed separately from each other, the battleship as a heavily armed and armored artillery carrier and main weapon, the battle cruiser as a heavily armed reconnaissance and cruiser destroyer. The battleship carried maximum armament and armor, but was rather slow at up to 21 knots . The battle cruiser was fast at up to 30 knots, but less armed and protected than the battleship. The German battlecruisers of the First World War, which were less armed than contemporary battleships, but combined a high speed of up to 26 knots with excellent armor protection, can be regarded as the preliminary stage of the fast battleship.
Shortly before the First World War , the British constructed the battleships of the Queen Elizabeth class , which were not only larger and heavier armed than their predecessors, but also significantly faster at up to 24 knots. They can be regarded as a forerunner of the fast battleship and were used accordingly by the British during the First World War in the association of the reconnaissance forces together with the battle cruisers. They supported the less protected and armed battlecruisers with their great firepower and were not much slower. The German battlecruisers of the Mackensen and replacement Yorck classes that were under construction but were not completed before the end of the war , on the other hand, represented further developments of the German battlecruiser concept - with up to 28 knots they were not quite as fast as their contemporary British counterparts, but significantly better protected. Together with the British HMS Hood they represented the transition to the modern fast battleship, they already combined the high speed of battlecruisers with the characteristics of battleships.
After the First World War, an arms race at sea began among the victors, and designs for huge ships emerged that were to be both fast and heavily armed and armored - the first fast battleships. Most of them were never completed because of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, but pointed the way to the future.
After the expiry of the Washington fleet agreement, shortly before the Second World War, all major powers put new capital ships on piles, all of which met the requirements of the fast battleship. They formed the final stage of development before they were replaced by aircraft carriers . Well-known names such as Bismarck or USS Iowa characterize representatives of this last period of this epoch, they were all fast battleships - with maximum artillery armament, strongest armor and the highest possible speed.