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Three episodes from the documentary series following the development of steam-powered ocean liners. More than just passenger carriers, the liners were seen as symbols and statements of national power in a game of international one-upmanship. 'Maiden Voyage' looks at the Titanic disaster, the establishment of the P and O and Cunard Lines, the events prior to the First World War and the sinking of the Lusitania. 'Ships of War' looks at the way America joined the First World War after the sinking of the Lusitania, the aftermath of the conflict, the 'Roaring Twenties' and the Great Depression, and the building of the rival ships the Normandie and the Queen Mary. 'The Great Duel' focuses on the launch and maiden voyage of the Queen Mary, the ongoing battle between the Normandie and the Queen Mary, the build up to the Second World War, the liners used as part of the war effort, the peace and post-war period and the ultimate threat of the jet airliner.