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Altho the first ironclads were indeed clad in iron, later ones were steel but were still called ironclads until the term armor-plated took over:

  • The word (armor) might have died with jousting if not for late 19c. transference to metal-shielded machinery beginning with U.S. Civil War ironclads (first attested in this sense in an 1855 report from the U.S. Congressional Committee on Naval Affairs). --AnWulf ... Ferþu Hal! 15:47, 18 February 2012 (UTC)