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Italy's Naval flag

Italy's Cavour class Battleships

Photos

Conte di Cavour off Taranto in 1919:
Conte di Cavour off Taranto in 1919
Imperial War Museum, Q-50930
Giulio Cesare in Taranto on June 3, 1917:
Giulio Cesare in Taranto on June 3, 1917
Imperial War Museum, Q-48273
Giulio Cesare in May 1919:
Giulio Cesare in May 1919
Imperial War Museum, Q-14188
Giulio Cesare in May 1919:
Giulio Cesare in May 1919
Imperial War Museum, Q-14189

Design

Construction Delays

The Italo-Turkish war started on September 29, 1911, and delayed production of the Cavour class battleships. By the time they were finished they were obsolete.

Aircraft

The Giulio Cesare tested two catapults but they were eventually removed.

Armament

It was decided to use a 12" gun as it was felt that it was all the larger an Italian battleship at the time needed. Also, Italian industry wasn't able to build such a large gun so they were purchased from other countries.

The 12" L/46 Armstrong M1909 could fire a 997 lb shell at a maximum elevation of 20°. The 4.7" L/50 Elswick Pattern EE BL gun could fire a 50 lb shell.

After modernization in 1933 the guns were re-bored to 12.59" and could fire a 1,155 lb / 1,157 lb shell out to 31,000 yards / 31,280 yards at an elevation of 27°. There were new 4.7" L/50 OTO M1933 guns that could fire a 52 lb shell at an elevation of 42°. The 3.9: OTO M1928 could fire a 30 lb round out to 16,610 yards / 16,670 yards.

Engines

Initially the boilers were mixed firing in the Conte di Cavour and the Giulio Cesare had half mixed firing and and the other half oil fired.

There was a forward and an aft boiler room.

Ships

Conte di Cavour

  • Manufacturer: La Spezia Navy Yard
  • August 10, 1910: Laid down.
  • August 10, 1911: Launched.
  • April 1, 1915: Competed.
  • 1916: Added 76 mm L/50 guns.
  • November 1918 - July 1919: Based at Taranto.
  • November 5, 1918 - January 26, 1919: At Corfu.
  • May 6 - 21, 1919: At Corfu.
  • July 23 - December 11, 1919: Goodwill cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia and the United States.
  • November 11, 1921 - March 27, 1922: Refit at La Spezia.
  • March 1922: Became flagship of the Mediterranean Commander in Chief.
  • August 31, 1922: Shelled Corfu with 76 mm guns.
  • September 19, 1922: Phaleron Bay for General Tellini's funeral.
  • September 30, 1922: Returned to Taranto.
  • June 1924: Escorted King and Queen on visit to Spain.
  • 1925 - 1926: Added catapult and M18 Macchi flying boat.
  • March 1925: Put into Reserve status.
  • April 1926: Recommissioned to take Mussolini to Tripolitania.
  • 1926 - 1927: Refit at La Spezia. Catapult added to forecastle.
  • May 12, 1928: Put into Reserve status at Mare Piccolo.
  • October 12, 1933 - April 30, 1937: Modernization at Cantieri Riunito dell'Adriatico in Trieste. 10 m added to bow. Guns re-bored to 12.59". Machinery updated. Armor strengthened. No. 3 turret removed. Torpedo tubes removed.
  • June 1, 1937: Recommissioned. Joined 5th Division.
  • 1937: Catapult and aircraft removed.
  • May 8, 1938: Naval review at Naples during Hitler's state visit. Hitler, the Kind of Italy, and Mussolini went on ride.
  • June 4 - 18, 1938: Visited Malta.
  • April 1939: Covered invasion of Albania.
  • 1940: Two 20 mm L/65 Breda M1935 replaced 13.2 mm MGs.
  • June 1940: Flagship of 5th Division of 1st Squadron.
  • July 1940: Escorted convoy from Naples to Benghazi.
  • July 9, 1940: Battle of Punto Stilo / Calabria.
  • August 30, 1940: Sortied but failed to find British convoy.
  • September 7 - 8, 1940: Sortied but failed to find Force H.
  • September 29 - 30, 1940: Sortied but failed to find Force H.
  • November 11, 1940: At Taranto when hit by British torpedo. Extensive damage.
  • July 1941: Refloated after armament, turrets and some superstructure was removed.
  • December 1941: Added eight 37 mm L/54 Breda M1932 twin mounts and two 20 mm L/65 Breda M35 twin mounts.
  • December 22, 1941: After temporary repairs in a floating dock sailed to Trieste for repairs by Cantieri dell'Adriatico.
  • January 1943: Repair work suspended.
  • February 15, 1945: Damaged by air raid and capsized.

Giulio Cesare

  • Manufacturer: Ansaldo at Genoa
  • June 26, 1910: Laid down.
  • October 15, 1911: Launched.
  • May 14, 1914: Completed.
  • 1916: Added 76 mm L/50 guns.
  • November 1918 - July 1919: Based at Taranto.
  • November 11 - December 11, 1918: Based at Corfu.
  • February 18 - April 23, 1919: Based at Corfu.
  • August 29 - September 30, 1923: Involved in Corfu Crisis.
  • 1926: Put into Reserve status.
  • 1928: Recommissioned as gunnery ship at La Spezia.
  • October 25, 1933 - June 4, 1937: Modernization at Cantieri del Tirreno in Genoa. 10 m added to bow. Guns re-bored to 12.59". Machinery updated. Armor strengthened. No. 3 turret removed. Torpedo tubes removed.
  • October 1, 1937: Recommissioned.
  • October 3, 1937: Joined 5th Division at Taranto.
  • June 4 - 18, 1938: Visited Malta.
  • 1940: Two 20 mm L/65 Breda M1935 replaced 13.2 mm machine guns.
  • June 9, 1940, July 9, 1940: Battle of Punto Stilo / Calabria. Flagship of Italian force.
  • July 12, 1940: Sailed from Messina to Taranto for repairs.
  • September 7 - 8, 1940: Sortied but failed to find Force H.
  • September 29 - 30, 1940: Sortied but failed to find Force H.
  • November 26, 1940: Sailed with Vittorio Veneto to intercept British convoy, Operation Collar. Fought against British cruisers but sustained no damage. Did not come close enough to enemy to fire.
  • 1941: 20 mm L/65 mounts added.
  • January 8, 1941: Hit by three near misses from Wellington bombers at Naples. Sailed to Genoa for repairs.
  • February 8, 1941: Sailed to Straits of Bonifacio and failed to intercept British forces that were mistaken for a convoy.
  • February 11, 1941: Sailed to Naples.
  • December 16, 1941: Escorted convoy M42 to North Africa. First Battle of Sirte.
  • December 19, 1941: Arrived in Taranto.
  • January 3 - 5, 1942: Escorted convoy M43.
  • 1942, February 1942: Withdrawn from service as there were fuel shortages, the vulnerability of the ship, and Luftwaffe participation reducing the need for battleships escorting convoys.
  • December 30, 1942, January 1943: Arrived in Pola and became barracks ship.
  • September 9 - 11, 1943: Sailed from Pola to Taranto. En route bombed by Luftwaffe and overcame a mutiny.
  • September 11 - 12, 1943: Sailed from Taranto to Malta.
  • June 17, 1944: Sailed from Malta to Taranto.

Leonardo di Vinci

  • Manufacturer: Odero
  • July 18, 1910: Laid down.
  • October 14, 1911: Launched.
  • May 17, 1914: Completed.
  • August 3, 1916: Blew up during training. Evidence of sabotage by Austrian agents.
  • September 17, 1919: Ship raised and towed to Taranto with intent of modernizing.
  • March 22, 1923: Sold for scrap.

Usage

World War I

As there was little activity in the Adriatic the Cavour class battleships never saw any action. Conte di Cavour only went on three missions for a total of 40 hours, and the Giulio Cesare had two missions for 31 hours.

Battle of Punto Stilo / Calabria

On July 9, 1940 the Giulio Cesare and Conte di Cavour had an engagement with the HMS Warspite where the Giulio Cesare was hit. 66 crewman were killed and 49 wounded.

Taranto

The Swordfish from the HMS Illustrious attacked ships in Taranto Harbor on November 11, 1940. Conte di Cavour was hit by a torpedo which caused extensive flooding. She was abandoned at 5:45 AM.

Giulio Cesare was not damaged in raid.

Specifications

  Cavour class
Crew 1,000
Displacement 23,088 tons
Displacement - Loaded 25,086 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 577' 3"
175.88 m
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars 554' 8"
169 m
Beam 91' 10"
27.98 m
Draft / Height 28' 7"
8.4 m
Performance  
Speed 21.5 knots
Range  
Range at 10 knots 4,800 nautical miles
Armament 12" Armstrong twin turrets: 2
12" Armstrong triple turrets: 3
12" L/46 Armstrong M1909 twin turrets: 2
12" L/46 Armstrong M1909 triple turrets: 3
4.7": 18
4.7" L/50 Elswick Pattern EE BL: 18
Anti-Aircraft 3": 14
3", 7.6 cm L/50 Vickers M1909: 14
Torpedo Tubes - Below Waterline 17.7": 3
Armor  
Barbettes 28 cm
Belt - Aft 13 cm
Belt - Forward 8 cm
Belt - Lower 17 cm
Belt - Main 25 cm
Belt - Upper 13 cm - 22 cm, 22 cm
Control Tower 28 cm
Deck - Forecastle  
Deck - Main 2.4 cm
Deck - Middle 3 cm, 2.4 cm - 4 cm
Turrets  
Turrets - Front 28 cm
Turrets - Side 24 cm
Turrets - Top 8.5 cm
Engines  
Boilers Blechnyden: 20
Shafts 4
Turbines Parsons geared
HP 31,000
Coal 1,450 tons
Oil 850 tons
  Cavour class after 1937 refit
Crew 1,236
Displacement 26,140 tons
Displacement - Loaded 29,032 tons
Physical Characteristics  
Length 611' 6", 611' 7"
186.38 m, 186.4 m
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars 554' 4"
168.96 m
Beam 92' 10"
28.3 m
Draft / Height 30', 34' 1"
9.14 m, 10.39 m
Performance  
Speed 27 knots, 28 knots
Range  
Range at 13 knots 6,400 nautical miles
Armament 32 cm L/43.8 twin turrets: 2
32 cm L/43.8 triple turrets: 2
12.59" M1934 twin turrets: 2
12.59" M1934 triple turrets: 2
4.7" L/50 OTO M1933 twin turrets: 6
12 cm L/50 twin turrets: 6
Anti-Aircraft 10 cm L/47 triple mounts: 4
3.9" OTO M1928 twin mounts: 4
37 mm L/54 twin mounts: 6
37 mm L/54 Breda twin mounts: 6
13.2 mm MG twin mounts: 6
13.2 mm Bred M1931 twin mounts: 6
Armor  
Barbettes 28 cm
Control Tower 26 cm
Deck - Over Machinery 8 cm
Deck - Over Magazines 10 cm
Torpedo Bulkheads 2.5 cm
Engines  
Boilers 8
Yarrow: 8
Shafts  
Turbines Belluzzo geared
Geared
HP 75,000
Oil 2,472 tons
  Conte di Cavour
Crew  
Displacement 23,868 tons
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length  
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam  
Draft / Height  
Performance  
Speed  
Range  
Range at 10 knots  
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft  
Torpedo Tubes - Below Waterline  
Armor  
Barbettes  
Belt - Bow and Stern  
Belt - Main  
Belt - Upper  
Control Tower  
Deck - Forecastle  
Deck - Main  
Deck - Upper  
Turrets  
Engines  
Boilers Oil fired: 8
Mixed firing: 12
Shafts  
Turbines  
HP  
Coal  
Oil  
  Giulio Cesare
Crew  
Displacement 24,410 tons
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length  
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam  
Draft / Height  
Performance  
Speed  
Range  
Range at 10 knots  
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft  
Torpedo Tubes - Below Waterline  
Armor  
Barbettes  
Belt - Bow and Stern  
Belt - Main  
Belt - Upper  
Control Tower  
Deck - Forecastle  
Deck - Main  
Deck - Upper  
Turrets  
Engines  
Boilers Babcock: 24
Mixed firing: 12
Oil firing: 12
Shafts  
Turbines  
HP 30,700
Coal  
Oil  
  Leonardo da Vinci
Crew  
Displacement 24,288 tons
Displacement - Loaded  
Physical Characteristics  
Length  
Length - Water Line  
Length - Between Perpendiculars  
Beam  
Draft / Height  
Performance  
Speed  
Range  
Range at 10 knots  
Armament  
Anti-Aircraft  
Torpedo Tubes - Below Waterline  
Armor  
Barbettes  
Belt - Bow and Stern  
Belt - Main  
Belt - Upper  
Control Tower  
Deck - Forecastle  
Deck - Main  
Deck - Upper  
Turrets  
Engines  
Boilers Babcock: 24
Shafts  
Turbines  
HP 30,700
Coal  
Oil  

Sources:

  1. Battleships of World War Two An International Encyclopedia, M. J. Whitley, 1998
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Robert Gardiner, 1987
  3. Italian Battleships of World War II, Mark Stille, 2011
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site