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Italy's Naval flag

Italy's Vittorio Veneto / Littorio class battleships

Photos

Littorio on trials in 1937:
Littorio on trials in 1937
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-S45286
Littorio surrendering off the North African coast:
Littorio surrendering off the North African coast
Imperial War Museum, A-19244
Roma in 1940:
Roma in 1940
Italian government
Vittorio Veneto and Littorio surrendering:
Vittorio Veneto and Littorio surrendering
Imperial War Museum, A-19482
Vittorio Veneto and Littorio surrendering:
Vittorio Veneto and Littorio surrendering
Imperial War Museum, A-19486
Vittorio Veneto at the Battle of Cape Spartivento in November 1940:
Vittorio Veneto at the Battle of Cape Spartivento in November 1940
Regia Marina
Vittorio Veneto firing on British cruisers near Gaurdo Island on March 27, 1941:
Vittorio Veneto firing on British cruisers near Gaurdo Island on March 27, 1941
Regia Marina

Design

The Italians were allowed to build 35,000 tons of capital ships each year during 1927 to 1929 under the terms of the Washington Treaty.

Initially a 23,000 ton design with 13.5" guns was proposed but when the French started construction on the Dunkerque it was found to be too small. Umberto Pugliese was the designer.

Initially it was thought to mount 16" guns but there were already 15" guns available from the cancelled Caracciolo class battleships.

The Littorio and Vittorio Veneto were ordered under the 1934 Program. The Roma and Imperio were ordered under the 1937 / 1938 Program.

Aircraft

To launch the three Ro.43 floatplanes was a single / two catapult. However sometimes a Re.2000 fighter was substituted, but as it was a land aircraft it couldn't be recovered.

Armament

The main guns were 15" L/50 M1934 built by Ansaldo and OTO. They could fire a 885 kg / 1,951 lb shell at 2,800'/sec / 2,854'/sec out to 46,216 yards / 46,800 yards at an elevation of 35°. The turrets weighed 1,560 tons / 1,570 tons.

The secondary battery were 6" L/55 M1934 built by Ansaldo and 6" L/55 M1936 built by OTO. They could fire a 110 lb shell out to 28,150 yards at 45°. The turrets weighed 133 tons.

There were twelve 3.5" L/50 M1938 built by Ansaldo or 3.5" L/50 M1939 built by OTO installed as the main anti-aircraft battery.

The secondary anti-aircraft battery consisted of twenty 37 mm L/54 Breda and sixteen 20 mm L/65 Breda guns.

Engines

There were two engine rooms that housed the turbines. These had the four boiler rooms in between.

Ships

Impero

  • Manufacturer: Ansaldo at Genoa, Ansaldo, Genoa
  • May 14, 1938: Laid down.
  • November 15, 1939: Launched.
  • June 1, 1940: Towed to Brindisi as was concerned at being bombed by French. Construction was suspended.
  • January 22, 1942: Towed to Venice.
  • September 8, 1943: Germans captured her in Trieste.
  • February 20, 1945: Sunk by USAAF raid.

Littorio

  • Manufacturer: Ansaldo at Genoa, Ansaldo, Genoa
  • October 28, 1934: Laid down.
  • August 22, 1937, August 27, 1937: Launched.
  • April 1940, May 1, 1940, May 6, 1940: Completed. Member of 9th Division at Taranto.
  • August 2, 1940: Became operational.
  • August 31, 1940: Attempted to intercept British forces with Vittorio Veneto, but failed.
  • September 29, 1940: Attempted to intercept British forces with Vittorio Veneto, but failed.
  • November 12, 1940: Was hit by two / three torpedoes during British carrier raid on Taranto. Settled to bottom.
  • December 11, 1940 - March 11, 1941: Docked for repairs.
  • August 22, 1941: Flagship of operation to intercept British shipping to Malta and was unsucessful.
  • September 26, 1941: Flagship of operation to intercept British shipping to Malta but was unsuccessful.
  • December 13, 1941: Tried to intercept British shipping to Malta but when Vittorio Veneto was torpedoed operation cancelled.
  • December 16, 1941: Provided cover for convoy M42. First Battle of Sirte. No damage by either force.
  • January 3 - 6, 1942: Provided cover for convoy M43.
  • March 21, 1942: Sailed to intercept Malta bound convoy from Alexandria. Second Battle of Sirte.
  • Spring 1942: Added six 20 mm L/45 twin mounts.
  • June 14 - 16, 1942: Attempted to intercept convoys but was unsuccessful.
  • June 16, 1942: Hit by bomb from a Liberator bomber. Hit by torpedo from a Wellington bomber.
  • September - October 1942: Testing of two Re.2000 long range fighters.
  • December 12, 1942: Transferred to La Spezia with 9th Division.
  • June 13, 1943: Hit by three bombs from USAAF raid.
  • June 30, 1943, July 30, 1943, August 1943: Renamed Italia.
  • September 9, 1943: Sailed to Malta to surrender. Heavily damaged German aircraft that used radio guided bombs.
  • September 14, 1943: Sailed to Alexandria with Vittorio Veneto.

Roma

  • Manufacturer: CRDA at Trieste, Trieste
  • September 18, 1938: Laid down.
  • June 9, 1940: Launched.
  • June 14, 1942: Completed.
  • June 5 and June 23, 1943: Damaged from Allied bombing.
  • Summer 1943: Received two Re.2000 long range fighters.
  • September 9, 1943: Sailed for Malta to surrender but was intercepted by German aircraft which sank her with two radio guided bombs. One hit under the forward magazine that caused a massive explosion.

Vittorio Veneto

  • Manufacturer: CRDA at Trieste, Trieste
  • October 28, 1934: Laid down.
  • July 22, 1937, July 25, 1937: Launched.
  • October 23, 1939: Machinery trials.
  • April 28, 1940, April 30, 1940, May 1940: Completed. Member of 9th Division at Taranto.
  • May 1 - 15, 1940: Sailed from Trieste to La Spezia, Genoa, and then Taranto. Joined 1st Squadron, 9th Division.
  • August 2, 1940: Became operational.
  • August 31, 1940: Attempted to intercept British forces with Littorio, but failed.
  • September 29, 1940: Attempted to intercept British forces with Littorio, but failed.
  • November 12, 1940: No damage from British carrier aircraft attack on Taranto.
  • November 13, 1940: Sailed to Naples. Flagship of Commander in Chief.
  • November 26, 1940: Sailed from Naples.
  • November 27, 1940: Battle of Teulada.
  • December 9, 1940: Became fleet Flagship.
  • January 8 - 9, 1941: Not hit by raid on Naples by RAF bombers.
  • February 8, 1941: Sailed from La Spezia with Doria and Cesare to intercept British Force H but failed.
  • March 22, 1941: Sailed to Naples.
  • March 26, 1941: Sailed to intercept British shipping to Greece.
  • March 28, 1941: Battle of Cape Matapan. Hit by torpedo.
  • March 29, 1941: Arrived in Taranto for repairs.
  • July 1941, August 1941: Repairs finished.
  • August 22, 1941: Sailed to intercept British shipping to Malta and was unsucessful.
  • September 26, 1941: Attempted to intercept British shipping to Malta but was unsuccessful.
  • December 14, 1941, December 1941: Escorted convoy M41 to Benghazi. Was hit by torpedo from submarine HMS Urge near Cape dell'Armi while returning to Taranto.
  • Spring 1942: Repairs from torpedo damage repaired. Added six 20 mm L/45 twin mounts.
  • June 14, 1942: Attempted to intercept British forces but only the smaller ships saw action.
  • September - October 1942: Testing of two Re.2000 long range fighters.
  • November 12, 1942: Sailed to Naples.
  • December 4, 1942: USAAF raid on Naples.
  • December 6, 1942: Sailed to La Spezia.
  • June 5, 1943: Damaged by air raid in La Spezia.
  • June 1943: Sailed to Genoa for repairs.
  • Summer 1943: Added one Re.2000 long range fighter.
  • September 9, 1943, September 1943: Sailed to Malta to surrender.
  • September 14, 1943: Sailed to Alexandria.
  • October 17, 1943: Laid up in the Great Bitter Lakes.

Usage

Battle of Teulada / Battle of Cape Spartivento

On November 27, 1940, the Vittorio Veneto was fired on, and missed, by torpedoes from aircraft of the HMS Ark Royal. She fired 19 15" rounds at British cruisers but they missed. A Skua shot down one of her Ro.43s.

Second Battle of Sirte

Littorio damaged the HMS Havock, HMS Kingston, and HMS Euryalus. Heavy weather prevented further action.

Battle of Matapan

The Vittorio Veneto, six heavy cruisers, and eleven destroyers sailed to intercept British shipping going to Greece. They met up with the cruisers HMS Orion, HMS Ajax, HMS Gloucester, and HMS Perth on the morning of March 28, 1941. There was also an attack by torpedo aircraft from the HMS Formidable but they missed.

Later that afternoon Swordfish from the HMS Formidable did hit the Vittorio Veneto which caused some flooding. She was able to arrive in Taranto on March 29, 1941. The Pola was damaged.

Specifications

  Vittorio Veneto / Littorio class
Crew 1,600, 1,830 - 1,950, 1,900
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 35,000 tons, 40,516 tons, 40,724 tons
Displacement - Loaded 45,029 tons, 45,236 tons
Length 775', 780'
237.76 m
Length - Water Line 762' 6"
Length - Between Perpendiculars 735' , 754' 3"
224.05 m
Beam 106' 6", 107' 5", 108' 1"
32.82 m
Draft / Height 28', 31' 5", 34' 4"
9.6 m
Draft / Height - Maximum 30' 6"
Performance  
Speed 30 knots
Range at 14 knots 4,700 nautical miles
Range at 16 knots 4,580 nautical miles
Armament 15" L/50: 9
15", 38.1 cm L/50 M1934 triple turrets: 3
6" L/55: 12
6" L/55 M1934 or M1936 triple turrets: 4
15.2 cm L/55 M1934 or M1935 triple turrets: 4
Anti-Aircraft 12 cm L40 M91 or M92: 4
3.5" L/48: 12
3.5", 9 cm L/50 M1938 or M1939: 12
37 mm Breda twin mounts: 8
37 mm Breda single mounts: 4
37 mm L/54 twin mounts: 8
37 mm L/54 single mounts: 4
20 mm L/65 Breda twin mounts: 8
20 mm L/65 twin mounts: 8
Machine Guns: 40
Starshell 4.7" Armstrong: 4
Aircraft 3
Armor  
Barbettes 15 cm, 28 cm - 35 cm, 35 cm
Belt 9" - 12"
Belt - Aft 13 cm
Belt - Forward 6 cm
Belt - Main 28 cm + 7cm
Bulkheads 7 cm - 21 cm
Bulkheads - Aft 10 cm
Bulkheads - Forward 21 cm
Control Tower 6 cm - 26 cm, 26 cm
Decks 4.5 cm - 16.2 cm
Deck - Forecastle 4.5 cm
Deck - Main 11.2 cm - 16.2 cm
Turrets 20 cm - 35 cm
Turrets - Front 35 cm
Turrets - Side 20 cm
Turrets - Top 20 cm
Turrets - Secondary 7 cm - 28 cm
Engines  
Boilers 8
Yarrow: 8
Shafts 4
Turbines Belluzzo geared
Parsons geared
HP 128,000, 128,200, 130,000
Oil 4,140 tons
  Impero
Physical Characteristics  
Length 789' 6"
240.68 m
  Roma
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 40,922 tons
Displacement - Loaded 45,485 ons
Length 789' 6"
240.68 m
  Vittorio Veneto
Crew 1,872
Physical Characteristics  
Displacement 40,517 tons, 41,700 tons
Displacement - Loaded 45,029 tons, 45,460 tons
Length 780'
237.8 m
Beam 108'
32.9 m
Draft / Height 34' 5"
10.5 m
Performance  
Speed 30 knots
Armament 15" / 38.1 cm triple turrets: 9
6" / 15.2 cm: 12
Anti-Aircraft 3.5" / 90 mm: 12
37 mm: 20
20 mm: 16
Aircraft 3
Armor  
Barbettes 7.9" - 11"
20 cm - 28 cm
Belt 2.4" - 13.6"
5 cm - 34.5 cm
Decks 6.4"
16.5 cm
Turrets 7.9" - 11"
20 cm - 28 cm
Engines  
Shafts 4
Turbines Geared steam
HP 120,000

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. Janes' Fighting Ships of World War II, 1989
  4. Italian Battleships of World War II, Mark Stille, 2011
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site