The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro

The four Littorio class battleships were the last and best battleships built for the Italian navy. They were '35,000 tonners' designed to fit within the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty and the three that were completed played a major part in the war in the Mediterranean.

This is the first in depth study of these ships to be published in English (and given its quality may well be the last!). We start with a detailed discussion of battleship design between the World Wars and the impact of the Washington Naval Treaty on the decisions that lead up to the construction of the Littorio class ships. We then look at the design itself, before moving on to a very detailed technical description of the ships. This section of the book makes you realise just how complex the last generation of battleships were, an impression that is supported by the very impressive collection of photographs and plans showing the ships. I was particularly interested in the interior shots, showing parts of the ship that are rarely seen, including the very complex engine control rooms.

The text is supported by 300 photographs and 150 plans and coloured artwork, some on sizable fold-out pages. This includes a good selection of photographs showing the battle damage suffered by the three operational ships.

The second half of the book looks at the four ship's service records (in the case of Littorio, Roma and Vittorio Veneto their active service, in the case of Imperio the unsuccessful attempts to complete her). The stated aim in this part of the book is to examine the ways in which the design of the Littorio class ships affected their combat abilities, whether it be in the accuracy of their guns or their ability to absorb damage. One thing that emerges here is the vast amount of effort that went into repairing the three operational ships during the war. Something normally dismissed as minor damage that only knocked a ship out of service for a month actually involved the labour of hundreds of trained personnel, often using scarce materials that would otherwise have gone into the construction of urgently needed new building.

This is a very impressive piece of work, one of the best monographs on a single type of warship that I have ever read and comes highly recommended.

1 - Battleships and Italian Naval Policy between the Two World Wars
2 - Design and General Characteristics
3 - Technical Description
4 - Construction, Sea Trials and Commissioning
5 - Operational History
6 - Comparisons and Conclusions

1 - Movements and Changes of Location of the Littorio Class Battleships from Entry into Service until their Loss or Decommissioning
2 - Damage sustained by Littorio Class Battleships during the War
3 - Performance Characteristics of Littorio Class Heavy and Medium Calibre Guns

Author: Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 320
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2011

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro - History

The Littorio class of battleships was initially laid down as a response to the construction of the French Dunkerque class of battleships, which were a response to the German Deutschland class. This book on the Littorios was originally published in Italian and released in 2007. This English translation of the 2nd Italian edition has just become available the summer of 2011. Covering design, construction, operational history and post-war dispostions, this book completely details this battleship class.

This conventionally laid out book has three chapters, but each of these chapters covers a large variety of topics and spans over 350 pages. This includes over 300 photographs to document and illustrate each chapter and section.

Book Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Battleships and Italian Naval Policy between the Two World Wars
  • Chapter 2: Design and General Characteristics
  • Chapter 3: Technical Description
  • Chapter 4: Construction, Sea Trials, and Commissioning
  • Chapter 5: Operational History
  • Chapter 6: Comparisons and Conclusions
  • Appendices
  • Sources and Bibliography
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index

This work convers in good detail the processes and decisions that went into the Littorio design. Each weapon system is discussed the various guns, as well as including the uncommon aircraft arrangements of this class.

The book's photographs are of varied sizes, but close up, detailed shots are uncommon. Many of these photos come from the personal collections of the authors, or has the source cited in the caption. The authors took care to attempt to date most of the images, which is an important detail for modelers.

This comprehensive, well-researched book is the reference for this class of battleships, bar none. There really aren't any other works on this subject that approach the breadth of information this book has. A timely release as well, given Trumpeter's new Roma kits in both 1/700 and 1/350.

There are three types of people who should buy this book those who have an interest in Italian warships, those who aspire to have a complete warships reference library, and those serious modelers looking to accurize their Littorio class battleships. If you love battleships, get this book- you won't be dissappointed. Highly Recommended!

ISBN 13: 9781591144458

Bagnasco, Erminio De Toro, Augusto

This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

For its final battleship design Italy ignored all treaty restrictions on tonnage, and produced one of Europe's largest and most powerful capital ships, comparable with Germany's Bismarck class which were also built in defiance of international agreements. The three ships of the Littorio class were fast and elegant, but also boasted a revolutionary protective scheme which was tested to the limits, as all three were heavily damaged in the hard-fought naval war in the Mediterranean. The book combines a detailed analysis of the design with an operational history, evaluating how the ships stood up to combat. It is illustrated with an amazing collection of photographs, detailed plans, and colored artwork of camouflage schemes, adding up to as complete a study of this class of battleship ever published.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Ermino Bagnasco is the editor of Storia Militare, Italy's leading military journal.

Augusto De Toro is a member of the staff of Storia Militare.

This is a very impressive piece of work, one of the best monographs on a single type of warship that i have ever read and comes highly recommended. - History of War


Propellent Charges Edit

Propellent charges were in 44 kg (97 lb) cotton or silk waste bags ('wrappers'). The charges were made from either N.A.C. type powder (produced by Dinamite Nobel) or F.C. 4 (produced by Bombrini-Parodi-Delfino). Each wrapper also had a small disc-shaped charge in it that was more sensitive, to ensure ignition. Bags were typically rammed in two 3-bag groups. The guns had three charges: [4]

Charge 1: Combat charge, this used six wrappers.

Charge 2: For coastal bombardment or practice, it used three to four wrappers depending on the shells, in order to decrease barrel wear.

Charge 3: Practice only

The barrel life of these guns was rated at 140 EFC (Effective Full Charges), [5] or 110-130 EFC according to other sources. [6]

Shells Edit

Three types of shells were developed for the gun, but only two were actually used. [4]

AP: The primary armor-piercing round, in Italian these rounds were known as "Palla" (literally "ball") or "Proiettile Perforante" (Piercing Shot"). They were heavy for their caliber at 884.8 kg (1,951 lb), with a small bursting charge of only 10.16 kg TNT (1.15%). The shells were made of nickel-chrome steel, with a steel cap and a Silumin ballistic cap. The total length was 170 cm (67 in), or 4.46 calibers.

SAP: A semi armor-piercing round named "Granata Perforante" ("Piercing Shell") designed for use against lightly armored targets such as cruisers and destroyers. They were lighter than the AP shells with a greater bursting charge (3.57%), and had a significantly lesser penetrative ability. During the war, they showed an unfortunate tendency to fuse later than they had been set to, which lead to over-penetrations of their targets.

HE: High explosive shells, these weighed only 774 kilograms (1,710 lb). [6] Although designed and tested for these guns, they were never actually used aboard any of the ships that mounted these guns. [4] The nose fuse was thought to be too sensitive. [7]

Shell Type Mass Bursting Charge Fuse Type Muzzle Velocity Range
AP 884.8 kg (1,951 lb) 10.16 kg (22.4 lb) Delayed-Action Base Fuse 850 m/s (2,800 ft/s) 42,800 m (46,800 yd) @ 36º
SAP 824.3 kg (1,817 lb) 29.515 kg (65.07 lb) Delayed-Action Base Fuse 880 m/s (2,900 ft/s) 44,640 m (48,820 yd) @ 35º
HE 774 kg (1,706 lb) . Instantaneous Nose Fuse . .

Range [2] Elevation Descent Impact velocity
10 km (6.2 mi) 4° 24′ 687 m/s (2250 ft/s)
15 km (9.3 mi) 7° 12′ 8° 39′ 620 m/s (2030 ft/s)
20 km (12 mi) 10° 36′ 13° 24′ 563 m/s (1850 ft/s)
25 km (16 mi) 14° 27′ 19° 18′ 524 m/s (1720 ft/s)
30 km (19 mi) 19° 12′ 26° 6′ 498 m/s (1630 ft/s)
35 km (22 mi) 24° 39′ 37° 36′ 483 m/s (1590 ft/s)

These guns were mounted triple turrets, each ship mounting three turrets. Each gun was mounted in an individual cradle, and could be operated independently of each other. However, due to the Italian preference of turret salvoes on the Littorio-class, the guns typically operated as one. The guns could depress to a minimum of -5º, and elevate to a maximum of +36º, at a rate of 6º per second. The entire turret, weighing some 1,591.4 tonnes, was traversed at the same rate. [6]

Loading was carried out at a fixed elevation of +15º, and used three strokes. The main rammer's first stroke inserted the projectile, and the next two would insert the propellant charges (three per stroke). In the event of damage to the main rammer, a backup could be used at -2º elevation. However, this resulted in a slower loading process. [8] The average rate of fire was 45 seconds (1.3 rpm) per gun at typical elevations, but this could be done at much lower rates. In 1940–1941 gunnery exercises Littorio averaged 30.6 seconds at 18.8 km, and Vittorio Veneto 29.7 seconds at 20.0 km - 1.96 rpm and 2.02 rpm respectively. [9]

The guns were the most powerful weapons of their caliber, comparable to those of much greater caliber. This was largely due to their exceptional muzzle velocity, although this came at a cost. The high velocity and energies in the firing chamber lead to a much faster rate of barrel wear compared to other naval guns, and also resulted in excessive dispersion at long range. Because of this, the final velocity of the Palla rounds was reduced from 870 m/s to 850 m/s. Even with this reduced velocity, the 381/50 had the longest range of any rifles ever mounted on a battleship, the 884.8 kg AP rounds able to reach 42.8 km at the maximum elevation of +36º. [10] This out-ranged the 46cm/45 Type 94 of the Yamato-class by almost 800 meters, and the 16"/50 Mk.7 of the Iowa-class by over 4000 meters. The armor-piercing shells had similar penetrative ability against vertical (belt) armor to the two aforementioned weapons, but due to the shallow angle of impact and high velocity of the shells, their performance against horizontal (deck) armor was far inferior. [11]

The guns were produced in two twenty-gun batches, the first for the original two Littorio-class battleships (Littorio and Vittorio Veneto), and the second batch, designated Modello 1939, were produced for the next pair of battleships, Impero and Roma. Of the first pair, manufacturing was split evenly between Ansaldo and O.T.O (Nine guns per ship, with one spare barrel each), but for the second production run, Ansaldo only built five, while O.T.O built the other fifteen. [3]

Of the original production, the Ansaldo guns armed the battleship Littorio, while Vittorio Veneto was armed with the O.T.O guns. Of the second group, Impero was to receive (but never did, as she was never completed) O.T.O. guns, while Roma had one turret utilizing Ansaldo-manufactured guns, with the other two using those made by O.T.O.

Of the forty guns, nine went down with the battleship Roma when she was sunk in September 1943. Eighteen more were scrapped alongside the battleships Italia (ex-Littorio) and Vittorio Veneto in 1948. Of the remaining thirteen (the nine guns meant for Impero and four reserve guns), their fate is less clear. It is believed that some of Impero's guns were seized by Nazi Germany for use in the Atlantic Wall, while any remaining guns would have been scrapped post-war in accordance with Article 51 of the Peace Treaty of 1947 (As the range of these guns far exceeded the 30 km limit allowed).

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro - History

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, by Erminio Bagnasco & Augusto De Toro

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011. Pp. 356. Illus., maps, plans, diagr., tables, appends., notes, biblio, index. $85.00. ISBN: 1591144450.

Originally published in Italian in 2008, and then revised in 2010, this lavishly illustrated volume is the first biography of the four ship Littorio Class, and thus fills an important need in the historiography of the battleship, by two naval historians well known in Italy, but not in the English-speaking world, though two of Bagnasco’s earlier books have been published in English, Regia Marina - Italian Battleships of WWII  and Submarines of World War Two

For a short time among the most powerful warships in the world, the ships had a number of unusual features, notably as the only battlewagons to mount nine 15-inch guns.  This work opens with a discussion of Italian naval policy and the evolution of the battleship in the period between the world wars.  It then examines the design and general characteristics of the class, including a look at a number of technological innovations, notably a highly promising, but ultimately unsuccessful internal anti-torpedo system.  There follows a very detailed look at the technical aspects of everything, hull form, armament, protection, living arrangements, even catapults and aircraft, plus a special section for modelers.  More than 100 pages are devoted to the wartime experiences of the three units that entered service, plus a look at the fate of the fourth.  The book concludes with an interesting chapter comparing the Littorio Class with battleships of other nations at the time. 

An important work for anyone interested in warship design, the naval side of World War II in the Mediterranean, or modern Italian history.

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 Kindle Edition

Named for the lictors of ancient Rome, who carried the fasce as their symbol of authority, the Littorio class represented the ultimate Italian development of the battleship and were outstanding warships by any measure.

It was their misfortune (and the allies' good fortune) that, thanks to ineffectual leadership and the weakness of Italy's war economy, they never really had the opportuity to demonstrate what they were capable of. There was also a considerable measure of downright bad luck most notably the loss of the Roma to two FX 1400 hits, a tragedy made all the more poignant by the fact that she was within hours of safety at the end of Italy's war.

The authors' portrait of the class more than does these ships justice. Combining an interesting and detailed text with well chosen photos and drawings that modellers will find especially useful, he covers the whole story through construction and service (of course Impero missed out this part) to loss or scrapping. There is also due discussion of the Pugliese system of underwater protection, though as to whether it was worth the trouble is another matter.

Many of the photos will be new to most people particularly welcome are the interior shots and those taken during trials and construction, where he reminds us of the Italians' odd habit of sailing their warships incomplete. The section dealing with the slow scrapping of Italia and Vittorio Veneto makes for interesting if sad reading, but as events had shown all too clearly, the day of ships like these was over and the allies had actually done the Italian navy a favour in insisting that they be broken up.

The book itself is produced to a high standard with decent paper and binding and the photos are clearly reproduced. As it stood originally, the MRP was very good value: one can only hope that there will soon be a reprint for those who missed it first time round.

All in all, this book is likely to become the standard reference on these ships, as it is frankly hard to see how any future author could really better Bagnasco and De Toro's work.

This is one of the finest 'single class' warship books there is- as perhaps it should be at 350 large, double format pages. It is also beautifully produced, and considering it was originally published in Italian the English translation is excellent, being both gramatical and almost free from errors.

This is, though, largely a book in two parts. The first 153 pages deals with the origins of the ships, both political and constructional, followed by a detailed description of their design and construction. The section between pages 164 and 284 then covers wartime history- really a history of the Regia Mariina as a whole, not just of the Littorio class battleships.

The description of the ships is very detailed- if a little verbose- and on the whole it is easy to read. For example, the electro- mechanical fire control computers are described, but the authors avoid complex debate about the mathematics of this subject. The are many fine photos- though no stunning double page spreads of the type found in Burts' books on British battleships. A highlight is the collection of excellent line drawings, including several three dimensional perspectives that would have been immensely difficult to produce. Most of the drawings are very fully annotated and some fold- out plans are included. A whole section is devoted to this fine cartography between pages 129 and 152, whilst later in the book there is a short but well executed colour section.

Chapter 5, 'Operational history', gives a blow by blow account of the Italian Navy and its wartime operations. It 'pulls no punches' in describing the often timid and ineffectual nature of these activities- or, rather, for a large part of the time inactivity. The navy repeatedly tried to employ the concept of the 'fleet in being' and avoid contact with superior forces- which often were not superior at all- for example, note the very long range at which the second battle of Sirte was fought against a force that only comprised 6inch gunned cruisers. The authors theme for this book is that the poor reputation of the Littorios had much more to do with the way they were employed than with their actual qualities in comparison with competitors from other navies.

The conclusion reached is that this class was actually very well designed and built but that they were lacking in modern radar, communications technology and electronics generally. There is much truth in this, though I cannot completely agree. For example the two torpedoes that stuck Littorio forward at Taronto really sank her and it is no answer to say that the Pugliese side protection system did not work properly because the ship was struck in the wrong place. Although the ships survived other torpedo strikes the adoption of that unique system was certainly a huge risk, given the very limited experimentation that had been carried out on it. Personally I was frustrated by a comparison made between a torpedo attack on Vittorio Veneto and the sinking of the British 'Prince of Wales' which, like nearly all such accounts, fails to appreciate the true circumstances of Prince of wales's loss: you can hardly compare the single torpedo that struck Vitorio Veneto at Matapan with the mass- attack on the British ship.

Impressive statistics can be misleading: for example, although the 380mm guns were very powerful they wore out their tubes after a mere 120 rounds- less than half a really acceptable figure, as the authors freely admit. Despite such limitations it is almost certainly true that in most respects the Littorios were very fine ships, but it is sobering to realize that non- availability in Italy of modern electronicss, gyroscopes and radar systems had greatly reduced their operational value by 1943- even though these battleships were then still only three years old.

All told this is an excellent book. The operational history section is maybe a little long and for an Anglo Saxon reader more maps showing Eastern Mediterranean locations would be useful, but it is an interesting read. Moreover, at less than £30 from Amazon this huge and 'classy' book is almost ridiculously good value.


Littorio and her sister Vittorio Veneto were designed in response to the French Dunkerque-class battleships. [2] Littorio was 237.76 meters (780.1 ft) long overall, had a beam of 32.82 m (107.7 ft) and a draft of 9.6 m (31 ft). She was designed with a standard displacement of 40,724 long tons (41,377 t), a violation of the 35,000-long-ton (36,000 t) restriction of the Washington Naval Treaty at full combat loading, she displaced 45,236 long tons (45,962 t). The ship was powered by four Belluzo geared steam turbines rated at 128,000 shaft horsepower (95,000 kW). Steam was provided by eight oil-fired Yarrow boilers. The engines provided a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h 35 mph) and a range of 3,920 mi (6,310 km 3,410 nmi) at 20 kn (37 km/h 23 mph). Littorio had a crew of 1,830 to 1,950 over the course of her career. [3] [4]

Littorio ' s main armament consisted of nine 381-millimeter (15.0 in) 50-caliber Model 1934 guns in three triple turrets two turrets were placed forward in a superfiring arrangement and the third was located aft. Her secondary anti-surface armament consisted of twelve 152 mm (6.0 in) /55 Model 1934/35 guns in four triple turrets placed at the corners of the superstructure. These were supplemented by four 120 mm (4.7 in) /40 Model 1891/92 guns in single mounts these guns were old weapons and were primarily intended to fire star shells. Littorio was equipped with an anti-aircraft battery that comprised twelve 90 mm (3.5 in) /50 Model 1938 guns in single mounts, twenty 37 mm (1.5 in)/54 /54 guns in eight twin and four single mounts, and sixteen 20 mm (0.79 in) /65 guns in eight twin mounts. [5] A further twelve 20 mm guns in twin mounts were installed in 1942. She received an EC 3 bis radar set in August 1941, an updated version in April 1942—which proved to be unsuccessful in service—and finally the EC 3 ter model in September 1942. [6]

The ship was protected by a main armored belt that was 280 mm (11 in) thick with a second layer of steel that was 70 mm (2.8 in) thick. The main deck was 162 mm (6.4 in) thick in the central area of the ship and reduced to 45 mm (1.8 in) in less critical areas. The main battery turrets were 350 mm (14 in) thick and the lower turret structure was housed in barbettes that were also 350 mm thick. The secondary turrets had 280 mm thick faces and the conning tower had 260 mm (10 in) thick sides. [4] Littorio was fitted with a catapult on her stern and equipped with three IMAM Ro.43 reconnaissance float planes or Reggiane Re.2000 fighters. [7]

Littorio was laid down at the Ansaldo shipyards in Genoa on 28 October 1934 to commemorate the Fascist Party's March on Rome in 1922. Her sister Vittorio Veneto was laid down the same day. [8] Changes to the design and a lack of armor plating led to delays in the building schedule, causing a three-month slip in the launch date from the original plan of May 1937. Littorio was launched on 22 August 1937, during a ceremony attended by many Italian dignitaries. She was sponsored by Signora Teresa Ballerino Cabella, the wife on an Ansaldo employee. [9] After her launch, the fitting out period lasted until early 1940. During this time, Littorio ' s bow was modified to lessen vibration and reduce wetness over the bow. Littorio ran a series of sea trials over a period of two months between 23 October 1939 and 21 December 1939. She was commissioned on 6 May 1940, and after running additional trials that month, she transferred to Taranto where she—along with Vittorio Veneto—joined the 9th Division under the command of Rear Admiral Carlo Bergamini. [10]

On 31 August – 2 September 1940, Littorio sortied as part of an Italian force of five battleships, ten cruisers, and thirty-four destroyers to intercept British naval forces taking part in Operation Hats and Convoy MB.3, but contact was not made with either group due to poor reconnaissance and no action occurred. [6] [11] A similar outcome resulted from the movement against British Operation "MB.5" on 29 September - 1 October Littorio, four other battleships, eleven cruisers, and twenty-three destroyers had attempted to intercept the convoy carrying troops to Malta. [6] [12]

Attack on Taranto Edit

On the night of 10–11 November, the British Mediterranean Fleet launched an air raid on the harbor in Taranto. Twenty-one Swordfish torpedo bombers launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious attacked the Italian fleet in two waves. [13] The Italian base was defended by twenty-one 90 mm anti-aircraft guns and dozens of smaller 37 mm and 20 mm guns, along with twenty-seven barrage balloons. The defenders did not possess radar, however, and so were caught by surprise when the Swordfish arrived. Littorio and the other battleships were also not provided with sufficient anti-torpedo nets. The first wave struck at 20:35, followed by the second about an hour later. [14]

The planes scored three hits on Littorio, one hit on Caio Duilio, and one on Conte di Cavour. [13] Of the torpedoes that struck Littorio, two hit in the bow and one struck the stern the stern hit destroyed the rudder and shock from the explosion damaged the ship's steering gear. The two forward hits caused major flooding and led her to settle by the bows, with her decks awash up to her main battery turrets. She could not be brought into dock until 11 December due to a fourth, unexploded torpedo discovered under her keel removing the torpedo proved to be a painstaking task, as any shift in the magnetic field around the torpedo might detonate its magnetic detonator. [15] Repairs lasted until 11 March 1941. [16]

Convoy operations Edit

After repairs were completed, Littorio participated in an unsuccessful sortie to intercept British forces on 22–25 August. A month later, she led the attack on the Allied convoy in Operation Halberd on 27 September 1941. [16] The British force escorting the convoy included the battleships Rodney, Nelson, and Prince of Wales Italian reconnaissance reported the presence of a powerful escort, and the Italian commander, under orders not to engage unless he possessed a strong numerical superiority, broke off the operation and returned to port. [17] On 13 December, she participated in another sweep to catch a convoy to Malta, but the attempt was broken off after Vittorio Veneto was torpedoed by a British submarine. Three days later, she steamed out to escort Operation M42, a supply convoy to Italian and German forces in North Africa. [16] By late 1941, British success at breaking the Enigma code made it increasingly difficult for Axis convoys to reach North Africa. The Italians therefore committed their battle fleet to the convoy effort to better protect the transports. [17] The next day, she took part in the First Battle of Sirte. Littorio, along with the rest of the distant covering force, engaged the escort of a British convoy heading for Malta that happened to run into the M42 convoy late in the day. [16] Littorio opened fire at extreme range, around 35,000 yards (32,000 m), but she scored no hits. Nevertheless, the heavy Italian fire forced the British force to withdraw under cover of a smokescreen and the M42 convoy reached North Africa without damage. [18] [19]

On 3 January 1942, Littorio was again tasked with convoy escort, in support of Operation M43 she was back in port by 6 January. On 22 March, she participated in the Second Battle of Sirte, as the flagship for an Italian force attempting to destroy a British convoy bound for Malta. [16] After the fall of darkness, several British destroyers made a close-range attack on Littorio, but heavy fire from her main and secondary guns forced the destroyers to retreat. [20] As the destroyers withdrew, one of them hit Littorio with a single 4.7-inch (120 mm) shell, which caused minor damage to the ship's fantail. [21] During the battle, Littorio hit and seriously damaged the destroyers HMS Havock and Kingston. She also hit the cruiser Euryalus but did not inflict significant damage. Kingston limped to Malta for repairs, where she was later destroyed during an airstrike while in drydock. [22] Muzzle blast from Littorio ' s rear turret set one of her floatplanes on fire, though no serious damage to the ship resulted. [20] She fired a total of 181 shells from her main battery in the course of the engagement. Though the Italian fleet was unable to directly attack the convoy, it forced the transports to scatter and many were sunk the next day by air attack. [23]

Three months later, on 14 June, Littorio participated in the interception of the Operation Vigorous convoy to Malta from Alexandria. Littorio, Vittorio Veneto, four cruisers and twelve destroyers were sent to attack the convoy. [24] The British quickly located the approaching Italian fleet and launched several night air strikes in an attempt to prevent them from reaching the convoy, though the aircraft scored no hits. [25] While searching for the convoy the next day, Littorio was hit by a bomb dropped by a B-24 Liberator the bomb hit the roof of turret no. 1 but caused negligible damage to the rangefinder hood and barbette, along with splinter damage to the deck. The turret nevertheless remained serviceable and Littorio remained with the fleet. The threat from Littorio and Vittorio Veneto forced the British convoy to abort the mission. [24] [26] At 14:00, the Italians broke off the chase and returned to port shortly before midnight that evening, Littorio was struck by a torpedo dropped by a British Wellington bomber, causing some 1,500 long tons (1,500 t) of water to flood the ship's bow. Her crew counter-flooded 350 long tons (360 t) of water to correct the list. [27] The ship was able to return to port for repairs, that lasted until 27 August. [27] [24] [26] She remained in Taranto until 12 December, when the fleet was moved to La Spezia. [26]

Fate Edit

Littorio was inactive for the first six months of 1943 due to severe fuel shortages in the Italian Navy. [28] Only enough fuel was available for Littorio, Vittorio Veneto and their recently commissioned sister Roma, but even then the fuel was only enough for emergencies. [29] On 19 June 1943, an American bombing raid targeted the harbor at La Spezia and hit Littorio with three bombs. [26] [30]

She was renamed Italia on 30 July after the government of Benito Mussolini fell from power. On 3 September, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies, ending her active participation in World War II. Six days later, Italia and the rest of the Italian fleet sailed for Malta, where they would be interned for the remainder of the war. While en route, the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) attacked the Italian fleet using Dornier Do 217s armed with Fritz X radio-controlled bombs. One Fritz X hit Italia just forward of turret no. 1 it passed through the ship and exited the hull, exploding in the water beneath and causing serious damage. Roma was meanwhile sunk in the attack. [26] [31]

Italia and Vittorio Veneto were then moved, first to Alexandria, Egypt, and then to the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal in Egypt on 14 September they remained there until the end of the war. On 5 February 1947, Italia was finally permitted to return to Italy. In the Treaty of Peace with Italy, signed five days later on 10 February, Italia was allocated as a war prize to the United States. She was stricken from the naval register on 1 June 1948 and broken up for scrap at La Spezia. [32]

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For its final battleship design Italy ignored all treaty restrictions on tonnage, and produced one of Europe's largest and most powerful capital ships, comparable with Germany's Bismarck class, similarly built in defiance of international agreements. The three ships of the Littorio class were typical of Italian design, being fast and elegant, but also boasting a revolutionary protective scheme &ndash which was tested to the limits, as all three were to be heavily damaged in the hard-fought naval war in the Mediterranean Roma had the unfortunate distinction of being the first capital ship sunk by guided missile.

These important ships have never been covered in depth in English-language publications, but the need is now satisfied in this comprehensive and convincing study by two of Italy's leading naval historians. The book combines a detailed analysis of the design with an operational history, evaluating how the ships stood up to combat. It is illustrated with an amazing collection of photographs, many fine-line plans, and coloured artwork of camouflage schemes, adding up to as complete a monograph on a single class ever published.

Among warship enthusiasts battleships enjoy a unique status. As the great success of Seaforth's recent book on French battleships proves, that interest transcends national boundaries, and this superbly executed study is certain to become another classic in the field.

This book is an effective and detailed study of the Littorio Class by two of Italy's leading naval historians. An essential book for all naval history enthusiasts.


First published in Italian in 2008, this English-language translation is a comprehensive design-history of one of Europe’s largest and most powerful classes of battleships.
These fine ships have received little attention in English-language literature but this superbly produced and comprehensive monograph overcomes that deficit. This superb volume is built around six chapters covering (1) battleships and Italian naval policy between the two world war, (2) design and general characteristics, (3) technical description, (4) construction, sea trials and commissioning from, (5) operational history and (6) comparisons and conclusions. The book is completed by three appendices detailing (1) movements and changes of location of the Littorio class from entry into service until their loss or decommissioning, (2) damage sustained during the war and (3) performance characteristics of Littorio class heavy and medium calibre guns. It is illustrated with a superb collection of 300 photographs, 150 fine-line plans and coloured artwork including foldout plates. Very highly recommended.

Marine News

This book is a very comprehensive study of the design and operational history of these great ships. Beautifully presented, it is profusely illustrated with 300 photographs and 150 drawings and includes fold-out plans of the ships. It certainly provides a fitting record of the last Italian battleships and deserved a place alongside similar books on other great battleships on the bookshelves of those interested in warship design and naval history. It is highly recommended.

The Navy, Vol 74, No 4

Originally published in 2008, and then revised in 2010, this lavishly illustrated volume is the first biography of the four ship Littorio Class, and thus fills an important need in the historiography of the battleship.
This work opens with a discussion of Italian naval policy and the evolution of the battleship in the period between the world wars. It then examines the design and general characteristics of the class, followed by a highly detailed look at the technical aspects of everything, full form, armament, protection, living arrangements, catapults and aircraft, with a special section for modelers.
An important work for anyone interested in warship design, the naval side of World War II in the Mediterranean, or modern Italian history.

New York Military Affairs Symposium

This is a very impressive piece of work, one of the best monographs on a single type of warship that i have ever read and comes highly recommended.

History of War

The Littorio Class is structured into six chapters covering the background to the ships, a detailed technical description, operational history, and fully comparisons and conclusions. There are also appendices covering movements, characteristics of the heavy and medium guns.
The photographs and drawings are clear and comprehensive, and the captions short and to the point. Drawing and photos have been placed in such a way as to support the text, and the book maintains a glow that very long captions and discursive footnotes would have interrupted.
In sum, this is a magnificent volume. It is also also a welcome, long needed and important addition to the English literature of the naval war. The English reading audience can ask for nothing better, only more of the same.

Warship 2012

This is a book and a half! The ambitious aim of the authors throughout its 350-pages is to provide the reader with “the most complete and up-to-date picture possible of the genesis, design, building, and employment of these ships”. They achieve this lofty remit, however, comes as no surprise when you consider their backgrounds. I can thoroughly recommend this meticulously researched, authoritatively written and beautifully presented book.

Military Modelling

This is an absolutely first class read for any enthusiast interested in WW2 warships and is recommended

Model Boats, November 2011

…it’s an interesting publication on a fascinating and rarely covered subject. The incredible detail in which these ships are covered is worthy of gracing any maritime collection. Period black and white archive photographs, dozens of incredibly details line drawing and plans, together with a series of colour illustrations and a small selection of colour photo cover every minute aspect of the Littorio Class battleship, which is sure to make this book very popular with maritime historians and marine modellers makers alike.

Military Machines International, Oct 2011

About Erminio Bagnasco

ERMINIO BAGNASCO is the Editor of Storia Militare , Italy&rsquos leading military journal. He is the author of many books on Italian warships, and is widely regarded as the foremost authority. As for Littorio Class , he was assisted by AUGUSTO DE TORO, an authority on the political and economic aspects of naval policy, and himself the author of many articles and monographs.

The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948, Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro - History

What size spray booth did you get? I've looked at a few recently but they all are under 500mm long. The result being I'm not able to fit a ship hull in

I ended up getting an Artograph 1530 spray booth. As the name implies, the dimensions are 15" wide by 30" long. I will be able to fit a 1:350 ship inside. I've read nothing but good reviews of this product and decided to get the larger option. They have another model that is 15" x 20" but for the price difference it made sense to get the larger one. I should be set for any conceivable project now.

I received my copy of The Littorio Class: Italy's Last and Largest Battleships 1937-1948 by Erminio Bagnasco and Augusto de Toro. Thanks again for the recommendation Luciano, it's been a great read so far and is packed with tons of useful reference material.

This project is starting to take on a life of its own. Overall, I'm happy with the model, but there have been a few shortcomings with my particular kit. There is a small hole and a linear scratch on one of the deck pieces near the funnels which needs to be addressed. Some of the damage will be covered, but the rest will be visible.

I was putting together one of the forward gun directors and the fit was atrocious. One half of the director seems to be slightly warped or bent and an ugly 1mm gap appeared when the top piece was added. I ended up having to cut a portion off of one of the sides to eliminate the gap. I have not attempted to build the second one yet to see if I'll have the same fit issues. Right now a little putty and sanding should finish up the first one.

Barring a few some kit imperfections I have been making progress. I've drilled out the port side scuttles and added small 0.10 thick styrene disks created from a punch set to show them in an opened state. I'm in the process of drilling out the starboard side scuttles. I'll be drilling out all the bow port holes as well and will added thin wire eyebrows.

The stern is another matter. Reference photos show two different port hole layouts for either side. The kit has each side with the same arrangement. The kit also has molded half the port holes on the stern at a slightly higher elevation than the other half. Reference material doesn't indicate a change in elevation. There is also a rectangular section molded along either side of the stern which appears thick and over scale. I'm not sure what it is, but I will sand off the existing detail and add a new styrene strip more in line with references. The kit also has a boom attachment it shows attached over a section of stern port holes, but reference material shows this boom attached above the port holes. I have decided to fill the stern portholes with epoxy putty and realign them more in line with references. This is a lot more work than I had anticipated, but I have to admit I don't like the look of the stern as molded, when it's rather out of whack with the real ship.

I've also decided to get the KA-models Mk.1 Roma Deluxe set. I think it fills a number of omissions that neither the kit, nor the flyhawk detail set cover. This set has the 22 missing hatches on the boat deck and all the ammo locker doors for starters. I also like having a back up set to cover any mistakes I may make.

I have not provided pictures yet, as I'd like to show a comprehensive update showing before and after. I will document what I'm doing so you all can see. Like a friend of mine says, "pictures, or it didn't happen!"

A note on the build. I'm loving it! It's quickly turning into a labour of love. I've spent a little more money than anticipated, but I really want to showcase this beautiful ship. I'm testing my modelling skills and enjoying every minute. One thing I've learned about myself, if there's a hole that could be drilled, I will drill it.

Pictures will be forthcoming and I'll be on two weeks vacation soon where I can devote some serious model time to the project. The decision to improve the look of the stern is a major undertaking for me and has delayed the joining of the hull halves, but I think the results will be worth it.

A brief note on my model room. My spray booth arrived last week and I've set it up. It's exactly what I'd hoped for, but it requires two venting ducts and I'm not going to be able to add a 'Y' connector to my single 4" ceiling duct without creating back flow. I'm going to seal one vent and see if that works ok. The manufacturer says the fans are exhausting into a central chamber before leaving via the two exhaust ports so that shouldn't cause much issue with air flow. Fingers crossed!

Sorry for the lack of photos. I'll get to them when I can, but right now I just want to finish up the work so I can join the hull halves.

Watch the video: Regia Marina Italiana - Vittorio Veneto Class Littorio Class Battleships Roma - (December 2021).