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T3, R1, Prng104: Devastation Class (Britain) vs Caio Duilio Class (Italy)

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  • T3, R1, Prng104: Devastation Class (Britain) vs Caio Duilio Class (Italy)

    In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
    Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
    Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.

    According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
    If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.

    104: Devastation Class

    The two British Devastation class battleships of the 1870s, HMS Devastation and HMS Thunderer, were the first class of ocean-going capital ship that did not carry sails, and the first to mount their entire main armament on top of the hull rather than inside it. They were designed by Sir Edward Reed, whose concept was to produce short, handy ships of medium size as heavily armed as possible with a good turn of speed, that could attack and destroy an opponent with reduced risk of being damaged during the process.

    The class was in service from 1874-1905. Originally conceived as oceangoing breastwork monitors, they were re-designated as 2nd Class Turret ships in 1886 and finally as 2nd Class Battleships by the 1900s. They both served mainly in home waters and the Mediterranean. The design concept was openly assailed by the British press and cost Sir Edward Reed his position as Chief Constructor. However, in practical terms at least this seems quite unfair as these ships were excellent sea boats and well thought of by their crews.

    For armour protection the ships were provided with wrought iron plating backed with 18 to 19 inches of teak. The sides of the breastwork were plated with 14 inches of armour, extending below the waterline. It was pierced with square portholes to provide ventilation for the crew spaces. The turrets were protected with 14 inches of plate armour on the front and 12 inches on the sides and rear. British ships built prior to HMS Devastation only had deck armour as part of the structure but Devastation and the ships that followed her were given increasing protection in this area. The armoured deck was 3 inches, tapering to 2 inches at the lower edge. This applied only to the breastwork portion of the ship, the bow and stern sections being basically unprotected.

    The two ships were modernized in 1891 and spent the next ten years as guard ships or in reserve being activated only for the annual summer manoeuvres. Their age (Devastation was 32 years and Thunderer 28 years in service) condemned them to being removed from the effective list in 1905. Devastation went to the breakers in 1908, followed by Thunderer in 1909. As the first major British warships built without sails, thereby relying solely on steam power, they were the start of modern British battleship design.

    General characteristics
    Displacement 9,330t (9,183 long tons)
    Length 307ft (94m) overall, 285ft (87m) between perpendiculars
    Beam 62 ft 3 in (18.97 m)
    Draft 26 ft 8 in (8.13 m)
    Power 2 2-cyl trunk direct-acting steam engines turning 2 screws
    Armament (initial) 4 12in RML Mk I naval gun
    Complement 410 officers and men

    Devastation class - drawings showing general layout


    Devastation under way


    130: Caio Duilio Class

    Following defeat at the 1866 Battle of Lissa, the Italians began a large naval expansion program, initially aimed at countering the Austro-Hungarian Navy. In addition, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 promised to restore the strategic significance of the Mediterranean. Italy would need a powerful fleet to assert its will and protect its merchant shipping in the region. The program began with the Caio Duilio class, which was designed by the naval architect Benedetto Brin. These were a pair of ironclad turret ships built in the 1870s and 1880s.

    The two ships, Caio Duilio and Enrico Dandolo, were fitted with the largest weapons available - 17.72 in (450 mm) rifled muzzle-loading guns - and were the largest, fastest and most powerful ships of their day. Maximum speed was 15.04 knots (27.85 Km/h; 17.31 Mph) with a range at 10 knots (19 Km/h, 12 Mph) of 3,760 nautical miles.

    To save weight on such large vessels, Brin adopted a radical solution for the time: He reserved armor only for the central portion of the ship where it protected the ships' engines and ammunition magazines, while the rest of the hulls were extensively sub-divided with watertight compartments.
    Brin had originally wanted to build three ships, but their great cost forced him to settle for two. At the time, Italy's industrial capacity was insufficient to build the ships out of domestic material. Everything from the iron used to build the hulls to the ships' machinery and guns had to be imported.

    The ships were completed between 1880 and 1882. They spent the majority of their time in service with the Active and Reserve Squadrons of the main Italian fleet but had uneventful careers. They were primarily occupied with conducting training exercises. From 1895-98, Enrico Dandolo was heavily re-constructed but the excessive cost of the modernization prevented Caio Duilio from being similarly rebuilt. Both were reassigned as training ships in the early to mid-1900s. Caio Duilio was stricken from the naval register in 1909 and converted into a floating oil tank, while Enrico Dandolo remained in service as a guard ship during World War I. She was sent to the breaker's yard in 1920. Caio Duilio's ultimate fate is unknown.

    In developmental terms, the Caio Duilio class was important and formed the basis for the following two ironclad designs: The Italia class, also designed by Brin and laid down in 1876, and the Ruggiero di Lauria class, designed by Giuseppe Micheli and laid down in 18811882.

    General characteristics
    Displacement Normal: 10,962 long tons. Full load: 12,071 long tons
    Length 109.16m (358ft 2in)
    Beam 19.74m (64ft 9in)
    Draft 8.31m (27ft 3in)
    Power 2 x compound steam engines
    Armament 4 x 17.7in (450mm) guns + 3 x 14in (360mm) torpedo tubes
    Complement 420 officers and men

    Duilio class ironclad 1888


    Caio Duilio under way


    Which of these two classes of ironclad battleship most deserves to go on?

    Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
    (Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

    Which warship type ...
    • was the best?
    • was the greatest?
    • was the most widely used?
    • had the greatest longevity in service?
    • was the most versatile?
    • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
    • was the easiest to operate?
    Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).

    Devastation Class ironclad battleship
    Caio Duilio Class ironclad battleship
    Last edited by panther3485; 04 Sep 19, 08:22.
    "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
    Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

  • #2
    Neither one of these is anything to write home about, both being boxy, antiquated designs, but the Italian vessel has way too much exposed upper works, apparently even including what passes for the bridge, and the center citadel concept wasn't all that efficient in terms of concentrating fire on the enemy. In fat, knocking out one main turret probably rendered the other one either much slower or incapable as well. They're just too close to each other.
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?


    • #3
      The general design of the Devastation class was used for the Australian (Victorian) coastal protection ship HMVS Cerberus, which is now,sadly, only a breakwater in Port Phillip Bay:- off Melbourne.

      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
      Samuel Johnson.


      • #4
        Devastation Class; IMO better in terms of layout and especially the main armament.
        "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
        Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.


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