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T3, R1, Prng 109: Italia Class Battleship (Italy) vs Pelayo Battleship (Spain)

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  • T3, R1, Prng 109: Italia Class Battleship (Italy) vs Pelayo Battleship (Spain)

    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.

    131: Italia Class

    Following the Italian fleet's defeat at the Battle of Lissa, the Italians began a large naval expansion program, at first aimed at countering the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The two ironclad battleships of the Italia class were part of this program and were built between 1876 and 1887. They were designed by Benedetto Brin, who chose to discard traditional belt armor entirely, relying on a combination of very high speed and extensive internal subdivision to protect the ships. This, along with a heavy main armament, has led some naval historians to refer to the Italia class as prototypical battlecruisers. They were very large and fast warships for their time, displacing over 15,000 tons at full load and able to reach about 18 knots (33 Km/h, 21 mph).

    Instead of belt armor the ships were protected by an armored deck that was 4in (102mm) thick. This deck sloped downward to meet the ships' sides at a point 6ft (1.8m) above the waterline. This was combined with two bulkheads that ran the entire length of the ships, set back several feet from the side, and numerous other bulkheads interspersed among the two main bulkheads to create a hull extensively divided into watertight compartments. The resulting "cellular raft" of small compartments was designed to detonate shells before they could penetrate very far into the ships; confining the resulting explosion and flooding to limited areas, dampening and containing the effect. The ships' conning tower was armored with 4 in of steel plate and the barbette had 19in (483mm) of compound armor to protect the guns. The bases of the funnels received 16in (406mm) of armor.

    Italia and Lepanto each carried a main armament of four 17in (432mm) guns. These were the A 1882 model, firing a 2,000-pound (910 kg) shell at a muzzle velocity of around 1,837 feet per second (560 m/s). Their rate of fire was very slow, taking eight minutes to reload after each shot. The guns were mounted in pairs “en-echelon” amidships in a single, large, diagonal, oval barbette, with one pair of guns on a turntable to port and the other to starboard. The port pair was mounted aft of the starboard pair. The magazine was below the armored deck, and ammunition was brought up to the main guns via an armored trunk. The ships' high freeboard allowed the main guns to be mounted 33ft (10m) above the waterline, and the design and location of the barbette and turntables gave the guns good fields of fire.

    The secondary battery consisted of seven 6in (152mm) 26-caliber guns and four 4.7in (119mm) 32-caliber guns, though Lepanto had an eighth 6in gun. The 6in gun fired a variety of shells, including 102lb (46kg) armor-piercing, while the 4.7in guns fired 36lb (16kg) shells. Their secondary batteries were revised over the course of their careers; both ships received two 75mm (3in) guns, twelve 57mm (2.2in) 40-caliber guns, twelve 37mm (1.5in) revolver cannon, and two machine guns. As was customary for capital ships of the period, they carried four 14in (356mm) torpedo tubes. later in her career, Italia received two additional tubes, while Lepanto had hers removed in 1910. The torpedoes carried a 125kg (276lb) warhead and had a range of 600m (2,000 ft).

    Despite serving for over thirty years, the ships had uneventful careers. They spent their first two decades in service with the Active and Reserve Squadrons, where they were primarily occupied with training maneuvers. Lepanto was converted into a training ship in 1902 and Italia was significantly modernized in 1905–08 before also becoming a training ship. They briefly saw action during the Italo-Turkish War, where they provided gunfire support to Italian troops defending Tripoli. Lepanto was discarded in early 1915, though Italia continued on as a guard ship during World War I, eventually being converted into a grain transport. She was ultimately broken up for scrap in 1921.

    General characteristics
    Displacement – 13,678 long tons (13,897t) normal; 15,407 long tons (15,654t) full load
    Length – 122m (400ft) between perpendiculars; 124.7m (409ft) overall
    Beam – 22.54m (74ft)
    Draft – 8.75m (28.7ft) - 9.39m (30.8ft)
    Power – 4 x compound steam engines, each driving a single screw
    Armament – 4 x 17in (432mm); 7 x 5.9in (150mm); 4 x 4.7in (119mm) + 4 x 14in (356mm) torpedo tubes
    Complement – 669-701 officers and men

    Drawings of Lepanto showing original configuration


    Model of Italia


    151: Pelayo

    Pelayo was the first battleship and most powerful unit of the Spanish Navy, serving from 1888 to 1925. She was built in France and completed in the summer of 1888. Pelayo was a barbette ship, with the main battery mounted in open barbettes on armored rotating platforms. Her design was based on that of the French ironclad Marceau, modified to give her a draft 3ft (0.91m) shallower so she could transit the Suez Canal at full displacement. She was originally intended to begin a new class of battleships but a crisis with the German Empire in the Caroline Islands in 1890 led to cancellation of these plans and the diversion of funds to construction of the Infanta Maria Teresa class armored cruisers. At 16.7 knots maximum, Pelayo was viewed as too slow and having too little coal endurance for colonial service and ended up being the only member of her class.

    Her armor belt was 6ft 11in (211m) wide amidships, extending 2ft (0.61m) above and almost 5ft (1.5m) below the waterline. Internally, she had French-style cellular construction with 13 watertight bulkheads and a double bottom. Her main guns could be loaded in any position, and consisted of two 32cm (12.6in) guns mounted fore and aft on the centerline and two Gonzalez Hontoria 28cm (11in) guns, also in barbettes, with one mounted on either beam. Her 16cm (6.3in) gun was a bow chaser. She had two funnels. Originally equipped with sails, she had them removed soon after completion.

    Pelayo saw her early years in Spanish waters, showing the flag in various naval reviews. She began a reconstruction at La Seyne in 1897, receiving armor for her midships battery and having her 16 and 12cm (6.3 and 4.72in) guns replaced by 14cm (5.51in) pieces; one mounted as a bow chaser and the rest on the broadside. However, the installation of these new guns was disrupted and delayed when she was rushed back into service after the Spanish–American War broke out in April 1898. She resumed with her old guns removed but her new 14cm (5.5in) guns not yet mounted, taking up service with the Reserve Squadron on 14 May 1898.

    Pelayo spent a month in home waters, guarding against United States Navy raids on the Spanish coast. She was then assigned to the 2nd Squadron commanded by Rear Admiral Manuel de Cámara, which was to steam to the Philippines and engage the U.S Navy's Asiatic Squadron, which had controlled Philippine waters since defeating Rear Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasaron’s squadron in the Battle of Manila Bay. The 2nd Squadron left Cadiz on 16 June 1898. Arriving at Port Said, Egypt, on 26 June permission was requested to trans-ship coal, which the Egyptian government finally denied on 30 June out of concern for Egyptian neutrality.
    By the time Cámara's squadron arrived at Suez on 5 July, Vice Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topetes squadron had been annihilated in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba, freeing up the US Navy's heavy forces. Fearful for the security of the home coast, the Spanish Ministry of Marine recalled Cámara's squadron on 7 July and Pelayo returned to Spain. She spent the last month of the war in Spanish waters and thus missed combat.

    Pelayo and the rest of the Spanish Asia-Pacific Rescue Squadron never engaged in combat during the Spanish–American War. Some historians argue that Pelayo, along with Armored Cruiser Carlos V, could have changed the course of the war dramatically, leading to a possible Spanish victory and consolidating Spain's status as a colonial power. As it turned out, Pelayo had fired her guns in anger only once, when she bombarded Moroccan insurgents in 1909 during the Second Rif War (aka Second Melillan Campaign). She was scrapped in 1925.

    General characteristics
    Displacement – 9,745 tons
    Length – 334ft 8in (102m)
    Beam – 66ft 3in (20.19m)
    Draft – 24ft 9in (7.54m) maximum
    Power (as built) – 2-shaft vertical compound steam engine, 12 boilers
    Armament (as built) – 2 x 32cm (12.6in); 2 x 28cm (11in); 1 x 16cm (6.3in); 12 x 12cm (4.72in); 5 x 6pdr (57mm) QF, 14 machine guns, 7 x 14in (356mm) torpedo tubes
    Complement – 520 officers & enlisted men

    Pelayo drawings. Again, nice clear illustration of layout




    Italia class on one hand; Pelayo on the other.
    Only one can go forward from here.

    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).

    Italia Class ironclad central battery/barbette battleship
    Pelayo armored battleship
    Last edited by panther3485; 09 Oct 19, 07:37.
    "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
    My vote on this one has to go to the Spanish warship. The Italian design is just too awkward and inefficient looking, and the lack of armor is a serious handicap as later navies found out all to well, although the mixed caliber of the Spanish main batteries is a drawback, in my opinion, as it means hauling more ammo in different magazines.

    With that rounded bottom, she must have been a roller, and a full broadside must have been quite an experience!
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?


    • #3
      I finished up voting for Pelayo too; but not easily. I weighed the pros and cons of both candidates for quite a while. Neither type actually did very much in terms of combat action but I like Pelayo's layout and general design better.
      "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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