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T3, R1, Prng 111: Imperator Aleksandr II Class (Russia) vs Re Umberto Class (Italy)

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  • panther3485
    Armament and general layout point to the Re Umberto class for me also.

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  • Mountain Man
    The Umberto class, despite the thin armor. The Russian vessels were disasters waiting to happen due to the casemate guns not being separated by any armor - one explosion and the whole side would flash over and cripple the ship - and sailing rig on a massive steel warship? It wold take a full gale to get that thing moving.

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  • T3, R1, Prng 111: Imperator Aleksandr II Class (Russia) vs Re Umberto Class (Italy)

    Imperator Aleksandr II Class ironclad battleship
    Re Umberto Class ironclad battleship
    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.

    145: Imperator Aleksandr II Class

    The two battleships of the Imperator Aleksandr II class were built between 1885 and 1891 and were intended to counter the small armored ships of the other Baltic powers. Construction was very prolonged and the ships were virtually obsolescent when completed. However, they were the first all-steel battleships to be built for the Baltic Fleet and were designed to allow Russia to dominate the Baltic Sea by defeating rival ships like the Danish ironclad Helgoland and the German Sachsen class ironclads, which were built of wrought iron. They were designed according to the tactical theories of the day which emphasized ramming and incorporated a ram bow. In addition their forecastle deck sloped slightly downwards to allow the main guns to fire at the waterline of the enemy at short range as the ship closed to ram.

    Imperator Nikolai I was originally going to be built to a completely different design, but this was changed at the last minute to a modified version of the Imperator Aleksandr II design, so there were significant differences between the two ships. Imperator Aleksandr II was 334ft (102m) long at the waterline and 346ft 6 in (105.61m) long overall. She had a beam of 66ft 11in (20.4m) and a draft of 25ft 9in (7.85m). She displaced 9,244 long tons (9,392t) at load, over 800 long tons (813t) more than her designed displacement of 8,440 long tons (8,575t). Imperator Nikolai I was dimensionally similar to her sister except that her draft was only 24ft 3in (7.39m).

    Their hulls were subdivided by one centerline longitudinal and ten transverse watertight bulkheads and they had a double bottom extending from frame 12 to frame 74. Metacentric height was 3 feet 9 inches (1.14 m). They were considered to have good seagoing qualities, with a tactical diameter of 570 yards (520 m) and they could complete a full 360 circle in seven minutes and 32 seconds.

    Compound armor was used throughout the Imperator Aleksandr II-class ships. The main waterline belt had a maximum thickness of 14in (356mm) abreast the machinery spaces and was 8ft 6in (2.59m) high on Imperator Aleksandr II. 3ft 6in (1.07m) of this was supposed to extend above the waterline at design displacement, but only 2ft (0.6m) was actually above the waterline as completed. The belt tapered to 8in (203mm) at the lower edge and thinned in stages. It was 12in thick abreast the magazines and thinned down to 3.9in (99mm) at the bow and 4.9in (124mm) at the stern. It was backed by 10in (254mm) of wood. The configuration of the waterline belt in Imperator Nikolai I differed somewhat from her sister. It was only 8ft (2m) high with 3ft (0.91m) above the designed waterline and 5ft (1.5m) below. At bow and stern it was six inches thick. The flat protective deck was positioned at the upper edge of the belt on both ships and was 2.5 in (64mm) thick and consisted of two layers of mild steel.

    The barbette and turret sides had a thickness of 10 inches while the turret roof was 2 inches thick. Initially the barbette was open-topped, but a 3-inch (76mm) thick protective hood was added in late 1893. The transverse bulkheads were six inches thick, but the nine-inch guns were protected by a patch of side armor only three inches thick and the six-inch guns by a patch only 2 inches (51mm) thick. Originally there was no side armor above the main belt, but that was added when the original disappearing main gun mounts and their pear-shaped barbette were deleted and made some weight available.

    No partitions separated the casemated guns, nor was there any armor between the guns. The conning tower had 8in (203mm) sides on the Imperator Aleksandr II, but they were only six inches thick on Imperator Nikolai I, but there was a 2-inch thick roof on both ships.

    These ships had two 3-cylinder vertical compound steam engines driving 17-foot (5.2 m) screw propellers. Twelve cylindrical boilers provided steam. The engines fitted to Imperator Nikolai I were somewhat less powerful than those of Aleksandr II. As a result, Nikolai I’s maximum speed was correspondingly less. On trials, she reached 14.5 knots (26.9 km/h; 16.7 mph), compared to 15.27 knots (28.28 km/h; 17.57 mph) for her classmate. They were given a full sailing rig to allow for deployments to the Mediterranean and other distant locations although it was never actually used.

    Imperator Aleksandr II served in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas before becoming a gunnery training ship in 1904, but she was inactive during World War I before joining the Bolsheviks in 1917. She was sold for scrap in 1922. Imperator Nikolai I served in the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas as well as the Pacific Ocean during the First Sino-Japanese War and the Russo-Japanese War. She surrendered after the Battle of Tsushima in 1905 and was commissioned in the Imperial Japanese Navy before she was sunk as a target in 1915.

    General characteristics

    Displacement – 9,244 long tons (9,392t)
    Length – 346ft 6in (105.61m)
    Beam – 66ft 11in (20.4m)
    Draft – 25ft 9in (7.85m)

    Power – 2 x 3cyl vertical compound steam engines, 17ft (5.2m) screws, 12 boilers

    Armament (main) – 2 x 12in (305mm) 30-cal + 4 x 9in (229mm) 35-cal + 5 or 6 torpedo tubes
    Complement – 616 officers and men

    Imperator Nikolai I

    Imperator Nikolai I 1886-1905.jpg

    Imperator Nikolai I's forward turret area shortly after the Battle of Tsushima, 1905

    Imperator Nikolai I forward turret soon after Tsushima.jpg

    Imperator Aleksandr II at Reval, 1913


    132: Re Umberto Class

    The three ironclad battleships of the Re Umberto class were designed by Benedetto Brin, with the characteristic high top speeds, but relatively thin armour, of his earlier designs. They were named Re Umberto, Sicilia and Sardegna and were built as part of a major naval expansion program begun in the 1870s, aimed at countering the Austro-Hungarian Navy. The Re Umberto class was the culmination of the first phase of the program, which saw ten modern ironclad battleships built. At the time, these ships placed Italy with the third largest navy in the World, after Great Britain and France.

    The Re Umbertos boasted several innovations over previous Italian designs, including a more efficient arrangement of the main battery, installation of wireless telegraph and - in Sardegna - the first use of triple-expansion steam engines in an Italian capital ship. With a top speed of 20.3 knots (37.6 km/h; 23.4 mph), she was the fastest of the three ships; Re Umberto and Sicilia reaching 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph) and 20.1 knots (37.2 km/h; 23.1 mph) respectively. Specific figures for each ship's cruising radius have not survived, but they could steam for 4,000 - 6,000 nautical miles (7,400 to 11,100 km; 4,600 to 6,900 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).

    Armament started with a main battery of four 13.5in (343mm) 30-cal guns, mounted in two twin-gun turrets, one on either end of the ship. This was more efficient than the arrangement used in previous designs, with both pairs of guns mounted in a central barbette that limited their arcs of fire. These were Armstrong Whitworth Pattern B, firing 1,250lb (570kg) capped armor-piercing shells with 507lb (230kg) brown powder charge, producing a muzzle velocity of 1,886 ft/s (575 m/s). They could elevate to 15 deg and depress to −5 deg. Loading required the guns to be elevated to 15 deg.

    The secondary battery was 8 x 6in (152mm) 40-caliber guns placed singly in shielded mounts atop the upper deck, with four on each broadside. Close-range defense against torpedo boats was provided by a battery of sixteen 4.7in (119mm) guns in casemates in the upper deck aboard Re Umberto, eight on each broadside. Sicilia and Sardegna both had twenty of these guns, with ten per side. These were supported by sixteen 57mm (2.2in) 43-cal guns and ten 37mm (1.5in) guns. As was customary for capital ships of the period, they carried five 17.7in (450mm) torpedo tubes in above-water launchers. The torpedoes carried a 90lb (41kg) warhead and had a range of 400m (1,300 ft).

    The Re Umbertos were lightly armored for their size; the savings in weight facilitating their high top speed, which was typical for Italian capital ships of the period. This was especially true of those designed by Brin, who argued that armor technology of the time could not defeat contemporary heavy guns. Armor consisted of steel manufactured by Schneider-Creusot. They were protected by belt armor 4in (102mm) thick, with an armored deck 3in (76mm) thick. Their forward conning towers had 11.8in (300mm) of steel plate on the sides. Their main battery turrets had 4in thick faces and the supporting barbettes had 13.75in (349mm) thick steel. The secondary guns had 2in (51mm) thick gun shields.

    They were completed between 1893-95 and for their first decade in service, saw duty in the Active Squadron of the Italian fleet, though their early careers were uneventful. However, they all saw significant action during the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912, primarily conducting operations in support of Italian troops fighting in Libya. From October to December 1911, they were stationed off Tripoli, where they bombarded Ottoman defenses to prepare for the initial landing and then provided fire support to Italian forces after they had seized the city. After returning to Italy for resupply, the ships were tasked with escorting troop convoys to attack other ports in Libya from June to August 1912.

    After the catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Caporetto in November 1917, Sardegna was withdrawn from Venice to Brindisi, and later to Taranto. In 1918, Re Umberto was converted into an assault ship for the planned attack on the main Austro-Hungarian naval base at Pola, but the war ended before the attack could be carried out. She was stricken in 1920 and broken up for scrap; Sicilia and Sardegna followed in 1923.

    General characteristics

    Displacement – 13,673 long tons (13,892t) normal; 15,454 long tons (15,702t) full load
    Length – 127.6 - 130.73m (418.6 - 428.9ft)
    Beam – 23.44m (76.9ft)
    Draft – 8.84 – 9.29m (29 – 30.5ft)
    Power – Vertical compound steam engines, 2 shafts
    Armament (main) – 4 x 13.5in (343mm) 30 cal in twin turrets; 8 x 6in (152mm) 40 cal
    Complement – 733-794 officers and men

    Re Umberto class drawing

    Re Umberto class drawings.jpg

    Sardegna c 1895

    Sardegna c 1895.jpg


    sicilia 2.jpg

    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).

    Last edited by panther3485; 19 Sep 19, 09:37.

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