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T3, R2, Prng 135: Re Umberto Class (Italy) vs Royal Sovereign Class (Britain)

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  • T3, R2, Prng 135: Re Umberto Class (Italy) vs Royal Sovereign Class (Britain)

    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.

    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

    106: Royal Sovereign Class

    By the late 1880s, pressure on the British Government to modernize and expand the Royal Navy was building. A war scare with Russia in 1885 during the Panjdeh Incident, the failure of a blockading fleet to contain raiding ships in port during the 1888 fleet maneuvers and more realistic evaluations of the numbers of ships required to perform the tasks required in a war against France, coupled with exposés by influential journalists, revealed serious weaknesses in the Navy. The Government responded with the Naval Defense Act 1889, which provided £21.5 million for a vast expansion program of which the 8 ships of the Royal Sovereign class were the centerpiece. The Act also formalized the two-power standard, whereby the Royal Navy sought to be as large as the next two major naval powers combined.

    Preliminary work began in 1888 with the Board of Admiralty requiring an improved and enlarged version of the Trafalgar class. These ships had gun turrets, the weight of which (determined at the time) required low freeboard to reduce topweight. White, however, argued strenuously for a higher freeboard to improve the new ships' ability to fight and steam in heavy weather. This mandated the main armament to be in lighter, less-heavily armored barbettes. After much discussion, the board came around to White's view, although one of the eight ships - Hood - was built as a low-freeboard turret ship in deference to the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Arthur Hood, who had strongly argued for the type. The eight Royal Sovereigns are often considered the first type of battleship to become known as “pre-dreadnoughts”, after the commissioning of the revolutionary Dreadnought in 1906. They were named Royal Sovereign, Empress of India, Repulse, Hood, Ramillies, Resolution, Revenge and Royal Oak.

    For the main armament, a new, more powerful 12in (305mm) gun was preferred but it was still under development, so the 32-cal BL 13.5in (343mm) 67 long ton (68t) gun used in the preceding classes was chosen. The four guns were mounted either in two twin-gun, pear-shaped barbettes, or circular turrets; one forward and one aft of the superstructure. The secondary armament of ten quick-firing (QF) 6in (152mm) guns was a significant upgrade over the six QF 4.7in (120mm) guns of the Trafalgar class. Four of the guns were situated on the main deck and were only usable in calm weather because they were so close to the ships' waterline, while the remaining guns were above them on the upper deck.

    The Royal Sovereigns' armor scheme was similar to that of the Trafalgars, as the compound waterline belt only protected the area between the barbettes. The 14–18in (356–457mm) belt was 250ft (76.2m) long and had a total height of 8ft 6in (2.6m) of which 5ft (1.5m) was below water. Transverse bulkheads 16in (406mm) (forward) and 14in (aft) thick formed the central armored citadel. Above the belt was a strake of 4in (102mm) armor, backed by deep coal bunkers and terminated by 3in (76mm) oblique bulkheads connecting the upper side armor to the barbettes. The upper strake plates were Harvey armor only in Royal Sovereign. Her sisters had nickel steel; although Hood's were 4.375in (111mm) thick.

    Power was provided by a pair of 3-cylinder, vertical triple-expansion steam engines, using steam from 8 cylindrical boilers. Driving two shafts, these gave a good turn of speed; Royal Sovereign herself reaching 16.43 knots (30.43 km/h; 18.91 mph) from 9,661 ihp (7,204 kW) with natural draft. Trials at forced draft, however, damaged her boilers; although she attained 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) from 13,360 ihp (9,960 kW). As a result, the Navy decided not to push the boilers of the Royal Sovereign class past 11,000 ihp to prevent similar damage. The ships carried up to of 1,420 long tons (1,443 t) of coal, which gave a range of 4,720 nautical miles (8,740 km; 5,430 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).

    The Royal Sovereigns spent their careers in the Mediterranean, Home and Channel Fleets; sometimes as flagships, although several were mobilized for service with the Flying Squadron in 1896 when tensions with the German Empire were high following the Jameson Raid in South Africa. Hood served most of her active career with the Mediterranean Fleet, where her low freeboard was less of a disadvantage. Three ships were assigned to the International Squadron, formed when Greek Christians rebelled against the Ottoman Empire′s rule in Crete in 1897–1898.

    By about 1905–1907, these ships were considered obsolete and were reduced to reserve. They began to be sold off for scrap from 1911, although Empress of India was sunk as a target ship during gunnery trials in 1913. Only Revenge survived to see active service in WW1, during which she bombarded the Belgian coastline. Renamed Redoubtable in 1915, she was hulked later that year as an accommodation ship and sold for scrap after the war.

    General characteristics

    Displacement – 14,150 long tons (14,380t) normal
    Length – 380ft (115.8m) between perpendiculars
    Beam – 75ft (22.9m)
    Draft – 27ft 6in (8.4m)
    Power – 2 x Triple-expansion steam engines, 2 shafts, 8 cylindrical boilers
    Armament – 4 x 13.5in (343mm) main; 10 x 6in (152mm) secondary; 7 x 18in torpedo tubes; + smaller guns
    Complement – 670-692 officers and men

    Royal Sovereign class drawings

    Royal Sovereign class diagrams.jpg

    Empress of India

    Empress of India.jpg

    Repulse - portion of barbette interior

    Repulse (1892) barbette interior.jpg

    Italian or British?
    In your opinion, which of these most deserves to progress to Round 3?

    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).

    132: Re Umberto Class (Italy)
    106: Royal Sovereign Class (Britain)
    Last edited by panther3485; 28 Oct 19, 10:26.
    "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

  • #2
    Tough one. I hate barbettes, but the Italians were faster and the design looks cleaner and more versatile, so I'll give them credit here.
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?


    • #3
      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
      Tough one. I hate barbettes, but the Italians were faster and the design looks cleaner and more versatile, so I'll give them credit here.
      Yes, difficult to judge their true capabilities with some of the jobs they finished up doing. lcm1
      'By Horse by Tram'.

      I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
      " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"


      • #4
        I went with the Italian design. As MM expounded, the lines are cleaner (come on...they're Italian) and they were faster.
        ARRRR! International Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19th


        • #5
          I agree with the Italian option in this instance. I think they were a somewhat better balanced design.
          "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)


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