Italian battleship Impero
Impero at her launching on November 15, 1939.
|Laid down:||14 May 1938|
|Launched:||15 November 1939|
|Commissioned:||NA; never completed.|
|Fate:||Scrapped 1948 - 1950, in Venice|
|Class & type:||Littorio-class battleship|
|Displacement:||(projected) 46,215 tons fully loaded|
|Length:||227.5 - 240.7 m|
|Propulsion:||4 Belluzo geared turbines, 8 Yarrow boilers 128,200 shp (95,600 kW)|
|Speed:||30 knots (56 km/h)|
|Armament:||3*3 381 mm (15.0 in)/50 Model 1934 naval guns
4*3 152 mm (6.0 in) guns
2*2 120 millimetres (4.7 in) guns
12 90 millimetres (3.5 in) anti aircraft guns
20 37 millimetres (1.5 in) anti aircraft guns
16 20 millimetres (0.79 in) anti-aircraft guns
|Armor:||Belt: 350 mm (14 in)
Bulkheads: 210 mm (8 in)
Barbettes: 150 mm (6 in)
Turrets: 350 mm (14 in)
Decks: 162 mm (6 in)
Impero was an Italian Littorio-class battleship built for Italy's Regia Marina during the Second World War. She was the fourth ship of her class and was named after the Italian word for "empire," in this case referring to the newly (1936) conquered Italian Empire in East Africa (Somaliland, Eritrea and Ethiopia territories) as a result of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. She was constructed under the order of the 1938 Naval Expansion Program, along with her sister ship Roma.
Had she been completed with her projected displacement of 46,215 tons and length of 240.7 meters, Impero would have been slightly larger than two of her three sisters: Vittorio Veneto and Littorio. The Roma, launched a year later, was also constructed under to the 1938 Naval Expansion Program, and thus had the same characteristics as Impero.
After Italy surrendered to the Allies on September 8, 1943, the rest of the Italian Navy steamed to Sardinia to rendezvous with their American contemporaries. Impero was still incomplete in Trieste and was captured by the Germans. Sunk by Allied bombers in February 1945, she was refloated in 1947 and scrapped in Venice from 1948 to 1950.
- For additional information, see Littorio-class battleship
The Italian leader Benito Mussolini did not authorize any large naval rearmament until 1933. Once he did, two old battleships of the Conte di Cavour class were sent to be modernized in the same year, and Vittorio Veneto and Littorio were laid down in 1934. In May 1935, the Italian Naval Ministry began preparing for a five-year naval building program that would include four battleships, three aircraft carriers, four cruisers, fifty-four submarines, and forty smaller ships. In December 1935, Admiral Domenico Cavagnari proposed to Mussolini that, among other things, two more battleships of the Littorio class be built to attempt to counter a possible Franco-British alliance—if the two countries combined forces, they would easily outnumber the Italian fleet. Mussolini postponed his decision, but later authorized planning for the two ships in January 1937. In December, they were approved and money was appropriated for them; they were named Roma and Impero.
Unlike her sister ships Littorio and Vittorio Veneto, Impero and Roma were to have had a slightly larger displacement, length, and subsequently, a larger beam and draft, which was due to a naval program launched in 1938 to prepare Italian naval defenses for another war. She also would have been about 600 long tons (610 t) heavier than either of her earlier sisters, and also would have been about 3 metres (9.8 ft) longer due to the adding of a deck to the freeboard at the stem, or bow. Her beam was to have been 32.9 metres (108 ft) and her draft was to have been 9.6 metres (31 ft). The ship was planned to be manned by 1,920 sailors. The differences in weight were due to tests on Vittorio Veneto and Littorio which found that their bow was poorly built and caused hull vibration whenever the ships struck large waves. Impero was outfitted with the new hull. Another difference was that Roma and Impero could carry three reconnaissance planes on their quarterdeck, which was the result of a statement in the 1938 proposal.
Authorized to be built by Ansaldo of Genoa, Impero's keel was laid down on 14 May 1938 and launched on 15 November 1939. With Genoa being in bombing range of France, and war now a definite possibility, Impero was moved to Brindisi on 8 June 1940. Trieste was considered a better location, but Roma was fitting out there and the shipyard could not handle two battleships at one time. Despite the intent, Brindisi was still hit by Allied bombers, but Impero was not hit; however, as escorts for merchant convoys were desperately needed, and needed parts for ships were in short supply, construction of Impero was delayed to expedite those ships. The only work done was the fitting of the engines and some gun mountings.
Fitted with small-caliber anti-aircraft and anti-surface weaponry, Impero was sailed—using her own propulsion—to Venice on 22 January 1942. At some later time, she was moved again to Trieste. After Italy's capitulation to the Allies, Impero was seized by the Germans, who prepared to scrap her. This was evidently never completed, as the hulk was discovered by Allied forces in Trieste after the war half-sunk, as the Germans had used her as a target ship and the Allies had damaged her during an air attack on 20 February 1945. Impero was struck on 27 March 1947. The hulk was raised sometime in 1947 and towed to Venice, where she was moored and scrapped from 1948 to 1950.
At the time of the capitulation, Impero's hull was 88% complete and the engines were 76% complete, but overall the ship was only 28% complete; it would have required about eighteen more months of full work to be finished. Key features such as the armament, electrical wiring and a reworking of the bridge had still not been completed.
- Knox, Mussolini Unleashed, 20
- Garzke and Dulin, Axis and Neutral Battleships, 404
- Gardiner, Gray, pg 107
- Grossman, pg 66
- Hore, pp 246-247
- Grossman, pg 14
- Garzke and Dulin, Battleships, 412.
- Garzke and Dulin, Battleships, 412–13
- Grossman, pg 47
- Garzke and Dulin, Battleships, 413.
- Baniasco, Erminio; Grossman, Mark. Italian Battleships of World War 2. Pictoral Histories Publishing.
- Garzke, William H.; Dulin, Robert O. (1980). Battleships: Axis and Neutral battleships in World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-101-3. OCLC 12613723.
- Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal; (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906 to the present. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
- Hore, Peter (2005). The Battleships. London: Aness Publishing.
- Knox, MacGregor (1982). Mussolini Unleashed, 1939-1941: Politics and Strategy in Fascist Italy's Last War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23917-6. OCLC 7775314.