Italian battleship Italia (1880)
Italia at La Spezia in 1897, showing her original appearance with six funnels and a single large central mast.
|Operator:||Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy)|
|Builder:||Castellammare Naval Shipyard|
|Laid down:||3 January 1876|
|Launched:||29 September 1880|
|Completed:||16 October 1885|
|Struck:||4 June 1914|
|Reinstated:||23 May 1915|
|Recommissioned:||1 June 1915|
|Struck:||16 November 1921|
|Notes:||Served as floating battery 1915–1917
Converted to cereal carrier 1917–1919
Subordinated to Italian State Railways June 1919 – January 1921
|Class & type:||Italia-class pre-dreadnought battleship|
|Displacement:||13,678 long tons (13,897 t) normal
15,407 long tons (15,654 t) full load
|Length:||400 ft 3 in (122.0 m) between perpendiculars
409 ft 1 in (124.7 m) length overall
|Beam:||73 ft 11 in (22.5 m)|
|Draft:||28 ft 8.5 in (8.8 m)|
|Installed power:||11,986 ihp (8,938 kW)|
|Propulsion:||4 shafts, vertical compound engines, 8 oval and 16 cylindrical boilers|
|Speed:||17.8 knots (20.5 mph; 33.0 km/h)|
|Range:||ca. 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Troops:||Up to 10,000|
|Complement:||669, later 701|
*1 × 17-inch (432 mm)/27 gun
*3 × 17-inch (432 mm)/26 guns
*7 × 5.9-inch (150 mm)/26 guns
*4 × 4.7-inch (119 mm)/23 guns
*4 × 14-inch (356 mm) torpedo tubes
*2 × 75mm guns
*6 × 57mm quick-firing guns
*10 × 37mm revolvers
*2 × machine guns
Removed in 1905–1908:
*1 × 5.9-inch (150 mm)/26 gun
*6 × 57mm guns
*8 × 37mm revolvers
Added in 1905–1908:
*2 additional torpedo tubes
For floating battery service 1915–1917:
All armament removed except
*1 × 17-inch (432 mm)/27 gun
*3 × 17-inch (432 mm)/26 guns
*All 17-inch (432 mm) guns removed
*2 × 4.7-inch (119 mm)/32 guns installed
Belt and side: None
Deck: 4 in (101.6 mm)
Citadel: 19 in (483 mm)
Funnel base: 16 in (406 mm)
Conning tower: 4 in (102 mm)
Italia was an Italian battleship launched in 1880, the lead ship of the Italia class. She served in the Regia Marina (Italian Royal Navy) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She and her sister ship Lepanto were the largest and fastest warships in the world for several years after they entered service, and in many ways were the forerunners of the battlecruisers that appeared in the early 20th century.
Insp Eng Benedetto Brin (1833–1898) designed Italia in the 1870s. A very large and fast warship for her time, Italia displaced 15,407 tons at full load and could make 17.8 knots (33.0 km/h). Reflecting the thinking of the time that modern guns could penetrate any armor, Brin designed Italia without any side armor, instead employing a cellular raft design; he did, however, design her with steel armor for her deck, citadel, and conning tower. Her hull was constructed of iron and steel covered by wood, which in turn was covered by zinc. An unusual feature of Italia was her ability to carry an entire infantry division of 10,000 men, allowing her to play a strategic role in deploying Italian troops.
Italia's main battery consisted of four 17-inch (432 mm) guns 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. Three were 26-caliber Model 431C guns weighing 102.5 tons each, while the fourth was a 27-caliber Model 431B weighing 103.5 tons; all four fired a 2,000-pound (907-kilogram) shell at a muzzle velocity of 1,755 feet (535 m) per second. Her secondary, tertiary, and torpedo armament underwent various changes during her career.
Built with six funnels and one central mast, Italia underwent a refit between 1905 and 1908 in which her funnels were reduced to four and her mast was replaced by two new masts. She also had some of her secondary and tertiary guns removed.
Italia was under construction for nearly 10 years. She was laid down at Castellammare Naval Shipyard on 3 January 1876, then spent over four-and-a-half years on the building ways and was launched on 29 September 1880. She was not completed for another five years, her construction finally being finished on 16 October 1885. She nonetheless was completed 22 months before her sister Lepanto, which took almost 11 years to build.
Italia was in front-line service until her 1905–1908 refit. From 1909 to 1910 she served as a torpedo training ship, and in 1912 she became a training ship for petty officers. In 1914 she became the central ship for the defense of Taranto, but was laid up on 1 June 1914 and stricken from the navy list on 4 June 1914.
On 20 April 1915, Italia was towed to Brindisi. Reinstated on the navy list on 23 May 1915 (the same day Italy published its declaration of war bringing it into World War I on the side of the Allies) and recommissioned as a "first-class auxiliary" on 1 June 1915, Italia served as a floating battery in the outer harbor of Brindisi for the defense of the naval base there until 16 December 1917. For this service, all of her armament was removed except for her four 17-inch (432-mm) guns.
After her service at Brindisi ended, Italia moved to La Spezia, which she reached before the end of 1917. There she was converted into a cereal carrier, with her 17-inch (432-mm) guns removed and her armament reduced to two 4.7-inch (120-mm) 32-caliber guns installed during the conversion.
Her conversion complete, Italia entered service as a cereal carrier under authority of the Ministry of Transport on 1 June 1919, and on 27 July 1919 she was transferred from the Regia Marina to the Italian State Railways. She was returned to the Regia Marina on 13 January 1921 and stricken on 16 November 1921. She subsequently was scrapped.
- Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905, page 341.
- Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1905–1921, page 255.
- Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, eds. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. New York: Mayflower Books, Inc., 1979. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
- Gray, Randal, Ed. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0-87021-907-3.
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