Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto
Vittorio Veneto firing upon Allied cruisers during the daytime phase of the Battle of Cape Matapan near the Island of Gavdos
|Namesake:||Battle of Vittorio Veneto|
|Ordered:||10 June 1934|
|Builder:||'San Marco' Trieste, Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico (C.R.D.A.)|
|Laid down:||28 October 1934|
|Launched:||25 July 1937|
|Sponsored by:||Signora Maria Bertuzzi|
|Commissioned:||28 April 1940|
|Decommissioned:||1 February 1948|
|Struck:||1 February 1948|
|Fate:||Scrapped at La Spezia 1951-54|
|Class & type:||Littorio-class battleship|
|Displacement:||Standard: 40,723 long tons (41,376 t)
Full load:45,237 long tons (45,963 t)
|Length:||237.76 m (780.1 ft)|
|Beam:||32.82 m (107.7 ft)|
|Draft:||9.6 m (31 ft)|
|Installed power:||8 × Yarrow boilers
128,000 shp (95,000 kW)
|Propulsion:||4 × steam turbines, 4 × shafts|
|Speed:||30 kn (35 mph; 56 km/h)|
|Range:||3,920 mi (6,310 km; 3,410 nmi) at 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
|Complement:||1,830 to 1,950|
|EC 3 ter 'Gufo' Radar|
|Armament:||3 × 3 381 mm (15.0 in)/50 cal guns
4 × 3 152 mm (6.0 in)/55 cal guns
4 × 1 120 mm (4.7 in)/40 guns for illumination
12 × 1 90 mm (3.5 in)/50 anti-aircraft guns
20 × 37 mm (1.5 in)/54 guns (8 × 2; 4 × 1)
10 × 2 20 mm (0.79 in)/65 guns
|Armor:||Main belt: 350 mm (14 in)
Deck: 162 mm (6.4 in)
Turrets: 350 mm
Conning tower: 260 mm (10 in)
|Aircraft carried:||3 aircraft (IMAM Ro.43 or Reggiane Re.2000)|
|Aviation facilities:||1 stern catapult|
Vittorio Veneto was the second member of the Littorio class of battleships that served in the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) during World War II. She was named after the Italian victory at Vittorio Veneto during World War I. She had three sister ships: Littorio, Roma, and Impero, though only Littorio and Roma were completed during the war. She was armed with a main battery of nine 381-millimeter (15.0 in) guns in three triple turrets, and could steam at a speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph).
Vittorio Veneto saw extensive service during the war and participated in the Battle of Cape Spartivento on November 1940 and the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941. She was damaged by torpedoes several times, including in the engagement off Cape Matapan and by the British submarine HMS Urge in December 1941. Vittorio Veneto was among the Italian ships that were surrendered to the Allies in September 1943 after Italy withdrew from the war, and she spent the following three years under British control in Egypt. After the war, she was allocated as a war prize to Britain and subsequently broken up for scrap.
Vittorio Veneto was 237.76 meters (780.1 ft) long overall and had a beam of 32.82 m (107.7 ft) and a draft of 9.6 m (31 ft). She was designed with a standard displacement of 40,724 long tons (41,377 t), a violation of the 35,000-long-ton (36,000 t) restriction of the Washington Naval Treaty; at full combat loading, she displaced 45,236 long tons (45,962 t). The ship was powered by four Belluzo geared steam turbines rated at 128,000 shaft horsepower (95,000 kW). Steam was provided by eight Yarrow boilers. The engines provided a top speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) and a range of 3,920 mi (6,310 km; 3,410 nmi) at 20 kn (37 km/h; 23 mph). Vittorio Veneto had a crew of 1,830 to 1,950 over the course of her career.
Vittorio Veneto's main armament consisted of nine 381-millimeter (15.0 in) 50-caliber Model 1934 guns in three triple turrets; two turrets were placed forward in a superfiring arrangement and the third was located aft. Her secondary anti-surface armament consisted of twelve 152 mm (6.0 in) /55 Model 1934/35 guns in four triple turrets amidships. These were supplemented by four 120 mm (4.7 in) /40 Model 1891/92 guns in single mounts; these guns were old weapons and were primarily intended to fire star shells. Vittorio Veneto was equipped with an anti-aircraft battery that comprised twelve 90 mm (3.5 in) /50 Model 1938 guns in single mounts, twenty 37 mm (1.5 in) /54 guns in eight twin and four single mounts, and sixteen 20 mm (0.79 in) /65 guns in eight twin mounts.
The ship was protected by a main armored belt that was 280 mm (11 in) with a second layer of steel that was 70 mm (2.8 in) thick. The main deck was 162 mm (6.4 in) thick in the central area of the ship and reduced to 45 mm (1.8 in) in less critical areas. The main battery turrets were 350 mm (14 in) thick and the lower turret structure was housed in barbettes that were also 350 mm thick. The secondary turrets had 280 mm thick faces and the conning tower had 260 mm (10 in) thick sides. Vittorio Veneto was fitted with a catapult on her stern and equipped with three IMAM Ro.43 reconnaissance float planes or Reggiane Re.2000 fighters.
Vittorio Veneto was ordered under the 1934 construction program, and was named for the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, a decisive Italian victory over the Austro-Hungarian Empire in October–November 1918 during World War I. Her keel was laid on 28 October 1934 at Cantieri Riuniti dell'Adriatico in Trieste, the same day as her sister ship Littorio. Vittorio Veneto was launched on 25 July 1937, and major construction was completed by October 1939. She began sea trials on 23 October, and was delivered on 28 April 1940, though she was not yet complete. On 1 May, Vittorio Veneto was sent to La Spezia for final fitting-out work, and two weeks later, on 15 May, she was transferred to Taranto, where she joined the 9th Division of the Italian fleet. The following month, Italy joined the war against Britain and France, though it wasn't until 2 August that Vittorio Veneto and Littorio were formally declared operational.
On 31 August – 2 September 1940, Vittorio Veneto sortied as part of an Italian force of five battleships, ten cruisers, and thirty-four destroyers to intercept British naval forces taking part in Operation Hats and Convoy MB.3, but contact was not made with either group due to poor aerial reconnaissance and no action occurred. A similar outcome resulted from the movement against British Operation "MB.5" on 29 September - 1 October; Vittorio Veneto, four other battleships, eleven cruisers, and twenty-three destroyers had attempted to intercept the convoy carrying troops to Malta. In this operation, the Italian Regia Aeronautica (Royal Air Force) did locate the convoy, but the British were able to evade the Italian fleet. On the night of 10–11 November, the British Mediterranean Fleet launched a surprise air raid on the harbor in Taranto. Twenty-one Swordfish torpedo bombers launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious attacked the Italian fleet in two waves. Vittorio Veneto was undamaged in the attack, but three other battleships were hit, two of which were severely damaged.
The morning after the Taranto raid, Vittorio Veneto led the Italian fleet to Naples. There, she took over the role of fleet flagship, under the command of Admiral Inigo Campioni. On 17 November, Vittorio Veneto and Giulio Cesare—the only operational Italian battleships—participated in an attempt to intercept the British Operation White convoy to Malta, though the forces made no contact. On 26 November, the Italian fleet made another attempt to attack a British convoy, Operation Collar, which resulted in the Battle of Cape Spartivento (known as Battle of Cape Teulada to the Italians). The British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal launched torpedo bombers against Vittorio Veneto, but the latter successfully evaded the torpedoes. She thereafter briefly engaged British cruisers, but she fired only nineteen rounds without scoring any hits. The Italians withdrew based on the faulty impression that they were faced with superior forces, again due to a lack of effective air reconnaissance.
On the night of 8–9 January 1941, the British launched an air raid with Vickers Wellington bombers on the Italian fleet in Naples, but the aircraft again failed to hit Vittorio Veneto; Giulio Cesare was slightly damaged by several near misses. Both ships were thereafter moved to La Spezia. On 8 February, Vittorio Veneto, Giulio Cesare, and Andrea Doria, with eight destroyers, attempted to intercept Force H, which was en route to bombard Genoa. The two forces did not encounter each other, and the Italian fleet returned to La Spezia. Vittorio Veneto returned to Naples on 22 March, and four days later led an attempt to attack British shipping off Greece, in company with eight cruisers and nine destroyers. This operation resulted in the Battle of Cape Matapan; during the battle, Vittorio Veneto engaged several British cruisers but did not score any hits. During this period of the battle, aircraft from the carrier HMS Formidable attacked Vittorio Veneto, but she evaded their torpedoes. Later in the day, one of Formidable's Swordfishes hit Vittorio Veneto on her port side, aft. The hit damaged her screws, caused severe flooding—some 4,000 long tons (4,100 t) of water—and forced her to stop for about ten minutes. After she got back underway, she was able to make 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) using only her starboard shafts. She reached Taranto on 29 March, where repairs lasted until July.
Vittorio Veneto and Littorio participated in an unsuccessful sortie to intercept British forces on 22–25 August. The British had intended to mine Livorno and launch an air raid on northern Sardinia, but Italian agents in Spain warned the Regia Marina of the British operation when it departed Gibraltar. The Italian fleet positioned itself too far to the south, however, and aerial reconnaissance failed to located the British. A month later, Vittorio Veneto led the attack on the Allied convoy in Operation Halberd on 27 September 1941. It too ended without contact with the British fleet. On 13 December, she participated in another sweep to catch a convoy to Malta, but the attempt was broken off after Vittorio Veneto was torpedoed by the British submarine HMS Urge in the Straits of Messina. She returned to Taranto for repairs, which lasted until early 1942. On 15 June, Vittorio Veneto participated in the interception of the Operation Vigorous convoy to Malta, though only the cruiser and destroyer screens from both fleets actively engaged each other.
On 12 November, Vittorio Veneto was moved to Naples from Taranto in response to the Allied invasion of North Africa. While en route, the British submarine HMS Umbra unsuccessfully attacked Vittorio Veneto. An American air raid on the harbor on 4 December prompted the Italians to withdraw the fleet to La Spezia, where it remained for the rest of Italy's active participation in the war. On 5 June 1943, Vittorio Veneto was badly damaged by an American air raid on La Spezia; she was hit by two large bombs, which forced her to be transferred to Genoa for repair work. On 3 September, Italy signed an armistice with the Allies, ending her active participation in World War II. Six days later, Vittorio Veneto and the rest of the Italian fleet sailed for Malta, where they would be taken into internment for the remainder of the war. While en route, the German Luftwaffe (Air Force) attacked the Italian fleet using Dornier Do 217s armed with Fritz X radio-controlled bombs. Vittorio Veneto was undamaged but Littorio—by now renamed Italia—was hit and damaged and her sister Roma was sunk in the attack.
Vittorio Veneto remained in Malta until 14 September, when she and Italia were moved to Alexandria, Egypt and then to the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal on 17 October. The two battleships remained there until 6 October 1946, when they were permitted to return to Italy. Vittorio Veneto went to Augusta, Sicily before moving to La Spezia on 14 October. In the Treaty of Peace with Italy, signed on 10 February 1947, Vittorio Veneto was allocated as a war prize to Britain. She was paid off on 3 January 1948, stricken from the naval register on 1 February, and subsequently broken up for scrap.
Twelve anti-aircraft Ansaldo 90/53 guns taken from the Vittorio Veneto were reused by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) as armament of its Žirje Island coastal artillery battery. The battery surrendered without resistance to the Croatian National Guard on 14 September 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence, and played a pivotal role in 16–22 September Battle of Šibenik, helping defend the city of Šibenik against the JNA.
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