Italian battleship Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri on 29 March 1914.
|Preceded by:||Regina Elena class|
|Succeeded by:||Conte di Cavour class|
|Builder:||Castellammare RN yard|
|Laid down:||6 June 1909|
|Launched:||20 August 1910|
|Completed:||15 January 1913|
|Struck:||1 July 1928|
|Length:||168.1 m (551 ft 6 in) (o/a)|
|Beam:||26.6 m (87 ft 3 in)|
|Draught:||8.8 m (28 ft 10 in)|
|Speed:||22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)|
|Range:||4,800 nmi (8,900 km; 5,500 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
|Complement:||981 officers and enlisted men|
Dante Alighieri was the first dreadnought battleship built for the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy), and completed in 1913.[Note 1] The ship served as a flagship during World War I, but saw very little action other than the Second Battle of Durazzo in 1918 where she did not engage enemy forces. She never fired her guns in anger during her career. Dante Alighieri was refitted in 1923, stricken from the Navy List in 1928 and subsequently sold for scrap.
Dante Alighieri was designed by Rear Admiral Engineer Edoardo Masdea, Chief Constructor of the Regia Marina, based on the ideas of General Vittorio Cuniberti who advocated a battleship with main guns of a single caliber and optimized for broadside fire. In addition, the ship's superstructure and funnels were to be kept to a minimum.
The dreadnought was 158.4 meters (519 ft 8 in) long at the waterline, and 168.1 meters (551 ft 6 in) overall. The ship had a beam of 26.6 meters (87 ft 3 in), and a draft of 8.8 meters (28 ft 10 in). She displaced 19,552 tonnes (19,243 long tons) at normal load, and 21,600 tonnes (21,300 long tons) at deep load. Dante Alighieri had two rudders, one behind the other, and a crew of 31 officers and 950 enlisted men.
The ship was propelled by four propeller shafts driven by Parsons steam turbines. Steam for the turbines was provided by 23 Blechynden water-tube boilers, seven of which burned oil and the remaining 16 burned a mixture of oil and coal. The boilers were widely separated in two compartments, each with two funnels, and the turbines were positioned between the two center turrets. Designed to reach a maximum speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) from 35,000 shaft horsepower (26,000 kW), Dante Alighieri failed to reach this goal on her sea trials, making a maximum speed of only 22.83 knots (42.28 km/h; 26.27 mph) using 32,190 shp (24,000 kW). The ship could store a maximum of 3,000 tonnes (2,953 long tons) of coal and an unknown quantity of fuel oil that gave her a range of 4,800 nautical miles (8,900 km; 5,500 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph), and 1,000 nmi (1,900 km; 1,200 mi) at 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph).
Dante Alighieri's main armament consisted of a dozen 46-caliber 305-millimeter (12 inch) guns, in four triple-gun turrets positioned on the ship's centerline. None of the turrets were superfiring. While the later classes of battleships and battlecruisers designed for the Imperial Russian Navy shared the turret layout of the Dante Alighieri, all surviving evidence shows that the Russians decided on this layout for their own reasons.
Sources disagree regarding these guns' performance, but naval historian Giorgio Giorgerini claims that they fired 452-kilogram (996 lb) armor-piercing (AP) projectiles at the rate of one round per minute and that they had a muzzle velocity of 840 metres per second (2,800 ft/s) which gave a maximum range of 24,000 meters (26,000 yd).[Note 2]
The ship's secondary armament consisted of twenty 50-caliber 120-millimeter (4.7 in) guns. Eight of these guns were fitted in twin-gun turrets abreast the forward and aft main gun turrets while the remaining 12 guns were mounted in casemates on the sides of the hull. These guns could depress to −10 degrees and had a maximum elevation of +15 degrees; they had a rate of fire of six shots per minute. They could fire a 22.1-kilogram (49 lb) high-explosive projectile with a muzzle velocity of 850 meters per second (2,800 ft/s) to a maximum distance of 12,000 yards (11,000 m). For defense against torpedo boats, Dante Alighieri carried thirteen 50-caliber 76 mm (3.0 in) guns mounted on the turret tops. These guns had the same range of elevation as the secondary guns, although their rate of fire was higher at 10 rounds per minute. They fired a 6-kilogram (13 lb) AP projectile with a muzzle velocity of 815 meters per second (2,670 ft/s) to a maximum distance of 10,000 yards (9,100 m).[Note 3] The ship was also fitted with three submerged 45-centimeter (18 in) torpedo tubes, one on each broadside and the third in the stern.
Dante Alighieri had a complete waterline armor belt that had a maximum thickness of 254 millimeters (10.0 in). The ship's armored deck was 38 mm (1.5 in) thick. The main turrets were protected by a maximum of 254 millimeters of armor while the secondary turrets and the casemates had 98 millimeters (3.9 in) of armor. The conning tower had walls 305 millimeters (12.0 in) thick.
Construction and service
Dante Alighieri, named after the medieval Italian poet, was the only battleship ever named for a poet. She was laid down at the naval shipyard in Castellammare di Stabia on 6 June 1909, launched on 20 August 1910, and completed on 15 January 1913. The ship was used to evaluate Curtiss floatplanes in 1913–14. When Italy entered World War I in May 1915, Dante Alighieri was the flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron based at Taranto and remained with the squadron through 1916. For the rest of the war, the ship was assigned to the Southern Adriatic and Ionian Sea forces. Under the command of Vice Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel, the ship was positioned to intercept any Austro-Hungarian ships based at Cattaro if they sortied to attack the Allied ships bombarding Durazzo on 2 October 1918. The Austro-Hungarians remained in harbor and Dante Alighieri did not fire her guns during the battle.
King Victor Emmanuel III entertained delegates to the Genoa Conference aboard Dante Alighieri in 1922. The ship was refitted in 1923 with a tripod foremast, an aircraft flying-off platform on Turret No. 3, and her forward funnels was made taller to reduce smoke interference with the bridge. She tested a new fire-control system in 1924 at ranges up to 26,000 meters (28,000 yd); her new tripod mast was not sturdy enough for the weight of the system, but it was judged to be successful and subsequently installed in the Conte di Cavour-class battleships. That same year, the ship transported Benito Mussolini to Palermo, Sicily. The Italian economy had been weakened by fighting World War I, and by the late 1920s, it could no longer afford to maintain a sizable fleet. As a result, Admiral Sechi decided to scrap Dante Alighieri and the salvaged battleship Leonardo da Vinci to reduce the naval budget. The ship was stricken on 1 July 1928 and was subsequently scrapped.
- Although Dante Alighieri was laid down and launched before the Austro-Hungarian dreadnought Viribus Unitis, the latter ship was completed first.
- Friedman provides a variety of sources that show armor-piercing shell weights ranging from 416.92 to 452.32 kilograms (919.16 to 997.2 lb) and muzzle velocities around 861 metres per second (2,820 ft/s).
- Sources disagree as to the type of 120 mm gun used aboard Dante Alighieri. Gardiner & Gray maintain that they were the older 40-caliber guns and replaced in 1915 with the newer 50-caliber guns, but Preston and Friedman say that they were 50-caliber guns from the beginning.
- Giorgerini, p. 268
- Preston, p. 175
- Gardiner & Gray, p. 259
- Hore, p. 174
- McLaughlin, pp. 209–15
- Giorgerini, pp. 268, 276
- Friedman 2011, pp. 233–34
- Giorgerini, pp. 268, 277–77
- Friedman 2011, pp. 240–41
- Sandler, p. 102
- Cernuschi & O'Hara, p. 62
- Halpern, p. 175
- Fink, p. 41
- Friedman 2008, p. 262
- Dickie, p. 152
- Goldstein & Maurer, p. 226
- Cernuschi, Enrico; O'Hara, Vincent (2007). "Search for a Flattop: The Italian Navy and the Aircraft Carrier 1907–2007". In Jordan, John. Warship 2007. London: Conway. ISBN 1-84486-041-8.
- Dickie, John (2004). Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-7042-4.
- Fink, Carole (February 1986). "Italy and the Genoa Conference of 1922". The International History Review. Taylor & Francis. 8 (1): 41–55. JSTOR 40105562.
- Friedman, Norman (2008). Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-555-4.
- Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7.
- Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
- Giorgerini, Giorgio (1980). "The Cavour & Duilio Class Battleships". In Roberts, John. Warship IV. London: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 267–79. ISBN 0-85177-205-6.
- Goldstein, Erik; Maurer, John H. (1994). The Washington Conference, 1921–22: Naval Rivalry, East Asian Stability and the Road to Pearl Harbor. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 0-7146-4559-1.
- Halpern, Paul S. (1994). A Naval History of World War I. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-352-4.
- Hore, Peter (2005). Battleships. London: Lorenz Books. ISBN 0-7548-1407-6.
- McLaughlin, Stephen (2003). Russian & Soviet Battleships. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-481-4.
- Preston, Antony (1972). Battleships of World War I: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Battleships of All Nations 1914–1918. New York: Galahad Books. ISBN 0-88365-300-1.
- Sandler, Stanley (2004). Battleships: An Illustrated History of their Impact. Weapons and Warfare. Santa Barbara, California: ABC Clio. ISBN 1-85109-410-5.
- Whitley, M. J. (1998). Battleships of World War II. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-184-X.
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