Battleship Almirante Latorre - The most powerful cannons in South America

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Almirante Latorre (1938)


In 1910 Chilean President Ramón Barros Luco sent a minister to Great Britain to commission the construction of two battleships and later 6 destroyers, these new ships would be in response to the fact that Brazil had ordered the construction of two battleships and two smaller ships and Argentina sent build two battleships and twelve destroyers, so Chile did not want to be left behind and in July 1910 the law authorizing the acquisition of new Chilean ships and destroyers was promulgated. when the minister arrived in London he awarded the contract for a battleship to the sum of £2,431,390 to the firm of W.G. Armstrong Whitworth, the second battleship for a similar value would start within six months which happened later. This would be the origin of Valparaiso and Santiago, which later received their final names Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane. On November 27, 1913, the hull of what would be the battleship Almirante Latorre was thrown into the water and it was scheduled to be delivered to Chile in 1915 and the Cochrane a year later, all this through a ceremony attended by a Chilean minister and rear admiral.

Battleship Latorre being thrown into the water in England


Later in 1914 the First World War would occur, so the United Kingdom would decide to seize the battleship Almirante Latorre, offering to return the battleship at the end of the conflict if Chile accepted it. The Latorre battleship was renamed in Great Britain as HMS Canada and thus entered the British fleet with its original configuration, later when the conflict ended the British government reimbursed the money paid by Chile.

Almirante Latorre in UK service as HMS Canada


Original configuration used as HMS Canada

The battleship Almirante Latorre returns to its original owner, Chile-1920

In 1920 Chile repurchased the Battleship for £1,400,000 (price that also included 3 destroyers) and it was incorporated into the Chilean naval list under the name “Almirante Latorre” becoming the most powerful and important ship in the history of Chile and the battleship with the most powerful guns in South America. Its main armament was 14 inches (356 mm) that had been requested by Chile, the secondary battery was made up of 6-inch (152 mm) cannons, due to this some sectors of the armor were modified, which meant a greater price (£154,000) and heavier than the one it had in its original version. An important aspect that had been requested by Chile was the speed of the battleship, requesting that it be 22,75 knots, this increased the number of boilers from 18 to 21, which resulted in the increase of the aft funnel and the increase powertrain power to 37,000 SHP. Before being delivered to Chile, the battleship Latorre had received a series of modifications, these being the installation of a Dreyer MK IV fire control system, new electric projectors, an anti-aircraft battery with two 3-inch guns, with its respective director and two aircraft launch ramps on the crowns and 14-inch guns of towers B and X (no. 2 and 4) those that were never used, being withdrawn later. Despite the modifications made, the United Kingdom had only partially repaired the damage that the battleship Latorre had suffered in the First World War, in relation to the second battleship commissioned by Chile, the battleship Almirante Cochrane, which had been converted into an aircraft carrier by United Kingdom and called HMS Eagle, so Chile was not willing to buy it back.

Battleship Almirante Latorre crossing the Panama Canal towards Chile on January 21, 1921.

The modernizations of 1929-1931

As described above, the battleship Latorre needed repairs and the Chilean government decided it was time to modernize it, for this reason the battleship Almirante Latorre was sent to the Devonport Naval Dockyard, Plymouth, and there he was between June 1929 and March 1931. The resources spent were substantial and two-thirds of the total earmarked for acquisitions by the armed forces were invested only in the battleship Latorre, it is estimated that the final total cost came to £1,400,000.

The main modifications were the change of its propulsion plant, existing turbines were changed by impulse-reaction turbines with simple reduction gear system, three boilers were removed leaving to the ship with 18 oil-fired boilers, the coal mines were converted into oil tanks, a new Diesel generator was installed on the central turbine department, a new electro-hydraulic servomotor was installed and toured rudders and mechanisms corresponding, four bilge pumps were installed 1,000 tons; one in each boiler room and former hall A, anti-torpedo bulges were built, the modernization of fire control systems and overhaul of its primary and secondary armament, Henderson equipment was installed in control 14" armament fire, equipment was installed generators in 14" control systems and 6", an Evershed Target Indicator was installed on the 6" controller, four projectors were toured the rest was deleted, two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were removed and replaced by two batteries of two guns (102 mm) each completely independent of each other, removed torpedo tubes, the base for the seaplane catapult was built in the Awning and, In general, a tour of all the ship’s systems, there were other modifications but these would be considered the main ones.

With the new modifications, tests were carried out in December 1930, it was possible to develop its maximum power of 56,000 SHP at 276 rpm, reaching a speed of 24 knots (44.4 km/h), the rest of the month the tests continued and the battleship returned to Chile on March 4, 1931.

The new 102 mm guns of the Latorre

Almirante Latorre after the refit in England


Conditioning in Chile, The seaplane catapult

While the battleship Latorre was being refitted in England, the Chilean government ordered a catapult to be built in Italy to seaplanes which was installed on the battleship on January 27, 1932 and it was tested by Mr. Cagniotto, who had designed and built it, and who corrected some very small defects. By the year 1935, Fairy IIIF Mk.III seaplanes were launched from the catapult to carry out spouting practices. Hotchkiss machine guns were also mounted in individual montages with elevations circular on the roofs of the 14" towers (two per tower). Finally, the catapult was disassembled at the end of the year 1941.

13.2 mm Hotchkiss machine guns mounted two in each turret of the battleship Latorre

Launch of a Fairey IIIF from the catapult of the Latorre Battleship


The Almirante Latorre after refit in Chile


The 1950’s modernizations and the end of the battleship

In 1950 there would be another modernization of the Latorre Battleship, this time radars were installed which were an SG, an SO and an SU. It was also planned to modernize the propulsion system, which did not materialize because the costs were too high. During 1950, the modernization of the weapons of the battleship Latorre had been studied and negotiated, so experts from the Vickers Armstrong company traveled to Chile to inspect the state of Latorre and concluded that the modernization should focus on the complete recovery of the platform and the propulsion, plus the addition of modern anti-aircraft automatic weapons, in 1951 an explosion occurred in the Latorre, which cost the lives of 4 members, so it was evident that the life of the Latorre was coming to an end after almost 50 years of service, even thus, a contract was signed with Vickers Armstrong for its modernization and thus, in August 1951, the Chilean government authorized the operation that would be carried out in Chile with the technical supervision of the English shipyard, but given that by 1953 they would realize that not all the works they could be made in Chile, but it would have to be sent to England. They realized that the costs would be too high, so the contract with the English shipyard would be modified in favor of the construction of 2 modern destroyers, leaving everything related to Latorre without effect. by the end of the 50s there were too many ships in reserve condition, among them the Battleship Latorre that congested the docking sites due to its large size, it was for this reason that a law was approved to alienate of the battleship Latorre and other ships, This is how the Latorre was taken to Japan for scrapping.

Almirante Latorre with its final configuration shortly before being sent to Japan, 1959

Almirante Latorre just before being scrapped in Japan, 10 sept, 1959




  • Crew:
    • 1500
  • Armament:
    • Primary armament: 5 x Turret: 2 x 356 mm/45 Mark A cannon
      • Ammunition: 1106 rounds
      • Vertical guidance: -5º / +20º
      • Fire rate: 2 shots/minute
Name Type Projectile mass Velocity Explosive mass Penetration (0 meters) Penetration (5.000 meters) Penetration (10.000 meters)
356mm GPE SAP 719.4 kg 764 m/s 27.3 kg Lidita 518 mm 435 mm 324 mm
356 mm GCAP HE 719.4 kg 764 m/s 69.8 kg Trotyl –mm – mm – mm
  • Secondary armament:
    • 14 x Turret: 1 x 152 mm/50 Mark TT cannon
      • Ammunition: 2800 rounds
      • Vertical guidance: -7º / +15º
      • Fire rate: 7 shots/minute
    • 4 x Turret: 1 x 102 mm/45 Mark V cannon
      • Ammunition: 1200 rounds
      • Vertical guidance: -5º / +80º
      • Fire rate: 15 shots/minute
  • Anti-aircraft armament:
    • 2 x Turret: 1 x 40 mm/39 Mark VIII autocannon
      • Vertical guidance: -10º / +70º
      • Fire rate: 98 shots/minute
    • 10 x Turret: 1 x 13.2 mm/76 Hotchkiss machine gun
      • Vertical guidance: -10º / +90º
      • Fire rate: 450 shots/minute
  • Additional armament:
    • Scout plane: 1 x Fairey IIIF Mk.III seaplane
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 201.5 m
    • Beam: 29.9 m
    • Draft: 9.1 m
    • Standard displacement: 29,160 metric tons (28,700 long tons).
    • Full displacement: 33,530 metric tons (33,000 long tons).
  • Maneuverability :
    • Propulsion: 4 Vickers-Armstrong geared steam turbines, 18 Admiralty boilers, 56,800 hp
    • Max. speed: 24 knots (44,4 km/h)
  • Armour (front / side / back)::
    • Citadel: 102 / 229 / 114 mm
    • Main fire tower: 254 / 229 / 203 mm
    • Conning tower: 279 / 152 / 76 mm








Special thanks to @COLDOWN who helped me a lot by sharing all the necessary information to make this publication as complete as possible.


some interesting photos of the Almirante Latorre Battleship, including some additional plans, one showing its armor and very good quality photos of interest


+1 This would be an amazing addition to War Thunder also

¡Viva Chile!

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Video recorded by me during my visit to the National Maritime Museum of Chile of a model of the Battleship Almirante Latorre

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