Francesco Caracciolo Class - Italy's only Super-Dreadnought

[Would you like to see Francesco Caracciolo added into the War Thunder?]
  • Yes
  • No
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While we all wait till the Littorio class is added (see suggestions: Littorio, Roma, VV) there’s one ship that could fill in the power gap between the most advanced Italian battleships to ever float and, as of the time of writing, the only Italian BR 7.0 battleship - RN Conte di Cavour. Moreover, I think that she would be a perfect fit into the game right now, as she’s relatively comparable to some of the existing warships we already have in the game (e.g. Bayern Class, while being inferior to Scharnhorst).
I’m happy to announce a suggestion for the first super-dreadnoughts of the Italian navy - the Francesco Caracciolo Class battleships!

4 ships of the class were laid down (and thus all four qualify to be added to the game):

  • Francesco Caracciolo - laid down in October 1914, she was even launched, May 1920 before the entire programme was cancelled on 2 January 1921.
  • Marcantonio Colonna - laid down in March 1915
  • Cristoforo Colombo - laid down in March 1915
  • Francesco Morosini - laid down in June 1915

As far as we know, all four were identical in design

(Rejected changes to the last vessel of the class)

(In September 1914 Thaon di Revel attempted to cut down costs of the Francesco Morosini to save ~20 million lire in order to finance 4 destroyers and 8 submarines, but his changes were rejected. I couldn’t find what specifically would be modified. Source: Italian Battleships Conte Di Cavour and Duilio Classes 1911-1956)

Historic background:

Dive into the history of the design, construction, and scrapping of the hulls built.

The Regia Marina considered building super-dreadnoughts since 1910, but it wasn’t until February 1912 that the actual design work had begun, initially aiming for a 10 x 356 mm gun (2x2+2x3 centerline), 27 000 - 29 000 t super-dreadnought. By 1913 design evolved into 12 x 381 mm gun (4x3 centerline), 35 000 t vessel, aiming to be equal or better than the launched or constructed battleships of Japan, Germany or Britain, which was adequate for the global aspirations of the Italian navy at the time.

While the ship caused significant concerns abroad, in particular among British naval command (which would be forced to bind the latest Queen Elizabeth-class battleships to the Mediterranean in case of any military escalation), internally the design was criticized for its excessive cost (estimated at 120 million lire), dimensions that struggled to fit in the existing shipyards and a lackluster protection (in particular against torpedo attack). By December 1913 the design was down-scaled into the final form: 8 x 381 mm (4x2 centerline) 31 000 t vessel.

Construction proceeded at an unexpectedly slow pace, with the reasoning behind such an investment being debated in the Senate of the Kingdom of Italy in 1914 and eventually - suspension of all work in March 1916 (when it became clear that the Austro-Hungarian Ersatz Monarch-class battleships won’t be completed - event that also lead to the cancellation of the Normandie and Lyon classes in France).

Ansaldo was looking to re-use the hull of the Francesco Caracciolo - one of the proposals was a conversion into the aircraft carrier, which was met with a positive response from staff of the Regia Marina, but due to the financial crisis at the end of the Great War the plan had to be scrapped. Ansaldo proposed a cheaper conversion into the floatplane carrier, but that too was declined. Finally, the company launched the hull in May 1920 with the intent to convert into the super-freighter, finalizing the process with a sale to Navigazione Generale Italiana in December 1920. Navigazione Generale Italiana failed to fund the required 75 million liras for conversion and started having doubts about economic feasibility of such a vessel, thus eventually the hull of the Francesco Caracciolo shared its fate with the other three vessels of the class, being sold for scrap.

Specifications:
Normal displacement: 31 400t
Standard displacement: 32 450t (estimated)
Full load displacement: 34 000t
Length Between Perpendiculars: 201,6m
Length Overall: 212m
Beam: 29,6m
Draft: 9,5m
Machinery: 20 oil-fuelled Yarrow boilers with 4 Parsons turbines on 4 propellers. Total 105 000 HP.
Speed: 28 knots / 51.9 km/h
Armor: Krupp Steel, sides: 300mm + 35mm (sloped), decks: 110mm + 30mm + 16mm, conning tower: 400 mm, main gun turrets: 400mm (turret face sloped at 30°, immune to 15" shells), barbettes: 300mm, casemates: 220 mm.
Weapons: 8 x 381mm (15") twin, 12 x 152mm casemate, 8 x 102mm AA, 12 x 40mm AA.


Weapons in detail:

show description of the weapons

Primary:

8 x 381 mm/40 Model 1914 in 4 twin turrets
Muzzle velocity: 700 m/s
Projectile weight: 875 kg
Charge weight: 148 kg

Show photos

Turret built for the battleship:
381mm turret
Guns under construction:
381mm guns
Turret modified as a coastal defence:
381mm turret_coastal

Secondary:

12 x 152 mm/45 Schneider model 1911
(exact same gun as we already have on Andrea Doria - 152 mm/45 Schneider model 1911 (152 mm) - War Thunder Wiki)

Anti-Air:

12 x 40mm/39 Vickers-Tenri Model 1915 in single mounts
NavWeaps page on the gun

show image

WNBR_2pounder_m2_shore_pic

8 x 450mm or 533 mm fixed underwater torpedo tubes
(all sources indicate both calibers being an option. As I understand it: the Caracciolo’s hull didn’t have the tubes fitted)


Schematics:

Show schematics



Click here to see the 1913 design schematics

Caracciolo

Photos:

Show photos

Two photos from the launching event of the Francesco Caracciolo
Italian_battleship_Francesco_Caracciolo_launching
Francesco_Caracciolo launching 3

See also:

  • Suggestions: Normandie class - a similar gap-filler for the French navy that would also fit great into BR 7.0 (looking at it from the perspective of patch 2.33, December 2023)

Sources:

9 Likes

I am not a fan of unfinished designs, but imo we should have this one in the game as current in-game Italian BBs can’t compete with Scharnhorst or Kronstadt. Unless stuff like Littorio, Bismarck and etc arrive, it should be a number one priority.

5 Likes

Russia already has two ships in its navy tree that are unfinished projects, I do not understand why other nations cannot have the same thing.

So I am in favour of seeing this ship in the game

2 Likes

Italy already has two (plus real ship with unfinished refit)
Germany has one too

1 Like

From what I have read, RN Conte di Cavour has theoretically been completed.

I have no idea which other ships you think have not been completed Italian.

Current version of Conte di Cavour is ‘suggested’ refit after it grounded in Taranto. Very different from that picture

RN Etna and RN Comandante margottini were never completed. They just launched, especailly Comandante Margottini was not launched for further construction but to clear the slipway for another construction. They were literally, and theoretically not completed ship.

2 Likes

OK thanks for the information, I didn’t know these things, I like to learn something new.

Damn yes. +1

1 Like

Took me 3 weeks to dig it out and buying some books and a magazine, but I’ve managed to establish the exact specifications of the Francesco Caracciolo as-laid-down. Resolving the conundrum of the secondary weapons that was hunting me over all that time.

The as-laid-down weaponry of the Francesco Caracciolo Class was as follows:

  • 8 x 381 mm/40 Model 1914 in 4 twin turrets
  • 12 x 152 mm/45 Schneider model 1911 in single-mount casemates
  • 12 x 40mm (this was settled to be 40mm/39 Vickers-Tenri model 1915)

The confusion about the variety of the guns on the vessel comes from the simple fact that the design changed over time. The 152/50 mm & 102/45 mm -armed variant was an earlier design from 1913. By early 1914 this was modified to drop the 102/45 anti-air guns, and change the 152 mm secondaries into 152 mm/45 Schneider model 1911 shared with a recently laid-down Caio Duilio.

Source: Le navi di linea italiane (1861 – 1961) by Giorgio Giorgerini & Augusto Nani (page 246-248, key part on 248). This change from 152/50 to 152/45 is also corroborated by Erminio Bagnasco’s Italian Battleships Conte Di Cavour and Duilio Classes 1911-1956 - Chapter “The Dreadnought In Italy: From Cuniberti’s Concept To The ‘Caracciolo’ Class” - but without directly stating the dates of the transition nor which specific 152/45 it was. Finally: Italian Navy Website, historic section and the Capital Ships of the Royal Italian Navy, 1860-1918: Part 4: Dreadnought Battleships both also confirm that it was 152/45 used (note that the Capital Ships indicate that 8 x 102/45 AA were also used, though ultimately I would deem it to be a less reliable sources than the Italian sources).

I have updated the original post to reflect the new information.

(Old version, now removed from the original post)

Secondary:

12 x 152mm/50A Model 1913-15 in casemates.
⚠️Note that there are discrepancies between sources on the specifics of the Caracciolo’s secondaries.
(per Naval Weapons of World War One:)
Caliber: 152.4mm
Overall length in calibers: 42.77
Muzzle velocity: 870 m/s
Projectile weight: 50.0 kg
Charge weight: 14.87 kg
Burster: 2.72kg
OR
(per Capital Ships of the Royal Italian Navy, 1860-1918:)
12 x 152mm/45
Muzzle velocity: 870 m/s
Projectile weight: 50.0 kg
Charge weight: 14.87 kg

Anti-Air:

8 x 102mm/45 Schneider-Armstrong 1917-19 in single mounts
Muzzle velocity: 850 m/s
Projectile weight: 13.75 kg
Charge weight: 4.30 kg
Italy 102 mm/45 (4") S-A Models 1917 and 1919 and S-C Model 1917 - NavWeaps

12 x 40mm/39 Vickers-Tenri Model 1915 in single mounts
NavWeaps page on the gun

show image

WNBR_2pounder_m2_shore_pic

7 Likes

I know there are pros and cons to the unfinished ship but I think it deserves to be there as long as it isn’t too much of a game changer.
Italy is still suffering in the top tier(RIP France), so I am in favor of such an unfinished ship to compensate for the balance. Hence the +1

3 Likes

A slight correction if I may, Cavour’s refit was pretty far along by the time of the 1943 Armistice. The ship itself was for the most part complete but was awaiting installation of its light weaponry and other armament when Italy signed the Armistice. So the refit was less of a suggestion and more so something that was well underway even if not completed

2 Likes

+1

Suggestion passed to the developers for consideration.

1 Like