RM Dante Alighieri (BB/TS/ADV-1913 (1930-mod))


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The Dante Alighieri was Italy's first dreadnought type battleship, the first with triple turrets, the first Italian battleship with turbine machinery and the fastest battleship around when first built. It was originally thought that this design inspired several Russian classes of dreadnoughts but apparently the Russians got to the original Dante Alighieri idea on their own. While the Russians took the designs further through to the Borodino class, I try and stop the Italians from having even a one ship class.

The Dante Alighieri as shown above was what was considered a 'broadside' battleship. All guns could fire to the left or right but only one turret forward or aft. Having a fast ship like the Dante Alighieri, you would hope to be chasing weaker forces or running away from superior forces. Having half your armament to shoot either way would be an advantage. I am also a fan of superfiring capital ships so a drawing like this is normal for me.

From the ships completion in 1913 it went through WW1 without any significant changes. It was not till 1923 when some refit work was done to improve the original layout and fit some AA guns. Many of the low angle 3" being removed and replaced with 3" AA guns. During WW1 the Dante Alighieri was flagship of Battle Division Two, consisting of the four Regina Elena class and the Dante Alighieri. Before the Dante Alighieri could become more than a one ship class, the Austro-Hungarian Navy laid down their Viribus Unitis class and the French laid down the Courbet class, both being as big and maybe better ships than the Dante Alighieri, so the next five ships of the Conte Di Cavour class would be bigger again with a better armament.

That looks like a nicely balanced dreadnought. To 1933 at age 20 which is the cut off point that a lot of countries put the life expectancy of their battleships. Those countries that cannot afford to replace their battleships regularly, need to get as much life out of each ship as possible. What is the next step for the Dante Alighieri? Does it join the rest of the early dreadnoughts as a raider? Go through a full restoration to enable the ship to be retained with the main fleet units? To change it to a raider, I would remove 'X' turret, fit a catapult to 'Y' turret, and a hangar to replace 'X' turret and the rear part of the ship. Add a few modern AA weapons, reline the 12", remove the casemate guns, add a set of torpedoes on each broadside with reloads, replace the machinery with diesels for longer range.

The raider version has everything I can think of to make a great raider. Aircraft to use to enhance the search range of the ship. Enough AA weapons to fight off small strike force attacks from the mainly small light fleet carriers that would be used to spot, catch, and dispatch the Italian raider force out in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Sacrificing one turret to get all the other advantages really made no difference to the fighting value of the ship. The patrol cruisers of the Commonwealth Navies would make no impression on this ship. It was only the more modern ships that would have the speed to catch the Dante Alighieri. This would be my favourite use of ship.

With a battle line conversion, I would not sacrifice the fourth turret (as above) but keep all four, which with the relining to 12.6", would give a better main armament than the Cavour and Doria types 10 guns each. The biggest problem with that would be to get enough space for new machinery to match the speed of the refurbished Cavour/Doria types at 27 knots (required 75,000shp). It was felt that the new machinery would need to produce almost double the output (65,000shp) to reach that 27 knot speed. An output of 55,000shp would give 26 knots, which with the machinery of the time would be all that could be fitted into the space provided. It is the lack of that extra knot or two of speed that leans me toward the raider version as the favourite.

Now that I have drawn them, I rather like both of them. Both ships would have their merits and weaknesses, the worst that I can see on the Mediterranean version is the shortage of AA guns. There is really not enough room to put much more aboard without removing something else. I like the high speed bow that would give the ship that all important 26 knots. Just fast enough to run away from the Commonwealth Queen Elizabeth class battleships.

Displacement 19,500 tons std 21,800 tons full load
Length 551 ft  (573 ft in Mediterranean version)
Breadth 87 ft
Draught 29 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 33,000shp 4 shaft diesel engines, 45,000bhp 4 shaft steam turbines, 55,000shp
Speed 22 knots 24 knots 26 knots
Range 4000 miles at 10 knots 12,000 miles at 14 knots 5000 miles at 10 knots
Armour 10" side, 2" deck, 10/7/6" turrets 10" side, 3.9" deck, 10/7/6" turrets 10" side, 5.1" deck, 10/7/6" turrets
Armament As completed

12 x 12" (4x3)
16 x 4.7" (16x1)
12 x 76mm (12x1)
As Raider 1935

9 x 12.6" (3x3)
8 x 5.3" (4x2)
12 x 37mm (6x2)
16 x 20mm (16x1)
As battleline ship 1935

12 x 12.6" (4x3)
12 x 5.3" (6x2)
10 x 37mm (5x2)
20 x 20mm (20x1)
Aircraft nil 3 nil
Torpedoes 3 x 17.7" (3x1 submerged) 6 x 21" (2x3) 18 reloads removed
Complement 980 1020 1110
Notes RM Dante Alighieri

Laid down by Castellammare Regia Marina shipyard on 6 June 1909, launched on 20 August 1910, and completed on 15 January 1913.

The aerial view gives an idea of how much work was required to convert the ship to an Area Defence Vessel.


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