RM Liguria (BC-1934)
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The Italian Navy had watched the production of the 'pocket' battleships by Germany. Part of the inventory of equipment left over from the stripping and scrapping of the Leonardo da Vinci was two twin 12" and one triple 12" turret. The Italians felt that as they had better facilities and displacement allocation to improve the type they would build a ship that could be based in Eritrea and be a thorn in the side of the Allies in the Indian Ocean.
The Liguria completed late in 1934 and was well received by the Italian Navy. It was every captains dream, well armed, fast, and unusually for an Italian ship, well armoured for its job. The Liguria was a cruiser killer that could outrun anything it could not outfight. (That sounds familiar.) Even the Commonwealth battlecruisers would have a hard time catching it. The Liguria on its low displacement trials (no armament, fuels etc) made 37 knots, but at full load trials a few months later, still managed to make 33 knots. The ship was fast.
In real life the Italian forces in Eritrea operated against the Allied forces from June 1940 to the end of January 1941. Placing the Liguria in Eritrea with four colonial cruisers (fancy name for frigates) means it has six months of a place to refuel and rearm before it has to figure out where it can run to or scuttle itself. The nearest place it might go to for internment, at this stage of the war, would be Japan. Meaning a trip across the Indian Ocean, somehow avoiding the Commonwealth forces searching for it, sneaking through the Dutch East Indies (one of the channels) and then heading North for Japan. The biggest problem is that the Liguria has only just about enough fuel to do the trip at about 10 knots. That's not allowing for any high speed runs to avoid Commonwealth forces. The only way the Liguria may make it is if it can buy a shipload of fuel from the Japanese who might put a tanker somewhere the Liguria can get to and allow the ship a much higher speed journey.
Having the Liguria at Eritrea, means that the Commonwealth need to shepherd their shipping through the Aden narrows with a battleship/battlecruiser, nothing less would keep the Liguria away from attacking the convoy. How one ship can keep far more forces away from more strategic areas than the value of the ship itself. I am still undecided on the future of the Liguria. Sending it to Japan seems like a good idea, and the use of a Japanese tanker for refueling makes sense. It could also make for some interesting chase scenarios across the Indian Ocean. If the Liguria can make it to Japan, it would again be able to be used as a raider in the Pacific utilising the Japanese held islands for resources to keep it at sea. The biggest problem I can see is the replacement of the 12.6" and 5.3" ammunition.
A few days later........
Having done some thinking while designing and drawing the Regina Elena, I decided that some decent sized diesel engine plants would be available, that would be able to move the Liguria at 20 knots and improve its range tremendously. Introducing the diesels also allows the Liguria to make it to Japan without need of refueling half way. This would make the Liguria an altogether more dangerous raider.
|Displacement||19,000 tons std 24,800 tons full load||
|Machinery||2 shaft steam turbines, 90,000shp
2 shaft diesel engines 30,000bhp
|Range||12,000 miles at 15 knots (1,500 nm at 30 knots)|
|Armour||7" side, 3.5" deck, 10"/7"/6" turrets|
|Armament||7 x 12.6" (1x3, 2x2)
10 x 5.3" (2x3 aft, 2x2 fwd)
12 x 37mm (6x2)
20 x 20mm (20x1)
|Torpedoes||6 x 21" (2x3) 12 reloads|
Leonardo Da Vinci stripped of armament and superstructure and ready for the breakers yard. Some of the turrets were used for the Liguria.
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