RM Regina Elena (BB-1908 (T/S-1928))

 

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The original design of the Elena type battleships showed a semi-dreadnought design with two single 12" turrets and six twin 8" turrets. In 1903 a design from Cunibertti showing an all big gun battleship design stirred some originality from the Italian Naval designers who realised that any navy that built such a ship would seriously outgun the Elenas. A recast design utilising all big guns with two twin 12" turrets and four single 12" casemate guns four an armament of eight 12" with six guns per broadside being possible was a 50% increase of firepower over the pre-dreadnought battleships of the time. With four ships of the class being laid down from 1904 to 1907 they were immediately outshone by the quick building time of the Dreadnought. They were still a good interim class when compared to the Dreadnought and were not a group of 2nd class ships that the original Elena design would have been.

The Regina Elena class, like the Dreadnought was 3-5 knots faster than existing battleships in the Italian and other navies. A massive advantage over their rivals. Eight 4.7" anti-torpedo boat guns made up the secondary armament where a lot of the pre-dreadnoughts had 6" guns for the same purpose. The 4.7" quick firers were probably a better gun for the anti-torpedo boat duties, faster firing weapons against small agile vessels, more probability of a hit. The armament was rounded out with half a dozen 2 pounder boat guns.

To free up tonnage for the Livorno class battlecruisers, these ships and the Dante Alighieri were to be reduced to ancillary duties craft. The four Elena's were the last Italian battleships with triple expansion machinery and if they were to be kept in the navy for any further length of time these propulsion units would have to be replaced. With all the after machinery being removed anyway; to make the ship conform to the Washington Treaty ideal for demilitarised older battleships, the Elenas could have a new set of machinery installed during this conversion work. The ships all received half the machinery each of the two ex-Austro-Hungarian battleships which were being stripped for useful equipment and had turbine machinery. The boilers were converted to oil firing and the engines were refurbished before installation. This gave the ships about 15,000shp each and a speed of 16 knots which was more than adequate for their new duties.

A new bridge superstructure and funnel were fitted based on the latest design of cruiser and battlecruiser so that trainees would have experience with the new systems they were likely to come accross when drafted to the new ships of the Regia Marina.

The Regina Elena class as training ships did a lot of 'show the flag' training cruises during the 1920's round the Italian posessions in Africa. The ships along with the Dante Alighieri provided air support and observation duties during the Italian-Abyssinian war in 1935-36. Two of the class were still at Djibouti at the outbreak of the Italian entry into WW2.

 

Displacement 16,500 tons std 18,800 tons full load
Length 531 ft
Breadth 82 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 15,000shp (28,000shp orig)
Speed 16 knots (23 knots orig)
Range 4000 miles at 10 knots
Armour 8" side, 2" deck, 8/5/3" turrets
Armament Original

8 x 12" (2x2 4x1)

8 x 4.7" (8x1)

6 x 2pd (6x1)

 

As Training Ship

6 x 12" (2x2 2x1)

12 x 3.9" (6x2)

8 x 37mm (8x1)

8 x 25mm (4x2)

Aircraft (as training ship) 4-7 (depending on size and type)
Torpedoes nil
Complement 850 + cadets
Notes RM Regina Elena

RM Napoli

RM Roma

RM Vitorio Emanuelle

 

Twin 3.9 inch of which 3 mountings were fitted per side.

 

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