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dseehafer

Simple Naval Answers to Simple Naval Questions #3: Why was the rear C/3 turret on the Littorio class Battleships raised??

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Greetings all,

 

Anyone who has ever eyed a Littorio class battleships has probably noticed that the aft turret is on the same level as her superfiring B/2 turret. This makes the class unique as every other 3-turret battleship class ever built featured the at C/3 turret on the same lower level as the A/1 turret.

 

Image result for roma battleship

 

Image result for roma battleship

 

 

 

 

Why did the Italians decide to arrange the turrets in such an unconventional matter? Again, no other 3-turret battleship had a raised rear-turret, so they obviously weren't inspired by anyone else.

 

 

To answer this question, allow me to quote Italian naval expert and author Carlo Cestra...

 

"The armament consisted of nine 381/50 mm guns in three revolving armored turrets. Two turrets were placed fore in a superfiring arrangement and the third was located aft... The turret aft was raised to 3.20 meters to allow the parking of the reconnaissance aircrafts... The large deck aft was entirely used for aeronautical equipment. A catapult was placed in the center, with the pivot on the far aft... The ship could take at most 3 aircraft (Ro 43 or Re 2000). The seaplanes were retrieved from the sea through a telescopic crane (located at the stern behind the catapult) with a maximum load capacity of 5000 kg." - Super Drawings in 3D: The Battleship Roma 1942 - 1943

 

 

There you have it, the turret was placed on the upper level so as not to disturb the aeronautical equipment below and also so that the aeronaitical equipment would not limit in any way the firing arcs of the rear turret.  The Americans could have learned from the Italians. On their fast-battleships, the catapults, cranes, and aircraft were located directly behind the aft turret and were on the same level as the turret. This lead to the battleship USS South Dakota blowing her own catapult float-plane into the sea during the Battle of Guadalcanal!

 

Anyways, now you know! Hope you enjoyed!

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Rats.  With simple answers to Naval questions, I was hoping to find out why lint collects there. :Smile_hiding:

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Putting it up one level gave C turret a 320-degree firing arc with the pole mainmast and aft superstructure properly designed, which makes ahead fire angling viable with this ship for all three turrets. It was designed in for that purpose. So says Ermingo Bagnasco in his book about the Littorio's. The RM may not have had first-tier Admirals, but they had some of the best BB designers in the world at the time. These ships had a spaced composite armor scheme on the belt before tanks ever had it. Their torpedo protection against standard contact torpedoes (the famous Puglieise system) was the best in the world when they were built. If they ever get this premium out, I am standing in line to get it. The guns on the real ship were superior to every other 15-inch gun in service at the time, including Bisrmarck, and came close to equaling its' USN 16/45 contemporary in hitting power.

 

Edit: here they are

Edit 2: Note that the secondaries are one deck lower and out of the muzzle blast at both ends of the ship

Littorio gun arcs.jpg

Edited by GrandAdmiral_2016
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Dseehafer, you my man never fail to deliver. Years ago when I was reading up on the Med campaign I wondered. Now i know.

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Always bothered me. The turret, and the rangefinder tower is why I like the Conte di Cavour class's design better.

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Very nice post.

God those were gorgeous ships

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Does that mean the Caracciolo might get her airplane catapult between the C and D turrets, ala Grosser Kurfurst?

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The aft part of the deck is also lowered, so it's a bit of both, really.   Nice idea, but firing the runs directly aft is still going to destroy the aircraft most likely.   Remember how the sea is boiled up from the blast pressure?   It's farther below the guns than that plane handling area is. 

 

And it was South Dakota that blew her plane overboard, fwiw.   Littorio might not blow hers completely over, but they'd have been totaled in all likelihood had she fired directly aft. 

Barring the guns needing to shoot that way, they definitely had more room to handle the planes. 

 

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7 hours ago, JuiceEFruit said:

 

And it was South Dakota that blew her plane overboard

 

 

 

 

Ah yes, thank you for the correction!

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I think @JuiceEFruit is correct... I'm trying to remember, but I think it was at 2nd Sirte where Littorio might've accidentally damaged her own aircraft with fire from the aft turret.

 

Overall the design choice was made as a result of both room to operate aeronautical equipment, and also, as GrandAdmiral said, to allow for more aggressive arcs of fire on the aft turret, so one could still bring the maximum amount of firepower to bear on the enemy while still closing.

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4 hours ago, Phoenix_jz said:

I think @JuiceEFruit is correct... I'm trying to remember, but I think it was at 2nd Sirte where Littorio might've accidentally damaged her own aircraft with fire from the aft turret.

 

Overall the design choice was made as a result of both room to operate aeronautical equipment, and also, as GrandAdmiral said, to allow for more aggressive arcs of fire on the aft turret, so one could still bring the maximum amount of firepower to bear on the enemy while still closing.

The weather was so bad at 2nd Sirte that they could not launch spotters on either side! RN Dido and Arethusa class ships taking on an RM BB and heavy cruisers with 5.25 and 6-inch popguns darting in and out of smoke, firing or feigning torpedo attacks in sea state 6, while fending off land-based air attacks. Interesting fight. Admiral Cunningham sent Rear-Admiral Vian home after that one so that he could cure his nerves, he had been in so many tight corners since 1939 (Altmark, Narvik, Bismarck, and the Med battles). Vian was back at it for the invasion of Normandy and the British Pacific Fleet. Handling PTSD, WW II style.

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19 hours ago, dseehafer said:

Greetings all,

 

Anyone who has ever eyed a Littorio class battleships has probably noticed that the aft turret is on the same level as her superfiring B/2 turret. This makes the class unique as every other 3-turret battleship class ever built featured the at C/3 turret on the same lower level as the A/1 turret.

 

Image result for roma battleship

 

Image result for roma battleship

 

 

 

 

Why did the Italians decide to arrange the turrets in such an unconventional matter? Again, no other 3-turret battleship had a raised rear-turret, so they obviously weren't inspired by anyone else.

 

 

To answer this question, allow me to quote Italian naval expert and author Carlo Cestra...

 

"The armament consisted of nine 381/50 mm guns in three revolving armored turrets. Two turrets were placed fore in a superfiring arrangement and the third was located aft... The turret aft was raised to 3.20 meters to allow the parking of the reconnaissance aircrafts... The large deck aft was entirely used for aeronautical equipment. A catapult was placed in the center, with the pivot on the far aft... The ship could take at most 3 aircraft (Ro 43 or Re 2000). The seaplanes were retrieved from the sea through a telescopic crane (located at the stern behind the catapult) with a maximum load capacity of 5000 kg." - Super Drawings in 3D: The Battleship Roma 1942 - 1943

 

 

There you have it, the turret was placed on the upper level so as not to disturb the aeronautical equipment below and also so that the aeronaitical equipment would not limit in any way the firing arcs of the rear turret.  The Americans could have learned from the Italians. On their fast-battleships, the catapults, cranes, and aircraft were located directly behind the aft turret and were on the same level as the turret. This lead to the battleship USS South Dakota blowing her own catapult float-plane into the sea during the Battle of Guadalcanal!

 

Anyways, now you know! Hope you enjoyed!

 

Everything I read has said it was the blast from the SoDak's guns that set fire to her aircraft and then later blew them over the side. Most battleships did not go into action with aircraft on the catapults. They would have launched them into the air, or if the BB possessed them, stored in a blast proof hanger.

South Dakota met the Japanese at night, and operationally, the US did not fly at night.

 

As has been stated, I don't think the aircraft would survive the blast from turret 3. I also don't think the aircraft would survive long on the stern during a storm. The Iowas lost several aircraft off their catapults during storms.

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21 minutes ago, Lord_Slayer said:

 

Everything I read has said it was the blast from the SoDak's guns that set fire to her aircraft and then later blew them over the side. Most battleships did not go into action with aircraft on the catapults. They would have launched them into the air, or if the BB possessed them, stored in a blast proof hanger.

South Dakota met the Japanese at night, and operationally, the US did not fly at night.

 

As has been stated, I don't think the aircraft would survive the blast from turret 3. I also don't think the aircraft would survive long on the stern during a storm. The Iowas lost several aircraft off their catapults during storms.

 

True. However, survive or not, at least it doesn't block the turret's firing arcs in any way.

 

Anyways, when it came to catapults the Germans were the only ones who grew a brain and put them in the center of the ship in all cases. Does not block any firing arcs, no risk of aircraft being washed overboard, no fancy turret positioning needed...

 

Image result for made in german

 

 

Edit: Sorry... that may have come off as a little sassy...

 

 

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9 minutes ago, dseehafer said:

 

Survive or not, at least it doesn't block the turret's firing arcs in any way.

 

Anyways, when it came to catapults the Germans were the only ones who grew a brain and put them in the center of the ship in all cases. Does not block any firing arcs, no risk of aircraft being washed overboard...

 

None of the RN capital ships had their aircraft handling equipment located on the stern behind the Y turret either, like the Germans most of the Royal Navy's battleship's catapults were located towards the centre of the ship. Though some were mounted on top of the turrets themselves.

Edited by Monty9185

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14 minutes ago, Monty9185 said:

 

None of the RN capital ships had their aircraft handling equipment located on the stern behind the Y turret either, like the Germans most of the Royal Navy's battleship's catapults were located towards the centre of the ship. Though some were mounted on top of the turrets themselves.

 

Ah, true. I had completely forgotten about the RN. Doh!

 

Bonus point to Great Britain for growing a brain!

 

Editt: Removes bonus point

 

Image result for hms hood catapult

 

 

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In retrospect it didn't last long! It was installed during her 1929-31 refit, but it was a pain to use in anything but calm seas and was gone by 1932.

Edited by Monty9185

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19 minutes ago, Monty9185 said:

In retrospect it didn't last long! It was installed during her 1929-31 refit, but it was a pain to use in anything but calm seas and was gone by 1932.

To be fair Hood was lain down in 1916 and the other RN battleships not to carry aircraft amidships (Nelson/Rodney) were lain down in 1922, when air power was still poorly developed and of little value in comparison to 1935 or later.

The most extensive QE rebuilds had aircraft handling amidships (QE, Valiant, Warspite) as did the rebuilt Repulse and Renown, the KGV and Lion class designs had it amidships and the Hood would likely have had it amidships if she'd had it at all following a rebuild: http://www.hmshood.com/history/construct/repair42.htm

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4 hours ago, dseehafer said:

 

Ah, true. I had completely forgotten about the RN. Doh!

 

Bonus point to Great Britain for growing a brain!

 

Editt: Removes bonus point

 

Image result for hms hood catapult

 

 

But the results of the trial period in Hood is why they never put catapults there afterwards. Can't blame the RN for testing it out. 

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Shooting directly astern could be a bit problematic for the Kingfishers or Seahawks on the USN BBs but salvos to the side as was normal practice wouldn't send them flying overboard.

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Only real problem with "growing a brain" and putting the aviation facilities amidships is that it weighs more, and is extremely costly in terms of space for additional medium or light weaponry. Just look at the gigantic hole in the KGVs superstructure where the hangar and catapult are located.

 

Whats more is that, during combat, this giant centerline hangar (full of flammable liquid and potentially gassed up aircraft) can be struck by shell fire, causing a massive fire that effectively cuts off the fore and aft of the ship from one another until it is contained, potentially preventing the use of any fire control equipment and deck mounted weapons behind it with its cloud of smoke and flame. This is made more likely because ships generally just attempt to aim for center mass if they are close enough, meaning more shells are likely to be striking the superstructure amidships than they are the tip of the stern.

 

If the aviation facilities are located aft, the worst that can happen is that the stern catches on fire, the smoke and flame from which will be immediately blown away from the ship as it sails around. It's also easier to eject a damaged aircraft from an open stern mounting, than it is to manhandle one out of a damaged hangar, which may or may not have functional cranes anymore. It's easier to fight any potential aviation fuel fires as well on the open deck of the stern, rather than the crowded superstructure, and the ship will incur less heat damage through steel warping from the blaze.

 

There were several instances of such an event happening on American treaty heavy cruisers during WW2, which universally had their catapults and hangars amidships. In some cases the blaze was so intense that it made damage control operations from the stern of the ship impossible, and crew members from the bow often thought that everyone in the stern had been killed, as they had no contact with them for hours.

 

The decision to move from amidships aviation facilities to stern mounted facilities on new construction cruisers and battleships was a very conscious one, and entirely justified given the experience of those earlier cruisers which suffered for want of them.

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Looking at the drawing, there is an arc (rail?) under the center of the catapult. Did the catapult move on this rail instead of pivoting? Possibly pivoting at the aft end? Or is that just a wave wall? That would allow the end of the catapult to extend past the deck edges.

 

Edited by Sabot_100

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