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Post Jutland French and Italian capital ship designs

ceccherini

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After WW1 and before the Washington naval Treaty, the three major naval powers (UK, USA and Japan) were engaged in a new huge naval race, building or projecting battleships and Battlecruisers of unprecedented size and capabilities based on lessons of the war. I was wondering if the the other two significant navies of the era, that of France and Italy, had any planned reply in the form of comparable ships. Clearly postwar economy made difficult to imagine very large scale naval spending, particularly in the case of Italy that was on the brink of political revolution, but still at least some studying activities in the late '10/early '20 is both realistic and intriguing, given the somewhat unorthodox approach that characterized the ideas of French and Italian naval engineers in the big gun era. I know of several projects to complete Caracciolo and Normandies in a modernized form, of the development of the french 45 cm gun and the intention to build up to 11 battleships equipped with it and of the Cassone's sketch of a 18" inch gunned battlecruiser but nothing less vague. Have any of you more infos?
 

Tzoli

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From around 1920 Nabor Soliani drawn up two designs one was basically a modern armoured cruiser early heavy cruiser with 2x2 20cm guns and numerous 102mm and 76mm guns, the other was using the same hull but armed with 2x2 381mm cannons basically the Italian idea of the Glorious small BC's
Design A:
Design B:

I do not know any 1920's Italian Capital ship designs other then the battlecruiser, Admiral Ferrati produced a large number of designs for the Caracciolo class in 1913/14.
The French was even less vague as you written only a battleship program and the big 45cm cannon suggests plans, which seems to be lost. Though what became the Donkerque class Battlecruisers could be originated back to an 1926 battlecruiser design of 17.500tons and 305mm Armament (2x4)
 

Dilandu

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The French was even less vague as you written only a battleship program and the big 45cm cannon suggests plans, which seems to be lost.
Considering the French general design school, I think it would probably looks somewhat like enlarged "Lyon"-class, with each pair of 34-cm guns replaced with single 45-cm. The most alterations would be on armor scheme; quite probably they would adopt all-or-nothing.
 

Tzoli

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Yes I concur, though I would assume the battleships designed for the gun would range in size and armament from 4x2 to 3x4 or maybe go to 4x4 (IJN's no.13 preliminaries even featured 4x4 41cm or 4x3 46cm cannons). Or they just copy the QE and Revenge classes, I doubt they had access or any intel on the N3/G3 designs (Japan seems to have as I've found mentions in the Hiraga archve! )
for 4x2 I could see a Kongo arrangement as well. On the other hand the French really wanted quadruple turrets at WW1 because all 4 capital warship designs of the time (Lyon, Normanide, Durand-Viel BC, Gille BC) had all featured quads...
 

Dilandu

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On the other hand the French really wanted quadruple turrets at WW1 because all 4 capital warship designs of the time (Lyon, Normanide, Durand-Viel BC, Gille BC) had all featured quads...
Well, French Navy in XX century seems to be more toward evolution rather than revolution - each new ship developed the previous design further forward. It seems logical to assume that hypothetical 1920s battleship would rely on the ideas from previous designs as well.
 

ceccherini

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On the other hand the French really wanted quadruple turrets at WW1 because all 4 capital warship designs of the time (Lyon, Normanide, Durand-Viel BC, Gille BC) had all featured quads...
Well, French Navy in XX century seems to be more toward evolution rather than revolution - each new ship developed the previous design further forward. It seems logical to assume that hypothetical 1920s battleship would rely on the ideas from previous designs as well.
45 cm gun was the result of deep studies on Jutland battle, so I think it's implausible they would simply evolved a clearly obsolete design as Lyon. Also Normandie modernization plan give some indication of the perceived need of high speed and the willingness to go for a 6 gun main battery, completely subverting the prewar strong preference for more guns over larger guns. Quadruple turret equipped with 45 cm gun are clearly a possibility but much more a theorical one than a practical one. Also one must remember the dimensional limitation of the shipyard facilities in France that were a constant obstacles in naval planning since Bretagne so overall I didn't expect the kind of 50k+ tons monsters that were seriously proposed at the time in Japan and in the United States, I think a credible design could be a sort of enlarged and upgunned variant of the 1927 37000 ton battlecruiser, a fast ship with good but not balanced protection and 6 or at most 8/9 45 cm gun in twin or triple turrets. As for Italy, around 1920, it was decided not to complete Caracciolo as a battleship, officially on technical ground and not cost. This let around two years before the naval Treaty in which at least there should have been talks on future battleships.
 
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Tzoli

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Yes the French were very conservative tonnage wise or we just don't know all their designs. I suspect many papers were destroyed during WW2 when France was spitted between German occupied territories and the Vichy regime.
 

Dilandu

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Quadruple turret equipped with 45 cm gun are clearly a possibility but much more a theorical one than a practical one.
I was talking about using the 34-cm quadruple turret as a basic for 45-cm dual - by replacing each pair of 34-cm guns for one 45-cm.
 

Steelwind

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During the period from 1918 to 1922 (WNT) very little happened in regard to French capital ship designs due to finance (virtual none available) and infrastructure problems (much of the naval ship building capacity including weapons and armour had been diverted to then WW1 land campaign. the latter would take years and lots of money to rectify. The French in regard to capital ship plans basically only did what could be classed as basic research needed before new designs could be considered (such as designing the 45 cm gun and mount) and other basic studies. Also during this time new cruisers and destroyers were considered a higher priority due to shortages of suitable/modern ships in the French fleet.

In regard to redesign/modernisation of the Normandy class very little was actually done. In 1919 a number of studies were done none of them satisfactory* and the ships were basically cancelled in September 1919. The many designs for upgraded Normandy class battleship found to day are basically alternative history speculations, not from the French navy.

* The Normandy class battleship design was quite flawed from the design considerations (and were all the French "Dreadnought" type ships). It would have take a minimum of 30 months (probably longer considering the economic situation) to complete them and this being after the infrastructure has been brought up to a suitable capacity with the end result ship that were still not up to the standard now required for a battleship. The French Navy knew this so accepted not to complete them and to start the process of totally new designs of which none appear to have been completed by the time of the WNT.

Suggested reading - French Battleships of World War One, John Jordan & Philippe Caresse, Seaforth Publishing 2017.
 

ptdockyard

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General Ferratti proposed a massive battleship with sixteen 15" guns for Italy


Italian Ferratti G class 37200 tons 225meters 16 381mm 16 170mm _4 102mm in singles.jpg
 

ceccherini

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On page 43 of the monograph on Cavour and Duilio classes released in the latest issue of the magazine Storia Militare, Erminio Bagnasco, the main living Italian naval historian, reports that in the early '20 the technical department of Regia Marina was working on a 50000 ton+ fast battleship concept perfectly balancing armament, armor and speed, informally called "nave assoluta" meaning "absolute ship". I expect a kind of an italian N13. Hope one day some drawings will emerge.
 

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The five partially completed Normandie hulls dragged on their shipyards until 1926. One was turned into the Bearn carrier. Wish two others could have followed - with lessons learned from the Bearn (many) flaws.
 

Steelwind

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Archibald, I hope you are being sarcastic. The carrier Bearn proved the Normandie hull didn't make good carriers, they were too slow (21 knots) and too heavy (taking up too much treaty tonnage for the aircraft capabilities they "offered". To make them any better would have cost about as much as built for purposes carriers.

Treaty considerations: Each signatory nation was allowed to convert 2 other ships to aircraft carriers, not 3. Also with the standard tonnage 22,500 tones the French could only get 2 Bearn style ships in their allocated 60,000 tons. This would have resulted in over 2/3's of the French carrier tonnage being slow, heavy ships with limited aircraft capacity which they would have been stuck with these ships until 1942!

Although these large hull were available to the French Navy, it doesn't mean they had any meaningful capability to offer. Better they were scrapped for the money it brought in.
 

MJBurmaster

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And don't forget the fact that the French by implication acknowledged all of the foregoing deficiencies by seeking a Baden or Bayern after the war, running afoul of Italian objections.

And as to the Ferrati design, who can forget that Stefano introduced such to us on the old Never Built Warships forum? Certainly if Bagnasco can shed more light on the subject, let's hear from him!
 

ceccherini

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And don't forget the fact that the French by implication acknowledged all of the foregoing deficiencies by seeking a Baden or Bayern after the war, running afoul of Italian objections.

And as to the Ferrati design, who can forget that Stefano introduced such to us on the old Never Built Warships forum? Certainly if Bagnasco can shed more light on the subject, let's hear from him!
Ferrati 1915 studies and "nave assoluta" concept are entirely separate things: the first are part of studies on improving the baseline Caracciolo class battleship at a time when Caracciolo's design started to look flawed protection wise and less than desidered armament wise as original specifications were reduced for cost consideration. Having turned back to the original intention to get a design with at least 12 main guns and more protection, Ferrati designed larger, more heavily armed and armored, somewhat slower designs but that was before Jutland. Bagnasco write, in a very brief note, of a totally different post Jutland requirement for a battleship whose characteristics could have been obtained only with a displacement of more than 50k ton according to the technical department of Regia Marina, without stating if any projectual activity ever started on the subject. We only know that post WW1 Regia Marina expected his future capital ships to be larger than 50000 tons, not necessarily implying that such ships were expected in a short to medium time frame, a thing made implausible by the terrible financial state of postwar Italy. Still there were discussions about the future of the battlefleet and I'm quite confident that something was put on paper. It seems that in the decade before the WNT and after his first generation of dreadnoughts (Alighieri, Cavour and Doria classes), Regia Marina had a very strong and persistent commitment to built world class battleships that was frustrated by political and economical factors.
 
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