Being constructed for the fight on the sea, there is the
need to obtain the best performances from them; it is possible to do so
balancing many factors like speed, rapidity of maneuver, firepower and
armor defense, autonomy; it is from a compromise of these factors that
are born the warships.
It is not possible to give an absolute criterion in order
to distinguish between the multiple types of warships, but it is possible
to regroup in classes; in the main navy of the age (England, United
States, Japan, France) was used to classify the greater ships in battleships,
battle cruisers,cruisers, aircraft
carriers and destroyers.
The Italian warships of the time corresponded to the following classification
(source: Ministry of Navy - General directorate office of the staff and
the military services - in "Appello al Mare" (Appeal to the sea) , Rome,
- The armored ships for employment on sea with main armament over 203
- The ships of high speed whose main armament is equal or inferior to
203 millimeter, with a displacement of 3000 ton. or more.
- Naval destroyer
- The surface torpedo boats with displacement between the 3000 and 1000
- Torpedo boats
- The surface torpedo boats with displacement between 1000 and 100 ton.
- The units able to navigate in complete immersion for underwater employment.
They are distinguished in the following categories based on autonomy,
the armament and the nautical qualities: Coastal submarines and oceanic
- The ships of speed inferior to 20 knots and displacement inferior
to 800 ton. that do not have auxiliary or logistic tasks and are armed
with at least a gun of whichever bore.
- The units of displacement inferior to 100 ton. with internal combustion
engines, that have requirement to hunt submarines or to complete actions
- Auxiliary ships
- The ships used for auxiliary and logistic services. They are distinguished
in subtypes based on the special service for which they are used
- Ships of local use
- The smaller auxiliary ships used for local services.
Characteristics of the types of warships
- Sometimes called also with the name of Dreadnought, from the
name of the English ship that was the first of this type, are those
ships of elevated tonnage which, for the armament and the armor, mainly
are fitted to support the weight of a naval combat; their main
weapon is the gun of great caliber able to hitting targets distant also
30 km. moreover are supplied of artilleries of minor caliber for the
shooting against small unarmored warships, and for antiaircraft use,
and of torpedo tubes. The battleships of the time were all armed with
heavy guns of the same caliber. At the beginning of the war, Italy possessed
six ships of this type. According to the naval agreement of Washington
of November 1921, the tonnage of battleships did not have to exceed
the 35000 tons and their armament the 406 millimeter caliber; in truth
this agreement was not always respected: the German battleship Bismarck,
as an example, dislocated 42000 ton., while the Japanese battleships
Yamato and Musashi were enormous, dislocating beyond 70000 ton. and
with armament of nine guns of 457 millimeter.
- Battle cruisers
- They are those ships that join an armament similar to that of the
battleships an high speed (until 33 knots) and a great operative range,
sacrificing strongly armor. Their function was that to support the cruisers
in the explorations and to act as a tactical explorer when they operated
with battleships. Italy did not possess ships of this type.
- They are those ships whose task was of go in recognition and to report
to the fleet headquarters. For this reason they were able of high speed
(35 and more knots) and great autonomy sacrificing the armor, often
reduced to underwater one, and often sacrificing the armament too. Often,
based on the tonnage, there were made distinctions between cruisers
and light cruisers . Based on the agreement of Washington, the cruisers
did not have to exceed the 10000 ton. In 1939 Italy possessed 35 cruisers
of varied tonnage and varied age.
- Aircraft carriers
- They are ships assigned to the transport of airplanes and have a great
platform for their launch (flight deck). The airplanes are their offensive
weapon: in fact they are not armed with guns, if not of small-caliber
assigned nearly exclusively to the antiaircraft defense. Italy did not
possess ships of this type.
- These ships were born for hunt down the surface torpedo boats, but
replaced them in their assignment of escort of other units and antisubmarine
defense.Their main weapon was the torpedo, even if they were
armed of small-caliber artilleries (around 120 millimeter), and they
had high speed and maneuverability. Italy had about sixty warships of
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