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Warships classes

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, 1939):

The armored ships for employment on sea with main armament over 203 millimeter.
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 ton.
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 submarines.
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 with torpedo.
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.

battleship Littorio

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.

10000 ton. Italian cruiser

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 this type.

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