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The Littorio Class (Hardback)

Italy's Last and Largest Battleships

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing > Seaforth: Iron & Steel

By Erminio Bagnasco
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 356
ISBN: 9781848321052
Published: 18th July 2011
Last Released: 6th June 2018



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For its final battleship design Italy ignored all treaty restrictions on tonnage, and produced one of Europe's largest and most powerful capital ships, comparable with Germany's Bismarck class, similarly built in defiance of international agreements. The three ships of the Littorio class were typical of Italian design, being fast and elegant, but also boasting a revolutionary protective scheme – which was tested to the limits, as all three were to be heavily damaged in the hard-fought naval war in the Mediterranean; Roma had the unfortunate distinction of being the first capital ship sunk by guided missile.

These important ships have never been covered in depth in English-language publications, but the need is now satisfied in this comprehensive and convincing study by two of Italy's leading naval historians. The book combines a detailed analysis of the design with an operational history, evaluating how the ships stood up to combat. It is illustrated with an amazing collection of photographs, many fine-line plans, and coloured artwork of camouflage schemes, adding up to as complete a monograph on a single class ever published.

Among warship enthusiasts battleships enjoy a unique status. As the great success of Seaforth's recent book on French battleships proves, that interest transcends national boundaries, and this superbly executed study is certain to become another classic in the field.

This book is an effective and detailed study of the Littorio Class by two of Italy's leading naval historians. An essential book for all naval history enthusiasts.


First published in Italian in 2008, this English-language translation is a comprehensive design-history of one of Europe’s largest and most powerful classes of battleships.
These fine ships have received little attention in English-language literature but this superbly produced and comprehensive monograph overcomes that deficit. This superb volume is built around six chapters covering (1) battleships and Italian naval policy between the two world war, (2) design and general characteristics, (3) technical description, (4) construction, sea trials and commissioning from, (5) operational history and (6) comparisons and conclusions. The book is completed by three appendices detailing (1) movements and changes of location of the Littorio class from entry into service until their loss or decommissioning, (2) damage sustained during the war and (3) performance characteristics of Littorio class heavy and medium calibre guns. It is illustrated with a superb collection of 300 photographs, 150 fine-line plans and coloured artwork including foldout plates. Very highly recommended.

Marine News

This book is a very comprehensive study of the design and operational history of these great ships. Beautifully presented, it is profusely illustrated with 300 photographs and 150 drawings and includes fold-out plans of the ships. It certainly provides a fitting record of the last Italian battleships and deserved a place alongside similar books on other great battleships on the bookshelves of those interested in warship design and naval history. It is highly recommended.

The Navy, Vol 74, No 4

Originally published in 2008, and then revised in 2010, this lavishly illustrated volume is the first biography of the four ship Littorio Class, and thus fills an important need in the historiography of the battleship.
This work opens with a discussion of Italian naval policy and the evolution of the battleship in the period between the world wars. It then examines the design and general characteristics of the class, followed by a highly detailed look at the technical aspects of everything, full form, armament, protection, living arrangements, catapults and aircraft, with a special section for modelers.
An important work for anyone interested in warship design, the naval side of World War II in the Mediterranean, or modern Italian history.

New York Military Affairs Symposium

This is a very impressive piece of work, one of the best monographs on a single type of warship that i have ever read and comes highly recommended.

History of War

The Littorio Class is structured into six chapters covering the background to the ships, a detailed technical description, operational history, and fully comparisons and conclusions. There are also appendices covering movements, characteristics of the heavy and medium guns.
The photographs and drawings are clear and comprehensive, and the captions short and to the point. Drawing and photos have been placed in such a way as to support the text, and the book maintains a glow that very long captions and discursive footnotes would have interrupted.
In sum, this is a magnificent volume. It is also also a welcome, long needed and important addition to the English literature of the naval war. The English reading audience can ask for nothing better, only more of the same.

Warship 2012

This is a book and a half! The ambitious aim of the authors throughout its 350-pages is to provide the reader with “the most complete and up-to-date picture possible of the genesis, design, building, and employment of these ships”. They achieve this lofty remit, however, comes as no surprise when you consider their backgrounds. I can thoroughly recommend this meticulously researched, authoritatively written and beautifully presented book.

Military Modelling

This is an absolutely first class read for any enthusiast interested in WW2 warships and is recommended

Model Boats, November 2011

…it’s an interesting publication on a fascinating and rarely covered subject. The incredible detail in which these ships are covered is worthy of gracing any maritime collection. Period black and white archive photographs, dozens of incredibly details line drawing and plans, together with a series of colour illustrations and a small selection of colour photo cover every minute aspect of the Littorio Class battleship, which is sure to make this book very popular with maritime historians and marine modellers makers alike.

Military Machines International, Oct 2011
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About Erminio Bagnasco

ERMINIO BAGNASCO is the Editor of Storia Militare, Italy’s leading military journal. He is the author of many books on Italian warships, and is widely regarded as the foremost authority. As for Littorio Class, he was assisted by AUGUSTO DE TORO, an authority on the political and economic aspects of naval policy, and himself the author of many articles and monographs.

Perfect Partner

Italian Battleships 'Conte di Cavour' & 'Duilio' Classes 1911-1956 (Hardback)

With the publication of their previous book on the battleships of the Littorio class, the authors set new standards for the detailed coverage and sophisticated analysis of Italian warship design. Inspired by its success, both critically and commercially, the authors were inspired to follow up with a similar study of the earlier Italian battleships that were built in the First World War but survived to fight in the Second. Given the level of new research required, this has taken a decade to achieve but the result is a similarly comprehensive coverage. Originally comprising five ships in two related…

By Erminio Bagnasco, Augusto De Toro

Click here to buy both titles for £78.75
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